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Making History

The World Trade Center

World Trade Center installers
Otis installers at the World
Trade Center, about 1969
World Trade Center Towers
Aerial view of World
Trade Center, 1974-75
Otis Bulletin
March-April 1967

Editor’s note: Otis Elevator Co. won the contract in 1967 to supply and install the elevators and escalators for the World Trade Center in New York City. The Otis employee publication, the Otis Bulletin, published an article in its March-April edition detailing the Otis project that was described as the installation of the largest vertical transportation system in history. Two years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, the World Trade Center towers were attacked and collapsed, and the lives of some 2,800 people were lost.

In keeping with its traditional place in elevatoring by topping the skyline of New York as each of the succeeding tallest buildings has been constructed, Otis Elevator Company* (see note below) has been awarded a $35 million contract for The Port of New York Authority’s World Trade Center. Each rising 110 stories, 1,350 feet (411.5 meters), the twin tower buildings of this international complex will contain approximately 10 million square feet (929,000 square meters) of rentable space. Some 4 million (371,600 square meters) will be available to private firms dealing wholly or predominantly in international trade, while the remainder is reserved for federal, state and foreign government agencies and for building and tenant service areas. Otis will engineer, manufacture, install and service 208 elevators and 49 escalators, 24 of which will serve the new Manhattan Terminal of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson commuter train system (PATH) that serves New York and New Jersey commuters.

Though the need was apparent for a unified community of international trade in Manhattan, there were several major obstacles that stood in the way of the center’s plan for the tower buildings. One of the most important factors that make the project’s 110 stories economically feasible is the sky lobby system of vertical transportation. This system will also be employed in the 100-story John Hancock Center in Chicago.

If each elevator in the vertical transportation system of the tower buildings had to be located in separate hoistways, excessive floor space in the structures would be devoted to hoistways alone. By using the sky lobby principle, however, space is saved since “shuttle-express” elevators (10,000 pounds, or 4,500 kilograms, at 1,600 feet per minute, or 8 meters per second) will speed passengers to sky lobbies on the 44th and 78th floors, while local elevators will operate using a sky lobby as their lower terminal, enabling the “stacking” of the local elevators one above another in a common hoistway. To further facilitate traffic at the sky lobby on the 44th and 78th floors escalators will provide two-way service between the floors immediately above and below. In addition to normal freight service one freight elevator in each of the towers will serve a total of 112 stops from the fifth basement to the 108th floor. It will rise 1,387 feet (422.8 meters) – 400 feet (122 meters) more than the former record rise in the Empire State Building. Ten elevators swill travel from street level to five basement levels below the plaza.

Designed by Minoru Yamasaki and Associates and Emery Roth & Sons, the $575 million World Trade Center will be situated on a 16-acre site on the lower west side of Manhattan. The Consultant Contractor on this massive undertaking is the Tishman Realty & Construction Company Inc. and the consulting engineers are Jaros, Baum & Bolles, Joseph R. Loring & Associates and Worthington, Skilling, Helle & Jackson. It is estimated that when the center is completed in 1972, Otis’ elevators in the Tower buildings will serve 10,000 people every weekday.

*1908 -- Singer Building (612 feet, or 186.5 meters)
1909 -- Metropolitan Tower (700 feet, or 213.4 meters)
1913 -- Woolworth Building (792 feet, or 241.4 meters)
1929-1931 -- 40 Wall Street (850 feet, or 259 meters); 60 Wall Tower (950 feet, or 289.6 meters); Chrysler Building (1,046 feet, or 318.8 meters) and The Empire State Building (1,250 feet, or 381 meters).


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