Images of the World Trade Center, 1970-2001

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    Background and History

    Tribute in Light
    Jesse Vega / Getty Images

    It's impossible to forget the terrible images of the World Trade Center from September 11, 2001. Many in New York witnessed the destruction in person and millions more saw it on TV. As a result, it's understandably easy to forget what the World Trade Center looked like during happier days.


    But the World Trade Center was part of the New York skyline for 30 years. During that time, millions enjoyed the views from the Top of the World observatory and the legendary Windows on the World. Thousands more worked in those towers. We dined and shopped in the concourse. We lingered in the plaza over lunch. We looked up at those towers to orient ourselves. And now they are gone.​​ 

    The photos of the World Trade Center in this collection were taken by talented photographers from all around the world. The gallery includes striking images of the pre-9/11 skyline, views from the Top of the World Observatory, and even photos taken inside the towers.

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    Twin Towers at Sunset

    This is an aerial view of the twin towers world trade center at dusk, looking east taken from above the Hudson river.
    Jerry Trudell the Skys the Limit / Gettty Images

    The Twin Towers glow during sunset over Manhattan.

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    Shadows at Sunset

    Lower East Side - Manhattan - New York - november 2000 - 01
    Jorge Vasconcelos / Getty Images

     The shadows of the World Trade Center over the lower east side of Manhatten.

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    Twin Towers Skyline at Night

    World Trade Towers viewed from Brooklyn
    John Cardasis / Getty Images

    A stunning view of the Twin Towers and the Manhattan skyline at night.

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    Tribute in Light

    Tribute in Light
    Wojtek Zagorski / Getty Images

    The Tribute in Light pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks.

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    World Trade Center Towers

    World Trade Center Twin Towers
    Santiago Urquijo / Getty Images
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    Towers at Dusk

    World Trade Center , New York City , USA
    Comstock / Getty Images

    A view of the World Trade Center towers as dusk fell.

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    The Sphere in the Plaza (1971)

    The Sphere
    Barbara Alper / Getty Images

    Fritz Koenig's Sphere for Plaza Fountain, the sculpture that was the centerpiece of the World Trade Center Plaza.

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    Trinity Church and the Towers 1973

    World Trade Center 1973
    The U.S National Archives / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Historic Trinity Church on Lower Broadway at the Foot of Wall Street. Behind Loom the Towers of One of Manhattan's Newest Giants, the World Trade Center in 1973

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    World Trade Center Plaza

    Couple sitting on bench and hugging at the World Trade Center Plaza
    9/11 Memorial Museum

     A couple sits on a bench while hugging at the World Trade Center Plaza

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    World Trade Center Construction 1970

    World Trade Center construction ca. 1970
    9/11 Memorial Museum
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    World Trade Center Lobby

    the lobby of 1 World Trade Center taken July 17, 2001. 56 days before it was destroyed
    Bob / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

     The lobby of 1 World Trade Center taken July 17, 2001. 56 days before it was destroyed.

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    World Trade Center Lobby (Unknown Date)

    World Trade Center Lobby
    Cusack5239 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
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    Concourse Map

    World Trade Center Concourse Map
    Port Authority of New York

    A map of the shops, restaurants, and other businesses that were located in the World Trade Center Concourse. To see the map more clearly, click "View Full-Size" and then click on the image itself.

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    North Tower Mezzanine Decorated for the Holidays, Circa 1980

    North Tower mezzanine decorated for the holidays, circa 1980
    9/11 Memorial Museum
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    Ironworker During Construction

    Iron worker David Rice on site at the World Trade Center ca. 1970
    9/11 Memorial Museum

     Ironworker David Rice on site at the World Trade Center in 1970.

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    World Trade Center Observatory Ticket

    WTC observation deck ticket
    9/11 Memorial Museum

    A ticket to the World Trade Center observatories, one of New York City's top tourist attractions.

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    On Top of Two WTC Observatory

    Viewers atop Two World Trade Center observation deck looking north toward mid-Manhattan.
    TedQuackenbush / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
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    WTC Observatory New Years Day 2001

    Interior observation deck of the World Trade Center, New York City, New Year's Day 2001.
    Duncan Rawlinson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
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    Dining at Windows on the World 1985

    Windows on the World restaurant at World Trade Center with view of midtown Manhattan 1985
    New York City Economic Development Corporation / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    The incredible views from the famous Windows on the World restaurant in Tower 1.

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    Checking Out the Views (Unknown Date)

    Inside One World Observatory
    Aude / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
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    Antennas on 2 World Trade Center Observatory 1993

    2 World Trade Center's (the South Tower) observation deck, March 1998.
    David Holt / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
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    Looking Down from 2 WTC Observation Deck 1984

    2 World Trade Center (South Tower) observation deck
    Trycatch / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0
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    Statue of Liberty and Twin Towers

    Statue of liberty with view of Manhattan
    Image Source / Getty Images
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    Tower 1 and View North 2001

    View from exterior observation deck of the World Trade Center, New York City on New Year's Day 2001.
    Duncan Rawlinson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Image of the top of Tower 1 and the view north of Manhattan, New Years Day 2001.

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    View of Two Bridges 1982

    Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge behind, both Spanning East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York City, New York County, NY. View looking east from top of World Trade Tower
    Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    A view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge from the World Trade Center.

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    Looking down on the Plaza, Sep. 6, 2001

    Atlas statue in WTC courtyard
    JWSmythe / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    Fritz Koenig's Sphere for Plaza Fountain, the sculpture that was the centerpiece of the World Trade Center Plaza.

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    World Trade Center Observatory at Night

    Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge and across to Brooklyn, with JFK airport in the background.
    Michael Jones / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Looking out at the lights of the city from the World Trade Center Observatory at night.

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    World Trade Center Cityscape 1991

    Lower Manhattan skyline, December 1991.
    Trycatch / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    A panorama of the Manhattan skyline with the World Trade Center.

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    Inside at the World Trade Center Observatory 1975

    109th Floor Observatory, North Tower, World Trade Center, New York, 1975
    Vin Crosbie / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
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    Winter Garden in the World Financial Garden

    World Financial Center Winter Garden
    WiNG / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    This is the view as you entered the World Financial Center from the pedestrian walkway that linked it with Tower 1.

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    World Financial Center

    World Financial Center from World Trade Center
    Lihat maklumat pengarang / Wikipedia / CC BY 3.0

    Looking down on the World Financial Center from the World Trade Center.

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    Tower 1 Entrance

    One World Trade Center, New York, NY
    Bob / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
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    Plaza Art

    The sculpture Ideogram by artist James Rosati
    DW / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    The sculpture Ideogram by artist James Rosati was located in the World Financial Center Plaza.

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    Summer View from the Hudson River

    USA,New York,Lower Manhattan, Hudson River in foreground
    Jon Riley / Getty Images
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    Looking up at the Tribute in Light

    9/11 Remembrance - Tribute in Light
    Michael Lee / Getty Images

    The Tribute in Light display is an annual commemoration of the lives lost and the fallen towers on September 11, 2001. This view is from the roof of the garage where the Tribute lights are located in Lower Manhattan.

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    Looking down at the Tribute in Light

    9/11 Remembrance - Tribute in Light
    Michael Lee / Getty Images

    This view overlooks the rooftop of the garage where the Tribute lights are located in Lower Manhattan. Also visible are light trails of birds circling inside the light beams. The Tribute lights are turned off periodically during the night to allow the birds to disperse.