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. 

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