Construction workers removed their helmets and looked on teary-eyed as the final steel beam of the tower was lifted into place Monday, accompanied by a rendition of "God Bless America" performed by gospel singer BeBe Winans.
Developer Larry Silverstein says his aim and that of the workers has been "to give New Yorkers back the city terrorists tried to take away." More than 100 construction workers signed the beam before it was hoisted by a crane and placed on top of the building.
The tower is scheduled to open late next year. It's expected to be the first tower completed on the 16-acre site since the 9/11 attacks. The interior of the building, which is the sixth tallest in New York City at 977 feet and 72 stories, is still under construction.
4 World Trade will be home to offices, stores and the Port Authority's new headquarters.
Sally Rexach, a nurse who aids workers at the site as she did during the rescue and recovery work following 9/11, had tears streaming down her face as she watched the beam rise into the sky.
"Ten years later, it's pretty remarkable," she said. "This is a very proud moment. It's full circle."
John Rzeznik, a project manager at the site, spoke of his pride in the endeavor.
"Everybody's put their blood, sweat and tears into this," he said.
Speaking to the crowd, Silverstein said his aim and that of the construction workers had been "to give New Yorkers back the city terrorists tried to take away."
After years of funding disagreements that at times seemed to threaten progress at the site, Silverstein acknowledged, "It's been a very tough time." But, he said, "I've always believed in downtown New York."
Silverstein's company also owns the already-completed Seven World Trade Center.
At the anchor building of the site, One World Trade Center, steel has been erected to the 104th floor.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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