Cermony marks building of NY 'freedom tower'


A ceremony today officially marked the beginning of construction of a new building at the World Trade Centre site - the Freedom Tower.

Organisers say it will be the world's tallest skyscraper and is designed as a twisting glass and steel tower that evokes the Statue of Liberty nearby.

The building is to stand 533 metres (1,776 feet) - its height in feet symbolising the year the United States became independent from Britain and the ground-breaking coinciding with US independence day.

A 20-ton slab of granite that will become the cornerstone of the skyscraper replacing the World Trade Centre has an inscription honouring "the enduring spirit of freedom," a source said today.

According to a source close to the rebuilding effort, the cornerstone is inscribed: "To honour and remember those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom - July Fourth, 2004."

The stone to be laid is granite from New York state's Adirondack Mountains that is flecked with the state gemstone, garnet. In his prepared remarks for the ceremony, Governor George E. Pataki said he chose July 4th to begin rebuilding to show that the terrorists who attacked New York did not destroy America's faith in freedom.

"How badly our enemies underestimated the resiliency of this city and the resolve of these United States," Mr Pataki said. "In less than three years, we have more than just plans on paper - we place here today the cornerstone, the foundation of a new tower."