On Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers affiliated with the terrorist group al-Qaida flew two hijacked Boeing 767 airliners into the World Trade Center complex in New York, destroying both towers and killing 2,996 people. A further attack was made on the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense in Virginia, and an attack that was intended for the U.S. capital, Washington D.C., was thwarted by passengers and ended with the jet crashing into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. On the anniversary of this terrorist attack, we look at the history of the World Trade Center, the events of the day and the aftermath.
In 1962, it was announced that Minoru Yamasaki had been chosen as a lead architect for the World Trade Center, choosing a site in Lower Manhattan. (Pictured: the center under construction in 1970.)
Demolition work began in 1966. The first tower was “topped out” in December 1970 and the second in July 1971. The site was formally opened in April 1973, although tenants had been working in the buildings since July 1971.
On Feb. 26, 1993, a truck loaded with explosives was detonated in the North Tower’s underground garage and resulted in six deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. Kuwaiti citizen Ramzi Yousef was eventually found guilty of the attack and is currently serving two life sentences in Colorado.
At 8:46 a.m., Sept. 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 was flown into the North Tower. Seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower.
Both buildings collapsed from structural failure, caused by the intense fires started in the crashes.
Images of panicked New Yorkers dominated news coverage around the world.
New Yorkers run from the World Trade Center collapse.
The Pentagon, home of the United States Department of Defense, was also targeted. (Pictured: an aerial view of the Pentagon building. The damage to the building’s west side can be seen at the top right.)
The 59 passengers of American Airlines Flight 77, and 125 civilians and military personnel on the ground, were killed along with the five hijackers on the airliner.
A fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, headed for Washington D.C., although the precise target is unknown. Passengers with cellphones learned of the earlier attacks and attempted to retake the aircraft, which then crashed into a field near Shanksville. (Pictured: the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville.)
The attack inflicted huge damage on Lower Manhattan, including the spreading of toxic materials from damaged infrastructure. The entire World Trade Center complex was eventually demolished to leave the area known as “Ground Zero.”
Investigations quickly settled on the militant Islamist organization al-Qaida and its founder, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden, for a decade the target of a huge manhunt, was eventually killed by U.S. special forces in a private compound in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.
In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, global leaders condemned the attacks and offered support and solidarity. (Pictured: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and former U.S. President Bill Clinton attend a memorial service in New York).
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (L) attends a special memorial service on Sept. 12, 2001, at St Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin.
Thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil on the Mall, in Washington D.C., on Sept. 12, 2001, in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington D.C.
A city worker looks out over the Ground Zero site ahead of a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
New York City firefighters at Ground Zero in New York during the service to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
In May 2014, the National September 11 Memorial Museum opened in New York City. The large metal structures are building tridents salvaged from the World Trade Center.
On Nov. 3, 2014, One World Trade Center opened on the site of the former World Trade Center complex. The 94-story tower measures 1,776 feet (541 meters), in reference to the date of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence.