The Tippy Top of the 1 World Trade Center Spire

“The top of the spire for Tower 1 has been on the north side of the building for awhile,” emailed the reader who goes by Hudson River last night. “This isn’t the pieces that were there this winter, but the very top. Beautiful modern Gothic look, and this is as close as we’ll ever get to it. This evening they were testing the light show that happens in the triangular windows, which I missed—my husband happened to see it as he was crossing the bridge about 8 p.m., but by the time I got there around 8:30 it was just the red ones at the top that were flashing. Here’s a picture that I took just so you know what to look for (you’re welcome to use it but I’m sure you can do a better one) that was taken from east end of the bridge, through the only space in the grating where you can actually see anything. That’s a flag on top. Have you heard anything about a topping-out ceremony?”

1WTC spire courtesy Hudson RiverI’m not sure I knew that the tippy top, as it’s known in architectural jargon, was just sitting there visible from the Vesey Street pedestrian bridge, so I went this morning to take a photo. (Note to self: Next time, wait till the commuter rush has passed.)

1WTC spireAnd here’s a close-up.

1WTC flag tippy top spireI’m not sure we can assume they’ll be testing again tonight, and in any event I can’t make it—I’ll be celebrating First-Time Tuesdays at a restaurant on Division Street. But if you’re near the Vesey Street bridge at that time, please do keep an eye out. As Hudson River says, it’s plainly visible from the east side of the bridge, just at the top of the stairs. I’d offer to ask officials about it, but my interest in the building is unrequited, and I don’t expect that to change now. In fact, I emailed last week to ask whether those vents (?) near the top of 1WTC are part of the permanent design; I even included this handy annotated photo to illustrate what I meant. They’re the first thing I see when I look at the building, which strikes me as perhaps not ideal? The renderings that I found online don’t actually clarify whether they’ll be part of the completed building.




  1. The vents are included in the final design; they house the equipment that is traditionally on the top of buildings and allow air flow into those floors.

  2. This looks to match the proposed design of the antenna. The triangle shaped area is for the beacon ( As for the vents in the bottom photo, yes, this is part of the design. These are the mechanical floors, which require ventilation. Tower 4 has similar vents. The original WTC had dark bands where the mechanical floors were (

  3. David, that design was scrapped some time ago – the radome enclosure won’t be erected. That ‘Modern Gothic’ beacon is the only remnant of the planned design.

  4. Nobody mentions this, but without the “Radome”, doesn’t that mean the antenna is now disqualified to count as part of the buildings 1776 foot height, thereby failing to render it the tallest building in the US?

    I have also noticed the spire there when walking by- I feel sorry for whoever has to raise & lower the flag every day once it is installed on the top of the tower!

  5. Was walking through the World Financial Center this evening, and gazed up at one of the murals on the second floor mezzanine of the American Express building- I have seen this one many times over the years, but I never realized what the unadorned antenna of the World Trade Center Tower reminds me of until now: Strange coincidence.

  6. Am I the only one who thinks this dreadful building looks like an ice pick?

    The world’s largest homage to Sharon Stone’s murder weapon in “Basic Instinct.”

    An enormous ice pick looming over the Falling Whalebox by Snohetta, and the Drains of Doom, urinals they have for some reason imported from Mordor.

    It’s a disaster theme park.