The Resurrection of the World Trade Center

Once a symbol of American resilience, it's now just another—albeit tall—office building in lower Manhattan.

One World Trade Center is seen in the background as a woman pushes a cart in Exchange Place, NJ on November 1, 2014. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

On Monday morning, a handful of employees of Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, among other magazines, began the week in a notable new home: One World Trade Center. The first office workers to toil in the storied structure arrived with little pomp and circumstance; New York governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement in lieu of a ribbon cutting. After all, 175 inhabitants could scarcely fill 104 floors.

“It’s a beautiful building, it’s a historic building but it’s an office building and it’s open for business,” Jordan Barowitz, an official of the Durst Organization, a leasing agent for the building, told The New York Times.

For a building site so infused with recent history, the comment befits the World Trade Center's long evolution from patriotic emblem to place of business. Delays, revisions, and controversies marred the project, which has struggled to attract enough high-profile clients. In May, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey lowered rents 10 percent to $69 per square foot, resulting in the addition of six new tenants.

Then there's the name. For years after its conception, the replacement to the twin towers was called the "Freedom Tower." But in 2009, the Port Authority acknowledged quietly that, for practical purposes, the name was less than ideal. The new building again became "One World Trade Center."

Condé Nast's arrival completes the normalization of the World Trade Center. The remainder of Condé Nast's 3,400-strong workforce will complete the move from the company's Times Square offices over the next several months and will occupy the 20th to the 44th floors. Once a symbol of American resilience, it's now just another—albeit tall—office building in lower Manhattan.  But this was the point all along. As Zach Seward wrote in Quartz, the World Trade Center had little mandate other than to exist.