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By David W. Dunlap – If the winds are forgiving enough over Lower Manhattan — up where workers can see the whole outline of the island’s tip — a steel column will be hoisted into place Monday afternoon atop the exoskeleton of 1 World Trade Center and New York will have a new tallest building.

More important, downtown will have reclaimed its pole star.

Poking into the sky, the first column of the 100th floor of 1 World Trade Center will bring the tower to a height of 1,271 feet, making it 21 feet higher than the Empire State Building.

After several notorious false starts, a skyscraper has finally taken form at ground zero. At first, its twin cranes could be detected creeping over the jumbled tops of nearby towers. Then, at the rate of a new floor every week, it began reshaping the Manhattan skyline as seen from New Jersey. By late last fall, it could be spotted from the control tower at La Guardia Airport, eight and a half miles away.

A tower has again become an inescapable presence at the southern end of Manhattan.

The author Neal Bascomb, who drives into New York every few weeks from Philadelphia, where he lives, recalled a growing awareness that 1 World Trade Center was visible from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and that it was ratcheting perceptibly taller on each visit. “You know, I was happy to see it,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wonderful.’ ”

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