Watch a Stunning 11-Year Time-Lapse of One World Trade Center Being Built

Hundreds of thousands of images capture the laying of the foundations all the way to the finishing touches

To mark the opening of the One World Observatory in New York City over the weekend, EarthCam released an incredible time-lapse video that shows the slow construction of the One World Trade Center over the 11 years it took to build.

According to EarthCam’s YouTube page, the team cut together hundreds of thousands of high-definition images captured between October 2004 and Memorial Day 2015 to produce the stunning two-minute video of the building rising into the sky.

The observation deck, situated on the 100th-102nd floors of the tower, officially opened to the public on May 29. At 1,298 ft., the One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the western hemisphere and the fourth tallest in the world.

Read more about the One World Observatory here.

TIME cities

World Trade Center’s Observatory Will Offer Amazing Views Starting in May

One World Trade Center Deemed Tallest Building In North America
Andrew Burton—Getty Images One World Trade Center towers over lower Manhattan on Nov. 12, 2013 in New York City.

You'll soon be able to look out from the observatory at One World Trade Center for $32

The new World Trade Center is nearly ready to open its doors (and very, very high windows) to the public. One World Trade Center’s observatory, perched 1,250 feet in the air on the tower’s 100th, 101st and 102nd floors, will launch on May 29.

Guests will ride up to the observatory in a super-fast elevator that scales One World Trade in less than 60 seconds and features a floor-to-ceiling LED screen showing the development of the New York skyline. On the 100th floor, guests will be able to take in views on the main observation platform, while the 101st floor will feature dining areas and the 102nd will be a private event space that holds up to 300 people.

Tickets, which are expected to be very popular this summer, can be ordered in advance online starting on April 8 at 10 a.m. EDT. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors above age 65 and $26 for children between ages 6 and 12. Kids 5 and under get in free.

TIME portfolio

Pictures of the Week: Nov. 7 – Nov. 14

From Putin’s “coatgate” moment with China’s first lady and the funerals of Kurdish fighters killed in clashes with ISIS, to One World Trade Center’s 69th floor rescue and Brad Pitt’s selfie, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME cities

One World Trade Center Opens Its Doors

One World Trade Center
Siegfried Layda—Getty Images New York Financial Center at dusk

The 1,776-ft. building is the tallest in the western hemisphere

New York City’s revival from its darkest hour 13 years ago will be completed on Monday, when One World Trade Center officially opens for business.

The western hemisphere’s new tallest building, also known as Freedom Tower, will welcome Condé Nast as its first tenant. The publishing giant is making the 20th to the 44th floors its new global headquarters.

“It’s long anticipated and we’re looking forward to it,” Condé Nast spokeswoman Patti Rockenwagner said.

See TIME’s “Top of America” interactive

The 1,776-ft. high tower was initially set to open in 2006 but became fraught with delays and political grappling. It provides a statement of hope and resurgence on the New York City skyline after the attacks of 9/11 that destroyed the iconic twin towers of the World Trade Center.

“I’m like everybody else, looking at this place in amazement,” Kevin Murphy, who headed the team of ironworkers that helped piece the tower together, told TIME in March. “This is going to define New York.”

Read next: The Top of America


Pictures of the Week: May 23 – May 30

From the Santa Barbara drive-by shootings and Ukrainian presidential elections, to martial law in Thailand and Kim and Kanye’s wedding extravaganza, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.



TIME Photos

The Most Surprising Photos of the Month

Time looks back over the past month to present a selection of underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of our photo editors. From Darth Vader to cheese rolling, each photograph, we trust, will surprise you.

TIME weather

Two Bolts of Lightning Strike One World Trade Center

Two bolts of lightning hit the antenna on top of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan as an ele
Gary Hershorn—Insider Images/Corbis

As a thunderstorm passed over New York City Friday night, photojournalist Gary Hershorn captured two bolts of lightning hitting the spire on top of One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.

A seasoned photographer and photo editor, Hershorn described how he captured the photo: “I saw the storm clouds forming while I was shooting some pictures of lower Manhattan from Jersey City right across from One World Trade Center. I was shooting with a point and shoot camera so I raced home and grabbed my real camera and tripod and went to a gazebo next to the Hudson River and shot endless 10 second exposures hoping to catch the bolts of lightning. I shot about 150 pictures and 6 frames had lightning bolts. I missed about 5 others in between frames. I was able to shoot from a covered spot in the pouring rain. It feels like I spend half my life shooting the New York skyline but have been waiting for years to have the perfect electrical storm around sunset…[T]he light in the sky was nicely balanced with the lightning and the brightness of the buildings on the skyline.”

MORE: One World Trade Center: How New York rebuilt the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere

TIME technology

Google Street View Now Includes Time Lapse Feature

Google Maps Street View Time Lapse
Google Google released time lapse functionality within street view, allowing users to look back in time.

Seven years of Google Street View images are now available all at once

Since it launched in 2007, Google Street View has become the closest thing we have to a teleportation device. With a few keystrokes, you can go somewhere without actually going there, walking sidewalks in Paris one moment and poking into Mumbai shop windows the next.

But Google’s virtual map of the world has always been limited to the present — or at least the most recent images transmitted by its camera-equipped vehicles. Each time those vehicles captured a site, the new images would become searchable and the old ones were taken down and relegated to Google’s servers.

Now, Street View is trying to turn its teleportation device into a time machine. Starting today, all the Street View images taken over the last seven years will be viewable as part of a new feature that allows users to see how places have changed since Google began photographing the globe’s nooks and crannies. It happens in a whirl. Buildings that took years to construct magically appear in moments. Neighborhoods humming with life one year are wiped away by natural disasters the next. Billboards featuring flip phones suddenly show smartphones.

“Our original goal with Street View was to build a map that is useful, accurate and comprehensive,” says Vinay Shet, a Google product manager. “So we’ve been capturing all these snapshots, and we thought, let’s use all this data and create something that users will love, that will be exploratory, and hopefully will be useful.”

The time lapse feature will appear in a window within Street View, along with a bar users can manually toggle to change years. (It includes a substitute for Pegman, the little yellow guy users drag to launch Street View. On time lapse, your guide is an avatar that looks an awful lot like Dr. Brown from Back to the Future.)

There will also be double the number of Street View images that were previously accessible. Google Trekkers have driven more than 5 million miles in 50 countries since 2007 and have gone many places more than once, giving most locations at least one time-lapsed layer.

Google’s most engaging images often involve construction and destruction. One World Trade Center in New York City and Rio de Janeiro’s World Cup stadium rise in seconds, while areas affected by the Japanese tsunami become instantly obliterated.

“It’s only been seven years,” Shet says, “but it’s amazing how many interesting changes we’ve found.”

One World Trade Center, New York City
April 2009 – August 2013


The construction of One World Trade Center began in 2006, but for the first few years most of the work was below-ground. Much of the above-ground construction took place right as Google began capturing it from Manhattan’s West Street.

Soumaya Museum, Mexico City
October 2010 – November 2011


This Mexico City art museum was financed by Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man. The modern, showpiece structure was constructued in a little over a year.

The Howard Theatre, Washington, DC
July 2009 – May 2012


The historic Howard Theatre, built in 1910, was in danger of closing a century later but underwent a massive $29 million renovation that began September 2010. It reopened in April 2012.

Marina Bay Sands Resort, Singapore
November 2008 – May 2013


The hotel, considered the most expensive building in the world at $5.7 billion, includes three 55-story towers with more than 2,500 rooms. It opened in June 2010.

Graffiti on Bowery Street, New York City
June 2009 – August 2013


The side of a building on Bowery Street in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood that’s seen a steady rotation of street artists.

Naucalpan, Mexico
November 2008 – October 2013


An overpass gets built over an existing street in Naucalpan, Mexico, just outside of Mexico City.

Brazil World Cup stadium, Fortaleza, Brazil
February 2012 – September 2013


A soccer stadium slowly rises in Fortaleza, Brazil, one of the host cities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.


TIME One World Trade Center

Meet the Man Who Jumped Off One World Trade Center

Jim Brady, 1 World Trade Center BASE jumper
Craig Blankenhorn for TIME One World Trade Center ironworker Jim Brady

Ironworker Jim Brady BASE jumped off One World Trade Center days after he helped TIME take an exclusive 360-degree image from the building's spire. Brady and three others turned themselves in to authorities amid questions over security at the site

Last summer, I interviewed dozens of the ironworkers who were working around the clock to turn One World Trade Center into the tallest building in the western hemisphere. This week, one of those workers was arrested for parachuting from the top of the tower he helped build.

Jim Brady, 32, was typical of those who make their living guiding steel beams into place hundreds of feet up in the sky: intense, physically-imposing, more inclined to adventure than introspection. When we spoke on the 102nd floor of 1 WTC, the building had topped out at 104 floors and the spire, which climbed to the symbolic height of 1,776 ft., had already been set. The end was in sight and Brady and his fellow ironworkers from Local 40 were a bit more open to reflection than usual.

“Whenever I see it, I’m like, ‘F—in’ A, man, the thing’s f—in’ huge!” Brady said. “And we were up there.”

For nearly everyone who helped build 1 WTC, the job had the potential to serve as a daily reminder of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Brady, who says he was working construction on Long Island at the time, visited Lower Manhattan and lent a hand two days later. But the demands of the job—Brady had spent four years on the site as a connector, linking the massive pieces of steel together—kept the emotional weight at bay.

“You just get in the groove of things,” Brady told me. “You don’t get to think about too much else.”

A few months later, Brady was one of four ironworkers who helped TIME’s Jonathan Woods and Gigapan’s Michael Franz take a 360-degree interactive photo from 1 WTC’s spire. Two days after that, Brady and two other men BASE jumped from 1 WTC in the middle of the night and parachuted onto West Street. They filmed the entire thing — and likely would have gotten away with it had one of them not been spotted by a nearby security guard.

James Brady and Jonathan Woods on the spire of 1 World Trade Center
Doug Holgate — New York on Air for TIMEJim Brady, far right, and TIME’s Jonathan Woods, second from right, on the spire of 1 World Trade Center

In February, Brady, along with Marko Markovich, 27, Andrew Rossig, 33, and Kyle Hartwell, 29, (who acted as a look-out on the street, according to police), contacted lawyers after learning that they were being investigated. Andrew Mancilla, Brady’s lawyer, says the men were preparing to turn themselves in when news broke that a teenager made his way past security to reach the roof’s spire. Mancilla says the New York Police Department called him to demand that the four men surrender last week.

“In our view, they wanted to have control over the media frenzy and how it was going to play out,” Mancilla says.

Brady was still working on 1 WTC as an employee of DCM Erectors when he parachuted from the building on Sept. 30. Mancilla says Brady didn’t use his security ID to reach the roof but instead slipped through a hole in the fence surrounding the construction zone. Mancilla says Brady quit working on the WTC site around Thanksgiving. He says the decision was unrelated to the jump.

The four have been charged with burglary, reckless endangerment and jumping from a structure, which is a misdemeanor in New York City. They’ve been released on bail, and Mancilla says Brady was trying to return to work Tuesday at his job on another construction project.

The recent breaches have raised questions about the site’s security. While the New York Police Department patrols the area around the 16-acre WTC construction zone, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is responsible for security on the site. The NYPD referred questions about the site to the Port Authority. Calls and e-mails to the Port Authority went unreturned Tuesday, but the bi-state agency released a statement saying that it “joins the NYPD in condemning this lawless and selfish act that clearly endangered the public.”

Ironworkers may not all be BASE jumpers, but the job does require a certain ability to abandon fear. Not everyone has the nerve to juggle tons of steel while balancing on beams often no more than a foot wide, 100 stories above street level. Like many of his colleagues, Brady was born into the thrill-seeking profession.

“You grow up with it,” Brady said of coming from a family of ironworkers. “As soon as you get around it, you want to do it.”

The adrenaline rush is part of the lure.

“A lot of your ironworkers are guys that were adventurous kids. These are the guys that are skiing 100 miles an hour. These are the guys that are jumping out of airplanes,” Kevin Murphy, the supervisor of 1 WTC’s ironworkers, told TIME for Rise, a Red Border Film that accompanied the WTC story and panorama.

Toward the end of my interview with Brady back in June, along the 102nd floor of 1 WTC, just feet from where he would eventually jump, I asked what was next for him and his fellow ironworkers.

“We really don’t know what we’ll be doing,” Brady told me. “But I don’t know what could top this.”

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