NEW YORK (AP) - One World Trade Center, the giant monolith being built to replace the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks, will lay claim to the title of New York City's tallest skyscraper today. Workers will erect steel columns that will make its unfinished skeleton a little over 1,250 feet high, just enough to peek over the roof of the observation deck on the Empire State Building.
The milestone is a preliminary one. Workers are still adding floors to the so-called "Freedom Tower" and it isn't expected to reach its full height for at least another year, at which point it is likely to be declared the tallest building in the U.S., and third tallest in the world.
Those bragging rights, though, will carry an asterisk.
One World Trade Center rises above the lower Manhattan skyline and the National September 11 Memorial, lower right, in New York.
Crowning the world's tallest buildings is a little like picking the heavyweight champion in boxing. There is often disagreement about who deserves the belt.
In this case, the issue involves the 408-foot-tall needle that will sit on the tower's roof.
Count it, and the World Trade Center is back on top. Otherwise, it will have to settle for No. 2, after the Willis Tower in Chicago.
TALLEST IN AMERICA
1. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), Chicago, 1974: 1,451 feet.
2. Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago, 2009: 1,389 feet.
3. Empire State Building, New York, 1931: 1,250 feet.
4. Bank of America Tower, New York, 2009: 1,200 feet.
5. Aon Center, Chicago, 1973: 1,136 feet.
Experts and architects have long disagreed about where to stop measuring super-tall buildings outfitted with masts, spires and antennas that extend far above the roof.
Consider the case of the Empire State Building: Measured from the sidewalk to the tip of its needle-like antenna, the granddaddy of all super-tall skyscrapers actually stands 1,454 feet high, well above One World Trade Center.
Purists, though, say antennas shouldn't count when determining building height. An antenna, they say, is more like furniture.