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New York Governor George E. Pataki, New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey, and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today laid the cornerstone for the Freedom Tower, the 1,776 foot-tall building that will serve as the new soaring icon of the World Trade Center site. The groundbreaking ceremony, held on the Fourth of July, marked the start of construction on what will be the world's tallest building. During the historic ceremony, Governor Pataki, Governor McGreevey, and Mayor Bloomberg were joined by State and City officials, downtown community leaders, and families of those who lost loved ones on September 11th. The Governors and the Mayor then laid the cornerstone in the northwest corner of the site, 70 feet below street level. Governor Pataki, Governor McGreevey, and Mayor Bloomberg also unveiled an inscription on the cornerstone. Governor Pataki read aloud the inscription, saying: "To honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom –July Fourth, 2004." New York Governor George E. Pataki said, "Today is indeed, a momentous day. Today we take 20 tons of Adirondack granite – the bedrock of our State – and place it as the foundation, the bedrock of a new symbol of American strength and confidence. Today, we lay the cornerstone for a new symbol of this city and this country and of our resolve in the face of terror. Today we build the Freedom Tower." New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, "The laying of the cornerstone for the Freedom Tower is a perfect symbol on a day that we reflect on our nation's birth. Construction of this tower will allow our region to move forward to create new jobs and up to $19 billion in economic activity throughout the New York/New Jersey region." New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, "Today is a historic day for the City and the nation. As we lay this cornerstone, we remember that the liberties, which are the bedrock of our nation, can never be shaken by violence or hate. By laying this magnificent cornerstone of hope, we are sending a message to the people around the world that freedom will always prevail. The war on terror that we now fight requires courage and our freedoms will always be the source of our courage." Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, "This tower will give the World Trade Center site a unique identity, and will serve as the anchor for a spectacular memorial to the thousands of heroes who lost their lives on September 11. It also will have special significance for the hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in the region, showing them that we are as committed as ever to restoring the economic activity and jobs that had been generated by the Trade Center." Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, "The construction of the tower is only one component of a spectacular master plan for the World Trade Center site that will ultimately consist of a world-class memorial, state-of-the-art intermodal transportation hub, and diverse retail, commercial and cultural facilities. The Port Authority is firmly committed to rebuilding this site in a way that will make future generations proud." Charles A. Gargano, Empire State Development Chairman, "Today as we celebrate our Nation's independence, it is fitting that we are also celebrating the beginning of the construction of the Freedom Tower. The Freedom Tower will become a luminous beacon of the new World Trade Center and a soaring vision of a great new American skyscraper. Today's ceremony is a major milestone in the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, and another demonstration of New York's position as the world's preeminent city." John C. Whitehead, Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation said, "This is such an important day for Americans and for the families who lost their loved ones in the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11th and in the 1993 bombing. This is also a time of both reflection on our nation's rich history and renewal of the American spirit, which is the driving force behind our rebuilding efforts for Lower Manhattan and the creation of a beautiful and fitting memorial and new World Trade Center complex." Kevin M. Rampe, President of the LMDC said, "The Freedom Tower will lift our spirits and restore our skyline. It will stand as a proud testament of our resilience and an important part of our 16 acre memorial to all of our heroes lost at the World Trade Center site." World Trade Center developer Larry A. Silverstein said, "Today, we begin construction of what will be the most recognizable and symbolic icon on the world's most revered skyline. As I said when we first unveiled the design, the Freedom Tower will forever stand as a testament to our resilience, our resolve and our glorious rebirth. Congratulations to Governor Pataki, Governor McGreevey and Mayor Bloomberg on their strong leadership, which has brought us to this historic day. Now, we build." Daniel Libeskind, designer of the Master Plan for the World Trade Center Site, said, "On this momentous and historic day, we begin the rebuilding of Ground Zero. We commemorate not only the physical restoration of the site, we also celebrate the strength and resilience of the human spirit. This magnificent Freedom Tower, at 1,776 feet tall, will inspire New York, America and the entire world with the ideals of liberty and democracy." David M. Childs, FAIA, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the architect of the Freedom Tower said, "Freedom Tower is, first and foremost, a New York building. Because its form is a direct response to the anomalous angles of the street grid at its precise location, it is not a building that could be anywhere else but on this site in Lower Manhattan. Moreover, it will act as a symbol of renewal and a lasting icon for the city, as well as an important catalyst for the continued growth of downtown." Madelyn Wils, Chairperson of Community Board 1 and LMDC Board Member said, "Just as the WTC evaporated before our eyes along with our hopes, our dreams and 2,800 of our neighbors, the Freedom Tower will rise before us, restoring our faith in humanity and our community." The cornerstone for the Freedom Tower is made from a 20-ton granite block quarried from the Barton Mines in the Adirondacks. The cornerstone measures 9 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet and is flecked with garnet, the official gem of New York State. The block was quarried in May and supplied to Innovative Stone of Hauppauge, Long Island in early June. Innovative Stone cut, honed, polished, and inscribed the block. Before construction on the Freedom Tower begins, the remnants of the former World Trade Center parking garage must be removed. That process will be completed by the end of this year. At the same time, test borings will be done at the site prior to the installation of the Freedom Tower's foundation. The Freedom Tower, located in the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site, will be the world's tallest building when it is complete. Steel for the Freedom Tower is expected to rise to the sky into 2006 with initial occupancy of the building in late 2008. It will contain 2.6 million square feet of office space on 72 floors, and connect directly to the World Trade Center PATH Station and to New York City subway lines. The building will contain a roof top restaurant and an observation deck. Above the occupied floors of the skyscraper, a latticework structure will rise up to 1,500 feet. In addition, it is estimated that construction on the entire site is will create an average of 8,000 full-time jobs each year until 2015.