As I’m sure you know by now, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (yes, such a council exists) was recently called upon to decide whether the spire [read: antenna] on the new One World Trade Tower made it the newest tall building in the United States. Apparently, the people who serve on the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat are the type of people who believe that a 5’8 man with really puffy hair is actually 6’0 tall. They ruled that the spire [antenna] made the New York building technically taller than Chicago’s Willis Tower .
Who cares, right? Well, Chicagoans do, because we are the City of Big Chips on our Shoulders. We are incapable of learning that New Yorkers have always been madly in love with themselves, have always played dirty, and always win, because they’re bigger and richer than we are, and they have better PR people. John Updike once said that New Yorkers had a “secret belief that people living anywhere else had to be, in some sense, kidding.” And that mentality will be apparent in New York’s response to this ruling. A bored yawn, a tweedy leg crossed over a knee, a condescending shrug. “This has nothing to do with Chicago,” they’ll sigh, shaking their heads at our sad Illinois earnestness. “We didn’t even know there were skyscrapers in the Midwest,” they’ll say. “We thought it was all, like, corn or something.”
When I was little, I enjoyed torturing my younger brother in car rides by sticking my finger a centimeter from his eye and then, when he told me to leave him alone, I’d say, “What? I’m not even touching you.” The Willis Tower is 1,729 feet high. One World Trade Center without its spike is 1,368 feet—the same height as the original North Tower before it was destroyed on September 11, 2001. I think that’s pretty cool. But not cool enough, apparently, because when you add the antenna, the building now reaches 1,776 feet, because, you know, America!!!! Symbolic heights aside, the bottom line is that they stuck a huge metal spike on top of their building so that it would be just a little higher than the Willis Tower. And here’s the most brilliant part of all: anyone who disputes the ruling will be accused of being unpatriotic.
What? I’m not even touching you!