Members of an interfaith memorial gaze at the Manhattan skyline on September 11, 2013.
Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images
  • September 11, 2019 is the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The destruction of the Twin Towers left a glaring hole in the New York City skyline.
  • Following the attacks, movies and television shows replaced images of or cut scenes involving the buildings.
  • In the intervening 18 years, New York has rebuilt the area around ground zero and delivered a yearly tribute in memory of the nearly 3,000 lives lost as a result of those attacks.
  • For more stories go to

The 9/11 terrorist attacks transformed New York City and its skyline.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, smoke filled the air, casting a grey film over the city's Financial District. As the smog began to lift, New Yorkers were confronted with the glaring disappearance of the Twin Towers, a structural duo that had become synonymous with the city itself. Movies and television shows scrambled to replace or eliminate scenes of the buildings, and video games and animated features changed their storylines to reflect their absence.

By 2002, construction began on 7 World Trade Center - one of seven new buildings at the original World Trade Center site. In the coming years, the skyline made way for cranes and steel columns as builders laid the foundation for the complex. By the end of 2014, three buildings in the site's master plan were standing. The fourth building, 3 World Trade Center, opened on June 11, 2018.

The most iconic of these renovated structures, One World Trade Center, is now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. At 1,776 feet high, the tower is a glaring reminder of the city's reconstruction and rebirth.

The following images trace the evolution of New York's skyline before the attacks, on the day of 9/11, and on every anniversary thereafter. In addition to huge structural changes, the images depict citywide tributes to the nearly 3,000 lives lost.

September 11, 2001

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September 11, 2002

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September 11, 2003

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

New York City commemorates the attacks each year by casting 88 searchlights into the sky, creating two columns of light to represent the Twin Towers. The installation, known as Tribute in Light, started on the first anniversary of 9/11 and has since become an annual memorial.

September 11, 2004

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September 11, 2007

Mike Segar-Pool/Getty Images

September 11, 2008

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September 11, 2009

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September 11, 2010

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

September 11, 2011

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Since 2011, politicians have not been allowed to read names or deliver remarks at the 9/11 commemoration service in order to preserve the apolitical nature of the ceremony.

September 11, 2012

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

September 11, 2013

Members of an interfaith memorial gaze at the Manhattan skyline on September 11, 2013.
Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images

September 11, 2014

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

As New Yorkers gathered for another year of memorial services, former President Obama delivered a speech at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. "Beginning tomorrow, there will be teenagers - young adults - who were born after 9/11," Obama said. "While these young Americans did not know the horrors of that day, their lives have been shaped by all the days since."

September 11, 2015

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September 11, 2016

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September 11, 2017

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President Donald Trump delivered remarks at the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial service last year. "We're gathered here today to remember a morning that started very much like this one," he said. "On that day, not only did the world change, but we all changed. Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we face. But in that hour of darkness, we also came together with renewed purpose. Our differences never looked so small, our common bonds never felt so strong."

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