NEW YORK (AP) — Two men who are so entranced with One World Trade Center that they estimate they've shot thousands of photos of it have got a tour of the unfinished skyscraper on Friday after winning a photo contest.
William Duffy of New York City and Filip Michalowski of Stamford, Conn., were two of the top three vote-getters in a contest on the One World Trade Center Facebook page.
Duffy and Michalowski said they mobilized friends and family to vote for their photos of the tower, which will open next year but is still a busy construction site now.
"We were working really hard to make it happen," said Michalowski, 26, an architecture student and 3D designer who brought his parents along on Friday's tour.
Duffy, 48, an air conditioning technician from Queens, brought his wife and sister on the tour organized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site.
The two families were among the first visitors to the building other than members of the media who have documented its progress over the years.
They donned hardhats and rode elevators all the way to the roof, stopping to admire the view from the 64th and 90th floors.
Formerly known as the Freedom Tower, the building at the northwest corner of the trade center site is a symbolic 1,776 feet tall including its spire.
The tour included a chance to see the spire from the roof of the tower, 105 stories up.
The spire looks like a slender needle from a distance, but up close the 798-ton structure is a latticework of pillars and platforms, strong enough to withstand the weather and house transmitting equipment yet to be installed.
Duffy, Michalowski and their families signed the base of the spire with markers, adding their names to those left by construction workers.
Michalowski, an immigrant from Poland, said he never got to see the twin towers that were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.
"This seems like the reborn towers," he said. "It's just a special thing because so many people died here. It's just a sign that we'll never give up."
Duffy said he dedicated his contest win to the Sept. 11 victims. He was working on the air conditioning system at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 2001 and attended many of the victims' funerals.
"He took it really, really hard," Duffy's wife, Doreen, said.
The contest's No. 1 vote-getter, Vlasios Rafailidis, lives in Greece and will visit another time.