The Twin Towers remained aloof from the passions below. They were the perfect backdrop buildings, minimalist pylons, signifying nothing in particular—unlike the heroic Empire State Building—but serving always as inscrutable signposts. If you emerged squinting from the subway, momentarily disoriented, the Twin Towers, shimmering in the distance, visible from almost everywhere in the city, helped you get your bearings.
The World Trade Center as an enduring presence on the skyline. Images from 1978 to 2011.