Fresh off a memorable trip to West Point Saturday, the Duke men's basketball team stayed in New York City Sunday for a powerful morning tour of the World Trade Center. The Blue Devils were treated to an extensive and informative tour of the construction site, as well as the 9/11 memorial, by Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Clad in hard hats and neon yellow vests, the Blue Devils took a six-minute construction elevator ride from the ground floor nearly 1,700 feet up to the roof of the architectural marvel. Once construction is completed, One World Trade Center will rise 1,776 feet (105 floors) above the city, making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
"The full view of the city was amazing when we got off the elevator," said redshirt sophomore Alex Murphy. "The stories that we heard about the construction and how much this project means to the people here are really impactful."
From the roof of the One Trade Center the team was able see the sprawling New York landscape, including the Statue of Liberty on one side and Manhattan on the other side of a narrow wooden walkway to the center of the structure. At the center of the building is a steel/concrete tower rising up the the height of 1,776 feet. On the structure are names and messages from visitors to the construction site, as the Port Authority encourages all visitors to be a part of the healing and construction process.
"It is really touching to come up here and see all the signatures and get to be some small part of it," said sophomore Marshall Plumlee. "I know a lot of work has gone into this, and it is beautiful to see it all come together like it is."
While the sites from atop One World Trade Center were impactful, the time spent at the 9/11 Memorial was equally significant. Baroni turned the tour over to a pair of Duke graduates now working as guides at the facility. As players examined names of victims along the North and South Pools, the tour guides providing some of the many amazing stories of strength that emerged from the chaos of 9/11.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to go to the top of World Trade Center," added Andre Dawkins. "Hearing all the stories on how hard people are working on it and everything that has happened is amazing. I have a completely different appreciation. I learned a lot that I didn't know before about 9/11 and what they are trying to do now. It is just really amazing, and I am thankful to have had this opportunity."
As the tour came to a close, Coach K pulled a young Blue Devil fan into a group picture with the Duke team, providing an early treat for the youngster about to embark on a tremendous tour of modern American history.