First section of World Trade Center spire raised

The first segment of the enormous spire crowning New York's World Trade Center -- which replaces the Twin Towers destroyed on September 11, 2001 -- was hoisted into place on Wednesday.

Nine of the 18 sections in the 408-foot spire arrived by barge into the Hudson River on Tuesday after a sea journey from Canada, where they were manufactured, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York, which owns the World Trade Center.

"Last night in the overnight hours (the first piece) was moved through the west side of Manhattan through city streets and this morning it was raised," he told AFP.

The skyscraper, officially known as One World Trade Center and popularly as Freedom Tower, is the key in the new complex erected at Ground Zero. At 104 storeys, it is the highest building in New York and when the spire is complete it will become the tallest in the western hemisphere, hitting 1,776 feet.

It could take as much as three months for the work to be completed.

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