The World Trade Center tower built to replace the destroyed Twin Towers was set to become New York's tallest skyscraper Monday, surpassing the venerable Empire State Building.
Workers were expected to slot columns at about 2:00 pm (1800 GMT) into the unfinished skyscraper's skeletal top, bringing the total height to just beyond the 1,250 feet (381 meters) of the Empire State Building's observation deck.
The Port Authority, which owns the site, announced "a major milestone in the construction of One World Trade Center with the installation of steel columns that will make the skyscraper the tallest building in New York.
"When the columns are put in place, the building will officially surpass the height of the Empire State Building, which currently is the tallest structure in New York City," it said.
One World Trade Center, already a gleaming, angular landmark on the city's skyline, will get still taller as construction winds up late next year, finally reaching 1,776 feet (541.3 meters) and 104 floors.
Not only will that dwarf the 1930s masterpiece of the Empire State Building, but it will be higher than the old Twin Towers, which both collapsed, killing almost 3,000 people, during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The tallest building in the world will remain Burj Khalifa in Dubai, measuring 2,717 feet (828.1 meters), but One World Trade Center will be the highest in the western hemisphere.
Although the mammoth construction work to resurrect the Ground Zero area is at last nearing fruition, the project has been plagued by billions of dollars in cost overruns, as well as delays, bickering over designs, and worries over whether the office space will be profitable.
[The lower Manhattan skyline shows One World Trade Center in New York last week. The building, replacing the destroyed Twin Towers, was set to become New York's tallest skyscraper Monday, surpassing the venerable Empire State Building. AFP / Don Emmert]