By the time Gov. George Pataki opened up Port Authority property to competitive bidding, Mr. Silverstein had already made his mark in New York City, his Silverstein Properties—a company he established with his father in the ’50s—having had success in Midtown. But his biggest ambitions lay downtown, and in 1980, he won the right to develop 7 World Trade, the last parcel in the coveted complex. In July 2001, he finally signed a deal for four buildings there, including the Twin Towers. It became his habit to have coffee each morning at Windows on the World atop the North Tower. One Tuesday morning he had a dermatologist appointment; he is said to have been leaning toward canceling it, but his wife, Klara, insisted he keep the appointment.
That day, September 11, 2001, Larry Silverstein watched his most important property dissolve into rubble, burying thousands of fellow New Yorkers. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, he announced his intention to rebuild on the site, and since then he has been at the center of the plans and negotiations that came with the massive project. Despite red tape and complicated lawsuits, Mr. Silverstein, with his partner, Marty Burger, commissioned and began construction on seven towers that will make up the new World Trade Center. Now, with several new towers completed and the rest continuing to rise gracefully over downtown Manhattan, Mr. Silverstein’s vision and unending fortitude are visible once again at the southern tip of New York City.