The Mohawk group that worked on the new 1 World Trade Center, according to ironworker John McGowan: Preston Horn, Adam Cross, Randy Jacobs, Joe Flo McComber, Tyler McComber, Louie Cross, Marvin and Keith Brown; many are from Kahnawà:ke, plus Peter Jacobs from Akwesasne, and Turhan Clause, a Tuscarora living in Onondaga.

Mohawk Ironworkers Help Raise Spire for Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center


From beginning to end, from rise to fall to rise again, the noble Mohawk ironworkers have shepherded the sky-scraping towers of the World Trade Center in New York City into existence.

“I worked on the building for four years,” third-generation ironworker John McGowan, Kahnawà:ke, told Kahnawake411, the newspaper for the reserve just outside Montreal. He was recalling his role in building the new One World Trade Center, which stands on the site of the original Twin Towers that fell in the horrifying terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. “It was a great honor to bring back the height to New York.”

The 408-foot-tall, 758-ton spire for the new tower was raised on May 10 and awed many, from the workers themselves to passing tourists, the Associated Press reported. 

McGowan was on cleanup duty back when the first two towers fell, and he is part of the team building the 1,776-foot-high “Freedom Tower,” as the now-tallest building in the Western Hemisphere is dubbed. 

“It was very sad,” he told the newspaper of the attacks’ aftermath. “Families would come to the site still searching or asking questions. There’s a lot of things that the media never showed that were horrific.”

Related: The Genus of Tears: A Mohawk Ironworker's Widow Remembers 9/11

American Indians and Canadian First Nations were instrumental in raising many of New York's tallest buildings, coming proudly from a tradition that adapted itself well to the work. McGowan is one of about 20 men from Kahnawà:ke working on the trade center job site, according to Kahnawake411. (Related: Documentary Traces Brooklyn's Mohawk Ironworkers)

These videos taken from the spire itself, on cameras installed by McGowan on behalf of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, capture the ascension of the spire in all its dizzying, vertigo-inducing glory. This is what the iron workers see as they toil to help New York rise above tragedy and reach for the stars once again. (Related: Anniversary of 9/11 Felt by Indian Construction Workers)

Below is the shortened, time-lapse Cliff Notes version of the hoisting of the spire. It’s a condensation of the original video that’s underneath it, the latter showing the nine-minute version, in what is presumably real time. 

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Mitch Ward's picture
Mitch Ward
Submitted by Mitch Ward on
I'm a retired construction worker (field engineer) and watching this makes want to go back to work. The , comradery & the pride that is all a part of the hard work and long hours that you devote to a project. This is so awsome and the entire country is bursting with pride watching this. USA USA USA

Larry Harris's picture
Larry Harris
Submitted by Larry Harris on
another "Great Moment" completed by Brother Union Ironworkers

Marcella Dion's picture
Marcella Dion
Submitted by Marcella Dion on
You Mohawk ironworkers are awesome, you hung in there until the finish. You guys did a wonderful job, and we in Native Country are very proud of you all!!!

Leo Johnson's picture
Leo Johnson
Submitted by Leo Johnson on
My Hat's off to you; job well done....viewing the videos' wishing I where at the site.....!!!!!! well done....thanks....from (1) New Yorkers.....later

Sonny Skyhawk's picture
Sonny Skyhawk
Submitted by Sonny Skyhawk on
As a retired tower crane operator, seeing this video, I revisited the bubble in my derrière feeling after all these years. Don't forget that in order for an Ironworker to have something to do, a crane operator has to lift it and bring it to him, often at a height higher than the Ironworker. Just sayin.........