Holidays at the World Trade Center

A large “Peace on Earth” sign is displayed on the steps of the World Trade Center in 1999.
Peace on Earth sign on the steps of the World Trade Center, 1999. Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift of Suk-Tan Chin.

As New York City transforms each year to welcome the holiday season, the World Trade Center follows. Even from its early beginnings when the Twin Towers were under construction, workers hoisted a Christmas tree high up the North Tower so they could mark the season as they labored.

Later, holiday events centered around honoring the diversity of traditions that reflected the international spirit of the World Trade Center. The grand lobby areas of each tower were adorned with decorations and featured live performances and events honoring the Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah traditions. But perhaps most memorable was the large-scale “Peace on Earth” sign that was first installed in 1998 on the steps of the plaza between the two towers.

An archive of personal photos donated to the 9/11 Memorial Museum by long time Port Authority employee, Janet Montalvo-Carlo, reveals the original World Trade Center in it’s prime—including efforts to celebrate the holidays. There was an annual Toys for Tots program and children of Port Authority employees were invited to a Christmas party at the Windows on the World restaurant during which “Santa Claus” would make a sudden appearance aboard a window-washer’s hoist, and was lowered past the restaurant windows.

Even today, the tradition continues at the newly constructed World Trade Center with a full week of holiday activities, many centered on kids and families.

By Jenny Pachucki, 9/11 Memorial Content Strategist

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