With the under-construction One World Trade Center fast approaching its final height, President Barack Obama will visit the New York tower Thursday to get an update on its growth and help prepare one of the finishing touches.
Obama is expected to sign a beam that soon will be placed at the top of the tower, said Mike Pinelli, general superintendent of the Tishman construction firm.
"We're going to have our topping-out beam placed on the street" so Obama can sign it, Pinelli said. "It's typically signed by everybody on the project at some point, and then we're going to erect it shortly thereafter to signify the topping out of (the tower)."
Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, is due to arrive at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport in the late afternoon and at the construction site about 5:15 p.m. ET to get a briefing on the building, currently 104 stories and 1,300 feet tall – already the tallest structure in New York.
Also in attendance will be New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The visit to the Lower Manhattan site, where the National September 11 Memorial and Museum also is being built, is Obama's fourth. He last visited it in September to mark the 10-year anniversary of the 2001 attacks by al Qaeda that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Under construction since 2006, One World Trade Center surpassed the Empire State Building (1,250 feet) as the city's tallest structure in April. The tower's builders say it will surpass Chicago's Willis Tower as the tallest building in the United States, with a final height of 1,776 feet – a nod to the year of the Declaration of Independence.
One World Trade Center is expected to be completed next year or in early 2014.
Obama's visit will be the first of his three New York stops on Thursday. He'll attend two fundraisers in the evening - including one at the residence of actress Sarah Jessica Parker - before he returns to Washington late Thursday night.