Austin J. Tobin

Austin Joseph Tobin (May 25, 1903 – February 8, 1978) was an American businessman who served as the executive director of the Port of New York Authority, the precursor to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, from 1942 until 1972.[1]

Tobin is widely known for authorizing the construction of the original World Trade Center, which was destroyed during the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Austin J. Tobin
Director of the Port of New York Authority
In office
Preceded byJohn E. Ramsey
Succeeded byMatthias Lukens
Personal details
BornMay 25, 1903
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
DiedFebruary 8, 1978 (aged 74)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
EducationCollege of the Holy Cross
Fordham Law School


Tobin was born on May 25, 1903, to an Irish-American family in Brooklyn, New York City. He was educated at the College of the Holy Cross and Fordham Law School.

Tobin joined the Port Authority in 1927, where he served the first 15 years of his career in the law department. He started out as a law clerk, and was promoted to assistant general counsel in 1935.[2] In 1942, he was appointed as executive director of the Port Authority.[2] During his thirty years as executive director, the agency gained control of LaGuardia Airport, Idlewild (later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport), and Newark Airport. He oversaw the development of the original World Trade Center, the creation of the Lincoln Tunnel, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.[3]

In 1966, Tobin received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York."

He died on February 8, 1978, in Manhattan, New York City, at the age of 74.[1]


Austin Tobin Plaza Marriott World Trade Center - 1995
Austin J. Tobin Plaza in 1995

In 1978, the Port Authority decided to rename the outdoor plaza at the World Trade Center, in his honor, as the Austin J. Tobin Plaza. The centerpiece of the plaza was The Sphere, a 25-foot tall bronze sculpture designed by Fritz Koenig.

The plaza was destroyed during the September 11 attacks in 2001, and is now occupied on the same site by the National September 11 Memorial.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Austin J. Tobin, Executive Director Of Port Authority for 30 Years, Dies. A Target of Criticism. Worked Long Hours. Took Top Position in 1942". The New York Times. February 9, 1978. Retrieved 2008-06-17. Austin J. Tobin, the autocratic Brooklyn-born lawyer who built the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey into the most powerful agency of its kind in the world, died of cancer yesterday at his Manhattan apartment. He was 74 years old.
  2. ^ a b Glanz, James and Eric Lipton (2003). City in the Sky. Times Books. p. 42.
  3. ^ Doig, Jameson (2001). Empire on the Hudson. Columbia University Press.

Further reading

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Liberty Park

Liberty Park is a one-acre (4,000 m2) elevated public park at the World Trade Center in New York City, overlooking the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. It is located above the Vehicular Security Center and opened on June 29, 2016. The St. Nicholas National Shrine is located within the park, as well as The Sphere, the iconic sculpture salvaged from the World Trade Center site. Another statue, America's Response Monument, is also located in the park.


A plaza , pedestrian plaza, or place is an open urban public space, such as a city square.Throughout Spanish America and the Spanish East Indies, the plaza mayor of each center of administration held three closely related institutions: the cathedral, the cantabile or administrative center, which might be incorporated in a wing of a governor's palace, and the audience or law court. The plaza might be large enough to serve as a military parade ground. At times of crisis or fiesta, it was the space where a large crowd might gather. Like the Italian piazza, the plaza remains a center of community life that is only equaled by the market-place.

Most colonial cities in Spanish America and the Philippines were planned around a square plaza de armas, where troops could be mustered, as the name implies, surrounded by the governor's palace and the main church. A plaza de toros is a bullring.

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Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

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Six World Trade Center

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Sky Gate, New York

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Survivors' Staircase

The Survivors' Staircase was the last visible remaining original structure above ground level at the World Trade Center site. It was originally two outdoor flights of granite-clad stairs and an escalator that connected Vesey Street to the World Trade Center's Austin J. Tobin Plaza. During the September 11 attacks, the stairs served as an escape route for hundreds of evacuees from 5 World Trade Center, a 9-floor building adjacent to the 110-story towers. The staircase is now an important feature of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson

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Writer Ian Maxtone-Graham was interested in making an episode where the Simpson family travels to New York to retrieve their misplaced car. Executive producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein suggested that the car be found in Austin J. Tobin Plaza at the World Trade Center, as they wanted a location that would be widely known. Great lengths were taken to make a detailed replica of the borough of Manhattan. The episode received generally positive reviews, and has since been on accolade lists of The Simpsons episodes. The "You're Checkin' In" musical sequence won two awards. Because of the World Trade Center's main role, the episode was taken off syndication in many areas following the September 11 attacks, but had come back into syndication by 2006.

The Sphere

The Sphere (officially Sphere at Plaza Fountain) is a 25-foot (7.6 m) high, cast bronze sculpture by German artist Fritz Koenig. It is located in Liberty Park at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, New York City. Originally located at the Austin J. Tobin Plaza, the centerpiece survived the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, which resulted from the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The Sphere was recovered from the rubble, visibly damaged but largely intact. After being dismantled and stored near a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the sculpture was the subject of the 2001 documentary Koenig's Sphere. On March 11, 2002, six months after the attack, the sculpture was moved temporarily to Battery Park, where in unrestored condition it was rededicated (September 11, 2002) with an eternal flame.

Having become a major tourist attraction, the unrestored sculpture was rededicated on August 16, 2017 by the Port Authority at a permanent location in Liberty Park, overlooking the September 11 Memorial and its original location.

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World Trade Center Plaza Sculpture

The World Trade Center Plaza Sculpture, also called Cloud Fortress, was a sculpture created by Japanese artist Masayuki Nagare in 1972, located at the World Trade Center complex at the Church Street entrance to site's the primary internal 6-acre plaza.Having survived the September 11 attacks, the sculpture was demolished during subsequent emergency efforts to access and clear the site.

World Trade Center
First WTC
Second WTC


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