POSTED: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 3:00pm
UPDATED: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 3:04pm
NEW YORK (CNN) — Construction workers bolted the last pieces of a 408-foot spire into place atop One World Trade Center on Friday, symbolically capping New York's comeback after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The spire brings the iconic building to a height of 1,776 feet -- an allusion to the year the United States declared its independence. It also makes the building the tallest in the Western Hemisphere and the third-tallest in the world.
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey confirmed the installation in a statement.
"This milestone at the World Trade Center site symbolizes the resurgence and resilience of our state and our nation," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in the statement.
Port Authority Chairman David Samson called the building "a national symbol of hope and strength in the face of tragedy."
While the building still has significant construction before its scheduled 2014 opening, the installation brought cheers from New Yorkers, and from people around the country.
"I think it's awesome," said Alen Presson, a firefighter visiting New York. "It shows our resolve. You can blacken our eye, but you're not going to kill us. We're going to come back. So, it's awesome."
"I'm still taking it in," said tourist Joyce Elter of Las Vegas. "I mean, it was such a devastation back then, and everything is progressing. It still has a long way to go, but it's phenomenal."
The pieces installed Friday morning were hoisted to a temporary platform atop the building last week.
The spire contains 18 steel sections and three communication rings. The first -- and heaviest -- steel section was installed in January. It weighs more than 67 tons, according to a statement from the Port Authority.
It will be an antenna for a television broadcast facility in the building, which rises from the site near the original World Trade Center towers, which fell in the 2001 attacks.
Last week, construction director Steven Plate told CNN affiliate WABC that the spire will be a "beacon that'll be seen for miles around and give a tremendous indication to people around the entire region, and the world, that we're back and we're better than ever."
Construction on the building began in April 2006.
-- Michael Pearson wrote and reported from Atlanta, and Kristen Kiraly reported from New York.