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Steel spire rises atop New York's One World Trade Center

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(Reuters) - One World Trade Center, slated to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, was one step closer to completion on Wednesday as workers lifted the first piece of its spire to the top of the skyscraper.

The 408-foot (124 meter) spire is divided into eighteen pieces and will take about three months to install, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The structure, which will ultimately rise to 1,776 feet, became the tallest in New York City in April.

The piece of the spire was lifted to the top of the building Wednesday morning, having arrived in the New York area in November with eight others after a 1,500-nautical-mile journey from Quebec. The steel pieces range in weight from about 5 tons to more than 67 tons, according to the Port Authority.

The skyscraper, due to open in 2014, is part of the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site in downtown Manhattan, where nearly 3,000 people perished in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The site will include a memorial, a transit hub, a performing arts center, and four office towers.

President Barack Obama in June toured One World Trade Center, inscribing a beam with the words: “We remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger!” followed by his signature.

Editing by Paul Thomasch and Marguerita Choy