In photos: New York City’s iconic Twin Towers

From 1973-2001 these buildings defined the city’s skyline.

twin tower buildings
Ice forms on the Hudson River on January 30, 1976 during New York's coldest January in eight years, with temperatures dropping to minus eight degrees Fahrenheit, a 40 year low. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stand on the left.Peter Keegan / Stringer via Getty Images

If you're in New York City and you look toward lower Manhattan this evening you're bound to notice the two beams of bright light shooting upwards toward the sky. It's an annual art installation called Tribute in Light, which is made of 88 searchlights that are installed on the top of the Battery Parking Garage. It opened in 2002, one year after the attacks that destroyed New York City's World Trade Center buildings, and was initially a temporary commemoration for the thousands who were killed. The installation has returned every year since.

Before September 11, 2001, the two buildings now represented by light were an iconic piece of New York City's skyline. The towers were often used as an establishing shot in media that took place in New York City—that's how representative and emblematic they were. When they opened in 1973 they were the tallest buildings in the world. It's no surprise that the towers were a favorite of photographers over the years.

Today we’re remembering the Twin Towers and the lives lost on 9/11 by looking back at iconic images.

twin towers at night
Night view of lower Manhattan skyline with the World Trade Center towers, April 1977.Bill Pierce / Contributor via GettyImages
twin towers and statue of liberty
View of lower Manhattan skyline with World Trade Center Towers at right and Statue of Liberty in foreground, October 1973.Dmitri Kessel / Contributor via GettyImages
Twin towers aerial view
Aerial view of lower Manhattan area including Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, March 1973.Tony Linck / Contributor via GettyImages
twin towers in manhattan
Aerial view of the lower Manhattan skyline with nearly completed World Trade Center towers dwarfing other buildings, January 1971.Henry Groskinsky / Contributor via GettyImages
twin towers
Ground view looking up at the World Trade Center towers, 1976.Peter J. Eckel / Contributor via GettyImages
twin tower construction
A view of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre under construction, circa 1971.Paul Popper/Popperfoto / Contributor via GettyImages
George Willig climbing twin towers
George 'Human Fly' Willig climbing South Tower of the World Trade Center on May 26, 1977.New York Daily News Archive / Contributor via GettyImages
Twin Towers
New York City skyline with Brooklyn Bridge in the foreground and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in the background on June 11, 1998.Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images
children playing in water near twin towers
People wade in the Hudson River in front of the World Trade Center, August 1980.Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images
world trade center
The Twin Towers of Manhattan's World Trade Center, May 1980.Bettmann / Contributor via GettyImages
world trade center under construction
The north tower of the World Trade Center under construction in the early 1970s.Bettmann / Contributor via GettyImages
world trade center sunset
The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and the Hudson River at sunset, 1998.Michel Setboun/Corbis via Getty Images
woman walking dog near world trade center
Model Maggie Rizer walking dogs on the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights against backdrop of the New York City skyline including the Twin Towers, wearing red jacket by Guillaume Poupart for Ben Kahn, white shirt by Linda Allard for Ellen Tracy and camel skirt by MaxMara. Photographed for Vogue in 1998.Arthur Elgort/Conde Nast via Getty Images
construction worker near world trade center
A worker atop the World Trade Center during its construction in 1971. The Woolworth Building, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge are all visible below.A. Vine/Daily Express/Getty Images