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James Endler, engineered WTC, West Point Jewish Chapel, dies at 82

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Engineer James R. Endler, whose work included massive projects such as the World Trade Center, Disney’s Epcot Center, and such personal desires as the West Point Jewish Chapel, died March 24 at 82.

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Endler learned his engineering at West Point and then in the Army Corps of Engineers. Along with the WTC and Epcot, he also worked on Disneyland Paris, Renaissance Center in Detroit, and Canary Wharf in London. After joining the real estate firm Tishman Realty and Construction, Endler helped oversee construction of Madison Square Garden over the relocated Penn Station in the 1970s.

After the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11, Endler was quoted as saying “they had been built as safe as any building could be built.”

An investigative report by New York Times reporters on the towers a year after their collapse reported this anecdote of a ceremony at the building’s top when the North tower was completed in 1970:

When the north tower, the first to go up, was finally topped out on Dec. 23, 1970, it was foggy, and no one could see the view. But James Endler, the West Point grad and construction contractor who oversaw the entire job for the Port Authority, made a point of showing up at a celebration for the workers held on one of the skeletal upper floors — the first open-air party ever to take place 1,300 feet above the street. There was a band, soda and sandwiches. But when the band played the Mexican hat dance, the construction workers started stomping in unison, and Endler — standing next to Jack Kyle, the Port Authority’s chief engineer — began to feel odd vibrations in the structure. The floor did not seem steady. After all the wind-tunnel tests, the computer calculations, the structural innovations, had something been missed? Had the thousands upon thousands of steel parts been fitted together incorrectly? ”Jack, how do we stop that vibration?” Endler asked.

Kyle turned to him, expressionless. ”Don’t play that song anymore,” he advised.

Endler was instrumental in building the Jewish chapel at West Point, where he had been a cadet, in the 1980s. He was quoted as saying he “remembered long marches as a cadet to attend Jewish services in a funeral chapel at the academy cemetery, an experience he likened to Moses’ ‘wandering in the desert.’"

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Follow the Eulogizer on Twitter @TheEulogizer

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