Nearly eight years after terrorist planes felled the Twin Towers, a gaping hole still exists in downtown Manhattan. Design setbacks, bickering politicians and stubborn developers have slowed the rebuilding process of the World Trade Center to a snail's pace. With 9/11's 10-year anniversary only two and a half years away, here's a blow-by-blow timeline of major development events—both productive and destructive.

November 2001: Former Governor George Pataki and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani create the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) to manage about $10 billion in federal funds for rebuilding lower Manhattan.

May 2002: The last piece of steel, which had come from the South Tower, is covered in a U.S. flag and removed from World Trade Center site.

August 2002: After initial designs from Manhattan architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle receive major criticism, the LMDC opens an international competition for new designs for the site.

December 2002: Seven finalists present their designs before the LMDC, even though the WTC's leaseholder Larry Silverstein argues that he should decide who designs the new site.

February 27, 2003: Studio Daniel Libeskind, another Manhattan-based architecture firm, wins the competition with a proposal called "Memory Foundations.” The design features a museum, a memorial, a performing-arts center, a transportation hub and five office towers, including the Freedom Tower, a 1,776-foot structure that when completed will be the third tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

July 16, 2003: Silverstein demands changes on the grounds that there are not enough shops and offices in the original proposal. Daniel Libeskind agrees to give fellow architect David Childs a lead role in developing the design for the Freedom Tower.

January 6, 2004: Another international competition with some 5,200 entries is organized to determine the design of a memorial to 9/11 victims. Israeli architect Michael Arad wins with his Reflecting Absence project.

July 4, 2004: Cornerstone of Freedom Tower is laid.

May 4, 2005: Pataki and Bloomberg order a complete redesign of the Freedom Tower, claiming that it didn't provide adequate protection in case of another terrorist attack. City authorities approve new designs nearly two months later.

May 15, 2006: Calling the Freedom Tower plan "pile-of-crap architecture,” Donald Trump offers his own design which resembles the old Twin Towers, but slightly taller.

March 13, 2006: Groundbreaking of Reflecting Absence memorial.

April 27, 2006: Silverstein loses control over building of Freedom Tower. Port Authority assumes control.

May 23, 2006: A new 7 WTC—the third building to collapse in the attack—office building opens. Silverstein Properties boast of its next-level security features.

December 8, 2006: The Deutsche Bank building begins demolition.

October 2, 2008: A report is released that projects the $3.2 billion transit center, the $3.1 billion Freedom Tower, new streets, an underground vehicle screening center and an eight-acre memorial plaza and museum will be completed between 2012 and 2014. However, the memorial plaza, with waterfalls, reflecting pools and parapets lined with the names of those killed on 9/11, should be finished in time for a public commemoration of the 10th anniversary.—Brett Johnson