The evidence of New Yorkers’ resilience in the wake of tragedy is everywhere in Lower Manhattan. It’s in the emotional 9/11 memorial, the gleaming new World Trade Center buildings, and, this week, it’s in the re-opening of a pathway that’s been closed since the terrorist attacks back in 2001.
A stretch of pavement that runs down Liberty Street, right in the shadow of 4 World Trade Center, was declared open this week - much to the relief, and in some cases pride, of the locals bringing this area back to life.
The pathway leads pedestrians along the side of the 4 World Trade Center building, past the National 9/11 memorial, and onto bustling West street.
For Laurie Spencer, a survivor of the World Trade Center attacks, being back in the area and seeing it open back up is especially significant.
“We just returned to the area after 9/11. I’m a World Trade Center person from before and we just came back. It’s a little weird,” said Spencer, 56, a procurement manager for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who commutes in on the PATH from New Jersey every day.
Spencer said since moving back into the area for work, her employers have been conscious of the psychological impact being there could have on workers - she said they are providing help for anyone who asks for it.
“If we want it, yes, they’ll help us,” she said.
She said she thinks the new pathway, and the air of renewal in the area, are signs of the city moving forward.
“I’m glad, I’m very big on the re-building down here, and I’m happy to see it coming back to life. I think the future of New York City is down here,” she said, “It’s great to see everything coming back to life.”
On the new sidewalk, Leticia Richardson, 44, was on a break just outside 4 World Trade Center, where her office - at the city’s Human Resources Administration - is located. She just started working in this area a few months ago - and for her, it’s less an emotional connection to the renewal and more a question of getting things running smoothly in the area.
“It’s annoying that you have to walk all the way around but it’s to build the neighborhood back up,” said Richardson, “When they finish, we’ll all be much happier.”
She travels to work from downtown Brooklyn to the World Trade Center transportation hub every day.
“That’s a nice commute. It’s a nice little 10 minute ride so I’m happy with that.”
Other workers in the area agree that the new stretch of sidewalk is a welcome relief to heavy pedestrian traffic in the area.
“My commute is not that bad, I just come out of the train a couple of blocks away, so the worst part was getting here and suddenly the tourists are leading a class of students through,” said John Clavis, 44, who works for the city and state at the Office of Child Support Enforcement,
“It’s more than doubling the capacity.”
For Clavis, the new pathway is one more step to getting the area back to normal - it can still sometimes feel strange, he said, working in an area that’s partly covered with construction but also has such significance in New York City that tourists flock to it.
“It’s odd because some of it is construction, so when you see tourists walking around you’re like, alright well, go find the actual touristy things. This is a construction site, you’re just blocking traffic,” he said.
But for now, all Clavis wants is a simple cafe with hot food by the pound for lunch - not an easy find in the area at the moment, he said.
“I’m looking forward to more and more stores moving into the area,” he said.
New World Trade Center PATH platform opening
While the traffic on the sidewalks around the World Trade Center buildings begins to flow more freely, commuters on the PATH trains at the World Trade Center stop can also hopefully look forward to an easier commute.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will open a second platform on Thursday morning for the Newark to World Trade Center line at the PATH station.
The station, part of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, will continue to open new platforms and areas for commuters in the lead-up to summer.
“In the coming weeks, the agency will continue to open significant portions of the Hub, providing customers with additional access points that will improve transportation connections for those who live, work and visit Lower Manhattan,” a spokesperson for the authority said in a statement.