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Rebuilding NYC

Figuring Out The Memorial


memorailWhen Anita Contini started her new job this month as the person in charge of the memorial at Ground Zero, one of her first acts was to announce an international competition to design the memorial, with a final design due no sooner than the fall of 2003. One of the next things on her agenda is to leave town. Contini, whose official title is the director of cultural and civic programs for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, will be traveling to other memorial sites around the world to get a sense of what works and what does not.

New York City is already the home to a large number of memorials. The parks department manages about 1,300 memorial statues, monuments and plaques throughout the city. The most popular sites include Strawberry Fields in Central Park, which commemorates the death of John Lennon, the Washington Square Arch, which honors George Washington, and the East Coast Memorial in Battery Park, which is dedicated to the servicemen who perished in the Atlantic in World War Two.

Downtown Manhattan alone has more than twenty commemorative sites, including an African burial ground, a Vietnam veterans memorial, the General Slocum memorial fountain, and memorials to the New York police and fire departments. The newest memorial, the Irish Hunger Memorial to mark the Irish famine and raise consciousness about world hunger, was completed recently in Battery Park City, under the shadow almost literally of Ground Zero. A nearby memorial, commemorating the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, was destroyed last year on September 11th.

September 11th has already spawned thousands of tributes that could be called memorials - the bus shelters and hospital walls covered with those photocopies of the missing; the street shrines made of candles; the pieces of paper covered with spontaneous prose and drawings. For two months this spring, the Tribute in Light, a more official memorial, but just as temporary, consisted of two beams of light in the sky, suggesting the twin towers. The arts group that Contini started in 1973, Creative Time, had a hand in creating that tribute.

But now, as the effort to create a permanent memorial gets underway, Contini will travel to examine other memorials that may offer lessons for the one at Ground Zero, because they commemorate tragic events, or because they were a result of a public process.

okla OKLAHOMA CITY:
Oklahoma City is the most obvious model for a memorial downtown. As the group New York New Visions points out in their Principles for the Rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, "The Oklahoma City National Memorial is perhaps the most relevant [memorial], since it derives from a recent terrorist act."

The memorial takes up 3.3 acres in downtown Oklahoma City where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood. The 168 empty chairs represent those lost, and a shallow pool of moving water offers a place for quiet reflection. There is also an institute for terrorism prevention, a museum, and a gift shop. This design, done by Hans and Torrey Butzer and Sven Berg, was selected through an international competition coordinated by an organization called the Oklahoma Memorial Task Force, which worked with survivors of the attacks, the families of its victims, and rescue workers. New York New Visions looks at this project as an example of an "effective consensus-building process."

But while the process in Oklahoma was established to be democratic, special priority was given to the victim's families. The project's mission statement states that "The wishes of the Families/Survivors Liaison Subcommittee are to be given the greatest weight in the Memorial planning and development process." This had a profound effect on the tone of the memorial. The decision to give such power to the victims' families was made to calm their fears that they would not have enough say in the process. But some say the tilt towards the families resulted in a tone in the Oklahoma City memorial that New Yorkers would be wise not to emulate.. Philip Weiss, a columnist for the New York Observer, writes that memorials need to be "sites of strength and understanding," and not just places to mourn. Oklahoma's memorial ignores this and focuses only on a sense of deep sadness. He warns New York to "take an important lesson from the wrongheaded memorial [in Oklahoma City]: Do not wallow in grief."

vietnam VIETNAM MEMORIAL, WASHINGTON D.C.:
Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam memorial in Washington, D.C, is one person who knows that a process like this can lead to a tricky balancing of interests. While she was designing the memorial in Washington, D.C, chosen in an open competition, Lin had a conflict with some groups of veterans who were hesitant to cede control over the design. Lin felt that this was necessary to realize her own artistic vision. It became difficult to proceed at times. Eventually, a compromise was reached. Lin's design, a black granite wall with the names of the 58,175 American casualties of the war etched into it, was built according to her original vision. A statue of three soldiers was constructed 300 feet away to satisfy critics of Lin's design.

The process of building a memorial is an emotional event, and compromise will always be a challenge. The Vietnam memorial was built years after the war had ended. While there is far more consensus over the events of September 11th than over the Vietnam War, less than a year has passed since September 11th, and emotions are still high. Dr. Vamik Volkan, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, is not convinced that we are far enough beyond the event to build anything at Ground Zero. "It's too soon," he says. "The attacks and the memory are too hot in our minds. Americans will be repressing their grief if they try to lock it all up in the process of designing and building a memorial right now."

Volkan voices a popularly held belief that all Americans, and not just those who lost loved ones in the attack, have a serious emotional investment in the memorial process. This makes September 11th unusual. "At some level, we all shared it," Lin told the New Yorker in a recent interview, "and that had never happened before in history. I hope that is really taken into account." Contini is taking feelings like this to heart, and stresses that she has heard the need for something more than a tribute to the deceased, both from people who did not lose loved ones and those who did. "Victims' families are a primary concern to us," she says "[but] they have very articulately said themselves that this memorial will interest people from around the world. It will be a symbol to many different people. In order to create that type of extraordinary symbol you need to incorporate a number of ideas from many different people."

Another concern is to create a unified vision for a memorial that is more than simply a series of accommodations made to different groups, so that a designer can proceed with that vision in mind. Washington's competition was run by arts professionals, after the groups involved expressed their needs and an official vision was established that articulated them. At some point, the best thing to do may be to go with a personal artistic vision, says Contini, who points to Lin's work as proof that this method can succeed. "We have to have confidence in the artistic vision of the people who are selected to actually implement the vision. The Vietnam memorial.was created under a lot of controversy, but in the end the committee trusted the artistic vision of the one designer. And it turned out to be an outstanding memorial."

pearl harbor PEARL HARBOR:
The USS Arizona Memorial in Oahu, Hawaii, took some two decades after the attack on Pearl Harbor left over 2,000 people dead. A memorial was first proposed in 1943; in 1950, a flagpole was erected over the sunken ship; in 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the creation of a memorial on the site, and public funds and private donations were collected. The memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1962. It was designed by Alfred Preis, an Austrian immigrant who fled the Nazis in 1939. The memorial itself is a large, white, rectangular structure. Inside is a shrine room, with the names of the victims etched into its white marble walls.

"Wherein the structure sags in the center but stands strong and vigorous at the end, expresses initial defeat and ultimate victory.the overall effect is one of serenity," said Preis of his work. He also noted that "overtones of sadness have been omitted to permit the individual to contemplate his own personal responses."

While the USS Arizona was only one of 12 ships sunk in the attack, its memorial has come to represent all those lost at Pearl Harbor.

hiroshima HIROSHIMA:
The memorial in Hiroshima is the result of a rebuilding process that dwarfs ours by comparison. The city was more or less completely destroyed after the atomic bomb attack that resulted in 140,000 deaths. One year later, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law was passed. The first article of the law states that "this law aims at the construction of Hiroshima as a Peace Memorial City, a symbol of the ideal of faithfully realizing lasting peace."

The law also called for the construction of public facilities, including a 30-acre memorial park. In the park are several memorials. A memorial to the victims, called the Centograph,is designed to resemble an ancient house of clay, with a stone coffin that contains a register of the victims. There is also a burial mound to represent the unknown victims, the Children's Peace Monument, the Monument in memory of Korean Victims of the A-bomb, The Monument to Toge Sankichi, and the Monument to All Japan Property Damage Insurance Labor union. A tour through the park takes about two hours. The law also states that the mayor of Hiroshima must continue to make steps towards the completion of the Peace Memorial City, working with residents and other interests. Part of this duty means that every August 6th, on the anniversary of the attack, the mayor makes an appeal for peace to the entire world at 8:15 a.m.

PENTAGON:
Another process that Contini may keep her eye on is the other September 11th memorial, the one at the Pentagon. Since last November, the Army Corps of Engineers has been working towards memorializing the attacks on Washington. An organization called the Focus Group has been formed, comprised of Corps employees, professional groups, and a competition consultant. The group has been in a dialogue with the Family Steering Committee, an organization of family members representing the victims. A site has been chosen, and a two-stage competition is underway. The first stage is an open competition, accepting designs from anyone whether they be, in the words of Carol Anderson-Austra, the Army Corps of Engineers project manager, "schoolchildren, professional architects or truck drivers in Oklahoma or Kansas."

This competition will be judged by a jury comprised of sculptors, architects and landscape architects, a representative from the victims' families, and two prominent citizens from the Washington D.C. area. This will take place in October. At this point five or six designs will be selected for further development. In mid December a final design will be chosen, and the memorial is scheduled to be dedicated on September 11th, 2003.

The memorial process in New York is bound to be the most heavily scrutinized part of the rebuilding. For months, people urged that nothing be built on the site. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani became the champion of the victims' families by calling for a "soaring" memorial. But public opinion had evolved by the time Mayor Michael Bloomberg voiced his disdain for the idea of a "cemetery" downtown. Governor George Pataki vowed not to build on the towers' footprints, where the buildings had actually stood, but he later backed off, saying that the promise was really an opinion. Consensus seems far off.

It may seem as if Contini has put herself in a very difficult position, she is optimistic. "I don't immediately see the difficulties of the situation but the opportunities," she says, pointing to her past as the founder of Creative Time, the artistic director of the World Financial Center arts and events programs, and the head of Merrill Lynch's Global Sponsorships and Events Marketing. "I have experience.in truly bringing people together and creating an open exchange of ideas in forging a common vision." Optimistic or not, the job is a large one. And while Contini will be keeping tabs on what is going on in other places and what has been done in the past, she believes that there is a limit to what can be learned from elsewhere. The situation in New York is unique, and will be treated as such. As a process is developed, past experiences will be taken into account, but New York's method will not be directly modeled on any one effort. "We can't just pick up some else's process and make it our own," Contini says.

###

Memorialists vs. Rebuilders?


Author: Sandra
Date: 07-27-02 03:23
I hate the idea of any type of rebuilding. A memorial park would be perfect!!! This is sacred ground & should be preserved in a respectful way.

Author: Harold
Date: 08-02-02 00:08
The World Trade Center Towers must be rebuilt a little bit taller than the original towers to prove to all the terrorists in the world that the United States calls the shots.

These posts went up on Gotham Gazette's message board about rebuildingissues just last week. Nearly a year after the attacks, there continue to be very emotional, deeply felt -- and mutually exclusive -- ideas about what should be built at the World Trade Center site.

In a July New York Post survey, about half of the New Yorkers polled supported rebuilding the twin towers as they were before the attack. At the same time, a recent New York Times/CBS poll indicated that nearly a quarter want to dedicate the entire site to a 16-acre memorial. Preliminary results from Gotham Gazette's Ground Zero Plannershow these same conflicting views.

Rebuilding officials did not include either of these options in the six plans they released last month. But some advocates say they are ignoring the will of the people.

What happens when faced with such irreconcilable positions? How can the public be a driving force behind rebuilding, when it is so split? How will anything get done?

TALKING IT OUT

Experts in grief responses and conflict resolution, as well as people who were involved in similar polarized situations in the past, all say that it can happen, but it will take time.

"There may not ever be consensus, but I think we can strive for it," said Susan Gerbino, a professor at New York University's school of social work who has studied grief. So much controversy originally surrounded the design for the Vietnam memorial that a second monument, a statue of three servicemen, was added. However, decades later, Maya Lin's design of a simple black wall engraved with the names of Americans killed in the war is universally celebrated for its powerful simplicity.

Slowing down the planning process could help, said Gerbino. "You cannot rush grief, and you cannot rush these plans," she said. "Families may feel one way now, and they might feel differently after the one year anniversary."

Wanting to rebuild the towers is also, in a way, about grieving for what happened, said Maria Volpe, director of the City University of New York's Dispute Resolution Consortium. Many New Yorkers identified with the World Trade Center as a symbol of the city, she said. "The buildings became a symbol," said Volpe, "In many ways, it is an identity thing for people, because in New York we pride ourselves in being bigger than and better than."

William Hirschfield, a professional conflict mediator who worked as a facilitator at Listening to the City, said that providing more places for people to talk about rebuilding - such as the July 20th public meeting, where groups of ten people listened to each others' ideas before submitting suggestions--is the best way to move toward a common ground. "I believe that talk works," said Hirschfield. "Listening to the City was very cooperative, with people thinking, 'how do we build on that?' instead of a traditional public meeting where everyone just gets their own two minutes."

A man at the table that Hirchfield moderated firmly supported rebuilding the towers, he said. "So we talked about how economically this might not make sense, and the environmental and safety laws that the original buildings violated," said Hirchfield. "He later acknowledged that buildings on the site wouldn't have to include offices on the top floors, that for him, the skyline was the most important thing."

HOW HAVE THE POSITIONS CHANGED?

There are other signs that even the most adamant positions can shift. Right after the attack, many grieving families were reluctant to even consider building anything on the site. In his farewell address, former mayor Rudy Giuliani told the city that the 16-acre site should be dedicated to a memorial, saying, "I really believe we shouldn't think about this site out there...as a site for economic development. We should think about a soaring, monumental, beautiful memorial."

However, after a February poll showed that about 75 percent of New York City voters wanted to see office and apartment buildings on the site in addition to a memorial, many groups reconsidered their position. Now, many victims' family members like September's Mission founder Monica Iken, who once supported only a memorial on the site, are calling for just the footprints where the towers once stood to be preserved.

Rebuild groups like Team Twin Towers, however, have only become more vocal. In October 2001, almost two-thirds of New York state voters supported rebuilding the World Trade Center, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. A wide-reaching poll has not been conducted recently, but a July survey of 609 people in the five boroughs by the New York Post(which has itself advocated for the towers to be rebuilt) indicated that 48 percent of New Yorkers support rebuilding the twin towers, while 50 percent oppose the idea.

MOVING FORWARD?

If rebuilding planners are able to develop a new plan that captivates everyone's imagination, staunch advocates may be willing to rally around it. "I would like to see the towers the way they were, but I am not going to be dogmatic about it," explained Nicole Gelinas, who wrote a New York Post column supporting the towers' return. "If I see a plan for a truly bold building, I might support it."

But the first six plans weren't even close to shaking her convictions, she said.

The Employment Impact of the September 11 World Trade Center Attacks: Updated Estimates based on the Benchmarked Employment Data


Contact: James Parrott

FPI Deputy Director and Chief Economist
212-414-9001

Introduction and Overview

On November 5, 2001, the Fiscal Policy Institute released a report, "The Economic Impact of the September 11 World Trade Center Attacks," that estimated that New York City would lose a total of 105,200 jobs in the fourth quarter of 2001 as a result of the WTC attacks. Of this total job loss to the city, an estimated 79,700 of the lost jobs were likely to involve layoffs; the remainder (25,500) involved jobs that were relocated outside of the city.

The November 5 report was based on estimates made by FPI that were developed through numerous interviews with industry sources supplemented with economic analysis of the city economy and input-output analysis of the multiplier effects. At the time of that report, there were no government data for New York City yet available for the fourth quarter. On March 5, the New York Labor Department released its annual benchmark revision of the monthly payroll data for New York City. With this data, it is possible to determine more up-to-date estimates of the actual job losses occurring during the fourth quarter on a detailed industry basis.

The attached table presents FPI’s updated estimates of the WTC-related job loss during the fourth quarter. FPI developed these estimates by seasonally adjusting the benchmarked data at a detailed industry level, and by applying adjustments for the effects of the recession and anticipated further revisions when the 2002 benchmarked data is released in March of 2003. FPI examined job changes on an industry basis for the first three quarters of 2001 to estimate the likely effects of the recession during the fourth quarter in the absence of the WTC attacks. Since the 2001 benchmark revisions were only based on more complete administrative records through the second quarter of 2001, the Labor Department will further revise employment data for 2001 when the 2002 benchmark. The 2002 benchmark will be based on the administrative records for the last half of 2001 and the first half of 2002.

FPI finds that the revised WTC job loss involving layoffs was approximately 73,900 during the fourth quarter, slightly lower than the 79,700 estimate from the November 5 report. Among the most significant changes were a 5,000 upward revision in job loss in the air transport industry, a 3,900 reduction in the number of hotel jobs estimated to have been lost, and a 3,000 reduction in the estimated restaurant industry job loss. In the case of both the hotel and restaurant industries, sharp job declines registered in the immediate aftermath of the attacks were partially offset by seasonally adjusted job gains in the months of November and December. For example, the restaurant industry reported an employment decline of 12,300 in October, but gains of 3,300 jobs in November and 1,300 in December.

Highlights of New York City’s Current Employment Picture

  • NYC lost 131,300 jobs in 2001, 3.5% of the total number of jobs that existed in December 2000. This was one of the largest 12-month employment declines on record and the largest employment decline in the city since 1991.
  • Every industry sector experienced job loss during the last 3 months of 2001, except for construction where there was a small gain of 400 jobs.
  • Nearly two-thirds, or 84,000, of the 131,300 job decline occurred during the fourth quarter, effectively the post-September 11 period. The post-September 11 decline during 2001 was almost two-thirds of the total for the year, and 5-and-one-half times the pace of decline occurring in the 9 months of the pre-September 11 period in 2001.
  • As the November 5 report pointed out, most the of the job displacement post-September 11 hit low-income workers in the restaurant, retail, wholesale and hotel industry.
  • The post-September 11 job decline picture looks very different from the pre-September 11 job decline. Before the WTC attacks, New York City job losses were concentrated in manufacturing (-13,900), business services (-27,400), and the FIRE sector (-4,100). Post-September 11, the FIRE sector led all industries in job declines (-26,600), although nearly half of this involved jobs being relocated outside of the city. Air transport (-9,900), restaurants (-7,700), other retail (-5,600), and hotels (-3,100) were hard hit. In most cases, these industries had felt only moderate job loss before September 11. (The figures cited here are before FPI adjustments.)

Almost All September 11 Displaced Workers are NYC Residents

  • 85% of the workers displaced by the WTC attack are NYC residents, according to the State Labor Department. The largest portion live in Brooklyn (26%), followed by Queens (24%) and Manhattan (20%).

Unemployment and Unemployment Insurance Claims

  • With 264,100 people officially unemployed, the unemployment rate in NYC was 7.5% in January, well above the national rate of 6.3% (not seasonally adjusted). For the 4 months since September 11 for which there are data, the city’s unemployment rate has averaged 7.2%. However, the bleak employment outlook in the city has led nearly 50,000 city residents to cease looking for work altogether. If these discouraged workers were factored into the unemployment rate calculation, the city’s unemployment rate would be 8.7%. Even though the national economy may be entering a recovery period, the unemployment rate is likely to rise further in NYC through the rest of 2002.
  • Over 260,000 NYC workers have filed initial unemployment claims in the 6 months since September 11. The volume of initial claims has tapered off somewhat since January, but the number filing from mid-November to mid-January was nearly as great (100,400) as the number applying for unemployment insurance in the first two months (114,400) after the attack (mid-September to mid-November). Those starting to receive unemployment benefits in the wake of the September 11 attacks will soon start exhausting the 26 weeks (6 months) of regular state unemployment insurance compensation.
  • Nearly six months after September 11, the number of workers filing for unemployment insurance is still 20% higher than a year ago, a period when the recession had already started to push up unemployment filings in NYC.

Overbuilding By Community Facilities (Hospitals, Churches, Universities, Etc.)



The Topic
"Land Use" refers to the processes by which alterations are made to the built environment and the principles and laws which govern these alterations. Such changes include construction, demolition or renovation of buildings, changes to streets and sidewalks, and designation of historic landmarks. A city's land use policies have far-reaching effects which delve into social, economic and political arenas. Eventually they are the ultimate arbiter of how a city develops. "Zoning" refers to New York City's Zoning Resolution - first passed in 1916 and overhauled in 1961 - that enumerates the rules for land use.
The Context
New York City has over 200,000 acres of land, and we fight over every square foot. The city's land use policies set the stage for that fight. Will there be parks? And where? How high can Donald Trump build? All these questions and more are relegated to the land use arena.
The Reporter
Tom Angotti is Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College, City University of NY, editor of Planners Network Magazine, and a member of the Task Force on Community-based Planning.

Brad Lander is the executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, a community development organization in Brooklyn.

Laura Wolf-Powers is assistant professor at the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment in the School of Architecture at the Pratt Institute.

The Archives
See past monthly updates for Land Use.

Many neighborhood groups have complained for years that New York City's zoning law lets community facilities like hospitals, universities and churches grow too big, and do so without their neighbors having a say. Community facilities can build much more than residential developers could on the same land, and they can do so "as-of-right" — without community review.

New York University is a case in point. According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the university has used the community facility bonus since the 1980s to develop eleven high-rise buildings. Some of the buildings are more than twice as large as the surrounding residential buildings. The city's zoning law allows schools and like facilities to build up to twice as much in residential districts than permitted for housing. This encourages expansion into residential blocks and can produce buildings out of context with existing development. According to Arthur Strickler, District Manager of Community Board 2 in Manhattan (which includes Greenwich Village), NYU has "destroyed the views, light, and character of the neighborhood by building structures like fortresses that are ruining the neighborhood, especially Washington Square Park."

The City Planning Department and City Council are considering changes to the community facility regulations in the zoning law. These are long overdue. The city's planners have studied the problem since the Koch administration but no administration since then has made the changes a priority. The previous City Planning Commissioner, Joseph Rose, tried to address the community facility problem by limiting the height bonuses in some residential districts as part of his proposed Unified Bulk zoning proposal, but was forced to remove the changes amid howls from institutional developers. The affected institutions clearly don't want more restrictions, and their expected opposition is one major reason why the rules haven't been changed. Recent articles signal the renewed interest in zoning changes: "A Delicate Balance: Community Facilities and Communities" by David Dunlap in the Sunday, October 27, 2002 issue of The New York Times Real Estate section; and an article by Aimee Molloy scheduled for the December issue of City Limits.

It appears that this latest attempt at zoning revisions will go forward in small steps rather than one giant leap, and thus could evade the political muscle of the big institutions. Queens Councilmember Tony Avella, chair of the Council's zoning subcommittee, is working on a measure that would require religious institutions and doctors' offices to provide better onsite parking. These institutions, he says, have intentionally abused a loophole in the zoning law that mandates parking based on seating that is fixed to the floor. Churches that have folding chairs can get away without providing parking, a problem in some Queens neighborhoods that have many new churches. City Councilmember Alan Gerson, who represents parts of Greenwich Village, is considering legislation that would limit the number of times that institutions can use the community facility bonus without first getting community approval.

But when it comes to limiting the overall size of community facilities, a bigger problem looms. One of the original reasons for the community facility regulations was to encourage institutions to concentrate their facilities instead of spreading out and taking over their neighborhoods. If the city takes away the zoning bonus, will this create an even greater problem of institutional sprawl? Or will it force giant institutions to finally question the wisdom of centralizing their operations? It is always assumed, but never proven, that concentrating health care and educational facilities, for example, is more efficient. But what may be logical and beneficial for the administration and staff may not be best for the city's neighborhoods or the people who use these services. Many institutions have already decentralized to serve a population that's spread throughout the city. For example, the City University of New York has twenty-two campuses in the five boroughs. We don't hear anyone clamoring to bring them all under one roof, for very good reasons. The multiple campuses are accessible to more students and offer a wide variety of specialized curricula. Very little would be gained by stuffing them all in the same district.

Zoning Revision: False Promises

The city's planners keep looking at the community facility problem as a zoning problem, not a planning problem. But zoning changes alone won't resolve the basic conflicts between big institutions and their neighborhoods. The conflicts come about because of a lack of planning -- planning by the institutions, and planning by the city. Imagine what would happen if every hospital had a long-range plan for facility development that it put together with the advice and consent of neighborhood leaders. Imagine if each neighborhood had a long-range development plan that incorporated the needs of its major institutions. Zoning would then do what it was meant to do, and what it does in other cities — lay out the rules established by plans. The planners in New York City use zoning as a substitute for planning instead of as an instrument for planning.

There is a bigger problem looming, however, and it usually is not mentioned in the zoning debates. The problem is with the location of some community facilities, like homeless shelters and drug treatment facilities, which tend to be concentrated in lower-income neighborhoods because other neighborhoods do everything they can to keep them out. The city doesn't enforce the principle, buried in the New York City Charter, that neighborhoods should have no more than their fair share of burdensome community facilities. Consequently, they force the "over-burdened" neighborhoods — like Fort Greene in Brooklyn, for example, which is now putting up a fight against a homeless facility — into a position of opposing new facilities that are desperately needed in the city. The main reason is not the exclusionary sentiments of the lower-income neighborhoods (though it would be hard to deny that these sentiments play a role), but the failure of the city to plan comprehensively and involve all neighborhoods as partners in developing these facilities. If people who live and work in every neighborhood are involved in the problem-solving process, with the assumption that every neighborhood must provide its fair share of facilities, the outcome would be quite different. In Seattle, for example, the city's master plan projected future housing needs and let each neighborhood come up with a plan to locate its fair share of new housing, including low- and moderate-income housing.

Perhaps New York City's planners should be looking at the issue of dispersing community facilities. The zoning law actually encourages the dispersal of nursing homes — a reaction to opposition in some communities. There is a precedent, then, for using zoning to both disperse and concentrate community facilities. What is lacking is an open, transparent planning process in every neighborhood that involves neighborhoods as partners in determining the best outcomes for them and the city as a whole. The city's central offices are very poor advocates for city-wide interests because they don't effectively deal with fair share issues, thereby encouraging concentration. Maybe it's time to give the neighborhoods both the responsibility and authority to do what the city hasn't done. Then it may be possible to have zoning rules that are fair and equitable.

New York City's non-profit institutions pay no real estate taxes or make limited contributions to the city in lieu of taxes. As a group, community facilities get a hefty subsidy from taxpayers. This is justified because these institutions provide services that we, collectively, consider to be important. It should also justify public involvement in making the policies that directly affect the communities in which these institutions are located. That's a job for planning, and not just zoning.

Aimee Molloy, an urban planner and freelance writer, contributed to this column.


Sites For Beginners:

  • How Zoning Works - An overview of zoning: its definition, purpose and implementation in NYS and NYC. This primer also explains who has authority to make which decisions, with accompanying laws and citations. Excellent.
  • NYC Department of Planning - The official city site, revamped, frequently updated, colorful, a good repository for official New York City Land Use documents. Find the complete text of the Zoning Resolution (a hard copy would run you $400+) and downloadable zoning maps. Find out which zone you live in!
  • Regional Plan Association - The venerable and still influential pro-planning organization. Particularly good for information on big-item controversies, e.g. Governor's Island. Second Avenue subway, anti-sprawl legislation. Check out their MetroLink proposal and the Gowanus Tunnel Study.
  • NY Metro APA - A small site for the local chapter of the national professional organization: American Planning Association.
  • Municipal Arts Society - A great place for all things regarding New York planning, architecture and design. Most relevant: the just released Briefing Book of Community-Based Plans available to download, which offers for the first time ever a comprehensive look at the sometimes spotty, sometimes inspired plans for (and from) each neighborhood across the city, complete with maps and community contact information.
  • NYU's Urban Planning Links Page - This page is chock full of great land use links which focus both on NYC and the USA.
  • Planners Network - The national organization of progressive urban planners and community activists, founded in 1975, publishes Planners Network: The Magazine of Progressive Planning four times a year. Selected articles from back issues and other working papers are on the web site. Membership is affordable and open to all, and members receive the Magazine free.

Other Recommendations:

  • Air Rights - An old Gotham Gazette Issue of the Week, still relevant and interesting, though a slightly arcane Land Use topic.
  • Tenant Net - A great source for NYC real estate, if slightly biased toward the leassee.
  • "The Cultivator by Martin Filler" - A fascinatingly critical article about Fredrick Law Olmsted and what's wrong with Witold Rybczynski's new biography of him. From The New Republic.
  • New York Landmarks Preservation - Packed with information on preservation and restoration of landmarked buildings.
  • New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission - The Official City site for landmarks preservation.
  • Pace Law School Center for Land Use - Excellent introduction to land use issues by a leading academic think tank. Check out the "Land Use for Local Leaders" section.
  • Van Alen Institute - An immense amount of information on current and future NYC land use issues. Start with the well organized, user-friendly contents page and then zero in on your prime concern.

Infrastructure and Transportation


What will be the fate of the infrastructure and transportation of Lower Manhattan and the rest of the city? Find out with the resources below.


Commentary/Opinion/Ideas

PATH Project Unloved in Village - June 20, 2002
In his "Blocks" column in the New York Times today, David Dunlap writes about Greenwich Village residents' angry reaction to the Port Authority's plans to expand the Christopher Street and Ninth Street PATH stations. The stations are extremely overcrowded after the destruction of the PATH's World Trade Center hub on Sept. 11. "The introduction of four new stairways used by several thousand commuters a day would at least disrupt, maybe even alter, the neighborhood character," writes Dunlap. (New York Times)

Foundations for Lower Manhattan - April 29, 2002
The New York Times writes, "Transportation is the foundation of the revival of Lower Manhattan „ the underpinning of any real renewal." The editorial then goes on to summarize the various transportation projects that need to be considered, including a new PATH terminal, expansion of the South Ferry terminal, and suppressing West Street underground. Getting the funds from the federal government is key to the success of these transportation ideas, and the Times closes by writing, "The construction crews have virtually cleared ground zero, and Mr. Pataki and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation have begun to tackle their task. Congress needs to pitch in to make it work." (New York Times)

Moving Around Downtown
Gotham Gazette - April 29, 2002
Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, writes about the plan to link subway, ferries, buses and commuter lines at a major new terminal downtown. This hub, she says, would help correct the transportation mistakes of the past and make it easier for people to get around.

Getting Back On Track
Gotham Gazette - January 7, 2002
Jeffrey Zupan, a senior fellow of the Regional Plan Association, says that transportation is key to any rebuilding effort, and the many new (or renewed) proposals will make travel easier and better than before the terrorist attack.

Resilience and Adaptability
Gotham Gazette - October 2001
Our Transportation columnist writes about the resiliency and the adaptability of New Yorkers in the face of changing subway lines and restrictions on commuter traffic shortly after September 11.

Port Can't Flub Downtown Hub
New York Daily News - January 12, 2002
From the rubble of the World Trade Center arises a rare opportunity to reconfigure mass transit links in lower Manhattan. Done correctly, it would be one of the best ways to spur revival of the Financial District. And in the interests of creating such a project, the Port Authority should withdraw from its rich coffers to help pay for this new megahub.

Manifestoes for the Next New York
New York Times Magazine - November 11, 2001


More Resources

The Metropolitan Transit Authority
http://www.mta.info

Getting Around Downtown: From The MTA
http://www.mta.info/mta/downtown.htm


News Stories

Buildings on Broadway To Make Way For New Transit Center - Mar 1, 2003
A tailoring shop a block from the World Trade Center survived 9/11, but it may not survive the rebuilding effort. New York State and New York City are planning a new Fulton Street Transit Center, a $750 million project on the east side of Broadway between Fulton and John Streets that will simplify connections between nine subway lines at the Fulton Street and Broadway-Nassau stations. But some buildings will be razed to make way for the transit center. (New York Times)

Victims' Families Oppose Bus Depot On WTC Site - Mar 1, 2003
Some victims' family members are calling a plan to build an undergound parking garage on the World Trade Center site disrespectful. The Coalition of 9/11 Families says the thought of buses parking on what they consider sacred ground is upsetting. They also say the plan is a security risk. (NY1)

Battle Lines Harden Over W.T.C. Bus Garage - Feb 26, 2003
Relatives of the Sept. 11 victims clashed last week with Downtown residents and businesses over whether a proposed garage for tour buses built over the "footprints" of the Twin Towers would dishonor the victims. Conflicting priorities between residents and family members over the World Trade Center site have been apparent for some time, but rarely has the dispute come to the surface as clearly as it did last week and in a forum where both sides, roughly speaking, were equally represented. (Downtown Express)

Broadway Atrium in Plan for 750M Transit Hub - Feb 21, 2003
A sweeping glass atrium opening onto Broadway would greet more than 275,000 commuters a day in lower Manhattan, according to drawings for a new transit hub. The schemes for the $750 million Fulton Transit Center, obtained by the Daily News, show a bright and airy hub that would be a drastic upgrade from the current bleak, mazelike subway complex. The hub, scheduled to be completed by 2007, is expected to be among the transit projects to receive federal funding stemming from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (New York Daily News)

Federal Officials Press Pataki For Details On Transportation Rebuilding - Jan 16, 2003
Federal officials have sent Gov. Pataki a letter pressing the state to explain in detail how it will spend the $4.55 billion set aside to remake lower Manhattan's transportation system. The letter was meant to jump-start a process that appears to have stalled as City Hall, Albany, the Port Authority and the MTA remain at odds over setting priorities for transportation projects, sources in Washington said. (New York Post)

New Jersey Receving Bulk of Ferry Funds - Jan 15, 2003
New York and New Jersey will get $54.8 million to fund five Hudson River ferry projects as part of the federal government's post-9/11 aid to the city, the Department of Transportation said yesterday. The money includes $11.4 million to help build a new ferry terminal at West 38th Street. The remainder will be spent in New Jersey. (New York Post)

Funds Shortage for Trade Center Transit Plans - Jan 12, 2003
The officials trying to devise a sweeping transit plan for devastated lower Manhattan are grappling with a stark reality: There's not enough money for everything. New York has been promised $4.55 billion in federal transit aid. From that pot, the Port Authority is hoping for about $1.6 billion for infrastructure costs below ground, including a bus depot, parking garages and access ramps at Ground Zero. The remaining $3 billion is being targeted for a new PATH terminal and underground concourse, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority center at Fulton St., a partial covering of West St. along the Trade Center site and a renovated South Ferry subway station. That leaves nothing for the most ambitious project being debated, which Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg have called critical to downtown's future: a multibillion-dollar direct rail link from lower Manhattan to Kennedy Airport. (New York Daily News)

Debate Begins on Shorter West St. Tunnel - Jan 8, 2003
The idea of building a long Downtown tunnel at West St. seems pretty much dead and buried, but a shorter, sub-pedestrian roadway adjacent to the World Trade Center site is still being actively considered by the powers that be and is being opposed by the leaders of the group that formed to sink the long tunnel. The Coalition to Save West St., a group of Battery Park City residents who organized themselves last year, released a report over the weekend criticizing the short tunnel between Vesey and Liberty Sts., the equivalent of a four-block area. (Downtown Express)

Subway Link for AirTrain Could Be Costlier than Predicted - Dec 30, 2002
Newly discovered engineering problems could add significantly to the cost of a proposed $1.9 billion subway connection between lower Manhattan and the AirTrain commuter rail station at Jamaica, Queens. The so-called Super Shuttle proposal has been pushed by downtown landowner Brookfield Properties as a quick and relatively affordable way of creating access to lower Manhattan. (New York Post)

Transit Officials Study A Quick Trip to Lower Manhattan for Commuters - Dec 14, 2002
Transit officials are mulling a plan to whisk Long Island Rail Road riders and airport travelers to lower Manhattan by using a track on the J subway line, sources said yesterday. The move, being studied by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, would allow LIRR commuters and Kennedy Airport passengers to take a new super-express to lower Manhattan from the Jamaica station in Queens. The express would use a third line of track on the J and Z line, sources said. (New York Daily News)

State D.O.T. Skeptical of Long West St. tunnel - Nov 27, 2002
State Transportation officials, without burying the idea explicitly, nevertheless expressed skepticism last week that a long tunnel on West Street would make economic sense. Tim Gilcrest, the state Department of Transportation's director of planning, did not say he had ruled out a tunnel under the roadway, but he cited two numbers which presumably would make it hard to convince D.O.T. to build the tunnel. One is the cost, which his agency estimates to be $3 billion, not the $2 billion some tunnel proponents cite. The second is the fact that the state estimates only 30 to 40 percent of the Downtown 9A traffic would choose the tunnel over the at-grade roadway that would be built above. (Downtown Express)

Critics Pan Commuter Subway - Nov 19, 2002
A superfast subway train for Long Island commuters going downtown won't save enough time to be worth the multibillion-dollar price tag, critics say. The Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown, a coalition of more than 75 business, community and environmental groups, voted last week to oppose the plan floated by Brookfield Financial Properties, which could take five years to build. About two-thirds of potential commuters using the so-called "supershuttle" would only save three minutes or less, according to their analysis. (Newsday)

Temporary PATH Hub Will Become Permanent - Nov 13, 2002
A temporary PATH station being constructed on the bedrock of Ground Zero may not be so temporary after all. A top rebuilding official revealed yesterday that the bare-bones temporary hub between Greenwich and Church Sts. will be used as the foundation for a permanent station. (New York Daily News)

Port Authority Continues Plans for Underground Walkway on WTC Site - Nov 1, 2002
Port Authority planners are still considering running an underground walkway below the footprint of one of the Twin Towers - even though families of World Trade Center victims and some development officials oppose it. (New York Post)

List of 9/11 Transit Projects Sent to Washington - Oct 29, 2002
The first batch of lower Manhattan transit projects to be paid for with post-9/11 federal aid has been quietly sent to Washington for approval, sources said yesterday. The transit wish list was compiled after months of sometimes contentious meetings among the Port Authority, Lower Manhattan Development Corp., state and city transportation officials and elected leaders, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). (New York Daily News)

Transit Hub Plans May Raze Broadway Buildings - Oct 17, 2002
A plan to build a new Fulton Transit Center to better connect downtown subway lines may include razing some buildings on Broadway. Merchants on a commercial stretch of Broadway near ground zero expressed their dismay last week at a transit proposal to raze their block to make room for a renovated subway complex at the Broadway/Nassau St./Fulton St. station. (Downtown Express)

Debate Rages Over Transit Downtown - Oct 12, 2002
A pitched battle over the $4.55 billion set aside for transit in Lower Manhattan is already being waged behind the scenes, fueled by a debate that many say could determine the future of downtown: Should the money be spent only to improve the transit lines already there? Or should it also be used to bring in new train service, for the first time making downtown as accessible to suburban commuters as Midtown has always been? (New York Times)

New WTC Airtrain Plan - Oct 11, 2002
Travelers could hop on a train at the World Trade Center and speed to Kennedy Airport, under an ambitious and costly proposal being considered by downtown planners, rebuilding officials said yesterday. The idea, under study by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the city Planning Department, is part of a broader concept to market lower Manhattan as an "international center" that would draw companies wanting quick access to Kennedy and Newark airports. (New York Post)

Downtown Transit Funds Spark Battle - Oct 9, 2002
A battle over federal funds for downtown transportation projects has broken out among City Hall, the Port Authority and the MTA - stalling key decisions on transit issues considered central to reviving lower Manhattan. (New York Post)

Underground Concourse Idea For Transit Hub Criticized - Oct 7, 2002
Ambitious plans for an underground concourse linking new downtown transit centers and the Hudson River have met with quiet but growing criticism that could doom what was once billed as a centerpiece of the rebuilding effort. "The glory of New York is the streets,"said Hugh Hardy, an architect who examined the concourse idea for the civic group New York New Visions. "These gruesome tunnels ought to be reimagined as public space, not just transportation connections." (New York Post)

West Street Tunnel Not As Expensive As People Think, Says One Landowner - Oct 4, 2002
A West Street tunnel could be built in lower Manhattan for far less than the $2.8 billion estimated by development officials -- making it feasible to create a grand promenade from the Battery to Ground Zero, a major downtown landowner says. Engineering consultants working for Brookfield Properties, which owns the World Financial Center across West Street from Ground Zero, said one method of building the tunnel would be faster and cost less than other plans, and West Street could be buried from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to Murray Street in 31/2 years at a cost of $1.2 billion, a Brookfield official said Wednesday in a presentation to Community Board 1. (New York Post)

Senator Schumers Backs Away From Criticism Of Use of Transit Funds - Oct 3, 2002
Sen. Charles Schumer is backing off his wish that a pot of federal money for lower Manhattan go only to a "Grand Central Station" downtown instead of a string of other pricey projects, officials said yesterdaySchumer's apparent change-of-heart came after he met with officials overseeing rebuilding downtown, aides said. "It seems there's enough money for both," Schumer spokesman Phil Singer said. (New York Post)

Schumer And Pataki Argue Over Using Rebuilding Funds - Sep 30, 2002
A battle is shaping up between Senator Charles Schumer and Gov. George Pataki over hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to rebuild Lower Manhattan in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center. Schumer is seeking to block nearly $700 million in transportation projects being considered by several agencies under the control of Pataki. Schumer said he was concerned that devoting $700 million of that aid to projects unrelated to 9/11 would shortchange the projects directly related to the attack, mainly the construction of a transit center linking the subway and PATH lines around the trade center site. (New York Times)

Downtown, a Debate Over Burying West Street - Sep 28, 2002
Local opposition has begun to build against the idea of covering West Street with a tree-lined promenade. Though few so far, a growing number of Battery Park City residents have begun to lobby against a West Street tunnel, saying they fear that a decade-long construction project will further isolate their neighborhood, rather than reconnect it to the rest of Lower Manhattan. (New York Times)

Transportation Officials Discuss Plans for Downtown Transit - Sep 28, 2002
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority official said Friday that the agency is considering plans for improvements to several downtown subway stations, including a "Rector connector" that would link two train lines. The projects are under discussion as planners weigh options for large-scale changes to the intricate transportation network in lower Manhattan, which was heavily damaged in the attack on the World Trade Center. (Associated Press)

Construction Could Begin Soon On Battery Park City Ferry Terminal - Sep 24, 2002
Construction on a new, state-of-the-art ferry terminal at Battery Park City is expected to begin by the end of the year, the Port Authority announced yesterday. The terminal, scheduled to open in June 2004, will replace a temporary dock and two slips that currently handle 13,500 people traveling between lower Manhattan and Hoboken and Jersey City each day. (New York Post)

PATH Station At Trade Center Making Progress - Sep 20, 2002
The temporary PATH station at the World Trade Center site will be completely enclosed by November of this year, with a scheduled completion date of December 2003, Port Authority chief engineer Frank Lombardi told the agency's commissioners at yesterday's board meeting. (Newsday)

Experts Pan Port Authority's Transit Hub Plans - Sep 20, 2002
Architects and urban planners yesterday panned the Port Authority's design ideas for a Ground Zero transit hub, saying they are uninspiring. (New York Post)

Transit Links Called Vital to a Revival of Downtown - Sep 19, 2002
The rebuilding of Lower Manhattan requires making direct transit links to Kennedy and Newark airports, burying West Street and erecting a major transportation center, a group of business and real estate officials say in a paper that is to be released today. (New York Times)

Plans for Transit Hub - Sep 18, 2002
Preliminary computer images of a plan for a dramatic transit hub at Ground Zero show a wavy atrium roof and views looking out onto a future trade-center memorial and the Winter Garden. (New York Post)

1 and 9 Back in Service - Sep 16, 2002
Lower Manhattan notches a major milestone on the long journey back to normalcy today when workday commuters return to the fully restored 1 and 9 subway lines as well as a newly reopened Cortlandt Street station on the N and R. (Newsday)

Plans to Raze Fulton St. Block for Transit Hub - Sep 16, 2002
Transit officials want to demolish a block of buildings on lower Broadway and replace them with a glass-enclosed, atrium-style terminal, as part of the project to reconfigure the Fulton Street subway station. Planners for the Metropolitan Transit Authority want to use the power of eminent domain to condemn and demolish all five buildings on the east side of Broadway between Fulton and John streets, officials said. (New York Post)

Port Authority Still Planning to Build New West Village PATH Exit - Sep 15, 2002
Reversing an earlier stance on building new PATH-train exits in the West Village, the Port Authority still hopes to get $29 million in federal 9/11 relief funds to pay for the project, The Post has learned. (New York Post)

Subway Service to Resume on Routes Closed After 9/11 - Sep 5, 2002
Subway service on lines serving Brooklyn, the West Side of Manhattan and the Bronx will return to normal for the first time in a year on Sept. 15, when three of the four subway stations closed since the World Trade Center attack are to reopen, city and state officials said yesterday. (New York Times)

WTC Transit Plans Altered After Victims' Families' Pleas - Sep 1, 2002
Plans for an underground transportation concourse at the World Trade Center site have been altered in response to pleas from family members of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks that the concourse not run beneath the footprint of one of the destroyed towers, officials in the rebuilding effort say. (New York Times)

Rebuilt 1/9 Subway Line Almost Ready - Aug 27, 2002
The rebuilt portion of the 1 and 9 subway line will open for business on Sept. 15 - but tests with empty subway trains will begin on the tracks this weekend. (New York Post)

$4.5B to Be Used for a Ground Zero Rail Hub - Aug 12, 2002
Billions of dollars in federal money will be used to build a new transit hub near Ground Zero, linking the PATH with subway lines in lower Manhattan, Mayor Bloomberg is set to announce today. The federal government has agreed to give the city $4.5 billion for the rail center. (New York Daily News)

Families Concerned About Transit Plans - Aug 12, 2002
Nearly a year after Sept. 11, victims' relatives and observers are concerned that plans for creating the Ground Zero memorial are in limbo - with transit projects beneath the site driving the process. The transit issue is one of many concerns related to the permanent memorial that 9/11 relatives detailed during meetings with Gov. Pataki and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani last week. (New York Post)

Downtown "Grand Central Station" Is Already Derailed - Jul 25, 2002
Ground Zero planners have been calling for a "Grand Central Station South," even saying itÕs an essential element of any program to rebuild lower Manhattan. But when the transportation-planning firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, charged by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with developing plans for a new downtown transportation network, makes its proposals public later this summer, they are likely to shed light on a competing network of interests, agencies, advocates and organizations as tangled as the connection from the IRT to the IND in the Fulton Street subway station. (New York Observer)

WTC Subway Tunnel To Open Ahead of Schedule - Jul 25, 2002
The subway tunnel destroyed by the World Trade Center attacks is being rebuilt ahead of schedule and will reopen by mid-September. When the tunnel directly through Ground Zero is reopened, the 1, 2, 3, and 9 trains will return to their old routes. (New York Post)

LIRR Seen for Downtown Hub - Jul 18, 2002
A new Long Island Rail Road station underneath Liberty St. could be part of the massive transportation hub envisioned for lower Manhattan, officials said yesterday. The LIRR expansion and a plan for a new ferry terminal are expected to be included in a broad set of transportation proposals set for release next month by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp (New York Daily News)

PATH Project Halted - Jul 14, 2002
The Port Authority's controversial plan to build two new exits at PATH train stations in the West Village may be over. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has stopped the project for at least three months, saying it's unclear whether the $29.6 million construction job is a wise use of Sept. 11 relief funds. (New York Post)

Port Authority Eyes Record $1B Construction Tab - Jun 28, 2002
As the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to take back control of the World Trade Center site early next month, agency officials say they expect to award or spend a record $1 billion in construction projects around the region this year. Work at Ground Zero had a large role in increasing the authority's planned construction spending by $100 million more than originally projected for this year, Lombardi told the Port Authority board yesterday. (Newsday)

Liberty St. Opens Giving Ground Zero View - Jun 27, 2002
The city has quietly reopened Liberty Street west of Greenwich Street to pedestrians. Until August, when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey begins to construct a more durable "Viewing Wall" to enclose the 16-acre site during construction, a growing number of visitors will view the site through the chain-link fence on Liberty Street. (Newsday)

Downtown Transportation Hub Winning Support - Jun 13, 2002
Construction of a lower Manhattan transit hub and an expanded South Ferry subway station have risen to the top of a list of downtown transportation projects vying for $1.8 billion in federal aid. (New York Daily News)

Traffic Likely in WTC Rebuild - Jun 12, 2002
The head of the rebuilding effort yesterday sketched out the most "likely" layout for the World Trade Center site. Lower Manhattan Development Corp. chairman John Whitehead said the land will probably be cut into quadrants by two heavily trafficked vehicular streets with office towers rising above them. (New York Post)

Idea For Transit Hub Downtown Could Mean Tearing Down A Block Of Buildings - Jun 10, 2002
Officials planning a new downtown transit hub are considering a radical proposal to raze a square block off lower Broadway for an ambitious aboveground terminal topped by office towers. The Port Authority, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have discussed various versions of the plan - and it is now being explored by Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineering firm hired to rethink the downtown transit map, said sources familiar with the proposal. The buildings on the block bordered by Fulton and John streets and Broadway and Nassau Street would be condemned and razed and the confusing maze of subway connections at the station would be "rationalized," the sources said. A new terminal - akin to a downtown Grand Central - would be built over the site. (New York Post)

Infrastructure Repair Before Memorial, Says Bloomberg - May 30, 2002
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said yesterday that Lower Manhattan's most immediate need was infrastructure repair, and that a memorial and rebuilt office space would come later, after some wounds had healed. (New York Times)

A Subway Interrupted Awaits Its Imminent Resurgence - May 21, 2002
For more than two months, a few hundred workers have been rebuilding the 1 and 9 subway lines damaged on Sept. 11. When the workers are done at the end of September and trains with passengers are rumbling through the tunnels once again by November, it will be very hard to tell where old meets new, exactly where it was that 1,300 feet of subway tunnel were crushed and pierced by falling skyscrapers and then rebuilt in little more than seven months. (New York Times)

Rebuilding Infrastructure and Wiring Downtown Is A Huge Undertaking - May 12, 2002
In this feature from the New York Times Magazine, author Robert Sullivan explores the mammoth effort of rewiring Lower Manhattan after September 11 by taking a look at one particular street. The article discusses the intricacies of wiring underground among decades-old structures and the efforts of Verizon and other communications companies to make sure one of the world's busiest telecommunications areas stays connected. (New York Times)

Subway Stations Near World Trade Center Site To Reopen By November - Apr 30, 2002
A subway station on the eastern edge of Ground Zero is expected to reopen by November, a top transit official said. The N and R Cortlandt St. station was closed because entrances in the World Trade Center complex were destroyed Sept. 11. The Transit Authority also hopes to reopen the Rector St. and South Ferry stations on the 1 and 9 line by Nov. 1. A new tunnel is under construction. (New York Daily News)

One-Stop Commuting For Lower Manhattan Is Key, Says Member of Rebuilding Agency - Apr 26, 2002
A one-stop commuter ride to lower Manhattan will guarantee the neighborhood's future, according to one board member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, while downtown's success would serve as the "ultimate retort" to the terroists who destroyed the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. (Newsday)

Footbridge Over West Street Reopened - Apr 21, 2002
A bridge over West St. that once allowed pedestrians to walk from the World Financial Center to a spot just across from the World Trade Center was reopened yesterday after being repaired and extended. Formerly called the South Bridge, the covered walkway from Battery Park City was closed after it was damaged by cascading debris from the twin towers on Sept. 11. It has been renamed the Liberty St. Bridge. (New York Daily News)

$7.4 Billion Cost For Rebuilding Transportation Downtown - Apr 20, 2002
Rebuilding lower Manhattan's shattered transportation network will cost about $7.4 billion, the city-state agency leading the effort has revealed. Lou Tomson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., unveiled the rough price tag Thursday for the first time during meetings with several key lawmakers in Washington, sources said yesterday. The delegation estimated it would cost $2 billion to sink West St. from Chambers St. to the Battery Tunnel; $2 billion for a new PATH terminal with airport-style moving sidewalks to nearby subways; $1.3 billion for security improvements in subways; $750 million for a new transit hub at Fulton St., and $400 million to expand the antiquated South Ferry subway station. (New York Daily News)

Mapping Ground Zero's Future - Apr 10, 2002
The Daily News presents a visual representation of the ideas presented yesterday in the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's blueprint and principles for rebuilding. (New York Daily News)

South Ferry Station To Be Rebuilt - Apr 9, 2002
The cramped, century-old South Ferry subway station is on track for a major renovation to be paid for mostly with federal dollars, sources said yesterday. The proposed $400 million makeover of the station could include new connections to the Whitehall St. stop of the N and R lines, as well as nearby ferry terminals, sources said. Officials said they expect to receive as much as $300 million in federal money for the project, money which will come from the $1.8 billion in federal aid the state got last month to rebuild transit lines damaged by the terrorist attacks. (New York Daily News)

Questions Linger About Paying For Rebuilding - Apr 8, 2002
A vast array of costly projects has been proposed for an extensive makeover of lower Manhattan - but very little has been said about who'll pay for a massive rebuilding that reaches far beyond the World Trade Center site. With insurance payouts and federal aid added together, there is an initial rebuilding pot of $11 to $18 billion. However, other than $1.8 billion in funds designated for a possible transit hub in the federal aid package, virtually no money is directly earmarked for long-term rebuilding. $9 billion allocated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has disbursed $965 million so far, can only be used to restore things as they were, not for new building. There are hopes that some of this money will be diverted, however, for longer-term rebuilding. (New York Post)

Transportation Hub Could Be One of First Approved Projects For Downtown - Apr 8, 2002
A gleaming new transit hub connecting PATH and subway trains and ferry terminals is likely to be the first multibillion-dollar project approved for a rebuilt downtown. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. says a transit hub will be the subject of the agency's first set of concrete proposals, to be issued in May. (New York Post)

West Street and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel Reopened - Mar 30, 2002
The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and West Street fully reopened for the first time since Sept. 11. Mayor Bloomberg said the city's ban on single-occupancy cars between 6 and 10 a.m. will be in effect for the tunnel - as well as a new, high-occupancy vehicle lane for Manhattan-bound drivers, stretching from the Verrazano Bridge to the Gowanus Expressway into the tunnel. (New York Post)

Years of Work Underground Before Steel Reaches Skyward - Mar 27, 2002
Nothing will be built above ground for several years at the site of the World Trade Center because of the extensive underground construction that must be completed first, the chairman of the group overseeing the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan said yesterday. Corporation officials also said yesterday that they will lay out details of major components of their building proposals in a yearlong series of publications beginning in May. Those publications will focus on individual subjects, like transportation, residential and commercial development, and the attraction of arts and cultural institutions. (New York Times)

First Day of Expanded Ferry Service Encourages Increase in Ridership - Mar 26, 2002
More-frequent ferry trips from New Jersey, meant to attract thousands of new commuters, drew about 500 more riders yesterday morning in the first day of the expanded service. (New York Post)

More Ferry Service Announced For Downtown - Mar 15, 2002
Ferry service between Manhattan and New Jersey will be expanded later this month, state and local officials announced yesterday, citing increased demand stemming from the loss of PATH service downtown since Sept. 11. Extra ferries will run until PATH service is restored to Lower Manhattan, scheduled for late next year, and could serve about 63,000 passengers a day. (New York Times)

Utilities Set For A Big Dig Downtown To Repair Infrastructure - Mar 14, 2002
In what may very well be the largest utility reconstruction project in history, workers from Con Edison, Verizon and several additional utilities are digging up 26 miles of roadway to repair the infrastructure beneath street level downtown. They are removing rocks and other debris, some from the trade center and some from more than 100 years of accumulation, checking out the systems, making repairs and then installing new conduits and piping. (New York Times)

Ferry Service To Expand, Says State Top Economic Official - Mar 13, 2002
City and state officials will announce a plan this week to stimulate redevelopment in downtown Manhattan by increasing ferry service, said Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, on Tuesday. Eventually, Gargano said, the rebirth of Lower Manhattan could be boosted by a tenfold increase in ferry service. (Newsday)

Mayor and Governor Back Idea of Burying West Street Near Ground Zero - Feb 28, 2002
Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg strongly endorsed a proposal to bury West St. along the World Trade Center site yesterday, helping to bridge the divide between Battery Park City and the rest of lower Manhattan. Supporters said a tunnel would help make downtown a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week neighborhood Ă‘ an area even more vibrant than it was before the Sept. 11 attacks. With vehicles traveling underneath, the area would be transformed into a pedestrian promenade or park. (New York Daily News)

MTA Awards Contract For Reconstruction Of 1 And 9 Subway Lines - Feb 15, 2002
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Thursday it has awarded a contract for the reconstruction of the 1 and 9 subway lines into lower Manhattan, which were badly damaged in the World Trade Center attacks. The $92 million contract was awarded to a partnership of Tully Construction and Pegno Construction. The MTA says it is saving millions of dollars because those construction companies are already working on rebuilding a PATH station in the same area. (NY1)

Con Edison Racing To Build New Substation - Feb 13, 2002
Consolidated Edison executives say that they are in a race against time to build a new electrical substation in New York City before the summer, when air-conditioning use is expected to increase to levels that could overload the electrical grid in Lower Manhattan. Officials say that they have to complete the project by the summer, which means finishing it in about half the time it normally takes. If a new substation is not built by June, the handful of substations that have been distributing electricity to customers who lost power on Sept. 11 could overload, resulting in blackouts. (New York Times)

New Wall To Keep Out Hudson Must Be Built, Says Head Engineer - Feb 6, 2002
According to George Tamaro, the engineer who directed the original construction of the World Trade Center, the "bathtubÓ which keeps out the Hudson River suffered so much damage on Sept. 11 that a new wall will have to be added before permanent rebuilding can occur. Tamaro, a partner at Mueser-Rutledge Consulting Engineers, believes that a second interior wall -- or "liner wallÓ -- must be constructed to augment the original "bathtub.Ó The project would cost $15 million to $20 million, he estimated. Such a project will add an unspecified amount of time to the overall reconstruction of the site. (Newsday)

PATH Rebuild Plan On The Fast Track - Jan 30, 2002
Port Authority officials will meet tomorrow to award a $300 million contract for the reconstruction of the ruined World Trade Center PATH station. Work will begin within a week on the tunnels, while engineers and architects finalize plans for the station - which is envisioned as a temporary facility that will be used until officials agree upon overall plans for the makeover of the downtown transit map. Gargano said PA officials hope to have trains running again in 18-24 months. (New York Post)

World Trade Center Stop On E Line Reopens - Jan 28, 2002
The E subway line resumed service to the World Trade Center stop Monday morning. The station is on the edge of the World Trade Center complex but was not damaged in the September 11 attack. It has remained closed - with E trains terminating at Canal Street - to avoid interference with the recovery and cleanup efforts at the site. Two exits at the station are still closed: the stairwell at Vesey Street and the old entrance to the World Trade Center mall. For now, the name of the station remains "Chambers/World Trade Center," but the MTA expects there will be a push to change it. (NY1)

E Train to Stop at WTC Soon - Jan 24, 2002
The E train stop at the World Trade Center will be reopened as soon as Monday. It is possible that the stop will ultimately be renamed in the future. To keep straphangers away from Ground Zero, access to the station will be via underground passageways between the E station and nearby Chambers St. and Park Place subway stops. (New York Daily News)

$1M-a-Day Fix for WTC Subway - Jan 16, 2002
The fastest-paced project in the history of the subway system will begin on March 1, as the MTA, with the blessing of Governor Pataki, approved a plan to begin reconstruction of the 1/9 subway line below Chambers Street (graphic available). With a one million dollar a day price tag, the Transit Authority will be able to complete a job that would normally take three to four years and finish it by November. Plans currently do not call for the hard-hit Cortlandt Street station, which will have its platforms and entrances sealed off. (graphic available) (New York Daily News)

Big Transit Ideas Downtown - Jan 8, 2002
The Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation is looking into plans to create a downtown transit hub around the World Trade Center site. Proposals include an underground mega-hub with retail space and connections to the PATH and 14 subway lines. While short-term needs of resuming PATH and subway service will be addressed quickly, long-term plans could include the construction of a major transportation center and renovation of the nearby Broadway-Nassau/Fulton St. stations. (New York Daily News)

Subway Line in Attack May Reopen Much Earlier - Jan 4, 2002
Transit officials said yesterday that two of the three stations for the 1 and 9 subway lines that were damaged in the World Trade Center attacks may reopen as early as November, more than a year earlier than originally planned. However, rather than rerouting the line to increase convenience for Battery Park City residents, the subway will be rebuilt mostly to its state before September 11. (New York Times)

Port Authority Approves New PATH Station for Lower Manhattan - Dec 14, 2001
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey yesterday authorized spending $544 million to build a temporary PATH station in Lower Manhattan beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center. The temporary terminal could be completed within two years, said officials of the agency. It would help directly reconnect downtown to the rest of the PATH system for the more than 65,000 commuters who used the Lower Manhattan station before the Sept. 11 attack, which destroyed the trade center and the underground network of train tunnels and shopping concourses there. In addition, the agency's board of commissioners allotted $10 million yesterday to plan an ambitious, permanent PATH terminal in the area - one that would establish better and more connections to city subways, buses and ferry terminals. (New York Times)

Rebuilding WTC Area From the Ground Down - Dec 11, 2001
As a result of the terrorist attacks, more than 300,000 telephone lines were severed. About 13,000 customers lost power. Nearly 6 miles of water mains broke. The final repair tab will come to at least $2.3 billion, based on estimates by Con Edison, Verizon and the city Department of Environmental Protection, which manages the city's water supply.Insurance will not cover all the costs, and customer rates could rise to pay for the repairs and technology improvements, officials said. (New York Daily News)

The Firm of "Blah, Blah and Blah?"


The recent selection of architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle to oversee a plan for rebuilding Lower Manhattan has spurred a heady public debate. New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp warned New Yorkers to expect the worst from the firm, saying that its proven strengths in renovation projects do not carry over to its original work. The firms' original buildings often blend in with their surroundings, prompting colleagues to call the firm "Blah Blah and Blah," wrote Muschamp. New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo in turn called the firms' critics high-brow intellectuals putting aesthetics before all else. "What they really crave are the far-fetched fantasies that clog the pages of unreadable design magazines Ð not precisely the thing for the Financial District," he wrote, saying that a practical plan for the space needs to be in place before any creative building design is drawn.

It is no wonder that Beyer Blinder Belle is under intense scrutiny. Rebuilding at Ground Zero is perhaps the most important design project in New York's history, and New Yorkers have called for what is built to be at once awe-inspriring, respectful, safe and accessible. "There is no precedent for a project like this," said Lance Jay Brown, chair of City College's school of architecture. For some, it is hard to escape the persistent worry that the site will end up as a group of mediocre, mid-sized buildings.

In their application for the $3 million World Trade Center site contract, Beyer Blinder Belle referred to the complexity of the project, saying, "The successful resolution of an urban design plan for the WTC site will greatly depend upon an open collaboration. The challenge will be to do it with the right touch of respect and invention. Exploring ways to reinvent the fabric of this tragic site and give it a new purpose becomes the goal to drive us." Along with engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, Beyer Blinder Belle will develop an overall plan for new structures, transit connections, and streets. They will not, at this stage, design specific buildings. Beyer Blinder Belle associate partner Maxine Leighton said that the firm would not speak about the World Trade Center project until after they hold their first meeting with the Port Authority and Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

The New York-based firm was launched in 1968 and has grown to 125 employees. On its website, Beyer Blinder Belle states that its mission is to unite "the old with the new Ð classic historic preservation meshed with the creative contemporary design of new construction." In 1988, Metro-North chose Beyer Blinder Belle, already known for restoring the Ellis Island U.S. Immigration Station, to lead the restoration of Grand Central Station. This celebrated project became the firm's best known work. As part of the 12-year project, the firm restored the sky ceiling and redesigned much of the space within the terminal. The award-winning project inspired founding partner John Belle, a former president of the New York City Landmarks Conservancy, and Leighton to write a book about Grand Central.

In sharp contrast with Muschamp, Rick Bell, executive director of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, said that the firm's experience at Grand Central is a good sign for Ground Zero's future. The firm brought together many different urban design projects-such as improving transportation and including commercial space- in the Grand Central renovation. "Their past projects are a great indication that they can create places that synthesize people's different needs," said Bell.

The firm's other projects include the restoration of the Hoboken, NJ train station waiting room and the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Fred Kent, the director of the urban planning policy institute Project for Public Spaces, said that the firm's past work has left it well equipped to work within the context of existing neighborhoods and buildings. When Beyer Blinder Belle designed the Mark Morris Dance Group's headquarters in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, partner Fred Bland said the building was planned as a "phoenix rising" to revitalize the neighborhood. The firm kept the street level of an existing building and added a new exterior. The light, nearly white building was celebrated by Morris, who told his guests at the 2001 opening ceremony to enjoy the "wonderful dignity" of the space.

The different reactions to Beyer Blinder Belle's selection point to an underlying conflict of opinion about architecture's place at Ground Zero. The guidelines that the Port Authority and Lower Manhattan Development Corporation used to select Beyer Blinder Belle gave weight to firms that have experience bringing large urban planning and transportation projects to completion, instead of a firm with an outstanding design vision. In his column, Muschamp said that by following this process, the authorities will bring a design architect to the project when it is already too late to save it from mediocrity.

Mediocrity really isn't what New Yorkers have in mind. "We're waiting for perfection," said Stanley Moses, chair of urban studies at Hunter College.


More About Beyer Blinder Belle:

Building Green at Ground Zero


When rebuilding at the World Trade Center site, New York has the opportunity not only to replace the buildings, but to build places that are safer, more energy efficient and better places to live and work. We can set a model for cities throughout the world.

I have been active in New York New Visions, a coalition of design and architectural organizations working on rebuilding lower Manhattan. One of the ideas we have been advocating is to build so-called "green" buildings at the site. Building "green" means that architects and engineers consider environmental factors, such as lowering energy use, maximizing natural light, and using building materials that are safe and environmentally sound, when they make decisions. People who live or work in buildings without adequate light, or offices where fresh air comes in from a traffic-filled street, understand how important these environmental qualities are.

Building green can cause us to think across categories and fields and integrate culture, technology and urban life. The New York New Visions coalition developed a plan for the rebuilding of Manhattan that focuses on several key points.

The design for the site should create green space, which often means park or plaza-like spaces. One example of how such space works to make buildings, even tall buildings, better places for people passing by is the skating rink and plant-filled esplanade at Rockefeller Center. The Winter Garden at the World Financial Center was (and will be again) a plant-filled, open space that many people enjoy. In other countries, smaller planted areas on higher floors of office buildings remind people of nature and help improve the air inside a building.

It is important for the site's design to create spaces that are full of light and air. Windows allow natural light into a building, but there are many different methods beyond just windows. Skylights can help, as can long horizontal bands of glass high up to help light bounce back down off of ceilings. Having windows on the wall that open also makes sense for a variety of practical and psychological reasons.

The buildings must have systems to filter out noxious particles suspended in the air. For instance, air from a medical clinic has to be taken out of the building, rather than being re-circulated, to avoid spreading germs. Understandably, tuberculosis clinics often have the best air standards. Of course it is also important to consider where that outside air is coming from. Air intakes located near a truck loading dock do not make sense. Getting the air intake away from the street is one easy way to make a building more "green."

Developers and construction companies should screen out materials that contain toxins and carcinogens to protect the health of people working at the site. Increasingly, architects and interior designers are looking at "alternative" materials. For example, cork wall tiles and bamboo flooring were not widely used in this country a decade ago. They both are non-toxic, durable, and can be recycled.

Buildings should not use any more electricity for lighting, heating, or air conditioning than is needed. Increasing insulation in new buildings and using efficient new types of window glass also help.

The city has some sustainability standards out there already. Battery Park City's green guidelines, used as standards for the neighborhood's residential and commercial buildings, have been very effective. Based on the standards set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's scoring criteria, Battery Park City's guidelines range from using natural lighting to taking into consideration where the materials used in a building are fabricated (since it takes energy to move stone, for example, across continents or oceans).

The environmental guidelines prepared for Battery Park City should gravitate across the street to become a set of standards that the city of New York, the Port Authority, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation can use for the World Trade Center site. Whatever is built be configured should qualify for the New York State Green Building Tax Credit, with appropriate financial incentives.

The New York City High Performance Guidelines were developed two years ago for projects throughout the five boroughs. Throughout the city, buildings have been built that follow these types of guidelines, such as libraries in Queens, a courthouse on 161st Street in the Bronx and daycare centers in Brooklyn. One of my favorite recent public projects designed to these standards is the New Children's Center done for the city's administration for children's services. This renovation of an historic landmark, the former city morgue, included "green" aspects, such as natural lighting, careful attention to material selection, and making sure that the building's air comes in from vents that are far above the busy street. It is a bright and lovely building, and a wonderful example of how to design by keeping the environment in mind, even while doing a renovation project.

Green projects like Battery Park City and the Children's Center pave the way for what we all can do now. We need a unified focus on how important building "green" is for the World Trade Center site itself.

Rick Bell is executive director of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter.

River To River: Whose Downtown?


When most New Yorkers refer to the area of lower Manhattan as vibrant, they aren't talking about the commercial functions of the financial district around Wall Street. Rather, they mean the liveliness of lower Manhattan's street life, the well-kept green of the new Hudson River Park, and the museums that recently enhanced the area's reputation as a tourist destination-all of which are quite different from, and in some ways antithetical to, the old concentration of financial firms. Downtown has emerged as a place to live and spend free time, instead of a traditional office district where work is done. Rebuilding plans must take this into account.

Much of lower Manhattan's vibrancy, moreover, reflects the startling increase in the area's residential population. In 1970, the number of people living in the area from the Battery north to Canal Street was just 7,000. The number of residents doubled by 1980 and rose to 25,000 in 1990. By 2000, it reached 34,000. In the last three decades, lower Manhattan has become a residential area.

But who lives there? Lower Manhattan residents are young, childless, and affluent; they are the proverbial yuppies who were both envied and ridiculed during the stock market boom of the eighties. This is especially true of the 25,000 people who live in the new apartment houses of Battery Park City and the converted office buildings of the financial district-in other words, the downtown population excluding Tribeca. By 2000, according to "Downtown New York," a report prepared for the Downtown Alliance in January, 2001, 88 percent of these residents were younger than 45; 76 percent earned more than $90,000 a year; and 25 percent of the households earned over $210,000 a year, which is more than four times the regional median.

Not surprisingly, almost two thirds of these residents work in financial services. However, although there is a common belief that downtown residents live there in order to walk to work, almost two-thirds of lower Manhattan residents work in other areas of the city. Downtown is becoming a place to live and visit, instead of simply a place to work.

There is a "creative" connection waiting to be made between cultural businesses and downtown's new residential identity. The 535 stock brokerages in Tribeca already coexist with around 100 design services and a significant number of arts-related businesses: 36 theater, dance, or musical performance spaces; 35 independent artists, writers, or performers; 13 agents or managers; and 11 museums. And the number of these arts-related businesses is roughly doubled if you add in the adjacent neighborhood of SoHo.

Richard Florida's recent book, The Rise of the Creative Class, describes a group very much like the residents of lower Manhattan: a large number of men and women who utilize creativity in some way in their daily work and are generally associated with artistic, technological, or intellectual innovation. Though he doesn't discuss wealth and income, the creative class is a typical, contemporary upper middle class group accepting of social and cultural diversity. As different from the robber barons who built the first generation of skyscrapers on Wall Street as they are from hippies of the 1960s, the creative class likes a local scene of music and bars for socializing and tolerates, if not actively seeks, lifestyle diversity. Indeed, downtown residents express a desire to improve their neighborhood by bringing in exactly the commercial services this group needs. According to "Downtown New York," residents want "24-hour gourmet delis, greengrocers, video stores, and dry cleaners." They especially want shops that stay open past 6 p.m.

As chairwoman of downtown's Community Board 1, Madeline Wils has continually emphasized that the wishes of the residential community have to weigh heavily in the plans to redevelop lower Manhattan. She recently criticized the suggestion, which is frequently voiced by the victims' survivors' associations, that a large portion of the World Trade Center site be dedicated to a memorial. But it is not clear who should live in the area, or what would be its most valuable social uses.

The affluent, white residential community that has developed downtown in the past 20 years is not representative of all of New York City. Not entirely connected to the financial sector, yet heavily employed there, these residents could easily disappear if many of the remaining financial organizations moved away. Without building a larger, critical mass of cultural businesses and nonprofit institutions in lower Manhattan, we cannot make sure that residents would make a "reverse commute" to work in Brooklyn or New Jersey every day.

The powerful Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has spoken in favor of "vitality" and providing more commercial services for the residents who are now in place. This cannot be done if resources are spent to re-create lower Manhattan as a financial capital. By placing importance on culture over finance, there is potential to open the door to a more authentic, mixed-use community that stretches river to river and includes all of downtown.

Sharon Zukin is co-editor, with Michael Sorkin, of After the World Trade Center: Rethinking New York City (Routledge, 2002).

Nine Months After Sept. 11, Top Players in Rebuilding Look Ahead


New York architect Mark Ginsberg lives six blocks from the World Trade Center. He and his family moved home about a week after Sept. 11, but soon found that what may seem like a small inconvenience changed their lives. The sand in their local playground was removed because it had been contaminated by asbestos, and not replaced until March. "For those of us with small children, the park and playground were the center of our community. For the period that there was no sand, the center was gone," said Ginsberg.

Then he paused. "Today I have the honor of moderating a panel of four people who are putting the sand back into a much bigger hole, in the neighborhood, the city and the country." He was speaking at "Turning 9/11 Around," a June 11 symposium held by the American Institute of Architecture's New York Chapter.

Ginsberg moderated the symposium's first panel, full of top players in the rebuilding efforts from New York's public sector. "Something amazing is going on," said Alexander Garvin, lead planner for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. "It has been going on for nine months. I go to places and there are people from all over the city who want to do something. There are organizations that have never sat at a table with one another that are ready to work together." He said that strongest example of this is the fact that his organization and the Port Authority are moving ahead in planning the rebuilding efforts together.

Robert Davidson, chief architect for the Port Authority, showed computer animations of work done so far to rebuild the PATH station destroyed in the attacks, the designs for a new ferry terminal at World Financial Center, and plans for a transparent viewing platform at Ground Zero, to be up during the site's construction. "People want to see what is happening on the site," he said. He showed animation of a completely transparent steel fence on the sidewalks, with so called "viewing portals" at key locations. The fence, lit at night, would also have boards where visitors could leave tributes. The full boards would then be collected and replaced. "We are in the process of determining the ways that we will archive these boards so that they can be preserved," he said.

Stephanie Gelb, who oversees the planning and design of Battery Park City, discussed the ways that Battery Park City's response to the disaster and cleanup can help direct rebuilding efforts for the entire site. "Battery Park City cannot be a real New York City neighborhood until it is integrated into the city. Planning for Lower Manhattan must address the issue of West Street," she said. West Street cuts the neighborhood off from the rest of Lower Manhattan. The community suffered during the six months that the street was closed from traffic. "The community was marooned, and effectively split in half," Gelb said. "Residents in the north could not go to restaurants in the south. Residents in the south could not go to school in the north." Gelb said that she also learned that Battery Park City is not a suburb. Before Sept. 11, the neighborhood's parks and schools attracted families that might have otherwise moved to the suburbs. But after Sept. 11, occupancy fell 60 per cent by the end of the year. The number of residents is almost back to what it was, after lowering and subsidizing rents. The new residents are largely younger and single.

Patricia Lancaster, commissioner of New York City's Department of Buildings, detailed her department's role after the Sept. 11 attacks, and talked about how the department will regulate tall building's safety in the future.

The panel then answered questions from architects, planners and journalists. An edited transcript follows:

Q: In your opinion, what is the most successful new building in New York?

Alexander Garvin: The most successful new building in New York is Central Park. (laughter)

Stephanie Gelb: I like the Rector Bridge [newly in place to reconnect Battery Park City with other neighborhoods, which were separated after Sept. 11]. It gets you where you want to go.

Q: Mr. Garvin, who has control of the $21 billion allocated to New York City, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, or the Port Authority?

Alexander Garvin: That is a little more complicated...some of the money has not yet been appropriated by Congress. We have $ 2.7 billion that have come in the form of Community Development Block Grants. A large portion of that has gone to the Empire State Development Corporation, which is running an assistance program for affected businesses and for residents, subsidizing rents. In addition to that, there are Federal Emergency Management Programs that are being run by the federal government, and the Liberty Bond Program that is set up to bring money into Lower Manhattan. There will be a wide variety of other things, but at this point, I can't really take all $21 billion and numerate them for you.

Q: Let me restate my question. Who decides how that $21 billion is spent?

Alexander Garvin: The Congress of the United States.

Q: In your agency, or the Port Authority, who decides?

Alexander Garvin: The grant of $2.7 billion is a grant from the federal government, from the Congress of the United States, which has been granted to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. We are distributing that money. Some of the money went to the Empire State Development Corporation, and it is for business retention and resident retention in Lower Manhattan. You can read about the program if you go to our website, which is www.renewnyc.com, you can read exactly how that money is being distributed. The Federal Emergency Management money, which is in excess of $5 billion, is being distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Association, not by us, not by the Port Authority. Some of the other money is mainly being appropriated by Congress. That is as far, and as good, as I can do at this moment. If you go to our website you will see exactly which businesses qualify and how much the grants are, they are automatic, they are non-discretionary and are given to people who rent or live in Lower Manhattan. There are three zones, one includes Chinatown, one includes Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, they are automatic payments that come from the federal government to us, and from us to the residents.

Q: What would you say are the most important characteristics of a great building, the kind that you would like to see built in Lower Manhattan? And what do you think it will take to get that kind of building built?

Alexander Garvin: As a planner, I would tell you that an individual building is not as important as a public realm. What we need to do is create as great a public realm as we can, a public realm consisting of mass transit systems streets, squares, parks and the open spaces, all of the places in which the public moves. One of the things that the Port Authority and we are trying to do to move this forward is to present alternatives to everybody, so that you can see how you might [take part in] that public realm. (That public realm, around which the individual buildings will grow up. That public realm is what, I think, is the single most important thing to shape. Thereafter, there are opportunities for some great buildings, parcels and blocks and lots that will be there when we are done.) Some of that public realm will be built by the Port Authority, some of it will be built by other agencies, but we have to create a really great public realm in order to induce wonderful buildings that will make the city a better place to live.

Patricia Lancaster: I don't think this is what you meant, but as your Buildings Commissioner, I would say that the greatest building would be the one that is the safest.

Q: Even though you talk about the unprecedented cooperation that has taken place because of this tragedy, the approach sounds quite segmented, with mass transportation and other planning areas being incorporated but not really all planned together. Also, input is being requested through public hearings, and through public participation. And also, billions of dollars are being supplied by a body down in Washington D.C. that's going to decide how that money is being used. This is an incredibly chaotic array of activities that are going on, and my question is: Who is going to be in charge of all of this, not individually, but who do you see as being the power structure that is going to oversee this whole process, and how will they be able to control the actions of all these different individuals, lobbies, and money interests?

Alexander Garvin: This is a democracy, and in New York, our planning is about as complex as you are going to get. We do not have a single czar, we have community boards, we have operating agencies, we have the public. There are endless numbers of players in any decision that goes on in New York. If you come to any of the public hearings held by the Planning Commission, you will see that an ordinary, item, including a curb cut, or building a cafĹ˝, might involve large numbers of people who in other cities, would not be involved. We have created this culture of public participation, and we are very proud of it. So I can assure you that no single individual could be, or should be involved in determining all of these things. We have crafted, with the Port Authority, a rather extraordinary series of events that are going to unfold over the next few months.

We had a public hearing two weeks ago, we are going have a very large public event on the 20th of July at the Javitz Center, in cooperation with Civic Alliance, the Regional Planning Association, the Port Authority and we. We will be presenting to the public at that time some of those things. There will be half a dozen proposals, with all the elements, not just on the 16 acres that the Port Authority is going to rebuild, but also in the adjacent areas.

In late September we are going to have, not three out of six, but we are going to recombine, so if you had A, B, C, D, E, and F before, you are going to get G, H and I, which will combine two different things. The public participation, which will identify for us which elements are generally thought to be desirable, will exclude those things without support, or not enough support. Along with our consultants Parsons Brinkerhoff, Beyer Blinder and Belle and our other consultants (because both the Port Authority and we have other consultants) they will come in and bring that together. Hopefully by the end of the year we will have come to some consensus on a single recommendation to then put forward through a public procedure, rather like what usually happens when things like this take place.

Robert Davidson: Just to build on Alex's comments, yesterday there was a four-hour meeting that took place at 115 Broadway that was the first of three meetings that began to consider all of the transportation initiatives that have been out there in the public realm, and we all know what they are. The first meeting was with the Department of Transportation, City Planning, the Port Authority, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. It was a discussion about surface transportation. We dealt with all of the transportation issues that bring vehicles into downtown Manhattan, let's say south of Canal Street. The next one will be on water born transportation, ferries. The same thing will occur with respect to rail transportation. At yesterday's meeting we also had the New Jersey contingent, and the same thing will apply to the other discussions, they will be representing both states, all the agencies, City Planning.

Q: I have made my mind up that there is going to be some form of transit hub downtown. And it seems from your plans for the new PATH terminal that it is going to be a hell of a walk from the PATH to Broadway-Nassau. What ways have you come up with to address this, if any?

Robert Davidson: Its no secret, because it has been out in the public discussion since probably November or December of this year, that we have been thinking about what we have been calling the "downtown concourse," and it is a way to deal with the issues that exist in downtown Manhattan. There has been mention of, downtown needs its own Grand Central, and that's probably true, I would agree with that in terms of public space. But the difference between Grand Central and what's going on in lower Manhattan, is that we have a linear progression of disparate transit systems that were created over time. And, some how, we need to link them up. And we need to link them up in the best pedestrian fashion possible. So [we have been discussing] the idea that this could be developed as an east-west link that would link the three business districts as we are calling them, the Financial Center, the Trade Center site, and the financial district, link those business districts with all of the transportation that exists and the new transportation that will eventually be constructed, for example the permanent PATH terminal and the potential for some bus operation to occur within that zone. That's on the table.

Is It Too Late to Listen to the City?


As New Yorkers prepare for the biggest public meeting on rebuilding to date and the opening of a major exhibit of ideas for downtown, it is hard for many to ignore reports that the plans being developed by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation severely restrict planning options.

Many will make sure their ideas are heard this week, even if it seems that much has been decided without them. "This is no different than election day on any given year. You don't have any guarantee that the person you voted for is going to follow through on their promises, but what can you do? You have to participate," said Errol Louis, a director at the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development. Louis will be one of the up to 5,000 people at Saturday's public hearing on rebuilding.

Six Plans
On Tuesday, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation will release six land use plans for the World Trade Center site. While no information about the plans has been officially released, they have already generated a great deal of controversy. Last week, unnamed sources told the New York Post that the plans are too alike. Reportedly, all of them include nearly 11 million square feet of office space, as well as 600,000 square feet of retail and an 800-room hotel. The New York Times later reported that, while all of the plans rebuild the office and retail space that Larry Silverstein and his partner Westfield America lost in the attack, none include the apartment houses advocated by many planners and residents.

According to the Times' account, each of the plans reconnect at least two streets, Greenwich and Fulton, that crossed through the World Trade Center site before it was built. They also each call for moving West Street, the seven-lane highway on the western edge of the site, underground. Because the cost to bury West Street could be up to $2 billion, some planners and politicians have questioned this idea.

Many urban planners and civic leaders, who have advocated for rebuilding options like housing and parkland, are worried that the press' rumors will hold true on Tuesday, and all of the plans will really look the same. "If the options are only different in building height or street grid type issues, then the reaction from all the civic organizations and other groups that have been looking at this will be that permutations that really don't adequately define what the differences are for consideration are not acceptable," said Rick Bell, executive director of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture.

Officials from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Port Authority and others have refused to talk about the specific plans publicly. However, rebuilding officials have repeated that the plans are not rigid, and that public input will help the groups come up with three different composite plans in Sept. If one considers the first six schemes as plans A, B, C, D, E, and F, explained Alex Garvin, head planner for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, public input on these plans will be used to create H, I and J, three completely new plans.

The six plans, drawn up by architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle, engineering company Parsons Brinckerhoff and other consultants, will be discussed at the upcoming public hearing on July 20 (see below) and displayed in the rotunda of the Federal Hall National from July 22 to the first week of Sept. The exhibition will include a way for visitors to leave written comments about the plans.

Imagining New York
A large exhibit of New Yorkers' own visions and plans for downtown will be on display at the very same time as the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's official ones. On July 17, "Imagine New York: an Exhibition of Ideas" opens at the Urban Center Galleries. The exhibit, organized by Imagine New York, a project of the Municipal Art Society, will show selections from ideas and plans that people--from professional architects to elementary schoolchildren--shared at the 230 workshops Imagine New York held throughout the region.

The group, which has been working to involve people in the rebuilding efforts since March, will shift gears after the show. "This is one of the last legs of Imagine New York's initial project," said Aimee Malloy, director of the exhibition. "What we are trying to do with this exhibit is to capture not only the ideas but the project itself; the democracy and public participation in Imagine New York."

While the 19,000 ideas and proposals Imagine New York gathered certainly are a testament to civic participation, it is unclear just how much influence they will have as Gov. George Pataki, the Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation make decisions about the site. Holly Leicht, co-director of Imagine New York, explained that the group sent their summary of ideas to every rebuilding official. However, said Leicht, not very many people from the development corporation have asked to take a closer look at the people's visons. Members of the victims' family group advising the corporation asked to see memorial ideas, and the engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, working on transportation planning for the corporation, requested transportation ideas.

Despite the rumors that all plans have similar limitations, Leicht is still waiting to see for herself how much of Imagine New York's findings were included. No matter how the plans look, she hopes that public participation after Tuesday won't now be limited to just talking about the options they contain. "It would be very premature for so many decisions to be made," she said. "What we've been told is that the six plans are really straw men, and that the three that come out in September could be very different."

Listening to the City?
Leicht also said that she hopes the six plans don't limit the discussion at the July 20 public meeting on rebuilding. Called "Listening to the City," the event will be the largest forum on rebuilding to date, open to up to 5,000 people. A room in the Jacob Javits Convention Center will be set up with 500 round tables, each with a computer so that the ideas that come up during discussions are recorded.

Each table will get copies of the six proposals, and a section of the day will be devoted to discussing them. If the official ideas are as restricting as press accounts say they are, the forum may be filled with angry New Yorkers. "People still really want an opportunity to say what they think, not just react to what has been given to them," said Leicht. Saturday's meeting will be just the second time rebuilding officials hear directly from the public.

The forum, sponsored by the Civic Alliance, the Regional Planning Association, and local planning schools, will also set aside time to talk about memorial proposals and general ideas about downtown. Louis, from the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, one of the event's co-sponsors, said that he has been working to make sure that non-architectural issues are also discussed, such as affordable housing and creating new jobs for those unemployed after Sept. 11.

That is, if it isn't too late to bring housing back into the list of possibilities for downtown.

9/11/01-02: Altering The Political Landscape


Most people have probably forgotten that September 11, 2001, started out as a day when New York City held primary elections. That memory may resurface for many as they head to the polls on the eve of the anniversary, September 10th, for this year's primary.

This year's primary election is not just a calendar year away from the attacks, but it comes at the end of a year when the political fortunes of many candidates have been deeply affected by the implications of the tragedy. The attacks were the background of political life in New York starting with last year's mayoral race and continuing through this year's race for governor.

CAMPAIGN 2001

On September 11th, the primary was canceled by noon. Like other New Yorkers, the candidates for political office Ð not just the race for mayor, but some 400 candidates for other local races Ð stopped what they were doing. For a while, many considered it in bad taste to campaign.

But the primary was rescheduled, there was then a Democratic mayoral run-off, and within a month, the contest was between Democratic Mark Green and Republican Michael Bloomberg.

Mark Green was the Public Advocate, someone with years of political experience. Mike Bloomberg was a businessman who had never run for political office before. The city's response to the attacks became an issue almost immediately.

Sitting Mayor Rudy Giuliani had become a symbol of strong leadership in a time of crisis: his confidence and compassion had brought assurance and inspiration to a city badly in need of both. Although the new term limits law meant he was unable to run for a third term as mayor, New Yorkers of every political persuasion were grateful to him for his role in the days and weeks following the attacks.

Against this backdrop, Mark Green choose to make a public comment critical of the mayor's recent job performance. His remarks suggested he would have or could have done as good a job if he himself had been mayor. Whether or not this statement was accurate, it was considered highly inappropriate and mean-spirited, and Green was widely criticized for making it.

At about the same time, Giuliani endorsed Bloomberg. Although Bloomberg was running as a Republican, the same party Giuliani belonged to, the two men came from very different backgrounds and were not natural political allies. But the fact that Giuliani made the decision under these unusual circumstances only made the endorsement more compelling. Giuliani's decision to make Bloomberg his public choice had a profound and immediate impact on the race.

Endorsements have long been seen as a way to increase a candidate's stature, or to deliver one small, loyal block of voters, or to decorate a campaign with a well-known name. Never before has an endorsement had the effect of changing the dynamics of a campaign the way this endorsement did.

THE GOVERNOR'S RACE

It would seem almost impossible that a candidate running for high office in New York could fail to learn from another candidate's mistake just five months earlier. But it happened, this time in the governor's race.

Andrew Cuomo, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, was leading in the polls in early 2002. Then he criticized George Pataki's performance in the aftermath of September 11th as inept and ineffective; the governor, Cuomo said, had simply been holding Giuliani's coat.

Whether or not the remark cost him the nomination, he lost his lead in the polls not long afterwards. When he dropped out of the race a week before the primary, conceding to his primary opponent, H. Carl McCall, one newspaper ran the headline: "Cuomo Folds, Plans to Hold McCall's Coat."

THE REBUILDING PLANS

New York City's rebuilding efforts will be a statewide, as well as a nationwide. focus for years to come. The question of how to best rebuild and revitalize lower Manhattan was a main theme for each of the major candidates for governor throughout the campaign.

Carl McCall has put an emphasis on economic recovery, with a plan to create 100,000 new jobs in the areas of financial services, biotechnology, information technology and business services. He also proposed an International Center for Commerce and Culture, designed to attract international business headquarters and make New York City the true financial capital of the world.

Although Andrew Cuomo ultimately dropped out of the race, his rebuilding plans were some of the most creative of any of the major candidates. He saw the rebuilt downtown area as a sort of high-tech capitalist utopia: New York City cultural landmarks, a relocated World Bank, an integrated transportation system, a developed waterfront with a harbor economy, and a newly commissioned World Institute of Health, doing valuable research while also creating a biotechnology economy.

Meanwhile Governor George Pataki is said to be the beneficiary of what one Democrat calls the "Ground Zero effect." Pataki has promised the victims' families that nothing would be built in the "footsteps" of the twin towers, the actual ground space once occupied by the buildings themselves.

The legacy of last fall's terror attacks will continue to be felt. The political implications are only just now emerging.


Five Favorite Sites For Beginners:

  • NYVote.com - "New York's Online Political Source"
  • The Center for Responsive Politics - The definitive site for campaign financing. Searchable databases by state and zip code allow you to learn how much candidates have raised, and who has contributed to their campaigns. Indispensable.
  • Vote NYC - The New York City Board of Elections. A simple yet thorough primer on voting. How, when, where and why to vote in New York City.
  • The NYC Voter Assistance Commission - Yet another NYC site that provides the ABC's of voting -- in Spanish, English, Korean, Russian and Greek. Voter reg forms, info on the election year calendar, registration deadlines and elected officials. Learn how to become an election day worker: promote democracy and earn some extra cash.
  • Project Vote Smart - A wonk's delight. Enter your zip code to find out who represents you. Extensive information about candidates in all levels of government. Searchable by state, with excellent state legislative links. Biographies and (largely unflattering) pics of all NY legislators. Info on ballot measures too.
  • NYC Campaign Finance Board - Information on the financial particulars of candidates and their campaigns. The searchable database on contributions is both impressive and easily accessible: who gave money to whom and how much.
  • The City Council - The indispensable road map to NYC legislators and legislative info. Find out who represents you and every other imaginable detail about the Council's workings: rules, hearings, committees, news, legislative agenda, and the list goes on. Links to all other City government sites.

Other Recommendations:



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