Situated in the shadow of the World Trade Centre, Cortlandt Street was completely buried under the rubble when the Twin Towers were hit in 2001. Parts of the building were said to have torn through the terminal – pictures taken after the attack show the station buried under debris and its metal beams nearly bent in two.
But just days before the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the first train in years entered the uncharacteristically gleaming subway station. Unlike much of New York’s underground network, which is renowned for its griminess, the station is air conditioned to keep passengers cool, with The New York Times describing it as “sleek, bright and airy”, bearing “little resemblance to its old, dank self”.
The project began in 2015, delayed due to the lengthy works required to renovate the surrounding area. Its complexity meant transport officials had to wait for other authorities to decide where new buildings would be before they could plan subway entrances, and saw the cost balloon from $69m (£53.4m) to $158m (£122m).
However, it represents a morale boost for New Yorkers still dealing with the legacy of the terrorist attack, with dozens turning out on the day to show their appreciation.
“I ride the whole subway system and the 1 and 5 lines are my favourites. I’ve wanted to see this station since I was a child but it closed after the Twin Towers were destroyed. I feel very proud to be here,” local resident Fidel Molina told CNN.
The city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority chair Joe Lhota said the reopening “represents a major milestone in the recovery and growth of downtown Manhattan”.
He added: “WTC Cortlandt is more than a new subway station – it is symbolic of New Yorkers’ resolve in restoring and substantially improving the entire World Trade Centre site.”
The station even features some artwork: a marble mosaic titled Chorus by artist Ann Hamilton, which incorporates texts from both the Declaration of Independence and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Explaining her work to the New York Post, Hamilton said: “I think when we see things that are beautiful, maybe our hearts fall open a little bit, and we are a little more generous.”
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