New World Trade Center Transit Hub Opens in Lower Manhattan


The new World Trade Center Transit Hub officially opened yesterday afternoon, to mixed reviews. The structure cost the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about four billion dollars. And it took five years longer than expected to build. Erin Golackson caught up with the first morning commuters as they passed through the hub today.

GOLACKSON 1: At 7am in the financial district, the sounds of construction work are echoing through the central atrium of the structure. That’s because it isn’t quite finished. But you can see it has a peculiar design…

WALLSTREET 1: It kind of looks like the skeleton of a fish
BEAN 1: It looks like Fishbones. It’s quite aquatic.
WALLSTREET 1: And sometimes like a porcupine
RICHARDSON 1: It looks like a bird skeleton.
JULIA: I Think it kind of looks like the inside of fruit.
STEVE: I feel like Gepedo in here. (From pinnoccio?) When they get swallowed up by the whale. (Ohhh yeahhh)

GOLACKSON 2: Those last two voices belong to Julia and Steve. They asked me not to use their last names. And they aren’t commuters, not exactly.

JULIA 1: I worked on it. We both worked on it.

GOLACKSON 3: That’s right. She helped build the most expensive train station in the world. She did the iron work.

JULIA: There’s some welds right there that I did…. so if you want to know the first instinct people have about it we’re not the ones to ask because, we’ve been working on it for like, years… five years.

GOLACKSON 4: Fifteen thousand tons of iron were used to make architect Santiago Calatrava’s vision.

He designed the structure to look like the soaring wings of a bird. From the inside, sloping white iron ribs form a dome with a skylight 160 feet in the air—it’s called the Oculus. Like an eye. Every year, on September 11, at the time the planes hit the World Trade Center, the roof will open, and the sunlight will pour in.

JULIA 2: I know what it’s supposed to look like, it’s supposed to look like the dove of freedom taking flight.

GOLACKSON 5: She’s right. Brian Richardson stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to take it all in.

RICHARDSON 2: For new york, I think it’s kind of apt. It looks grand enough for New York. I like it. I’m an architect.

GOLACKSON 6: But it’s the cost that has some New Yorkers upset. Four billion dollars is about the entire working budget of the New York City Housing Authority last year.

Phillipa Bean and Lauren Powell were up early, in the snow, visiting the World Trade Center memorial for the first time. For them, the cost wasn’t the main issue. It’s about what rebuilding means for the city.

BEAN 2: I guess you just have to keep moving on, you’ve got to keep building new stuff. Keep carrying on.

GOLACKSON 8: And the city does intend to keep building. A greek orthodox church that was destroyed when the towers fell is being rebuilt, and it will also have the imaginative design of Santiago Calatrava.

It will be the final piece of the grand, symbolic effort make that lower manhattan neighborhood what it was before it became known as ground zero.

Erin Golackson, Columbia Radio News

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