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The Rebirth of a Nation: the Rebuilding and Restoration of Life

When it comes to memories that jar the brain and scar the soul, there are few as impactful as November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001

3 World Trade Center. Credit: Joe Woolhead (www.wtc.com).

Our lives are shaped by people and events. Some eclipsing the realm of traditional while others stand out based on impact. Of all the events in my life, only one other compared to the shock of November 22, 1963. On the morning of September 11, 2001, once again, I was at the heart of the tragedy

I began my college life at a small women’s school in Boston. Although there were comparisons to NYC, I always felt the similarities between Boston and New York, were unjustified; possibly created by a good College PR team!  As far as I was concerned, it began and ended on Commonwealth Avenue, a reasonable  facsimile to Park Avenue, and coincidentally where my college was located.    

Boston in the ‘60’s (for those who remember) had much to do with the introduction of pot and the British invasion (namely the Beatles). In retrospect, many college students, during this decade, had  brains affected by the haze created by this new taboo…  as well as a variety of freedoms that were until then, unknown. The hype surrounding Boston, at that time (in my opinion), was a figment of an imagination dealing with the need for comparisons of the 2 cities. And aside from the Boston Pops, Bonwit Teller & Beacon Hill, there was little to compare!  I rest my case.   

In looking back, having visited Boston several times over the years, perhaps this evaluation is unfair. I was viewing the city through the eyes of an 18 year old, and at best my judgement may have been impaired. No need for further explanation! 

Our lives are shaped by people and events. Some eclipsing the realm of traditional while others stand out based on impact.  Of all the events in my life, only one other compared to the shock of November 22, 1963. To be in Boston on that date in history, is a memory that lies etched in my mind. For I will never forget walking down Commonwealth Avenue, portfolio under arm, in preparation for Thanksgiving weekend, to a street desolate of traffic, pedestrians, and life. The country stood still, but most especially the city of Kennedy’s birth. The news of JFK’s assassination turned Boston into an eerie silent subdued setting, with death permeating the streets.  The sadness surrounding this event, changed the country forever and profoundly changed my views on the possibilities of life, as we knew it then.

There could be no preparation for what was to come, many decades later. But on the morning of September 11, 2001, when I received an unexpected call from a friend alerting me to turn on the news, the enormity of what had happened stunned me into wails of horror. Once again, I was at the heart of the tragedy and only a few miles north of the Twin Towers. The stench of fumes that blew uptown in less than 2 days, was as putrid as it was profound. A taste of fear at its worst, of a city attacked and a world that still recovers and one that has never been the same.   

Enter Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Larry Silverstein, and the masterminds and architects who have recreated rebuilt restored and given enormous optimism to our city. Kudos to all who brilliantly set out to imagine the Tribeca Film Festival (and Institute) and set a path for the creation at Ground Zero, turning downtown into a new and vibrant part of NY while maintaining tremendous compassion for those who lost their lives. Instead of solely centering on a memorial, the buildings that have soared, reaching heights higher than any others in the city, remain a tribute as well, to the ingenious combination of talent, creativity, and spirit. 

When I was invited to the opening of 3 World Trade Center, it held a multitude of emotions. I fall into a small category of New Yorkers, who had no desire to visit Ground Zero. Although as I’ve just expressed, I am personally in awe of those who have accomplished this remarkable resurrection; on a personal note, I found many of the photos of tourists invading this area, nothing short of vulgar and disrespectful.  Not only to the fallen, but to those of us who call New York home.  The memory of that date still sears my heart, and so, my emotions outweighed my curiosity. However, as a writer/ columnist and newly inducted member of the Foreign Press, I felt it my obligation.  

3 WTC ribbon cutting (credits: Joe Woolhead, www.wtc.com).

*3World Trade Centeris the second tallest building on the WTC site, and the 5th tallest in the city. It rises to 1079 ft above Greenwich Street. With a total of 2.5 million square feet of office space, the 80 story tower will feature 30 – 70,000 square foot floors and 360 degree views of Manhattan.   It also has 5 retail levels, 2 above & 2 below grade, and 1 on the ground floor.      Among many building enhancements, the tower has a reinforced concrete core and columns with steel girders and beams. It will achieve the Gold Standard under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the US Green Building Council.  All occupied spaces of the building are supplied with more outside ventilation air than required by Code.

3WTC is bounded by Greenwich Street to the west, Church St to the east, Dey St. to the north and Cortlandt Way to the south. The buildings address is 175 Greenwich Street. It is also situated next to the WTC Transportation Hub, with direct access to a dozen NYC lines and Path Trains to NJ.

Oculus.

3 World Trade Center is the 3rd building in the WTC Master Plan, developed by architect Daniel Libeskind. All corners of the tower are column-free and utilize an exterior bracing system to ensure that occupants of the office levels have unimpeded 360degree panoramic views of New York.  A 43’ high Zimbabwe black granite-clad wall lines the western face of the lobby, and mirror-backed glass panels with woven metallic mesh fabric, flank the walls of the elevator lobbies. Sardinian Gray granite lines the floor. In addition, the building offers a strong interface with the public realm along Cortlandt Way and Dey Street, which have been redeveloped into pedestrian areas. 

Cortlandt Way between 3WTC & 4 WTC will be a pedestrian-only street.  The plaza north of 3WTC and south of the Oculus will also be for pedestrians only. The landscape architect is PWP Landscape Architecture.  Cortlandt Way will feature Thornless Honey Locust trees. 

At the opening, I was especially pleased to have had the pleasure of meeting Larry Silverstein, who has poured his heart, soul and years of continued financial support into the rebuild. A delightful and generous figure who recently was quoted in the NYTimes as saying that he and his wife have decided to “flee the old fogeys of Midtown (his longtime home).  At 87, he felt it a wonderful opportunity to come down to an area he had just finished to a population that is predominately young”.  It seems the move represents his personal endorsement to a slice of Manhattan, that remains a work in process.

*data taken from fact sheet prepared by Silverstein Properties / WTC Properties LLC

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