Website of the Chartered Institute of Building
MTA New York Transit President Andy Byford, right, greets the driver of the first train to stop at WTC Cortlandt Station at 12:01pm, 8 September 2018 (MTA)

Destroyed subway station right under Twin Towers reopens 17 years later

11 September 2018 | By GCR staff 1 Comment

A New York subway station located directly under the Twin Towers that was totally destroyed when they collapsed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks has finally reopened, 17 years later.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) hailed the successful project as “symbolic of New Yorkers’ resolve” when the trains started running again through the new WTC Cortlandt station at noon on 8 September.

Costing $180m, the station is the final one to be restored after 9/11.

Starting in 2015, when it regained control of the site, the MTA rebuilt 1,200 feet of tunnel and tracks and made significant repairs to the station shell, track tunnels and track infrastructure, which was crushed by the burning rubble of the Twin Towers when they collapsed.

All that remained of the formerly-named Cortlandt Street station was demolished as part of the overall reconstruction of the World Trade Center site, leaving behind the foundation for a new subway station to be built in its footprint.

Artist Ann Hamilton poses by “Chorus”, her large, white marble mosaic containing text from the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (MTA)

Among those celebrating was architect and planner Virginia Borkoski FCIOB, the MTA’s senior vice president for program planning and delivery, who has been involved in rebuilding the area.

“It has been an honour to work on the World Trade Center site, contributing to the resurgence of Lower Manhattan and the city that I love,” Borkoski, a trustee of the CIOB, wrote on Facebook. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team, the project and the riding public who were so excited to experience the new station!”

“The opening of WTC Cortlandt returns a subway station to a vibrant neighbourhood and represents a major milestone in the recovery and growth of downtown Manhattan,” said MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. “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 Center site.”

The old Cortlandt St Station was directly under the Twin Towers, which collapsed after being struck by hijacked airliners on 1 September 2001 (Wally Gobetz/Creative Commons)

The station shell, tracks and tunnels sustained devastating damage when the towers fell, cutting service from the line’s southern terminus at South Ferry until a year after the attacks.

Construction of the new WTC Cortlandt station began in 2015 when the MTA was given control of the site, which is located within the greater World Trade Center redevelopment, overseen by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The station box, housing the station shell and structure, had to be supported by piles driven into the bedrock more than 60 feet below, creating an underground railway elevated above the bedrock.

The station site was then built to grade, allowing the new station, which is 700 feet long and 47 feet wide, to be built several floors below street level.

Among the unique features of the new station is a large, white marble mosaic created by the artist Ann Hamilton, containing text from the 1776 Declaration of Independence and the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Commissioned by MTA, the work, entitled “Chorus”, spans a total of 4,350 square feet across the walls of both platforms. Subway riders can touch the raised lettering as they pass by, or stop to read.

The new station is also “fully accessible”, with fewer columns aiming to assist mobility-impaired customers.

Since the 9/11 attacks, Lower Manhattan has undergone a major development to restore the area as a business district, tourist destination and transportation hub.

The station “represents another key milestone in the evolution of the WTC campus as a dynamic anchor of the Lower Manhattan community”, said Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton on opening day.

“The Port Authority is proud to have partnered with the MTA on engineering to keep the subway running as the World Trade Center was rebuilt. Today’s opening is the culmination of our mutual efforts to restore all transit stations to the campus and enhance the overall customer experience.”

Top photograph: MTA New York Transit President Andy Byford, right, greets the driver of the first train to stop at WTC Cortlandt Station at 12:01pm, 8 September 2018 (MTA)