June 18th - June 24th, 2004
Officials Approve Renovation of South Ferry Subway Station
Friday, June 18: New York City and State officials announced the approval of a $400 million renovation plan for the South Ferry subway station.
The project, which is just one of several city and state initiatives to improve transportation downtown, will redesign the station's platform so that it can house a 10-car subway train (the station's current platform can only accommodate five cars) and will also connect the 1 and 9 trains to the Whitehall Street subway station, reported the New York Times.
The project, which was originally rejected by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver due to concerns that it would disrupt the Battery Park area, was given the seal of approval after the MTA pledged $15 million for improvements to Battery Park, the Times said. Included in the planned enhancements of the area are the construction of a playground, bicycle path, and common green area in front of Castle Clinton, the paper added.
Area officials expect work on the facility, which is scheduled to begin this fall, to be completed by 2007.
New Study Questions Design of WTC Towers
Friday, June 18: According to an initial report released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the original engineers of the World Trade Center may have underestimated the impact of strong winds on the twin towers, ultimately producing a weaker design that could have decreased the amount of time that tenants and rescue workers had to evacuate the towers before they collapsed during the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times and Associated Press reported.
The allegation, which is still under investigation, comes out of a federal inquiry into the collapse of the WTC towers that aims to recommend changes in building and fire codes nationwide that would better protect buildings against fires or other disasters, the Times said.
Also included in the report was detailed information about the exact locations where the structures' steel columns fractured, as well as the first official estimate of the number of people in the towers at the time of the 9/11 attacks - between 16,200 and 18,600 people, the Associated Press reported.
The study is expected to be completed by 2005, added the Times.
20-Ton Cornerstone Donated for July 4 Freedom Tower Ceremony
Sunday, June 20: A 20-ton slab of granite -- dubbed the "Freedom Stone" -- will become the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower and will be unveiled by Gov. George Pataki at an official groundbreaking ceremony scheduled to take place at the World Trade Center site on July 4, 2004, the New York Times reported.
The cornerstone, donated by Long Island-based Innovative Stone Inc., was selected from an upstate Adirondack quarry and brought to the area last week to be cut, polished, and engraved. The $14,000 block is comprised of "garnet-flecked" granite -- of significance because garnet is the official gem of New York State, noted the Times.
The ceremonial stone, which will eventually be hidden from view as construction progresses, will help form the foundation of the 1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower.
New Prep School Lands in Former Downtown Bank Building
Monday, June 21: Area officials took part in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the conversion of a former bank building at 41 Broad Street into a new city preparatory school, the New York Times reported.
The elaborate 12-story structure, built in 1929 and formerly occupied by investment bank Lee, Higginson & Company, will begin housing students of the Claremont Preparatory School in September 2005, the Times said. While enrollment for the 2005-6 school year will only be 300 students, school officials hope to reach a total enrollment of 1,000 students, in grades kindergarten to eight, by 2007.
The Claremont Preparatory School, whose creation will cost an estimated $25 million, will receive a $500,000 grant from the Empire State Development Corporation and the city's Economic Development Corporation, provided that it creates 221 jobs in the area by 2007, the Times reported.
Officials Celebrate Renovation of Tribeca Park
Monday, June 21: Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, joined by Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) President Kevin M. Rampe and Community Board 1 Chair Madelyn Wils, announced the completion of the Tribeca Park renovation project.
"Tribeca Park has long been a gathering place for the residents and community as a whole, and we are excited about its new look," said LMDC President Rampe.
The project, which was made possible thanks to a $715,00 grant from the LMDC, included the addition of new bluestone and granite pavement to the historic park, which was first created in 1809, as well as an array of shrubs, lighting, benches, and other amenities. A $200,000 allocation from Assembly Member Deborah Glick will make additional improvements to the park possible in the near future.
The renovation of Tribeca Park is just one component of the LMDC's plan to rehabilitate and create 13 downtown green spaces. For more information, please click here.
Whitehall Ferry Terminal Readies for 2005 Grand Opening
Tuesday, June 22: According to officials from the city Economic Development Corp., the renovation of Lower Manhattan's Whitehall Ferry Terminal will be completed next year, the Post reported.
The state-of-the-art facility will accommodate increased ferry traffic out of its expanded ferry slips as well the 65,000 passengers who ride the State Island Ferry each day, the Post said. The terminal will also feature a 75-foot-high entry hall, a 19,000-square-foot waiting area, and 6,000 square feet of retail space, as well as a direct connection to the 1 and 9 subway lines from inside the facility, the paper noted.
Construction on the $189 million project began in September 2000 and was originally slated for completion by the fall of 2004, but due to several delays -- which include the 9/11 attacks and cost overruns -- the project completion date was pushed to next spring. Once completed, the Whitehall Ferry Terminal will be the first transit project to be completed since September 11, 2001, noted the Post.
Crisis-Counseling Program is Extended
Thursday, June 24: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced yesterday that Project Liberty, a crisis-counseling program for people and groups affected by September 11, will continue until at least next September, according to the New York Times.
The Times reported that the Senator learned of the extension from a letter sent this month by the Department of Health and Human Services. Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta said he hoped the extension would give Senator Clinton and others the opportunity to lobby for another year of services. About 9,000 Fire Department members have taken part in the program.