Governor's Remarks ABNY Lunch
April 24, 2003
Centuries from now, history will record September 11th, 2001 as a turning point for mankind; a date when those who believe in fear were overcome by those who believe in freedom.
But for us here today and our fellow New Yorkers, September 11th, 2001 will never be an abstract day in history. For us, it was the day we lost loved ones, friends and neighbors... For us, it was the day a battle began in our own backyard...For us, it was personal.
And that is why rebuilding Lower Manhattan cannot be an elusive promise reserved for another generation or for a distant tomorrow. It is our honor, our obligation to deliver on this promise. Our place in time demands that we be bold and daring and swift.
It's fitting that we gather this afternoon at the crossroads of Lower Manhattan's historic past and bright future B to our south, the Statue of Liberty to our north, the World Trade Center site, where a new symbol of the strength and courage of New Yorkers will rise.
In fact, the place we stand today is an example of New York's determination to move forward.
On January 29, 2002, the Ritz Carlton became the first new building to open in Lower Manhattan.
Many questioned the wisdom of opening a new luxury hotel within five months, and five blocks, of the most devastating terrorist attack in our nation's history.
But the Ritz had the foresight to believe then what we now know for certain -- Lower Manhattan's best days are yet to come.
Earlier this year, in my State of the State address, I pledged that if 2002 was the year of recovery in Lower Manhattan, 2003 would be the year of renewal.
The seeds of that renewal have already taken hold, and will only flourish in the months and years ahead.
This afternoon, I will propose a series of short-term initiatives to be completed within one year, that will significantly improve the quality of life for thousands who live, work and visit Lower Manhattan.
I will announce a plan for a new 21st century transportation network in Lower Manhattan -- one befitting the nation's third largest central business district and the financial capital of the world.
And I will set an aggressive schedule to carry out that transportation plan as well as the rebuilding of the World Trade Center Site and the broader community.
While the design for the site will be the catalyst for a new Lower Manhattan, the challenges we face radiate far beyond the 16-acre World Trade Center site.
We must extend the revitalization of Lower Manhattan to those communities that were not in the shadows of the Twin Towers, but nonetheless need our help.
Let me congratulate Mayor Bloomberg for his extraordinary vision for Lower Manhattan, which he outlined for you last December...proposing a new retail, entertainment, and arts corridor along Fulton Street stretching from the Hudson river to the East river more housing south of Liberty Street new parks and open spaces and many other bold initiatives.
Mayor Bloomberg and I share a vision for a strong and vibrant Lower Manhattan, and we share the determination and commitment to make it happen.
But as we look to the future, let us draw inspiration from just how far we've come since the attacks.
We must not lose sight of, or take for granted, the enormity of the devastation we encountered on September 11th.
2,792 innocent lives were taken from us - not soldiers at war, but firefighters, police officers, EMTs and thousands of others...
We will never forget them or their countless acts of heroism.
More than 370,000 jobs were displaced...Seven buildings and 15 million square feet of commercial space destroyed...and another 15 million damaged.
Five subway lines and twelve stations were disrupted or closed south of Canal Street.
The 1 and 9 tracks and the PATH station were completely leveled, the tubes flooded, cutting off tens of thousands of commuters.
Meanwhile, in the days that followed, businesses struggled to stay afloat while many residents either couldn't return - or were simply too traumatized to do so.
The residential occupancy rate plummeted to less than 50 percent in some areas.
And yet, in the midst of great adversity, we met the worst of humanity with the best of humanity.
The spirit that gripped our city within minutes of the attack did not fade with the last embers at Ground Zero.
The cleanup of the site - accomplished months ahead of schedule and for billions of dollars less than projected - set the standard for the rebuilding effort that followed.
More than $1 billion in donations poured in to help victims, while President Bush committed over $20 billion to get New York back on its feet.
New ferry service was quickly established to bring thousands of displaced commuters downtown.
The MTA restored the 1 and 9 line and reopened all but one of the closed stations within one year of the attacks.
The Port Authority - still mourning the loss of 84 of its own employees and the destruction of its headquarters - immediately set out to build a temporary PATH station on the site.
The State Department of Transportation reconstructed West Street and built temporary bridges to reconnect Battery Park City and the World Financial Center with the rest of downtown.
By the end of this year, a little more than two years after the attack, every transportation line disrupted on September 11th will have been restored - yet another sign of New York's continued vitality.
The Empire State Development Corporation and the City's Economic Development Corporation administered more than $1 billion in aid to help more than 15,000 businesses, while the LMDC created a $300 million grant program to retain and attract residents.
And it is working.
To date, nearly 300,000 jobs have returned and the residential occupancy rate is now over 95 percent.
In fact, the occupancy rate in Battery Park City is higher today than it was on September 10th, or for that matter, in the entire history of Battery Park City.
Nineteen months after the attacks, the transformation of Lower Manhattan is underway and the progress is unmistakable.
If you were to walk up West Street today, you would see the Port Authority building a temporary PATH station at remarkable speed...Con Edison building a new substation to provide redundant power supply for all of Lower Manhattan...Verizon working to repair damage from the attacks...engineers working to reinforce the slurry wall...and so much more.
Yet, perhaps our greatest achievement is the development of a vision for the World Trade Center site and the setting for the memorial.
Daniel Libeskind reconciled what once seemed an impossible contradiction - to transform a 16-acre void on our landscape into a place where loss is remembered, and life is celebrated.
This plan leaves exposed a portion of the slurry wall - a metaphor for the strength and endurance of New Yorkers and American democracy, which did not buckle under the weight of so much evil.
It creates a vast and respectful setting for a memorial not yet conceived, which will be the centerpiece of the site forever.
And it defiantly reclaims our skyline with a new beacon symbolizing all that makes our nation great.
Equally important as the design itself is the process by which it was created.
The terrorists who attacked our city sought not only to take human life, but to destroy our way of life.
The public process that inspired the plan reaffirmed the democratic ideals that came under attack on September 11th and demonstrated to a world audience the power of freedom.
We could not have imagined this inspirational concept one year ago, nor would it exist but for the sustained public interest that propelled this process forward.
To the more than 10 million people that took part in that process, New York thanks you.
Now that we have a shared vision for the site, we cannot relax our efforts.
We must redouble them. Lower Manhattan continues to endure hardships associated with the attacks, and will for some time.
At this critical juncture, let us not waver in our resolve to rebuild.
Let us, rather, move forward with a renewed sense of urgency.
Today, I am calling on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to implement approximately $50 million in short-term capital projects that will accomplish two over-arching objectives:
First, to improve accessibility in and around Lower Manhattan...and second, to enhance the quality- of-life in Lower Manhattan, making this a more attractive place to live, work and visit.
Most of the projects, which were identified with the help of the Mayor's office and business and community leaders, will be completed within six months - all of them within one year.
We cannot wait a moment longer.
We must make it easier to navigate the site and surrounding areas and continue to normalize conditions for workers, residents and visitors.
To reconnect the World Financial Center and Battery Park City with the rest of Lower Manhattan we will build a new enclosed bridge over West Street near Vesey street linked with convenient walkways to mass transit facilities.
The bridge will open by November, in time for the reopening of the temporary PATH station and the restoration of PATH service.
The Liberty street walkway and bridge will be upgraded.
And we will provide a covered walkway on Liberty and Church Streets linking the World Financial Center with the rest of Lower Manhattan.
We will undertake a number of initiatives to enhance the quality of life in Lower Manhattan.
Broadway should be worthy of its historic distinction as the Canyon of Heroes.
The Downtown Alliance's Streetscape program will transform Broadway into a grand boulevard with new landmark gray sidewalks...granite curbs with street names etched in corners...black granite strips denoting each of the 200 ticker tape parades...and new custom design lighting fixtures and bollards.
An additional $4 million from the LMDC will enable the Alliance to finish the transformation of Broadway, from Bowling Green to City Hall, by next year. It will happen.
For many years, the greenmarket at the World Trade Center site was one of Lower Manhattan's most popular destinations.
This summer, a new greenmarket will open on Broadway in Liberty Park Plaza, another sign that Lower Manhattan is back in business.
The September 11th attacks required us to heighten our security efforts at high profile locations - such as the New York Stock Exchange.
But the measures we put in place to protect life should not make it difficult to enjoy life.
I am calling upon the LMDC to work with New York City, the Stock Exchange, as well as business and community leaders, to maintain appropriate security while, beautifying and improving access to the area around the Exchange.
For example, let us determine a more permanent solution for Broad Street than rows upon rows of police barricades.
And let's get that done quickly. I want to thank Dick Grasso, for his commitment to work with us on this project and for his unwavering commitment to Lower Manhattan.
As we move quickly to determine the fate of damaged buildings around the World Trade Center, we must do whatever possible to make them less of a blight on our community.
The black shroud over the Deutsche Bank building is an ever-present reminder of the darkest moment in our past.
Until the fate of that building is resolved, I have asked the LMDC to replace the shroud with a mural trumpeting a new symbol to rise at Ground Zero -- the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower.
I want to thank Deutsche Bank for working with us on this project, and for reaffirming and strengthening their commitment to Lower Manhattan following the attacks.
If we are to transform Lower Manhattan into a 24-hour community, we must invest in the resources and amenities that make a community great.
Today, I am calling upon the LMDC to contribute up to $3 million toward a new high school -- the Millennium High School for 250 9th and 10th graders at 75 Broad Street -- and I urge potential private sector contributors to do their part.
The LMDC contribution will ensure that Millennium High School will open this September.
I am also calling upon LMDC to fund $10 million in enhancements to open spaces throughout Lower Manhattan - in Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Tribeca, and elsewhere, as the Mayor called for in his vision.
This will create a network of parks and recreational spaces in communities where they are now in short supply.
The LMDC will work with the City of New York and the communities to identify and implement these projects.
We must also further the transformation of our waterfront along the Hudson River by supporting the construction of new recreational amenities.
The LMDC will work with the State and the city as we move forward with an aggressive master plan for Hudson River Park.
We must also do more to support our local businesses by marketing Lower Manhattan as a place for shopping, restaurants and cultural institutions.
The Empire State Development Corporation will fund a new three-point plan to help these businesses.
First, ESDC will launch a new $7 million "I Love New York" tourism campaign that will market Lower Manhattan to an international audience.
Second, ESDC will launch a new discount card to promote shopping at downtown stores, restaurants, and businesses.
The card will be good for 10 percent off any participating destination and it will be promoted in a second campaign highlighting Lower Manhattan accommodations, restaurants and retail facilities.
And finally, ESDC will continue its efforts through its business attraction and retention program to help small business in Lower Manhattan.
These are only a fraction of the improvements we are pursuing in Lower Manhattan over the next several months.
Taken together, they will help retain and attract businesses and residents downtown while we work hard to realize the long-term vision for Lower Manhattan - beginning with transportation.
The greatest public investment we can make in our future is to revamp Lower Manhattan's antiquated transportation infrastructure into a 21st century integrated system.
At each table is a blueprint for a new Lower Manhattan transportation system that will be the envy of the world.
It was prepared by a team including the Port Authority, the Mayor's office, the LMDC, the MTA, the State DOT and all of our partners, working together.
This is not a theoretical proposal destined for the archives of state government. This plan will be carried out.
And thanks to the commitment of President Bush, we have at our disposal $4.55 billion to get underway immediately.
And thanks to an expedited process put in place by the Federal Transit Administration, these projects will not be delayed.
The creation of a 24-hour community will inject new life into Lower Manhattan but also place additional demands on our transportation network.
We must anticipate and accommodate the changes brought about by September 11th...the creation of a memorial that will attract at least 5 million visitors a year…a new World Trade Center site with tens of thousands of workers…and a revitalized Lower Manhattan with new cultural institutions attracting millions more.
As it stands now, Lower Manhattan already has the highest concentration of subway ridership and the densest concentration of subway service in the nation - 15 lines and 20 stations serving one and a quarter square miles south of Canal Street.
And yet, nearly all of Lower Manhattan's transportation infrastructure was built in the early part of the 20th century.
The Lower Manhattan transportation plan I'm proposing today has four pillars: To create a new grand point of arrival in Lower Manhattan, akin to midtown' s Grand Central Station...
To rationalize and improve Lower Manhattan's tangled web of subway lines...
…To provide a respectful setting for a memorial and create a grand promenade along West Street...
…And to create direct rail and ferry access to Long Island and the region's airports.
The plan provides cost estimates and timetables, but let me take a moment to briefly describe key projects.
In the heart of downtown, the Lower Manhattan transit complex will anchor a network of connections to the region and the world.
This dramatic complex will consist of a new PATH terminal on the World Trade Center site, and a new Fulton Street Transit Center at the intersection of Broadway and Fulton streets linked by an underground concourse.
The PATH terminal will welcome 150,000 people a day downtown.
Located on Church Street, the PATH terminal will open onto a large public square envisioned by Daniel Libeskind where cultural facilities, a new hotel and conference center and a major new office building will converge.
The terminal will become a new architectural icon for Lower Manhattan recognized around the world, doubling as an important civic space for exhibitions and events.
It will be equipped with longer platforms that can accommodate 10 PATH cars instead of eight - increasing capacity by 25 percent.
Just to the east, the MTA will rebuild the Fulton Street Transit Center, untangling and rationalizing a confusing maze of nine subway lines.
The new station will feature new and more station entrances; wider corridors and comfortable waiting areas, smoother and more direct connections between subway lines, and an attractive street-level presence to herald the renewal of the entire Fulton Street corridor.
New underground concourses will connect the Fulton Street Transit Center to the PATH Terminal and continue west to the World Financial Center.
These concourses will make connections across Lower Manhattan quick, direct, and convenient.
To the south, we will reconstruct the South Ferry subway station to allow a full-length subway train to discharge passengers, something that the current station cannot accommodate.
The station improvements will reduce commuting time on the 1 and 9 line to and from midtown and for Staten Island residents. Today, I am pleased to announce that the MTA has developed a new plan for reconstructing South Ferry…a plan that does not jeopardize our valuable parkland.
And the station will be closer to the N & R line and the ferry.
As part of the transportation plan, we will also transform West Street, a wide expanse of concrete and pavement that today isolates Battery Park City from the rest of downtown.
Under our plan, this highway will be remade into a magnificent tree-lined promenade.
West Street will become downtown's signature boulevard - a distinguished stretch rather than a barren divide.
Adjacent to the World Trade Center site, a new short tunnel from Vesey Street to Liberty Street will divert loud, fast-moving highway traffic underground to protect the dignity of the memorial, while also providing an elegant welcome at the front door of the World Financial Center.
As part of our shared vision with Mayor Bloomberg, we will also achieve the restoration of Fulton Street and Greenwich Street through the World Trade Center site, infusing life across the full length of these streets.
Dozens of new shops, cafes, and restaurants will be created that will extend the workday vitality of Lower Manhattan into the evenings and weekends.
Coupled with the Downtown Alliance's beautiful streetscape improvements and the ongoing work of the state and city departments of transportation, these new investments will link together the many neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan - from Tribeca to the Financial District, Chinatown to Battery Park City.
As we make it easier for people to travel to Lower Manhattan, we must position downtown as the gateway to the region and the world.
In addition to the ongoing efforts by the Port Authority to extend PATH service to Newark Airport, I have asked the LMDC, Port Authority, and MTA to work with our partners at the City to create direct rail service from Lower Manhattan to Long Island, and JFK.
Long Island is one of the fastest growing areas of the region.
By building a direct connection from Lower Manhattan to Long Island, we will ensure that New Yorkers can take advantage of the new job opportunities that downtown will provide.
JFK is the metropolitan region's premiere international airport.
By simultaneously building a direct connection to JFK B which is only minutes from the Long Island Railroad's key junction, Jamaica station - we will provide a service that gives Lower Manhattan firms a global reach.
The transportation agencies and the LMDC, working with the City, will analyze the various options for Long Island and JFK access, and select the best within one year.
Once the plan is selected, we will immediately enter into the required environmental review.
By the conclusion of the environmental review, we will identify all the resources necessary to fund it - and we will build it. For Newark Liberty Airport, planning is already underway to extend the PATH train 2.5 miles to the airport, where riders will be able to board the Air Train.
I want to thank Governor McGreevey for his support, not only for this project, but for the entire rebuilding effort.
While we work over the next year to determine the best permanent course for direct access, we will take interim steps to establish direct access to all three airports through the use of ferries.
Lower Manhattan's ferry system, expanded in the wake of September 11th in partnership with Mayor Bloomberg, has proven a capable and valuable addition to the downtown transportation network.
To capitalize on this progress, I have asked the Port Authority to work with the LMDC and the City to undertake a study of ferry network expansion.
In late 2004, we will launch a fast ferry from Lower Manhattan to LaGuardia, cutting the commute in half - to less than forty minutes.
In 2005, we will launch fast ferry service directly to Kennedy where it will link with Air Train - again dramatically cutting travel time.
These interim efforts combined with our long term planning for Long Island commuter service and access to all three area airports will energize Lower Manhattan's economy and propel its future growth as a place to work, live and visit.
Our competitors around the country and the world B Chicago, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong B all possess direct regional commuter and international airport service from their central business districts.
I am determined to ensure that Lower Manhattan not only meets, but exceeds this world standard by providing such access.
Beyond transportation, we must move forward to transform our shared vision for Lower Manhattan into reality.
For the first time since the attacks, we have a comprehensive timeline of how the revitalization of Lower Manhattan will unfold.
It is an ambitious plan of swift action.
It leaves no room for error or delay, for parochial concerns or unnecessary legal battles.
It demands of each of us - and all government agencies involved -that which we know New Yorkers are most capable of - UNITY…a collective sense of determination…a shared vision for our future.
Let me make one thing clear: there's a lot to look forward to in Lower Manhattan, and you will see it with your own eyes, beginning next week with the return of the Tribeca Film Festival.
Several long-awaited neighborhood anchors will soon return, starting with the Millennium Hotel next month, followed in the summer by the reopening of the Borders bookstore and the return of the Greenmarket.
The nation's first environmentally sustainable high-rise residential building - The Solaire - will open this summer in Battery Park City, along with the dedication of new baseball fields...
In June, the LMDC will invite cultural institutions around the world to express interest in locating on the World Trade Center site.
We will begin designing the Fulton Transit Center and South Ferry while launching a study of direct access to airports and Long Island.
In the fall, the Millennium High School will open its doors...a new bridge will span West Street...a design for the World Trade Center site memorial will be selected…And in November - again, ahead of schedule - PATH service will be ready to carry 65,000 people a day to the World Trade Center site.
By the end of 2004, more than 3,000 new units of residential housing in Battery Park City alone will be in the pipeline…the Whitehall Ferry Terminal will open…the fast ferry to LaGuardia will launch…and the downtown Manhattan heliport will begin regular service to airports...
In 2005, we will break ground on the new permanent PATH terminal, the new Fulton Street Transit Center...and the reconstruction of South Ferry.
We will open a new ferry terminal at the World Financial Center...Gren-itch street will reopen to pedestrian access… and the West Side Highway will be transformed into a new tree lined promenade running south of Liberty Street, rivaling the Champs Elysees in France - or should I say, surpassing.
And by 2006, just five years after the worst attack on U.S. soil, Lower Manhattan will have been transformed...the permanent Path terminal will open, along with the Fulton Transit Center to the east. The substructure for the memorial will be complete, allowing for construction to proceed, and Libeskind's spectacular entranceway to the site, the wedge of light - where the sun will shine without shadow the morning of every September 11th - will have been created.
2006 will also be the year New Yorkers reclaim their skyline.
By the fifth anniversary of the attack, September 11th, 2006, we will top off a new icon - the 1,776 foot tall Freedom Tower.
For all who come here, no matter the direction, they will witness the tower's imprint on the horizon - and they will know our determination to overcome evil.
Less than two years later, the Freedom Tower will be ready for occupancy. And today, I am pleased to announce the first tenant: the Governor of the State of New York.
This morning, I authorized the Office of General Services to relocate the Offices of the Governor from 633 Third Avenue to Ground Zero.
We will lead by example, and I invite the business community to follow suit.
Next week, New Yorkers will move closer to fulfilling our solemn obligation.
On Monday, we will launch a worldwide competition to design a memorial at the World Trade Center site, for all those lost on September 11th and in the 1993 bombing.
The memorial will provide a quiet place to reflect upon those tragic events, and to recall the heroism that prevailed in their aftermath - a heroism that still prevails today. But Lower Manhattan will also serve as a living memorial for the ages.
Let us remember those we lost not for how they died, but for how they lived.
And let us define Lower Manhattan not by the hatred of a single day, but by the courage that triumphed that day and the days after.
When our work is done, the history of Lower Manhattan will have been written not by the terrorists who attacked our City, but by the millions of New Yorkers who stood up to defend it, and who worked to rebuild it.