Today at noon, the Cortlandt Street subway station at World Trade Center servicing the 1 line re-opened to riders for the first time since it was severely damaged during 9/11 under the weight of the debris from the Twin Towers collapse. Untapped Cities was on hand for the ribbon cutting and press tour just prior, getting a sneak peek in the sleek and modern new station. Meanwhile, subway fans were waiting in line for more than an hour and half to be the first among the public to catch a ride from the new station, which is officially renamed WTC Cortlandt. The black signs on the walls of the platform read simply “World Trade Center.”

Among one of the first of the public to arrive was 15-year-old Emory Lyons from Chelsea, whose father was working in a building across from the Twin Towers on 9/11. Emory wasn’t alive during 9/11, he says, but he saw old pictures of the station with brick walls and red pillars, and wanted to be among the first to see the new station for himself. Donning a 7 subway line tee-shirt, he said he couldn’t find his E subway line shirt, which would have been more appropriate for the World Trade Center location.

The new Cortland Street station is air-tempered, much like the Hudson Yards-34th Street station, so you’ll feel a sharp temperature difference between Fulton Station just on the other side of the Oculus and this one, which remains a comfortable cool by a system that reduces ambient temperatures on hot days. The station also has fewer columns than before, allowing for easier customer flow (and sweeping photographs), and is fully accessible. Most notably, the station features wall-to-wall white marble tesserae mosaic artwork entitled “CHORUS” by artist Ann Hamilton, showing text from the 1776 Declaration of Independence and 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The work, which measures 4,350 square feet across both platforms, is a commission of MTA Arts & Design.

An curved, oblong-shaped, glass-paneled opening marks the entrance of the station from within the Oculus, very much connected aesthetically to the organic, flowing lines of the larger transportation hub it is a part of. Gray-tiled floors complement the white marble walls with 700 modern light fixtures above. In total, the station has 21,300 square feet of floor tile and 18,000 square feet of marble wall tile. Emory says the station doesn’t feel like a New York City subway station at all – maybe something from another state, he suggests.

Construction began on the Cortlandt Street subway station in 2015, after the site was turned over to the MTA from the Port Authority. The shell and structure of the station are situated within a “container box” that is supported by pilings at 60 feet or more below ground. The train tracks are “elevated above bedrock,” according to the MTA. Significant repair work had to be done to the tunnel, tracks, and station shell.

The station sits under the section of Cortland Street that was de-mapped in the construction of the original World Trade Center, but existed when the station first opened in 1918. At the press event, MTA Chairman Joe Lhota spoke of the resurgence downtown since 9/11 as “emblematic of the tremendous resiliency” of Lower Manhattan. Andy Byford, President of MTA New York City Transit, followed up saying that even though he is not from New York, “I recognize the poignancy of this location.” Also present at the opening were New York State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh and U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler.

As we left the station today, first on line to get in when the station opened to the public was a young man wearing matching 1 line subway t-shirt and cap. Not far down the line was Emory Lyons. New York City Subway fans are indeed alive and well in New York City, and the re-opening of Cortlandt Street was clearly a reason to celebrate.
Here are a few more photographs of the new station, be sure to check it out!

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