The 1 Train Returns to Cortlandt Street, 17 Years After Station’s Destruction

by STEPHEN ZUBRYCKY, Managing Editor

For 17 years, the No. 1 subway stop at Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan was left unused beneath Greenwich Street.

The station was destroyed by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Following those attacks, the No. 1 train was rerouted away from Lower Manhattan and the impassable mass of twisted steel, broken concrete and shattered glass that blocked the tunnel.

The cleanup and restoration of the tunnel took a year, and on Sept. 15, 2002, the No. 1 train again roared in the tunnel, shuttling passengers to the Rector Street and Whitehall Street stations at the tip of Manhattan, the only two stations south of Cortlandt.

The tunnel may have been fixed. But the station was not.

In 2006, 7 World Trade Center, the first completed project at the new World Trade Center site was finished. In 2011 – ten years after the attacks – the National September 11 Memorial opened. Followed by the 74-story 4 World Trade Center in 2013. And the iconic 1 World Trade Center in 2014. And the opulent World Trade Center Transportation Hub, housing the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) train and several subway lines, in 2016.

Still, the No. 1 clambered through Cortlandt without stopping for passengers.

Until this month.

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On Sept. 8, the No. 1 train pulled to stop at Cortlandt Street for the first time in almost 17 years.

The new station, called “WTC Cortlandt” or just “World Trade Center,” connects to the main train and shopping hall of the WTC Transportation Hub, “The Oculus,” at the hub’s west end, closest to the World Trade Center. Despite its proximity to the massive Fulton Street Station, which services the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J and Z trains and is located across the Hub, free transfer is not available.

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The entrance to the new Cortlandt Street 1 train station from the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, also called “The Oculus.” STEPHEN ZUBRYCKY / THE QUADRANGLE

The station also has access points along Greenwich Street, near the eastern edge of the World Trade Center memorial plaza.

The platform area features an bright, airy and modern design atypical of other stations in the subway system.

Unlike older stations, the platforms are not lined with structural columns, making it easy to see across to the other platform and providing for a less confining experience.

The walls are white marble, with the Downtown platform wall covered in a three-dimensional marble mosaic of the Declaration of Independence. On the uptown side, a mosaic of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – right now a work on progress – is working its way north along the wall. While the mosaic is completed, a print out of the declaration will line the platform.

“I really liked the new station. It was more modern, and it looked very clean and sleek,” sophomore Maddy Puzdrakiewicz said. “There was a piece of art on the wall that had words from the Declaration of Independence on it which was really cool because it made the station stand out in a deeper way than just a normal wall or a pretty mural.”

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On a practical level, the new station will enable riders on local downtown trains to more easily access the World Trade Center. On a symbolic level, it marks an important step on Lower Manhattan’s long road from Sept. 11 to recovery.