Buildings of the World Trade Center bring life back to Lower Manhattan 20 years after 9/11 attacks

9/11 Never Forget

An aerial view of 911 Memorial in New York on June 11, 2015. Photo by Jin Lee/911 Memorial

September 11 Timeline

(WTNH) — As we look back at what was lost during the 9/11 attacks that changed the United States forever, we also look at how we recovered and where it brought us today. Lower Manhattan has been transformed in the past 20 years, welcoming back workers, locals, and tourists alike to an essential part of New York City.

On Sept. 11. 2001, we lost high-profile offices, the Windows on the World restaurant, entertainment, transportation stations in the World Trade Center to the infamous terrorist attacks. Also lost? Nearly 3,000 people between the Twin Towers collapse, Pentagon attack, and crash landing into a rural PA field. 

Moving forward and starting plans for rebuilding the area became a priority just days after the attacks. 20 years later, the World Trade Center hub has been rebuilt. It was reimagined and revitalized to honor those killed in the attacks, restore vibrance to the nation’s biggest city and make sure we never forget what happened that fateful day. 

One World Trade Center

The One World Trade Center building, also known as the Freedom Tower, is the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, standing at 1,776 feet. It’s taller than its predecessors, the Twin Towers. North Tower stood at 1,368 feet, with South Tower at 1,362.

One World Trade towers above other buildings in New York, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The One WTC building officially opened in October 2014 and offers office spaces along with the four other World Trade Center buildings, numbered 2, 3, 4, 7.

The One World Observatory can be found within the One WTC. The 100th, 101st, and 102nd floors are used to bring 360 views of New York City and beyond.

You can also have a meal with a view at ONE Dine. Bring yourself, a friend or spouse, or even a group to enjoy food from an award-winning team of chefs.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 9/11 Memorial is the place victims’ loved ones can go to reflect and remember. The memorial bears the names of all 2,977 victims of the attacks. The Memorial opened 10 years after the 9/11 attacks.

There are actually two memorial pools, and they sit on the footprints of the former North and South Towers.

Every year, the names engraved on the memorial are named aloud, with bells chiming from surrounding churches on the minutes of each attack. 

Credit: Joe Woolhead via 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The National Register of Historic Places does not usually consider particular properties until 50 years after their historical significance, but an exception was made for the World Trade Center, allowing for the WTC and its archaeological remnants to be preserved. An advisory board to open a 9/11 museum was appointed on April 8, 2004. The museum opened in May 2014, just days after the public was given access to the area for the first time since 2001. 

Bits and pieces of remnants from what was left from the fallen Twin Towers and responding crews can be seen throughout the country, but most of what can be has been preserved and is on display at the World Trade Center. 

The museum has acquired over 70,000 artifacts, including damaged vehicles, personal items and clothing left behind, pieces and building structures, and more found in the rubble. 

Credit: Jin Lee via 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The museum not only displays the history of 9/11 but also the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, where six people and an unborn child were killed when a truck bomb was set off in the parking garage underneath the WTC.

Oculus Transportation Hub

When plans were underway to rebuild the WTC area, a transportation hub was on the list, in hopes to bring businesses and people back to the area.

The Oculus has brought a new train station to the WTC and incorporates other aspects of transportation operated by the New Jersey/New York Port Authority. The multiuse building is also home to a shopping center. 

FILE – This March 16, 2020, file photo shows the Oculus at the World Trade Center’s transportation hub in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Over one million people a week use the 12 subway lines and PATH station. The transportation hub also handles travelers using bus routes, ferries, taxis, and bicycles to get around.

The Oculus is also home to dozens of retailers, including Apple, H&M, Kiels, and Pandora.

On July 31, 2003, plans were announced for a new transportation hub, later called the Oculus.  A Temporary PATH station started operation in November 2003 in the meantime. Ground broke in September 2005, and Platform A opened to the public in February 2014, with platforms B, C, and D, and the Street E train following suit through 2016.

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed the Oculus to resemble a dove leaving from someone’s hands. 

Every Sept. 11, from 8:46 a.m. to 10:28 a.m., the “Way of Light” appears. The sun shines directly through the central skylight and illuminates the main hall of the Oculus with a beam of light.  

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