The night the ‘Tribute’ lights went out For a little over a month, 88 searchlights installed next to the site of the Twin Towers formed two vertical columns of light. The art installation, created by the Municipal Art Society of New York, was called “Tribute in Light” and ran from March 11 to April 14, 2002. Initially thought of as a one-time-only installation, the “Tribute Lights” returned the next year for the anniversary and have returned every year since to commemorate the collapse of the towers. On a clear night, the vertical beams can be seen from 60 miles away.
When 2002 began many Downtowners were still reeling from the 9/11 attacks and were in desperate need of a year defined by progress. It quickly became clear that the progress would be slow going.
But signs of hope came in the form of hotels opening in Battery Park City, the announcement that the federal government had earmarked billions of dollars to help rebuild the neighborhood, and the re-opening of two Lower Manhattan schools that had been evacuated and temporarily relocated.
Debris from Ground Zero was finally disappearing by way of barges launched from Pier 25, and actor Robert De Niro helped bring to life the Tribeca Film Festival, an event that has returned every year since and gives the local economy a boost. Community Board 1 became the most important community board in the city as its members tirelessly advocated for money for schools, cultural groups and small businesses. U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney challenged FEMA to ensure that Lower Manhattan residents received the aid they deserved. And the World Trade Center site’s rebirth began as seven different architectural teams offered up nine different visions of how the devastated site should be designed.
Students return to P.S. 234 and P.S. 150
When the Twin Towers collapsed, schools like P.S. 234 and P.S. 150 in Tribeca were quickly evacuated. The teachers and students had no idea more than five months would pass before they would return to their classrooms. Both of the schools were relocated, temporarily, to schools in the West Village, where in some cases rooms were crammed with up to three teachers and 90 students.
On Monday, Feb.4, 2002 the two schools reopened. The photo above shows Anna Switzer (in red jacket), the principal of P.S. 234 at the time, and Bob Townley (far right), executive director of Manhattan Youth greeting the parents and students.
The Headlines of 2002 tell the story:
B.P.C Ritz Carlton and Marriott Financial Center hotels open in Downtown’s struggling market • Clinton and Schumer visit B.P.C., announce plans for $1.1 billion in federal aid • Bill to honor heroes with Congressional Gold Medal passed in the House • Chinatown groups scramble to help businesses, workers • W.T.C. platform crowds overwhelm Downtown; businesses, residents object • Lower Manhattan Development Corp. begins to plan the future with $2 billion from Washington • Many at P.S. 89 continue to fight return • Bloomberg says he’ll listen to
Downtown residents when it comes to planning for the new W.T.C. • Pier 94 Disaster Assistance Service Center moved to Chambers St. • P.S. 89 parents to take non-binding vote on return • Three-day move for P.S. 234 • Real Estate Co. Insignia-ESG back at One Liberty Plaza • Teachers’ union signs deal to move Downtown in an effort to support the area • Ticket-system for ground zero viewing platform is working, Downtowners say • Route 9A reopening pushed back, not likely until April • New resident assistance group forms, called The Downtown Community Restoration Project • At public forum, workers, pols, businesses pledge to work together • New restaurants boldly open despite the odds: Plumeri, The Harrison, the Stone Street Tavern, Seattle Coffee Roasters, Cookie Island, Les Halles and others try their luck Downtown • Many I.S. 89 students celebrate return; grateful to be back • P.S. 89 parents say Levi will compromise over students’ return • Nadler says E.P.A. is passing the buck Downtown • A portion of City Hall Park finally opens • P.S. 24 Second graders publish pre-September photo book, “My Neighborhood Downtown” • Superheroes pay tribute to firefighters in New York City Fire Museum and New York City Comic Book Museum’s new at exhibit on 9/11 fire heroes • Focus on Downtown businesses — New ones open, some $$ for others, some struggling still look for government help • P.S. 89 return opponents reject Feb. 28 offer • W.T.C. agency: permanent memorial will be built last • New Tribeca shops say business is picking up • Loan deadline extended for small businesses affected directly by 9/11 • Skilled volunteers — some unemployed — assist businesses • Clinton defends Mideast policy at Downtown forum • Architects weigh in with ground zero ideas • P.S. 89 P.T.A. resists parent vote and return • Planting some ferns to remember victims at Pier 26, as part of America Forest’s Memorial Tree Groves effort • Shopping giants begin to reopen doors Downtown: Part of W.F.C. opens, Century 21 later this month, J&R expands • Silverstein aide says Greenwich St. may be extended • Hundreds swarm to W.T.C. forum sponsored by the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York • $15.6 million disaster relief package for B.P.C. residents • W.T.C. ‘Bathtub’ retaining wall is cleared and safe for now, city and P.A. officials say • Residents debate Twin Tower light design • Some parents transferring away from Downtown schools • Bloomberg outlines his vision for Downtown’s future • A ferry for Mommy: Patricia Mary Smith, 2 1/2, who once promised to get her mother a boat, last week helped christen the Moira Smith, a NY Waterway Ferry named for her mother, a police officer who was killed Sept. 11 • C.B. 1 sees alternatives for ground zero • Marie Savettiere volunteers to sew a Firefighters’ quilt • Some B.P.C. residents say relief offer is not enough • Short- and long-term plans to rebuild PATH • W.T.C. plans surge: L.M.D.C. begins work under fire • Nadler hammers E.P.A. on air testing • Battery Park City Day Nursery steadily rebuilding enrollment • Reconnecting to Battery Park City: Construction begins on Rector St. bridge and on Route 9A repairs; W.T.C. South Bridge may be rebuilt this spring • Bloomberg aide says press ban at C.B. 1 meeting on the W.T.C. memorial was a mistake • Light memorial for B.P.C.; W.T.C. sphere in historic Battery Park • Remembering the victims: The Battery Park City museum holds vigil and discussion • After five months away, High School of Economics and Finance, is last high school to reopen • P.S. 89, the last ground zero school, reopens • Shoppers swarm back to Century 21 • Politicians praise Century 21’s Downtown reopening • Whitehead on ground zero’s future, says submerging Route 9A likely • Some fearful B.P.C. parents try home schooling • Chatham Green tenants: Checkpoints are choking us • City: W.T.C. barge will leave by ‘early June’ • Bloomberg sets up Downtown air quality group, Lower Manhattan Air Quality Task Force • Two Downtown memorials dedicated six months after: “The Sphere” by Fritz Koenig and “Tribute Light” twin tower replica • East will meet West in free ferry service to connect Battery Park City with east end of Wall St. • Pier 25 W.T.C. debris barge protest • St. Paul’s Chapel, site of 9/11 relief, to close for cleaning • Village officers-heroes honored at Annual Cop-of-the-Year awards • NYU Downtown Hospital honored for response on 9/11 • P.S. 89 still waiting for promised air filters • Parents protest debris barge at Pier 25 • Chinatown groups raise objections to East River bridge tolls • The ‘bathtub’ and other tales from the deep: Divers check safety of W.T.C. foundation • Gerson proposes plan to help mom and pop businesses Downtown • Downtown Italian restaurant Caracello reopens • Real estate market appears to be picking up • Downtown subway station rebuilding continues • Parks development is part of plan to retain B.P.C. residents • Museum of Jewish Heritage, American Indian Museum join Lower Manhattan’s rebuilding efforts • De Niro, Bloomberg and AmEx trumpet first annual Tribeca Film Festival • Statue still closed, but Liberty remains an attraction • NYU Downtown Hospital plans for post-9/11 threats • I.S. 89 unveils tile art project of images of hope and renewal post 9/11 • B.M.C.C. picks up the pieces, coping with budget cuts and a damaged Fiterman Hall • West St. and Battery Tunnel reopen — Rector Br. Next • Feds to close more Downtown streets for security • Immigrant group protests for undocumented victims • Silver’s package proclaims 9/11 as state holiday, no sales tax in Lower Manhattan stores on July 4 weekend, need for air quality tests • Chinatown still hurting after 9/11, report says • Authority finds operator for North Cove Marina, to the delight of Downtown boaters • New York Partnership and Chamber of Commerce gives $1.1 million in grants to 9 small businesses in Lower Manhattan • Blueprints of Downtown’s future unveiled • Smallest businesses falling through the cracks • L.M.D.C. adopts expansion of residential incentives • L.M.D.C. looks to restore Cass Gilbert building, site of 24-hour fire on 9/11 • W.T.C. relief fraud: Albert Dross arrested for false claim • It’s almost…bye-bye barge time; beginning of the end of the debris barge operation • Liberty St. pedestrian bridge, formerly the South Bridge, reopens • Tribeca restauranteur Albert Capsuoto of Capsuoto Freres, advocates for Downtown’s small businesses • City to repave 37 miles in 5 weeks; FEMA aid will pay if done in time frame • Officials say sun will rise on B.P.C. ballfields next year • $33 million to keep 14 big employers, large firms in Lower Manhattan • Stuyvesant High School, B.M.C.C. students talk with terror victims in Northern Ireland • Stress rates high among children, says report by Board of Ed • Southbridge is just outside zone eligible for relief; wary of relief promise from Safe Horizon • Chinatown residents chastise FEMA at meeting • United Artists Battery Park 16 Cinema and Embassy Suites hotel reopen just in time for Tribeca Film Fest crowds • AmEx returns with $1 million gift for Lower Manhattan summer concerts and events festival • Feds to consider grant plan to continue attracting residents to Lower Manhattan • Eight months later, E.P.A. will clean apartments • Brookfield presents plan for new Winter Garden • Scholars at B.M.C.C. honored in name of fallen classmates • Skyscraper Museum design approved, new location to open this year • Tens of thousands flock to Tribeca festival for films, fun and music • W.T.C. ceremony set for May 30; Tribeca piers to reopen • Silverstein’s architect presents 7 W.T.C. plan • Downtown tax-free days passed Upstate • L.M.D.C. increases proposed aid to residents • W.T.C. planning team named • Questions persist as E.P.A. begins indoor cleanup • Con Ed pulls up last mile of cable that supplied temporary power Downtown • Tribeca Playhouse raising money to stay open, says all investors withdrew after 9/11 • Ground zero recovery work, cleanup ends, allowing for a moment of silence at a May 30 memorial ceremony • Most studies show stress is rising Downtown • Cedar St. tenants ask about cleanup of evacuated buildings • With recovery done, St. Paul’s closes for cleaning • L.M.C.C. arts group, homeless after losing space in W.TC. Tower 1, gets donated space in W.F.C. • B.M.C.C. grads praised by Hillary Clinton for enduring hectic year of 9/11 tragedy • Proposal to name West St. Heroes Highway, after 9/11’s heroes • Remains still being recovered at and near ground zero • Protestors demand more aid for Chinatown • Stress psychiatrist says more 9/11 treatment needed • Proposal for “Freedom Trees” be planted around city • Meet Silverstein’s architect, David Childs, the man most likely to design ground zero’s new buildings • Imagining 19,000 opinions for ground zero • Clinton backs mental health plan of children affected by 9/11 • Firefighters still waiting for safety improvements to address problems that came up on 9/11 • Examining possible 9/11 harm to pregnant women • Beat goes on at Murray Street Studio after a temporary close • FEMA expands housing benefit program • E.P.A. questions private test results that indicate high mercury levels • $12 million in federal aid approved for Downtown schools • Strong reactions to the marketing of ground zero: the debate over vendors and souvenir sales at the W.T.C. • Forum on Lower Manhattan redevelopment expects to draw 5,000 voices • PATH station’s destruction was a route to success for harbor’s ferry king NY Waterway • Tiny Greek “Saint Nicholas Church” likely to be rebuilt at W.T.C. • Flocking to remember 343 casualties at city’s Fire Museum • Release, React, Rethink: officials take second look at W.T.C. plans after strong reaction • What’s next for block near ground zero? Tenants across from W.T.C. hope to return • Federal Hall Exhibit collects community input on W.T.C.; visitors are underwhelmed by 6 W.T.C. plans • Council says FEMA is shortchanging the city on money to replace $30 million lost in damaged technology • C.B. 1 grills E.P.A. over W.T.C. cleanup • $4.55 billion for MTA and PATH rebuilding; nearby department store Century 21 agrees transportation is what is needed • Details of E.P.A. cleanup plans draw fire from some • Reassurance given to Cedar-Liberty tenants: L.M.D.C. says won’t raze homes as part of redevelopment plan • W.F.C. shops anxious for Winter Garden reopening • Trade Center’s engineer, Leslie E. Robertson, is still building skyscrapers • After 9/11, bomb squad’s job gets busier • Questions still as L.M.D.C. starts over with W.T.C. designs • City Council says W.T.C. site should include a public market like Seattle’s Pike Place • Land of memorials ponders the 9/11 addition; BPC Residents worry their community will become a “living graveyard” • E.P.A. extends cleaning deadline for resident apartments • Month of free dances in historic Battery Park: Downtown Dance Festival, interrupted last year on 9/11, will happen at full speed this year • Watching easy riders road down to ground zero, for the 9/11 commemorative motorcycle ride fundraiser • Chatham Green to rally to reopen Park Row • Downtown Jews prepare as High Holy Days coincide with 9/11 anniversary • South Ferry station could move to Battery Park • Memorializing the sounds of 9/11: The Sonic Memorial Project produces a radio and online documentary about the W.T.C. • Gays try to extend 9/11 advances to other tragedies • Chinatown poor air quality exacerbated by 9/11; asthma survey by local group shows high rate • First part of viewing wall will be unveiled Sept. 11 • Ceremonies planned from sunrise to sunset Sept. 11, 2002 • Congress returns for historic session at Federal Hall, near old Twin Towers • City blocks $15 million fund for B.P.C. residents: say they have plenty of incentives already • Residents protest continuing closure of Park Row • City comptroller outlines economic hits from 9/11 • Transit Police Officer Ramon Suarez’s family and woman he saved, remember • Officials say Winter Garden opening marks renewal • E.P.A. begins apartment cleanup, slowly but surely • 1 year, 4 days after 9/11 closure: South Ferry, Rector, Cortlandt subway stations reopen • Fire Dept. adds anti-terrorist protections • C.B. 1 puts last touches on W.T.C. plans • Running for freedom: “Let Freedom Run” held to remember 9/11 victims • 1 year tribute: sailboats gathered in front of Statue of Liberty fly 1,000 sails, 3,000 flags to honor the victims • 1st anniversary ceremony brings a mix of emotions for local residents • C.B. 1 stresses transportation in W.T.C. plans • Business, civic leaders outline ways to revive Downtown, call for demolition of closed buildings around the W.T.C. • 1,000 cyclists participated in “Face of America 2002” ride from W.T.C. to Pentagon, to honor 9/11 victims • Little health risk to residents from 9/11, panel says • Residents and victims’ families working together on W.T.C. plans • C.B. 1 support for Chatham Green and Park Row • L.M.C.C.’s new exhibit “Looking In” brings art to empty storefronts • $7 million from Congress for “Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response” terrorism center at N.Y.U. • No plans to fix or demolish Deutsche Bank • Speaker Silver introduced legislature to exempt Downtown grants from Federal taxes • Grocery shoppers, art critics give dog mixed reviews: American Kennel Club DOGNY Public Art Program installs statues to honor dogs who participated in 9/11 rescue missions • Baby Luca, “ground zero’s first baby,” turns one as life gets back to normal • Feds ask Wall St. firms to relocate operations to lessen blow of possible future attacks • Customs House says it hopes to return to Downtown • Doctors give status report on W.T.C. health studies: some evidence of effects to ground zero workers, but so far no evidence of widespread problems to residents • Red Cross offers assistance to help and encourage residents to have apartments cleaned • W.T.C. souvenir vendors struggle to make ends meet • FEMA protest: Maloney and Nadler say people aren’t getting the assistance they’re entitled to • Critics say there are better ways to spend business grants • FEMA to help Downtown schools pay for lost time by funding additional hours in the classroom • 40 miles of street repairs Downtown: Greenwich just the beginning of 5-year project • Telemarketers try to tap into FEMA 9/11 funds: misleading practices skirt the line between being legal and illegal, officials say • Critics charge W.T.C. Individual and Family Grant Program aid stats are inflated • Downtown questions Olympic Plan, worries that 2012 Olympics in NYC would distract from Downtown rebuilding • City presents 5-year plan for Downtown streets, to repair damage from rescue, debris removal, construction traffic • 26 people charged with W.T.C. scams • I.R.S. to tax Downtown residential grants • Terrorism drives up insurance rates, report says; commercial insurance premiums up 73 percent in the city • Young designers use Legos to build a new W.T.C. at the NYC Police Museum • E.P.A. Downtown cleanup draws criticism • Downtowners worry over fuel stored in buildings • FEMA, Clinton, Schumer announce $4.1 million Pace center • New M.B.A. program “MBAs4NYC” helps Downtown businesses • L.M.D.C. President Tomson unveils new timetable for Downtown’s future • FEMA enforces deadline despite mail mix-up; applications returned to sender after federal agency misses payments on P.O. box bill • Holiday lights return to Winter Garden after a two-year absence • Deutsche moves to Wall St., uncertain about Liberty building • Citibank donation: $50,000 to the Alliance for Downtown New York, to help alleviate 9/11 economic woes • Architecture students New York Institute of Technology take their crack at designs for ground zero • Nino’s America’s Kitchen for rescue workers, goes back to being a restaurant • C.B. 1 speaks, city silent on diesel safety • Hospitals, residents complain about Park Row closure, say impedes rapid emergency transit • Residents want to stay Downtown, Downtown Alliance survey says Workers’ Board rules two ways on gay ‘spouses’: Aug. change in state law applies only to spouses of 9/11 victims • Will it be any of these?; Public reacts to nine ideas from seven teams for W.T.C. site • Fire commander voices concern about diesel storage