2003, Groping for Progress

CLOSER TO A DECISION FOR GROUND ZERO In January 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. narrowed the nine choices for the World Trade Center site down to either THINK team’s World Cultural Center or a design by architect Daniel Libeskind. On Monday, Feb. 1, executives with the Port Authority, the city and the L.M.D.C. met and reached what they described as a consensus, perhaps on which two plans to consider. A final decision on a street plan for the site were expected within two months.

Nearly two years after the attacks on the Twin Towers, national media attention on Lower Manhattan was fading as the Bush administration launched the Iraq war. Business in Lower Manhattan was still down 55 percent, restaurants were closing and a community board stepped up and said loud and clear, “We must be heard — this is our home.”

Funding was identified for a new high school in the neighborhood, Millennium High, and there was a renewed focus on pedestrian traffic and access, specifically the Vesey Street Bridge. Debate raged on the West Street Tunnel. Immense pressure was put on federal government agencies like the E.P.A. to pay attention to air quality concerns that were on the verge of being altogether forgotten. Daniel Libeskind was picked to design the W.T.C. and the L.M.D.C. began the search for memorial ideas; 13000 responded to the memorial design competition. Silverstein and Childs took the lead on Freedom Tower relegating Libeskind to “collaborating architect.”

The year also saw firefighters return to “10 House” on Liberty Street and saw the formation of a movement to make sure Chinatown, and Park Row, were not lost in the mix.


2003 photo2

Remembering the teddy bears
The weeks and months following 9/11 were filled with selfless acts of charity. Many were inspirational and led to works of art, whether in the form of dramatic productions or full-fledged documentaries. In 2003 “September Bears,” premiered at St. Paul’s Chapel chronicled the story of Sue Lucarelli, who handed out 60,000 teddy bears after 9/11.


The Headlines of 2003 tell the story:

Public meetings to be held on future of W.T.C. site • Debate begins on shorter West St. tunnel • Don’t rush decisions says public on rebuilding process • Community Board 1 considers W.T.C. proposals, makes recommendation • FEMA criticizes itself in 9/11 aid report • First Precinct officers honored for role in 9/11 • Tomson to leave L.M.D.C. in February • C.B.1 backs 3 W.T.C. plans • One week left to apply for FEMA aid for 9/11 • FEMA decides to accept some late applications for aid • Chevys and Applebees struggle across from W.T.C.; one-and-a-half years later, business still down about 55 percent • Pataki backs West. St. tunnel in letter • N.Y.U. takes advantage of post-9/11 low rents; chooses Woolworth center for a location to help in revitalization • Do Tour Buses belong on the ‘footprints?’; Battle lines harden over W.T.C. bus garage • Final decision on W.T.C. architectural team expected Feb. 27 • B.P.C.A. objects to Port Authority plans for temporary PATH exits • FEMA suspects fraud in aid applications • Battery Park City Day Nursery enrollment is close to pre-9/11 numbers • Daniel Libeskind picked to design W.T.C. • Families, residents fight over W.T.C. ‘footprints’ • One teen’s view of the bus debate: Development is necessary for residents who have to see the W.T.C. hole every day • L.M.D.C. looks to plan the rest of Downtown; After architect choice, still more decisions to make • Some families call for Wils to resign from L.M.D.C., say she hasn’t been sensitive to victims • Report disputes E.P.A. on initial 9/11 claim on air quality • B.P.C.A. says West St. tunnel likely • Residents ask Libeskind to improve W.T.C. access with street-level walk-throughs • British to spruce up Hanover Sq. with $2.5 million memorial garden • Complaint filed on elevators, handicap access since 9/11; Rector Street bridge opening nears • Winter Garden wins Lucy G. Moses Preservation award for restoration after 9/11 damage • Pro-troops rally at W.T.C. • City considers creating Chinatown Empire zone • Mayor asks Feds to fund terrorist-prevention • $2.9 million for labor training, to address unemployment in wake of 9/11 • Borders close to return, at 100 Broadway • L.M.D.C. tracks progress, informs public with W.T.C. exhibit: “From Recovery to Renewal: The Public Process of Rebuilding the World Trade Center Site and Creating a Permanent Memorial” • Libeskind to attend C.B. 1 forum, present plan • Taxman cometh to take 9/11 grants, unexpectedly • Beginning to put Downtown’s plans into place; Millenium Hilton reopens • Airport access is a key to Downtown’s future • Progress and recovery continues in B.P.C. • Chinatown battling after economic hits from Sept. 11 • St. Paul’s Chapel needs spirituality and space on Church St. • Vinnie Amesse photographs 9/11 memorial tattoos; exhibit at Staten Island Historical Society Museum • 33 charged with falsely claiming 9/11 needs • Libeskind signals flexibility in memorial process • First Solaire tenants moved out of B.P.C. in 9/11 aftermath • Chinatown searching for answers on Park Row; City, residents debate closure • City looks to Rockaway and Brooklyn for Chinatown help • Pataki commits to Downtown timeline: Downtown Greenmarket, high school this summer; W.T.C. memorial selected this fall; Libeskind tower topped off in 2006 • Sept. 11 funds will go toward Millenium High School Downtown • L.M.D.C. begins search for W.T.C. memorial ideas • Asbestos found in Independence Plaza North after E.P.A. cleanup; toxins are still in residents’ apartments • Wedge of Light will have shadows every 9/11; Libeskind’s claim that his building would have no shadows on 9/11 anniversaries is disproved • At British memorial inaugural ceremony: Princess Anne says garden will grow at Hanover Sq. • Park Row lawsuit continues as talks stall • Tribeca Film Festival returns to help revive Downtown • Open space questions at the W.T.C. site are one critique of Libeskind’s plan • E.P.A. says I.P.N. stairwells are safe • Downtown fears resurface with sign painted by Brooklyn artist James Peterson reading: “Caution: Low Flying Planes” on Leonard St. • Business group from Florence, Italy adopts Tribeca, offers aid for children and businesses Downtown • Downtown favors West. St. tunnel for better access to W.T.C. memorial, poll says • Loretta Thomas bounces back to teach dance to kids • Deadline passes for L.M.D.C. residential grant giving incentives to new residents • 13 thousand vie to design W.T.C. memorial • Principal attributes P.S. 89’s low test score performance to high turnover after 9/11 • Housing developer approved for Liberty Bonds at Tribeca’s 5C site • Borders’ second chapter Downtown; New location at 100 Broadway opens • Council proposes new Park Row law • W.T.C. Greenmarket Market returns • W.T.C. Memorial jury hears residents, families clash; Final design choice scheduled for October • Tragedy brought her to B.P.C.: Sister of W.T.C. victim moves to B.P.C. to feel closer, works as counselor for Project Liberty • Downtowners celebrate the return of Borders • Advocates press for affordable housing Downtown as part of Lower Manhattan’s plans for the future • Construction gets underway at Skyscraper Museum; Museum has much more attention post 9/11 • D.O.T. presents Vesey St. pedestrian bridge plans • Downtown’s new population boom underway • “September Bears” play at St. Paul’s Chapel chronicles the story of Sue Lucarelli, who handed out 60,000 teddy bears after Sept. 11 • Former National Guardsman to lead B.P.C. emergency C.E.R.T. team • Downtown family-run printing plant Admiral Communications is holding on south of W.T.C. • Plan floated to expand P.S. 234 to address Lower Manhattan’s population boom • Judge says police are ‘heavy handed’ on Park Row • Two false terror alarms disrupt Downtown • Leadership school students chose to contribute by building Downtown rec center • Silverstein-Childs take W.T.C. lead; Libeskind becomes collaborating architect • Pataki objects to tower move • New York Times’ developer seeks 9/11 funds for Midtown • W.T.C. plan criticized at environmental hearing, many say changes are needed • C.B. 1 committee skeptical of West St. tunnel plan • Occupation’ near Park Row must end, judge rules • Check is not in the mail, merchants say, anxiously awaiting 9/11 relief • Arts groups look to bring culture to W.T.C. at planned cultural center • Chinatown anger boils up at L.M.D.C. meeting, residents say their needs have been ignored • C.B. 1 leans against West St. tunnel, sees bridge plans • Moms of W.T.C. babies question birth-weight study on effects of 9/11 toxins • Judge’s ruling provides ‘road map’ for reopening Park Row • Red Cross 9/11 Program consolidates, moves its operations to Hanover Sq. • Pataki restates West St. tunnel support at Vesey St. bridge ceremony • L.M.D.C. returns to Chinatown for second meeting • Quieter 9/11 ceremonies two years later • Health study begins for residents, W.T.C. workers • Many art groups look to occupy new W.T.C. cultural center • On 9/11 anniversary, local artists focus on “Restoration” at a World Trade Art Gallery exhibition • Port looks to buy back W.T.C. retail, leasing rights • Despite toxic report, E.P.A. clears 114 Liberty St. building for residents to return • Fighting ‘Ground Zero’ as a phrase and tourist stop • Bus garage plan could reopen W.T.C. wounds • Mayor, governor back 9/11 Liberty Bond funds for Midtown • Clinton blocks E.P.A. appointment over Downtown air, says agency mishandled 9/11 pollution • Clinton calls for review of E.P.A. testing, broader apartment tests Downtown • Council introduces pollution reduction bill for W.T.C. construction • E.P.A. delays release of lead tests • Port presents plans for PATH hub at W.T.C. • N.F.L. donates $5 million to rebuild Lower Manhattan • Whitehead says Liberty Bonds won’t be wasted Downtown, in W.T.C. construction • What memorial? Winter Garden visitors confused over plans • Put the bus garage under the W.T.C. memorial • W.T.C. signs: should they stay or go? • Running to remember; Fireman’s widow to run marathon in husband’s memory • W.T.C. health survey is poorly run, some say • W.T.C. plans on track, Pataki says • E.P.A. releases results from some lead tests • Across from the W.T.C., Liberty St. firefighters return • E.P.A. moves closer to releasing test results • The W.T.C. superblock worked well for retail • Paving the PATH’s way: Downtown getting ready for PATH’s reopening • Memorial design choices to be unveiled • PATH opens to tears and joy • Mixed reactions to memorial designs • D.O.T. looks to lengthen proposed West St. tunnel • Zagat releases book to help Downtown • Century-old Barthman’s Jeweler, struggling to stay open since 9/11, looks to the future • Give me Liberty for $5 million: Martin Scorsese to help raise money to reopen Statue of Liberty • E.P.A. releases results from lead tests • Residents raise questions on W.T.C. Health Registry • Lead analysis indicates minimal effect from W.T.C. • Childs’s and Libeskind’s collaboration on Freedom Tower design to be revealed Dec. 19 • C.B. 1, newspapers endorse memorial plans • Not much help for small businesses: Leonard Altabet owns Worth Eyes eyeglass store in Tribeca, says last 2 years have been most difficult • Wind and light for Childs’ W.T.C. tower design • Preparing for the holidays with terror alerts and additional security measures • 6th Precinct remembers its fallen heroes of 9/11 • C.B. 1 backs conditional Liberty Bond extension • Changes to Freedom Tower are beyond expectations

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