By Mike Lupica | New York Daily News
Next year it will be 1 World Trade Center opening for business, and the city will have nearly rebuilt — as well as is possible after such horror — from that dark morning on Sept. 11, 2001.
He became the mayor of New York City in the shadow of Sept. 11, 2001, and now it was all this time later and Michael Bloomberg was one of those standing in the shadow of 4 World Trade Center on Wednesday morning as it became the first office tower to officially open at the World Trade Center since the morning that changed everything.
This was not about some silly squabble out of Chicago — not called the Second City for nothing in this case — about the size of 1 World Trade against Chicago’s Willis Tower. This wasn’t even a celebration of architecture or symbols as much as it was another celebration of everything that began in Lower Manhattan on Sept. 12, 2001, when New York and New Yorkers began to get back up.
It took more than 12 years for this office building to open, and its only official tenants at the moment are the Port Authority and the City of New York, which will house its Human Resources Administration, and almost half the building remains unleased.
But for now the real story about this 72-story building that looks across at the Sept. 11 Memorial’s south reflecting pool is that it is here, the way this part of the city is still here, people coming back down here to go to work.
And Mike Bloomberg, who came to his own work as mayor in the worst time the city has known, sees this building open for business, not so far from City Hall, before he leaves City Hall for good.
“I visited the World Trade Center site the day I was first sworn in as mayor — Jan. 1, 2002,” Bloomberg said Wednesday afternoon. “Took the oath of office and went to Ground Zero to thank everyone who was working around the clock there. The site was still smoldering, and the city was still in shock. I knew it was going to be a long road back, on a lot of levels, but I never had any doubt that we’d get there.”
Bloomberg, who has seen so much in three terms since Sept. 11, and done so much — despite what you have been hearing — to make the city better and more civil in that time, wasn’t done talking about a morning so much better than the first official one he had as mayor nearly 12 years ago.
“The opening of 4 World Trade Center is a big step forward in our journey back from 9/11,” he said. “The men and women who built it — and who are building 1 World Trade and the other buildings — understand that this is more than just a construction project. They are helping the city to heal, and they’re helping to right a terrible wrong.
The healing began before these buildings were built, before we had celebrated as many anniversaries as we have of Sept. 11, 2001, as many times as family members and friends came back to Ground Zero to read the names of the dead every year. But as all that kept happening, the construction of the buildings finally began, the skyline down there slowly began to take shape, this skyline replacing the one we had until the planes hit the buildings that morning.
Next year it will be 1 World Trade Center opening for business, half of the space in that leased already, by Conde Nast and Vantone Holding’s China Center and the U.S. General Services Administration. You know there will be more companies following them, the way there will be more companies filling the office space left at 4 World Trade.
These places will not be solemn memorials. They will just be full of people coming over from Jersey on PATH trains and taking the subway downtown or coming in cars and going to work. Going back to work in Lower Manhattan, the way the ones who helped build these buildings, who are still working on them, have been coming down here for years with an almost fierce pride, a defiant pride, in what they were doing. And where they were doing it.
“It’s something they’ll tell their children and grandchildren about,” Mike Bloomberg said. “Something to be very proud of. There’s still plenty more work to do at the site, but today we turned a corner. And maybe for the first time, the end of construction — which will be a new beginning — is in sight.”
Some sight. And site. And some city, rebuilt in Lower Manhattan by the first ones to go back down there and do what New Yorkers do best: They went to work at the new World Trade Center and told themselves they were rebuilding their city, one floor at a time.