How NYC’s Downtown Rose Like A Phoenix From The Ashes
Ground zero in NYC is also the beginning of a re-birth in the area.
Those who committed the heinous acts of 9/11 clearly did not win. This is not just propaganda to bolster rental prices downtown, but something that can be backed up by some real data. State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli recently released a report charting the rapid population and economic growth of Lower Manhattan post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. According to diNapoli, “If their [terrorists’] message was that downtown Manhattan would be devastated, that it would be a place that people would be afraid to come to visit or to live, you know, just the opposite happened.”
There’s much to be said about the resilience of Americans in the wake of a historic tragedy, even the size of 9/11. And Lower Manhattan reclaiming its past glory as a booming neighborhood is proof of that fighting spirit. In the aftermath of the 2001 attack, when the twin towers crashed to the ground, the neighborhood was expected to fall under the weight of the violence perpetrated there. The air of death and destruction hung heavy in what was once the city’s financial nerve center. In fact, according to numbers provided by Downtown Alliance, there was a substantial dip in business revenues in the area for a year after the attacks, with 47 percent of stores and restaurants reporting layoffs. This coupled with the 2008 financial crisis added to general skepticism—will the neighborhood will ever bounce back?
By 2015 however, things started to look up. Private sector employment peaked at 232,000 by the end of 2015, the highest level since 9/11. Residential numbers multiplied from 22,700 in 2000 to 49,000 in 2014. Number of hotels grew from six, pre-9/11 to 28 post attacks, reflecting a tourism turnaround. 23 million tourists have visited the National September 11 Memorial since 2015 and continue to pour in bigger numbers. Front-lining this outstanding growth has been the hotel, retail and restaurant industry, showing a 10 percent rise every year. The economy is not just intensified, but also diversified. One third of downtown jobs comprise of financial services, a drop from 56 percent before 9/11.
The neighborhood got another adrenalin rush when Westfield World Trade Center, a shopping mall inside WTC’s Oculus opened in August. Spanning over 365,000 sq. ft. of space, it houses around 60 businesses. Also, Brookefield Place, which opened last year with luxury retailers like Gucci, DVF brings in throngs of tourists—and with it, the cash flow. Downtown’s inspiring rebound is as much about emotions as it is about numbers. Its victory is thanks to the guts and gumption of occupants who stood their ground. Rather than feeding into the fear, residents and business owners kept their faith in its revival, seeing the impossible as possible. Now wasn’t it Alicia Keys who sang, “There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York?”
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