With my long-time interest in rail public transit, one particular thing that caught my attention following the September 11 attacks was how the PATH subway network handled the destruction of their World Trade Centre station. The story of the PATH dispatchers’ quick thinking of shutting down the station early and running trains to evacuate passengers and transit workers from it in the early moments of the attack, saving hundreds, is the stuff of legend, and remarkably they had a temporary terminal in place at the old site within two years. They have now just opened the permanent replacement.
This video, not sanctioned by PATH, showing a walk-through of the World Trade Centre station, and its famous “Oculus” great hall, is mesmerizing to look at, even if I didn’t see any trains. The music choices, and the slow meander through the public areas, is a moving and heartening experience. You can’t help but think what happened here fifteen years ago, and amidst the architecture, and the quiet but upbeat manner of all the people walking through the space, you’re also impressed by how well the phoenix has risen from the ashes.
The last time I was in New York, I explored a portion of the MTA subway, but I didn’t get a chance to ride the PATH (which is operated by the Port Authority, and is the only subway train that connects with the New Jersey side of the river). I regret that. I hope I’ll get a chance to ride the line and see this place at some point in my future.