Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Tuesday hailed the revival of Lower Manhattan over the decade since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and said the rebuilding and growth of the area was a testament to American resilience.
“I believe the rebirth and revitalization of Lower Manhattan will be remembered as one of the greatest comeback stories in American history,” he said. “And I believe it will stand as our greatest monument to those we lost on 9/11 and to our unshakable faith in the moral imperative of protecting and preserving a free, open, democratic society.”
Beginning a week of Sept. 11 commemorations on an upbeat note, Mr. Bloomberg offered his audience of politicians, developers, cultural leaders and others a verbal and video tour of Lower Manhattan, highlighting local owners of small businesses, like Minas Polychronakis of Minas Shoe Repair, who had a shop in the World Trade Center for 25 years, and residents, like a mother who referred to TriBeCa as the “diaper district.”
Speaking at a breakfast at Cipriani Wall Street sponsored by the Association for a Better New York, Mr. Bloomberg (see transcript of speech) praised the expansion of businesses like Century 21, the persistence of the developer Larry Silverstein, and gave a special mention to the architect Frank Gehry, who was in the audience. Mr. Gehry’s “stunning” new tower, called New York by Gehry, is, at 76 stories, the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, he said, and a “powerful symbol of Lower Manhattan’s rebirth.”
Mr. Bloomberg also praised the people who worked at ground zero in the weeks and months after the attack on the trade center.
“These people put aside concerns about their own health,” he said, adding to great applause, “We must never forget that, we must never forget them, and we must always be there for them when they need us.”
While honoring the victims of the attack, Mr. Bloomberg suggested that the neighborhood and the site were, after 10 years, entering a new phase.
“We will never forget the devastation of the area that came to be known as ground zero,” he said. “Never. But now the time has come to call those 16 acres what they are: The World Trade Center and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.”
He noted that the number of people living in Lower Manhattan had doubled in the past decade, with more people moving to the area — many of them, he said, to housing created through a combination of public and private financing.
“Lower Manhattan has added more people over the past 10 years than Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia combined,” he said. “In 2001, no one could have believed that that would happen. There are now more people living in Lower Manhattan than at any time since 1920.”
In an allusion to Tropical Storm Irene, he said he expected Lower Manhattan to continue to grow over the next 10 years, “come hell or high water.”
“This Sunday, as we reflect back on the past,” he said, “let us remember not only the agony and anguish of the attacks, but how we channeled our pain into something positive and powerful.”
(Source: Kate Taylor, NYTimes.com)