New York’s New Transit Hub to Open With a Whimper

The Santiago Calatrava-designed “Oculus” in New York City (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

New York City’s $4.5 billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub, a controversial project a decade in the making, will open next week with not a bang, but a whimper.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced it will not be holding an opening ceremony for the hub, which connects the World Trade Center PATH station, 11 NYC subway lines and the East River ferries, reports Politico New York.

So no ribbon-cutting and photo-ops, but PATH riders will learn about the new station, according to the Daily News, via handout fliers, posters and loudspeaker announcements. It’s a decidedly — and pointedly — understated approach for such an extravagant design.

“The thing is a symbol of excess,” outgoing Executive Director of the Port Authority Pat Foye told Politico. The hub is anchored by Oculus, a sculptural steel building designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who likened its appearance to a “bird in flight.” (Check out this Gothamist slideshow to see pics from a recent press tour.)

Many architecture critics gave the building positive reviews in the last week, including New York magazine’s Justin Davidson, who wrote that the hub “challenges the city’s public architecture to rise above habitual cut corners and rectilinear repetition.” Steve Cuozzo at the New York Post disagreed, calling it as “functionally vapid inside as it is outside … a void in search of a purpose.”

A very expensive, very divisive void. Completion comes years late and billions over budget, for a project that will serve about 50,000 daily riders. That’s piddling compared to Penn Station — 600,000 daily riders — or the Port Authority Bus Terminal — 225,000 daily riders — which are both badly in need of renovation and repair.

Even when a ribbon-cutting was mulled, Foye publicly announced he wouldn’t attend it. “I have been troubled since inception at the huge cost of the Hub at a time of limited resources for infrastructure so I’m passing on the event,” he said.

The low-key opening is scheduled for late next week, with connecting underground tunnels opening in phases throughout the year.

Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at

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Tags: new york citytransportation spendingtransit agenciestransit stations