September 11: Three Years Later

On this, the three-year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, I feel I should post something to this blog. As this is a subway blog (Subway Sojourner started as a stand-alone blog and has since moved to my website—Ed.), I suppose it should relate to the subway, but I find myself tempted to stray from this topic. It was nice seeing the memorial lights stretching to the zenith tonight. I would like to see them more often.

The subway maps changed quickly in the months following the attack. On the day of the attack, all subways were shut down. Within a day or two, limited service was back up. Within a week, a new subway configuration was in place with some trains temporarily discontinued, many express trains became local trains, and downtown remained a void on the west side.

Initially, Manhattan was shut down below 14th Street. Anyone entering this part of town needed to show photo ID and provide reason for going into the work zone. Gradually, this line moved south to Houston, then Canal, then Chambers, and finally became a small perimeter around the site. I didn't go down to the site until November; the smaller surrounding buildings were still standing, barely. WTC 4 and 5 were shells, destroyed by fire and falling debris. The fires burned underground until late November. Through all of this, the MTA worked to get service back up in lower Manhattan. These maps show their progress, from July 2001 and the months following the attack, to September 2002, a year later.

  • Subway Map: July 2001

    July 2001 The normal subway map for that time. Notice the temporary shuttle from Grand Street to Broadway-Lafayette and the lack of B/D service to Brooklyn. these are both due to the Manhattan Bridge construction.

  • Subway Map: 19 September 2001

    19 September 2001 One week after the attack, the system is back up with no service to South Ferry and many trains shifted to other lines. The 1 Train replaces the 3 south of 14 St, the E replaces the C, and there is no N/R service. Changes are felt system-wide.

  • Subway Map: 28 October 2001

    28 October 2001 Over a month later and things are quickly returning to normal. The N/R service is back, except for Cortlandt Street, and the C train returns with the E terminating at Canal Street. However, the 7 Avenue line remains closed south of Chambers Street and the 3 still terminates at 14th Street.

  • Subway Map: December 2001

    December 2001 Similar to the map above. Cortlandt Street on the N/R remains closed and the IRT 7th Avenue line remains closed from Chamber Street to South Ferry.

  • Subway Map: September 2002

    September 2002 One year later and everything is back to normal except for the closed Cortlandt Street station on the 1 Train. Even the World Trade Center stop on the E Train has reopened.

The hardest hit train was the 1/9 line. The Cortlandt Street station was crushed by the collapse. This station remains closed today and it took a year to repair, enabling the train to continue on to South Ferry. The Cortlandt Street station on the N/R line was also closed for some time, as was the World Trade Center stop on the E Train.

I continue to be amazed at the speed with which the system was back up and running. With the destruction of the WTC comes rebirth. Soon, ground will be broken for the new transit hub in lower Manhattan, linking the subway to the PATH trains that travel to New Jersey and possibly a train to JFK airport. I hope this new station provides New Yorkers and commuters with a breathtaking space as Pennsylvania Station once did before they razed it in the early 1960s.