From the BlogSubscribe Now

Last updated by at .

The Oculus, NYC’s 3rd Largest Transportation Hub

The Oculus, the gleaming white World Trade Center Transportation Hub that is the centerpiece of the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, is striking for its futuristic design as well the contrast it draws to the structures that surround it. Designed by the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, at a cost of $4 million, the Oculus is approximately 800,000 square feet. From the outside, it resembles a bird with giant, outspread wings, ready to take off. The inside, looks to me, like the deck of an enormous space ship.

The Oculus, a bird

The Oculus

A bird?

According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s website, when it opens fully later this year, 250,000 commuters will pass through its concourses connecting daily to 11 subway lines, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system, the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, the World Trade Center Memorial, Towers 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the World Trade Center, the World Financial Center and the Winter Garden. 

While we were there on Saturday, we saw just a fraction of that number. As they walked through, many turned and snapped photos of the cavernous white space.

The Oculus, interior

Some lay on their backs on the marble floor to photograph the ‘eye’ and the slice of the World Trade Center building that peeks through. 

The Oculus, leaves

As the light started to change, I tried to imagine how the interior looks when the sun rises and sets daily. 

The Oculus, shaft of gold

The Oculus has such a light appearance that standing beneath the 155-foot high ‘eye,’ I felt as if we could start moving – we didn’t.

The Oculus is not only a transportation hub. About 78,000 square feet of its space will be dedicated to stores and restaurants. Most of the spaces were covered with hoardings from retailers such as H&M, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, etc.

The Oculus, reflecting in the North Pool

The Oculus, reflected in the North Pool of the World Trade Center

The Oculus (eyelike opening or design) never fails to catch the eye. My only issue is that the Port Authority should have set aside more space to give it room to ‘breathe.’ With a building within a few feet of its left ‘wing,’ it feels hemmed in.

Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday which Nancie of Budget Travelers Sandbox, and co-hosts, Ruth at Tanama Tales, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations organize. Be sure to head over to see more travel photos from around the world!

Budget Travelers Sandbox

 

Also linking this week with The Weekly Postcard….

A Hole In My Shoe
 
and the Weekly Travel Inspiration that is organized by Corinne and Jim of Reflections Enroute, Margherita and Nick of TheCrowdedPlanet, Paula and Gordy of ContentedTraveller, Rhonda Albom of AlbomAdventures, Eileen from FamiliesGo and Michele of MalysianMeanders
 

The World Trade Center Building

Walking south from the Staples store on Broadway, I looked west down Vesey Street and saw the World Trade Center as if for the first time. With its solid-looking base tapering into a 400’ antenna, it looks as if it’s reaching to the sky.

World Trade Center building

Seen from Vesey and Broadway Streets

I stopped and stared for a few minutes before taking out my camera. I’ve taken other photos of the World Trade Center before from near the site and from the New Jersey side but I think this is probably one of the best views I’ve seen. 

At 1,776 feet (the year the United States Declaration of Independence was signed), it is, at the moment, the tallest building in the U.S., and the fourth tallest in the world.  And it does looks pretty attractive.  Framed by surrounding buildings, softened a bit by a few leafless trees, it’s shiny, ultra modern exterior and clean lines makes me think of the narrow legged pants that seem to be the rage in men’s fashions.

World Trade Center Antenna

The antenna at the World Trade Center Building

As I looked at it through the viewfinder, my camera lens bringing it closer, I could almost understand why a teenager from New Jersey took an elevator to the antenna a few weeks ago.

And I could almost imagine daredevil climbers pouring over every photo taken from every angle trying to figure out how to scale it.

I was about to move on when I noticed something else: a small plane flying away from the building.  Once again, I stopped and quickly refocused so I could capture it.

WTC Plane

Can you see that small plane?

I’ve yet to visit the museum. Truth be told, I’m a little nervous. Too many memories.

Linking up this week with Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and Noel’s Travel Photo Monday at Travel Photo Discovery. Be sure to head over to view more photos from around the world.

In the Shadow of 9/11

Being in New York on September 12, 2001 was like living Hollywood’s depiction of the End. The normally bustling city was eerily quiet as if everyone had left in hurry.

The World had shifted, and we who were still around were holding our collective breaths, unsure what our next move should be.

I took the subway to work, not because I had to but because I couldn’t watch any more television, and because I wanted everything to go back to normal, in a New York minute. Somehow, I thought, if I willed myself to go out, the city would do the same. That spirit of resilience did return but it would take months for the new normal to take shape.

A few weeks shy of the first anniversary, I found myself working next door to the site. From my office

New World Trade Center Building

New World Trade Center Building

window, 9 floors up, I could look straight down into the crater that was once the World Trade Center. I did, once, and that was enough. I kept playing back the images I’d seen on television of people jumping to their deaths. I tried to imagine the terror that pushed them to make that choice. It was difficult for me to fathom.

Each morning as I walked the narrow path that wound its way through the cleanup site and lead to my office, I wondered if the spot I had just put my foot was the place someone had died.

No matter how early I went to work, people clogged the path and lined the chain link fence that surrounded it. I couldn’t understand why anyone who didn’t need to be there wanted to and worse, to bring children, some still in strollers.

No one wore masks or covered their noses from the acrid stench that stained the air like bad gas. I dreaded going to work until I discovered a new subway stop that bypassed the site altogether. It meant a longer walk, but it was worth it.

On that first anniversary, I wept during the minute of silence at work. I wept for the victims, their families and for my city.

By the time work took me to New Jersey, the debris had cleared. And as the PATH train snaked through what was the lower levels of World Trade Center station, I turned my back, I didn’t want to look. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was disturbing the dead.

I was relieved when construction started to take shape and the new towers began to rise quickly, triumphantly to the sky.

The events of 9/11 cast a long shadow over New York City and the U.S. It was the closest thing to war for me. I can’t forget, I won’t forget but I can smile because New York City has healed. New York City has found its new normal.

Update: Two of my friends in New York emailed me that today’s an almost exact replica of 9/11. Besides it being a Tuesday, the skies are beautiful, not a cloud and the air is crisp.