Tag Archives: stairs

World Financial Center Stairs in the Winter Garden, Battery Park City

World Financial Stairs Will Be Demolished

World Financial Center Stairs in the Winter Garden, Battery Park City
Winter Garden Staircase

The Winter Garden will go back to it’s original roots as a connection to the World Trade Center.

In a move that is set to break hearts in our community, a likely victim will be the beloved World Financial Stairs. After several weeks of speculation and a protest from the SEBC union workers in the World Financial Center, the stairs will be demolished to make way for a connection path from the Fulton Street Transit Hub.

The World Financial Center was connected to World Trade Center mass transportation through the Vesey Street bridge, which was destroyed during the 9/11 terror attacks.

In light of the rebuilding of both the World Trade Center and Fulton Street Transit hub, Brookfield Properties has announced a plan to connect Battery Park City with an underground tunnel. According to Brookfield, keeping the Winter Garden Stairs “would not only create an obstacle between the escalators from the underground tunnel and the Winter Garden, but would also waste a once-in-a-century opportunity to open the interior of lower Manhattan to the waterfront,” according to letter correspondence between Brookfield and City Planning officials according to the Downtown Express.

It is speculated that by eliminating the stairs would also provide increasing retail space in the World Financial Center, increasing revenue for Brookfield Properties.

In July, Community Board 1 officials have put in a formal request that the stairs be preserved. They are often seen as a standing landmark of the terror attacks and also provide unparalleled views of the waterfront. Officials from City Planning as well as Brookfield properties are set to address the demolition of the stairs when the Community Board is back in session in September.

The top of the stairs is currently used by tourists as a prime viewing area of the World Trade Center site.

Residents have been disheartened by news of the potential demolition of the stairs,
“The Winter Garden, and especially the Staircase, has become an iconic symbol of renewal as well as being the most beautiful space downtown,” says Betty Heller on BatteryParkCity.com,“ Destroying it would be an act of vandalism akin to the destruction of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station. Brookfield has been a remarkably good guardian of this precious space until now. It would be a shame to destroy their reputation.”

World Financial Center Stairs in the Winter Garden, Battery Park City

Saving the World Financial Center Stairs — But How?

World Financial Center Stairs in the Winter Garden, Battery Park City
Should the Winter Garden Stairs receive landmark status?

The World Financial Stairs, first erected nearly thirty years ago, served as an important — if merely utilitarian — gateway for those needing to travel between the Winter Garden and the World Trade Center. The stairs were built to endure and withstand the foot traffic of thousands of people coming to and from the train stations during the lunch and rush hours, as well as serve as impromptu colosseum seating for Winter Garden performances and events.

Like a great marble work of art, the World Financial Stairs have signified and become an unwitting relic of survival and an icon of restoration in the days and now years after September 11th. One cannot see, think, or remember the Winter Garden without the stairs as the backdrop of the minds eye.

These days, most of the steps taken up the stairs are to reach the viewing area where the entrance of the bridge used to be. For almost a decade, light has cascaded freely into both sides of the Winter Garden, helping to further highlight the marble stairs as never before. No longer merely hidden under the soles of the commuters and office workers, the craftsmanship and marble gleam.

Ok, I’m waxing a bit poetic here, but obviously by the title and tone of this article, I’m biased towards these particular stairs.

Despite this writer’s respect, however, the stairs are in jeopardy. Brookfield Properties, owners of the Winter Garden, are scheduling demolition of the stairs in an effort to expand their office and retail offerings.

In the first step toward saving the stairs, an unlikely proponent emerged. Last week, members of the 32BJ SEIU, a local union whose members work at the World Financial Center, began passing out flyers to bring awareness to the World Financial Center stairs. Why does the Union care?

A spokesman from 32BJ SEIU, Matt Painter, reached out to BatteryParkCity.com and had this to say,

“32BJ SEIU is involved because the Winter Garden is an important public space for the city and our members — many of whom live and work in lower Manhattan.  The stairs have a symbolic significance to our union as well.  As the city’s largest building services union, we have members who, as security guards, acted as first responders to the 9/11 attacks.  The restored stairs represent the city’s willingness to rebuild, and the removal of this important removal seems insensitive to the community’s needs and to this important memorial of that day.”

Are the stairs important enough for us as a community to try and save them? We have been able to get immediate response for a tire swing. We’re trying to find landmark status for a former Burlington Coat Factory. It’s time to put it out there, should the World Financial / Winter Garden Stairs receive landmark status too? If so, how? What can we do as a community? What do you think?

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