Engineer | Art
NY Historian |
Immigration Lawyer | Political
Public Safety Expert
In his brilliant essay, Here Is New
York, E.B. White had occasion to remark on a subtle change
he observed among New Yorkers, namely, their new sense of
how "the city, for the first time in its long history, is
destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge
of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers,
crumble the bridges. . ." Incredibly, those grimly prophetic
words first appeared in 1949, just after the end of World
But in the same essay White gave ample reason to believe that,
however terrible the destruction wrought on September 11,
the "fantasy" of civilization, freedom, and free enterprise
that is New York City cannot be destroyed. The city, White
wrote, "makes up for its hazards and deficiencies by supplying
its citizens with massive doses of a supplementary vitaminthe
sense of belonging to something unique, cosmopolitan, mighty
Large doses of that vitamin have been coursing through New
Yorkers in the last several months, and nowhere more so than
at the City University of New York. The spirit of rebuildingand
rebuilding even better than beforehas been demonstrated
on countless fronts by thousands of CUNY faculty, students,
alumni, and staff.
This issue of CUNY Matters is devoted to sampling the
ways the University has become an integral player in the rebuilding
process. CUNY's mission has always been to serve its community,
and the accompanying articles clearly suggest that members
of the University family will play a vital part in returning
the city to its "mighty and unparalleled" self.
Following are viewpoints from eight distinguished CUNY faculty
There is one very positive aspect
to the challenge before us, namely, the opportunity to enlarge
our scope and vision. The widespread negative press for the
WTC by some powerful critics such as Ada Louise Huxtable and
Paul Goldberger has faded over the years. We came to love the
Twin Towers simply because the buildings were a part of our
|George Ranalli, Dean, CUNY School
of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture,
Now we can begin considering rebuilding by rethinking the matrix
of access between Wall Street, Chinatown, Tribeca, and the Hudson
River. Perhaps, we should place new high-rise structures closer
to the River's edge, while creating a grand gesture on the existing
sitesomething dramatic like the esplanade in front of
the Eiffel Tower.
Time and considerable patience are necessary for everyone with
a stake in its outcome to deliberate properly. If there is any
trap, it is one of being too restrictive at the outset; all
possibilities should be considered, despite any sense of urgency.
The World Trade Center site has become one of the most complex
parcels of land in American history. The extended conversation
about its future is a very loaded one: emotionally, culturally,
and financially. Foremost, I believe, it is important to remember
that ground zero is hallowed ground. How we answer the rebuilding
question thus assumes a metaphysical dimension, and we must
carefully investigate how to come to terms with a memorial.
Then there is the very substantial pressure to restore the area
to economic vitality by returning office space to occupancy
and bringing the workforce back.
We have a golden opportunity to produce an extraordinary response.
We are not merely cleaning up the site and providing the necessary
project area. This is the moment for a visionary plan, one that
synthesizes a memorial with a rebuilt Lower Manhattanan
urban response worthy of the history of New York City's public
|Sharon Zukin, Broeklundian
Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College and The Graduate
Center; author of The Culture of Cities, and co-editor,
After the World Trade Center: Rethinking New York City
Our nerves are still raw. First the shock of the attackthe
initial disbelief, the retreat into a terror-film scenario,
the round-the-clock news coverage, but on only one station in
my un-cabled home because all other station transmitters had
been tethered to the top of the WTC. Compelled to watch it on
TV and to listen to the radio: war news from just a few blocks
away. Was this just another disasteror was it the disaster
that would cause New York City to fall? The Twin Towers and
the Tower of Babel. . .the incredible hubris of claiming to
be "the capital of capital, in the capital of culture,"
"the capital of the world". . . the rightness of the phrase
"World Trade Center." Though the city has always been deeply
involved in maritime trade, airplane flights, flows of capital,
bursts of information, and commercial networks of every kind,
these buildings were our chips in the great poker game among
cities to monitor and dominate exchanges of every kind throughout
the world. The thought that we are economically dependent on
doing well in this game makes us more critical, yet also more
thoughtful, of what will be rebuiltand what might be lostin
the aftermath of the terrorist attack.
The skyline, for example. We think fondly of the towers now
that they are no longer there. Though they were grafted by force
on the small-scale streetscape of the Lower West Side, we remember
them as if they were holding up the sky in an ancient landscapethe
giant peaks with smaller skyscrapers nestling like foothills
all around them we remember them silhouetted against the river
and the clouds.
Lower Manhattan. The massive efforts, through financial subsidies
and promotion, to keep Wall Street as a functioning commercial
core may conflict with the desires of companies to decentralize,
to move to cheaper and more efficient locations, and to cut
personnel. What effect will electronics have on the neighborhood's
dense concentration of jobs? Will the cachet of a Wall Street
location continue to lure financial firms, or will they maintain
only a shadow presence, while shifting their real work out of
state, even overseas?
Cultural capital. Will Lower Manhattan continue its movement
toward being a cultural center? The Twin Towers were already
overshadowed, in reputation if not in size, by the restaurants
of Tribeca, the movement of museums downtown, and the domesticated
nature of Hudson River Park. Can this be an economically and
socially viable alternative?
The politics. Redevelopment, the memorial, the uses of the siteall
will fan the flames of conflict. If the entire city has a stake
in the jobs, reputation of, and access to the space, who should
speak for these broad interests? Tensions are built into the
redevelopment program and the state-appointed commission. Shouldn't
Community Board 1 have assumed the major coordinating role?
Is it predetermined that the big financial firms will speak
for us all?
The WTC attack destroyed one of the city's two concentrations
of astonishing density (the other is Midtown), more density
even than there is in London or Tokyo. As we begin the task
of rebuilding Lower Manhattan, the challenge in the transportation
community is to think well beyond the way people and goods moved
on September 10to plan for the City of 2040 or 2050. After
all, the systems destroyed, notably the subways, were about
one hundred years old.
Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and Director
of the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems, City College
As we plan such a system, a few fundamental common assumptions
can be suggested. First, the site belongs to the world, reflecting
the city's place in the global market. The new development should
reflect the world converging on this site as a symbol of freedom
and global diversity.
Second, the return to high density seems to me inevitable. Since
the 1600s, Lower Manhattan has been the place to be, and it
has now become one of the most valuable real estate parcels
in the world. The very dynamics of the citywhat makes
it uniqueis the drive for agglomeration and workforce
diversity (makers of hot-dogs and the most complex financial
instruments thrived Downtown). This intensity is essential to
the definition of New York City.
Third, what has supported this densitymore than 70,000
persons per square mileis primarily rail transit. Accessibility
is the key, and in replacing the old system, which was facing
limits of capacity, the emphasis should be on interconnectivity.
What make the Paris and Tokyo subway systems so efficient are
their many points of intersection, and this should be the goal
for a Lower Manhattan.
Several suggestions for long-term ways of meeting this challenge
have emerged: extending PATH and enlarging its stations; reconfiguring
the South Ferry and Bowling Green stations; creating a Fulton
Street super-station; rail extensions and additions to bus rapid
transit and light rail; bringing East Side lines to the West
Side; the creation of auto-free zones; and a return to the street
grid from the WTC's enormous campus.
Infrastructure investments last a century or more. While we
are understandably eager for immediate recapture of the economic
market and uniqueness of Lower Manhattan, the picture in mind
for reinvestment in transportation should be a New York City
of 2021, not a New York City of 2002 or 2005.
Amid the discussion of a suitable memorial
to September 11, it is important to keep in mind that several
groups deserve commemoration: the rescue workers who died, the
people of the business community, and all of those associated
with it who lost their lives, and those who have worked tirelessly
to save lives and clear the rubble.
Professor of Art History, Lehman College and The Graduate
Center; co-editor of Critical
Issues in Public Art; her spring course at the Center
will be "American Monuments and Memorials."
The deaths of the heroic firefighters and policemen and the
gargantuan recovery effort undertaken by construction crews
have been detailed and illustrated daily in the press, and we
are forever in their debt. But most of the victims were working
peoplemanagers, clerks, secretaries, maintenance and security
personnel, lawyers, brokerswhose lives had been spent
working for or on behalf of American corporations. How do we
make their stories heroic? How do we as a city commemorate their
contribution to American life?
Over the past few months many ideas have emerged about what
such a monument should look like, but I think it would be a
mistake to confine ourselves to constructing a single monument,
as in Oklahoma City. The Trade Center site is a big 16-acre
plot, and the needs of different constituencies can be accommodated.
An obvious group is the rescue workers, including those who
died and those who have devoted themselves these past months
to clearing and resurrecting the site. A less obvious group
is the business community. For the first there are numerous
models, modern and ancient, designed to honor heroic deeds,
the Vietnam Memorial with its incised reflective granite walls
being a recent brilliant example. But I feel it will be important
also to remember the unsung heroes, not only those businessmen
and women who lost their lives on September 11, but the others
whose offices were damaged and destroyed and who are returning
to Lower Manhattan to keep the financial communitythe
economic life blood of the nationalive. They are in effect
"rescue workers" too. (In this context, it is ironic how Seward
Johnson's "Double Check," a banal realistic sculpture of
a seated businessman looking in his briefcase, was transformed
when situated amid the rubble at One Liberty Plaza into a symbol
As a permanent memorial, I would like to see in place a memorial
that acknowledges our indebtedness to the business community
and its contribution to our American way of life.
New York has often handled the challenges
of recovery by new departures that have often converted tragedy
into positive change. After the American Revolution, Manhattan
was left a blighted shambles. Half its buildings had been laid
waste by fire and vandalism. Its population was diminished by
two-thirds, and its wharves were left crumbling. Its trade was
fractured. But the city staged a remarkable recovery and went
on, over the next generation, to build a vast hinterland and
to claim much of America's trans-oceanic trade as it became
the hemisphere-leading entrepôt.
Kessner, Professor of History at The Graduate Center;
author of Fiorello LaGuardia and the Making of Modern
New York and of the forthcoming Capital Metropolis,
a study of New York City's 19th-century rise to pre-eminence
as a center of capital markets.
The Civil War led to the flight of European capital from Wall
Street's money markets. It decimated the highly profitable cotton
trade and brought a debt repudiation of many tens of millions
of dollarsand terrible draft riots as well. Yet the city
emerged from the war as the brace of the national financial
system. The volume of war spending boomed the urban economy.
Wheat more than replaced cotton, and (more significantly) the
war greatly advanced the shift in economic focus from farms
to city, from trade to domestic production, from modestly- to
generously-capitalized big business.
During the periodic depressions that clouded the late 19th century,
many feared that New York City's investment market had expiredall
the blood having been squeezed out of its speculative deals
and corrupt securities. Meanwhile, others whose names we remember
even todayJay Gould, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller,
Andrew Carnegie, and John Pierpont Morganall vigorously
invested. After each of these crises the city emerged stronger
and more prosperous, and with substantial new opportunities
that were not limited to its wealthy speculators. The point
is that crisis (setting aside the tragic losses) has often resulted
in a plastic situation and new possibilities. We are forced
to look anew at the city's economic role, but elsewhere as well.
Before 9/11 the need to reconceive 16 Downtown acres would have
seemed unimaginable. Now we have no choice. Now we must ask
"What was wrong with the picture?"and plan differently.
In 1871 a consuming inferno laid waste to much of Chicago's
wooden residential housing, leaving some 90,000 homeless and
reducing downtown to rubble. Within days a modern Chicago began
to rise from the burn, and by 1893 Chicago boasted the busiest
and most modern downtown in the country.
Sixteen acres and countless relationships, services, economic
links and businesses have been torn down. Streets have been
cleared. What is left is for us to give this vast area a new
shape, a new personality, a new purpose, a fresh and efficient
design in line with our view of what our future New York should
Among the victims of 9/11 was the movement
for justice for immigrants. Prior to the WTC attacks, hopes
were high for passage of a "regularization" programwhat
most people call "amnesty" for undocumented immigrantsand
for other pro-immigrant reforms. Now, in response to the terrorist
acts, a variety of institutions in and outside the government
are pulling back on their commitment to fairness.
Director of the CUNY Citizenship Project; Professor of
Public Administration, Hostos Community College; a lawyer
and the author of U.S. Immigration and Citizenship.
Despite reports that few of the terrorists were here unlawfully,
the events of 9/11 have given anti-immigrant restrictionists
new life. Still, with many economists predicting an early recovery,
I believe the anti-immigrant resurgence will be short-lived.
Immigrants¯ contribution to the economic boom of the last ten
years and their growing political power make them well positioned
to fight off restrictionism. Four issues in particular are likely
to feel the impact of 9/11.
Amnesty: Prior to 9/11, President Bush and Mexican President
Fox had both expressed commitment to a new "legalization" or
"regularization" program. The proposal is still alive. The plan
likely to emerge will include a regularization program for undocumented
immigrants, a temporary worker program, an increase in visas
for Mexicans and Canadians, and a border enforcement program
that will enlist Mexico's help in curbing unlawful immigration.
Foreign Students: In the wake of 9/11, the nation's universities
successfully fought off efforts to suspend the F-1 visa program
for international students. Nevertheless, it is likely that
the INS will move forward on existing plans for increased record
keeping and reporting.
Border Control: The big debate is over whether to implement
a "controlled departure"program. Non-immigrants (for
example, students and visitors) would check out when leaving
the United States. Thus, the INS would know when someone overstayed.
Border states have opposed controlled departure as a threat
to tourism and commerce. Unless billions of dollars are added
to the INS budget, requiring departure inspections could effectively
end international travel.
Dividing the INS: The INS has announced plans to split
into two separate bureaus, the Bureau of Immigration Services
and Adjudications and the Bureau of Enforcement. Most immigrants'
rights advocates are hopeful that dividing the INS will result
in better service for deserving applicants.
Professor of Political Science, The Graduate Center; directo,
CUNY Center for Urban Research; among his ten books are
Contested City (1983), and Dual City: Restructuring
New York (1991) and Rethinking the Urban Agenda
There seem to be at least three major
challenges in rebuilding Ground Zero. One is to balance the
need to memorialize our loss with other real estate imperatives
for this extremely valuable land. This will include rebuilding
the fabric of Lower Manhattan in a way that makes it even
more inviting than before, knitting Battery Park City together
with the rest of the area, and creating a major destination
for work, culture, and recreation. It is necessary to do this
to maintain downtown as an important constituent part of New
York City's overall competitive position.
The second challenge is to seize upon this opportunity to
fill missing links in the regional transportation system,
make it function more smoothly, and create more seamless connections
between, say, JFK, LaGuardia, Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn,
downtown, Exchange Place, the Newark train station area, and
Newark airport. Everyone would gain by making these connections
stronger, and it would help Lower Manhattan reassert itself
against the forces of economic entropy that have been working
against it ever since Grand Central Terminal was built.
The final challenge is one of equity. September 11th was a
heavy blow against Chinatown and communities where the low
wage restaurant and hotel workers lived. The rebuilding process
must include them as well as real estate developers, financial
service firms, families of the victims, and residents of Battery
Park City. BPC is generally thought to be a wonderful urban
design accomplishment, and I do not dissent from that view.
But they are spaces largely inhabited by young, upper-middle-class
urban professionals. We cannot afford to have the WTC reconstruction
process simply and only extend this model, which would amount
to class legislation in favor of the well-off.
Many other economic strata are represented south of Houston
Street, and they also need to be linked organically with what
we will now develop. Just as the great PWA and WPA public
works of the 1930s said a great deal in physical form about
the values of society in that era, what we build now will
be our historical legacy.
The 9/11 attacks have shaken public confidence
in security. While this is understandable, we must be careful
not to let our response to the horrors of September 11 become
Director, Graduate Program in Protection Management
John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)
There are several dangers associated with unrestrained expenditures
a potential for a cycle of continued fear and response,
erosion of privacy and transformation of public spaces into
security zones, and finally, an imposition of costs
in terms of both expenditures and delays that makes Manhattan
unattractive as a location for business.
These dangers are all very real. Much of the current security
efforts implemented post-9/11 are too costly to maintain, even
in New York.
A recent panel on security following 9/11 held at Baruch College
and organized by the Newman Real Estate Institute included myself
and Profs. Maki Haberfeld of John Jay College and Setha Low
of the Graduate Center. The consensus of the panel, consisting
of experts on security, policing, and environmental psychology
respectively was that the battle against terrorism is best fought
on the level of intelligence and incrementally, by making investments
in upgrading safety and preparedness for both terrorism and
other emergencies such as fires and natural disasters.
Recent programs announced by the NYPD, to undertake a counterterrorism
and intelligence initiative, offer potential, but the emphasis
should be on gathering of human intelligence and building relationships
with foreign police and local communitiesnot on formation
of commando or other paramilitary units.
As money flows in from federal disaster relief, there will be
a tendency for officials to overemphasize grandiose technological
solutions such as public surveillance systems and
hardware. While some limited investment in these areas is appropriate,
training development, and upgrade of procedures and readiness
are more critical.
Preventing suicidal terrorist attacks is extremely difficult,
especially given our open society and porous borders.