For nearly three decades, 5 p.m. on a weekday has meant thousands of commuters leaving the World Trade Center Complex and heading down into the warren of transit tunnels below. After the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, those hordes of commuters have never been quite as large, but they have been remembered in a small way thanks to a subway exit left intact from those days.
The neighborhood is home to a number of subway lines, a few of which run directly underneath the World Trade Center. The Cortlandt Street 1/9 station was completely destroyed, but other stops suffered more moderate amounts of damage, leading to concerns of survivors under the rubble.
Search teams from all over the country scoured the area for days, systematically checking the tunnels underneath for commuters and office workers caught in the rubble after the center’s collapse. They marked off their searches with spray-painted notes in each area.
When the Oculus transit center was built on the site, the structure was designed to make transfers between the PATH train and the surrounding transit options easier. But a choice was made to leave one entrance to the WTC ‘E’ train station intact, as it still bore the rescue markings from 9/11. The floor, doors, and fixtures are all the originals, while still blending in with the modernized shopping center they lead into.
Know Before You Go
The exit is at the 'E' train World Trade Center station, but the tunnels from the Chambers Street A/C will also lead you in this direction if you follow the signs. If coming from inside the Oculus, the entrance is at the North Concourse, on level Balcony C1.