Passages: Inside the PATH West Concourse at One World Trade Center, and Beyond

(Update March 4, 2016. Please see the post, The World Trade Center Transportation Hub Opens: Into the Oculus, for information and images of the grand hall.)

For a taste of New York City in the near future, I recommend a walk through the new West Concourse of the PATH station at One World Trade Center.

The concourse constitutes one of the first open sections of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, a multi-use complex built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and designed by Santiago Calatrava. The most prominent above-ground features of the hub are its big combed white wings, poised at angles upward as if to take flight. The white ribbed wings are hard to miss from nearby streets in Lower Manhattan.

Enter the PATH station on Vesey Street near the bustling intersection where Greenwich Street and West Broadway converge. On the right, the shimmering One World Trade Center soars into the sky overhead. Upon entering the PATH station, turn right and walk west. Look for the entrance to the West Concourse on the far right side. Follow directions and keep walking.

None of this walk has anything to do with trains or a quick trip to New Jersey. But it will lead in unexpected directions.

The temporary wall at the end will lead to a large mall.

The gritty business of Vesey Street, clogged with construction noise and tourists and NYPD barricades, now gives way to the quiet hush of a bright white expansive corridor that looks like something out of a futuristic film or the inside of a very clean pterodactyl. This will likely change when the stores open, at least the quiet part.

Walk the luminous (liminal?) concourse to the west end and take the steep escalator upwards. Voila! Here is the Winter Garden of Brookfield Place, its stately palm trees, and multiple dining venues. Congratulations! You've just avoided walking across the West Side Highway! Beyond is the Hudson River and the splendid Battery Esplanade that lines the river to the south.

When the hub is complete and connected to the subway system, it will be possible to walk from the Fulton Transit Center on Broadway and points east all the way over to the west side and the Hudson River without ever having to go outdoors. In this sense, the allure of an hermetically-sealed world of a planned indoors mall, concourse shops, and multiple dining places will stand as a challenge to New York street life as we know and love it.

The concourse is lit by long light fixtures that sit atop the individual "ribs" of the ceiling. To get a closer look, backtrack from the far west end and take the escalator to the next level. Pause on the passageway. At the east end, the little NYPD station in the corner looks rather charming and retro in context.

But, wait, what's up here? Indeed, a door points to a new place much farther above.  Here we have the entrance lobby for One World Observatory, the observation tower for One World Trade Center. The ticket booth is up another flight.

That vertical journey will begin May 29 when the observatory opens to the public. In the meantime, the twin pools of the 9/11 Memorial are just a short walk to the south.

In a nutshell, the West Concourse provides a beautiful and convenient means to walk to the west side. And, starting at the end of the month, it's where to begin the journey a hundred stories up.

One World Trade Center as seen from Fulton.
Old New York, the view from the street.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from Saturday, May 16, 2015.
Read the post, Strolling The Battery and Financial District: Views and Spectacles of the New and Old City, for a connected walk.

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