The centerpiece of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the soaring cathedral-like Oculus, unofficially opened to the public yesterday.
The crowd consisted of construction workers, NYPD officers, security officers directing foot traffic, officials from the Port Authority, curious onlookers with cell phones at the ready, a large contingent of press, a woman freestyle dancing, dozens of people sitting on the floor next to the walls waiting for later trains or just hanging out, and the building's architect, Santiago Calatrava.
The structure is meant to evoke a bird in flight. Yesterday afternoon, the glow of the low sun spilled through the rib cage of this giant bird, the kind of uplifting light we see in the city at the close of winter and the beginning of spring.
It felt like a good omen, even in the midst of a necessary debate about how much money this whole thing cost.
Speaking to a small group of press (above), Calatrava suggested to photographers that the day's best picture would be one of the construction workers standing on the balcony above the large flag (below). The image symbolizes the journey from that infamous day nearly 15 years ago when the PATH station was destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center.
It's not every day a new pubic space opens that is this lofty.
So far, there's little to do here except look at it or buy a ticket to New Jersey. Shops and restaurants will open later in the summer. Eventually, the hub will connect the dots by providing access to 11 NYC subway lines, including a path to the other oculus at the Fulton Transit Center, and ferry service.
Visiting the Oculus can be something of an adventure, as marked entry points are currently not absolutely clear. One way would be to walk to the Oculus from the top floor of the West Concourse (accessible from the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place). See this post and map from May 2015 on the opening of the PATH West Concourse on how to begin approaching the Oculus. Or, locate Four World Trade Center, walk in the lobby, and take the escalator down one floor. When the WTC Transportation Hub officially opens this summer, all entry points should be available.
If in need of an uplifting sight, go ahead and visit now.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from March 3, 2016.