PATH Station

The WTC Transportation Hub 'The Oculus' in September 2016.
The WTC Transportation Hub ‘The Oculus’ in September 2016.

World Trade Center is a terminal station in Lower Manhattan for PATH rail service. It was originally opened on July 19, 1909, as Hudson Terminal, but was torn down, rebuilt as World Trade Center, and re-opened July 6, 1971. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, a temporary station opened in 2003. This station serves as the terminus for the Newark – World Trade Center and Hoboken – World Trade Center routes. The main station house, the Oculus, opened on March 4, 2016, and the terminal was renamed the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, or World Trade Center for short.

Station layout


The station currently has six tracks and four island platforms in a basement four stories underground. The new Platform A, next to tracks 1 and 2, opened as part of the Transportation Hub on February 25, 2014. Platform B between tracks 2 and 3 opened on May 7, 2015. The other two platforms opened on September 8, 2016.

The current station has a temporary entrance that has been open since the temporary station entered in November 2003. Due to the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site, the entrances and size of the temporary station have changed over time. The most current entrance to the station is located at Vesey Street, facing Greenwich Street and adjacent to 7 World Trade Center. The temporary entrance is a one-story building on the south side of Vesey Street with a Hudson News outlet and escalators extending into a lower level mezzanine. A connection to Brookfield Place was made available since October 27, 2013, through a permanent passageway known as the West Concourse. On August 16, 2016, the Westfield World Trade Center entrance opened.

Hudson Terminal

Hudson Terminal (right) and the Singer Building (left).
Hudson Terminal (right) and the Singer Building (left).

Hudson Terminal was built by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad at the turn of the twentieth century and was located between Greenwich, Cortlandt, Church, and Fulton Streets. The Hudson Terminal included two 22-story office buildings located above the station.

The terminal was an architectural and engineering marvel of its time, designed with ramps to allow pedestrian traffic to flow in and out of the station quickly and easily. The station was served by two single-track tubes connected by a loop to speed train movements. The loop included five tracks and 3 platforms (2 center island and one side) and was somewhat similar to the current arrangement. By 1914, passenger volume at the Hudson Terminal had reached 30,535,500 annually. Volume nearly doubled by 1922, with 59,221,354 passengers that year.

Overall ridership on New Jersey’s Hudson and Manhattan Railroad declined substantially from a high of 113 million riders in 1927 to 26 million in 1958, after new automobile tunnels and bridges opened across the Hudson River. The State of New Jersey was interested in getting the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take over the railroad, but the Port Authority long viewed it as something unprofitable and had no interest in doing so. In the late 1950s, the Port Authority proposed to build a “world trade center” in Lower Manhattan along the East River.

As a bi-state agency, Port Authority projects required approval from both the states of New Jersey and New York. Toward the end of 1961, negotiations with outgoing New Jersey Governor Robert B. Meyner regarding the World Trade Center project reached a stalemate. In December 1961, Port Authority executive director Austin J. Tobin met with newly elected New Jersey Governor Richard J. Hughes, and made a proposal to shift the World Trade Center project to the west side, where the Hudson Terminal was located.

In acquiring the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad, the Port Authority also acquired the Hudson Terminal and other buildings which were deemed obsolete. On January 22, 1962, the two states reached an agreement to allow the Port Authority to take over the railroad and build the World Trade Center on Manhattan’s lower west side. The shift in location for the World Trade Center to a site more convenient to New Jersey, together with Port Authority acquisition of the H&M Railroad, brought New Jersey to agreement in support of the World Trade Center project.

Original PATH station

Looking northwest. PATH eastbound tunnel F supported on a temporary trestle in foreground. Slurry wall with tie-backs can be seen on the left, and the frame of the North Tower in the background. Also note the since-removed West Side Elevated Highway, which ran above West Street (today's West Side Highway).
Looking northwest. PATH eastbound tunnel F supported on a temporary trestle in foreground. Slurry wall with tie-backs can be seen on the left, and the frame of the North Tower in the background. Also note the since-removed West Side Elevated Highway, which ran above West Street (today’s West Side Highway).

Groundbreaking on the World Trade Center took place in 1966. The site was on landfill, with bedrock located 65 metres (213 ft) below the surface. A new method was used to construct a slurry wall to keep water from the Hudson River out. During excavation of the site and construction of the towers, the original Hudson Tubes remained in service as elevated tunnels. The Hudson Terminal was shut down in 1971 when a new Port Authority Trans-Hudson, or PATH Railroad station was completed. The new station cost $35 million to build. At the time, it had a passenger volume of 85,000 daily.

The new PATH railroad station opened on July 6, 1971, and was at a different location from the original Hudson Terminal. Larger balloon loops in the PATH station platform allowed 10-car trains to be utilized, as the previous station could handle only 6-car trains due to tight loops. While construction of the World Trade Center neared completion, a temporary corridor was provided to take passengers between the station and a temporary entrance on Church Street. When it opened, the station had nine high-speed escalators between the platform level and the mezzanine level. The WTC PATH station was served by Newark – World Trade Center and Hoboken – World Trade Center trains. The station was connected to the World Trade Center towers via an underground concourse and a shopping center. There were also underground connections to the New York City Subway (A C E trains at World Trade Center, and N R W trains at Cortlandt Street). By 2001, the volume of passengers using the WTC PATH station was approximately 25,000 daily.

The station did not sustain significant damage during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, although a section of ceiling in the station collapsed and trapped dozens. Within a week, the Port Authority was able to resume PATH service to the World Trade Center.

On September 11, 2001, the station was shut down by the Port Authority after the first airplane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. A train from Newark that came into the terminal at 8:55 am stopped only to pick up passengers. A second train, from Hoboken, came through at 9:00 am but did not stop and returned to New Jersey. An empty train was sent to the station at 9:10 am to pick up a dozen PATH employees and a homeless individual, leaving the station empty.

Temporary PATH station:

Platform of temporary station.
Platform of temporary station.

With the station destroyed, service to Lower Manhattan was suspended for over two years. Exchange Place, the next station on the Newark – World Trade Center line, also had to be closed because it could not operate as a terminal station. Instead, two uptown services (Newark – 33rd Street, red on the official PATH map; and Hoboken – 33rd Street, blue on the map) and one intrastate New Jersey service (Hoboken – Journal Square, green on the map) were put into operation.

Cleanup of the Exchange Place station was needed after the attacks. In addition, the downtown Hudson tubes had been flooded, which destroyed the track infrastructure. Modifications to the tracks were also required since the Exchange Place station was not a terminal station. The Exchange Place station re-opened in June 2003. PATH service to Lower Manhattan was restored when a temporary station opened on November 23, 2003. The inaugural train was the same one that had been used for the evacuation.

The temporary PATH station was designed by Port Authority chief architect Robert I. Davidson and constructed at a cost of $323 million. The station featured a canopy entrance along Church Street and a 118-by-12 foot mosaic mural, “Iridescent Lightning,” by Giulio Candussio of the Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli in Spilimbergo, Italy. The station was also adorned with opaque panel walls inscribed with inspirational quotes attesting to the greatness and resilience of New York City. These panels partially shielded the World Trade Center site from view.

In the 9/11 attacks, some sections of the station, including the floor and the signage on the northeast corner, were only lightly damaged in the collapse of the World Trade Center. These sections of the station were retained in the temporary station, and remained in the new station, where it connects with the platforms for the 2 3 A C E trains. Following its reopening and the resumption of Newark – World Trade Center and Hoboken – World Trade Center services, the station quickly reclaimed its status as the busiest station in the PATH system.

The station was also home to a Storycorps booth, which opened in 2005. Through this program, visitors could arrange to give oral recorded histories of the disaster. The booth closed in the spring of 2007 to make way for construction at the World Trade Center site. In June 2007, the street entrance to the temporary station was closed and demolished as part of the site construction. A set of new staircases was constructed several feet to the south, and a “tent” structure was added to provide cover from the elements. The tent structure, by Voorsanger Architects and installed at a cost of $275,000, was designed to have an “aspiring quality,” according to architect Bartholomew Voorsanger. That entrance on Church Street was closed in April 2008 when the entrance was relocated once again. On April 1, 2008, the third temporary entrance to the PATH station opened for commuters. The entrance was located on Vesey Street, adjacent to 7 World Trade Center, and served until the opening of the permanent station, designed by Calatrava, and also to make way for a Performing Arts Center if the proposed building finds approval.

World Trade Center Transportation Hub

The completed station at night in May 2016.
The completed station at night in May 2016.

The World Trade Center Transportation Hub is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s formal name for the new PATH station and the associated transit and retail complex that opened on March 3, 2016. The station’s renaming took place when the station reopened. It was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and composed of a train station with a large and open mezzanine under the National September 11 Memorial plaza. This mezzanine is connected to an aboveground head house structure called the Oculus—located between 2 World Trade Center and 3 World Trade Center—as well as to public concourses under the various towers in the World Trade Center complex.

In addition, the station was designed to connect the PATH to the New York City Subway system, and to facilitate a below ground east-west passageway that connects to the various modes of transportation in Lower Manhattan, from the Fulton Center to the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal. Furthermore, to replace the lost retail space from the original mall at the World Trade Center, significant portions of the Hub are devoted to the new 365,000 square foot Westfield World Trade Center mall.

West Concourse:

The West Concourse.
The West Concourse.

The West Street pedestrian underpass (the West Concourse, formerly the “east-west connector”) links the WTC station mezzanine with a new transit pavilion at Battery Park City’s Brookfield Place (formerly World Financial Center) on the west side of the World Trade Center site just south of 1 WTC and across West Street. It opened on October 23, 2013. Access to 1 World Trade Center from the West Concourse became possible for employees when the tower opened on November 3, 2014. On May 29, the same day the tower’s observatory opened, the entrance to the observation deck opened.