In the wake of the worst terrorist attack in the nation's history, New Yorkers faced a fundamental choice: would we allow fear and terrorism to permanently alter our city's character or would we honor the victims by making Lower Manhattan a living testament to the city's resilience?
New York City's response was clear. And today not only has Lower Manhattan remained a vibrant global commercial and financial capital, it has emerged stronger than ever as one of New York's fastest-growing neighborhoods.
Today, it is a 24/7 neighborhood that is home to a growing number of vibrant restaurants, cultural institutions and, most importantly, residents. According to the most recent Census data, the population of Lower Manhattan more than doubled from 2000 to 2010. The number of hotel rooms in Lower Manhattan has nearly doubled, and 9 million people visited Lower Manhattan's museums, historic sites, and other major attractions in 2010.
Starting this fall, we expect to welcome even more visitors from around the US and the world to Lower Manhattan to honor the memory of those lost on 9/11. On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the National 9/11 Memorial will be opened to the victims' families. The next day, it will be open to the general public with the reservation of a visitor pass. After years of design and construction, the memorial will be a stirring and contemplative public space, featuring the largest man-made waterfalls in the US. The following year, the National 9/11 Memorial Museum will be opened.
Visitors will also be able to take advantage of Lower Manhattan's existing array of historic and cultural sites. Just steps from the World Trade Center, visitors can see Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the US, or take a short ferry ride to Ellis Island, where so many of our ancestors first set foot on American soil.
At the heart of Lower Manhattan's commercial resurgence will be five new skyscrapers at the World Trade Center site, which together will provide more than 10 million square feet of world-class office space for businesses. Visitors today can easily see the progress of our rebuilding at the site, with the steel of 1 World Trade Center above the 68th floor and the steel of 4 World Trade Center above the 34th floor. A new soaring glass and steel transportation hub between Church and Fulton Streets will have capacity for 250,000 daily passengers and 200,000 square feet of retail establishments.
Lower Manhattan has always been a world-renowned financial capital. While that industry remains a core element of the neighborhood's character, the area has also become home to an increasingly diverse array of businesses.
More than 270 firms have moved south of Chambers Street since 2005, including significant numbers of professional services and creative companies, as well as non-profits. Lower Manhattan is also an emerging media capital, as evidenced most recently by Condé Nast's decision to be the anchor tenant of 1 World Trade Center. Meanwhile, 7 World Trade Center and 4 New York Plaza are also home to a growing number of media companies, including the New York Daily News and American Media.
As part of its evolution into a 24/7 neighborhood, Lower Manhattan has also developed a luxury retail corridor along Wall and Broad Streets with new stores and restaurants.
Walking along the streets of Lower Manhattan today, it is easy to forget that just 10 years ago there were some who predicted that the neighborhood would never be the same. In a sense, those people were right: what was once a neighborhood dominated by finance has been transformed into one of the city's most dynamic. This resurgence is a tribute to our collective resolve to honor all those we lost by creating a new Lower Manhattan that is more full of life than ever, as well as a memorial and museum that will be places of remembrance and reflection.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NY) is New York City's 108th mayor, currently serving his third term. He is also founder and owner of Bloomberg LP, a financial news and information services media company.