Battery Park City is a mainly residential 92-acre (37 ha) planned community at the southwestern tip of the island of Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States, more than 1⁄3 of which is parkland. The land in Lower Manhattan upon which it stands was created by land reclamation on the Hudson River using over 3 million cubic yards of soil and rock excavated during the construction of the World Trade Center, the New York City Water Tunnel, and certain other construction projects, as well as from sand dredged fromNew York Harbor off Staten Island. The neighborhood, which is the site of Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center), along with numerous buildings designed for housing, commercial, and retail, is named for adjacent Battery Park.
In the 1980s, there was a building boom, with 23 buildings being built in the area; in the 1990s, 9 buildings were built, followed by the construction of 11 buildings in the 2000s and 3 buildings in the 2010s.
Site and formation
Throughout the 19th century and early 20th century, the area adjoining today’s Battery Park City was known as Little Syria with Lebanese, Greeks, Armenians, and other ethnic groups.
By the late 1950s, the once-prosperous port area of downtown Manhattan was occupied by a number of dilapidated shipping piers, casualties of the rise of container shipping which drove sea traffic to Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. The initial proposal to reclaim this area through landfill was offered in the early 1960s by private firms and supported by the mayor. That plan became complicated when GovernorNelson Rockefeller announced his desire to redevelop a part of the area as a separate project. The various groups reached a compromise, and in 1966 the governor unveiled the proposal for what would become Battery Park City. The creation of architect Wallace K. Harrison, the proposal called for a ‘comprehensive community’ consisting of housing, social infrastructure and light industry. The landscaping of the park space and later the Winter Garden was designed by M. Paul Friedberg.
In 1968, the New York State Legislature created the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) to oversee development. The New York State Urban Development Corporation and ten other public agencies were also involved in the development project.
For the next several years, the BPCA made slow progress. In 1969, it unveiled a master plan for the area, and in 1972 issued $200 million in bonds to fund construction efforts. Landfill material from construction of the World Trade Center was used to add fill for the southern portion. Cellular cofferdams were constructed to retain the material. After removal of the piers, wooden piles and overburden of silt, the northern portion (north of, and including the marina) was filled with sand dredged from areas adjacent to Ambrose Channel in the Atlantic Ocean. By 1976, the landfill was completed. Seating stands for viewing the American Bicentennial “Operation Sail” flotilla parade were set up on the completed landfill in July 1976. Construction efforts ground to a halt for nearly two years beginning in 1977, as a result of city-wide financial hardships. In 1979, the title to the landfill was transferred from the city to the Battery Park City Authority, which financially restructured itself and created a new, more viable master plan, designed by Alex Cooper and Stanton Eckstut.
The design of BPC to some degree reflects the values of vibrant city neighborhoods championed by Jane Jacobs. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) awarded the Battery Park City Master Plan its 2010 Heritage Award, for having “facilitated the private development of 9.3 million square feet of commercial space, 7.2 million square feet of residential space, and nearly 36 acres of open space in lower Manhattan, becoming a model for successful large-scale planning efforts and marking a positive shift away from the urban renewal mindset of the time.”
Construction and early development
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the site hosted Creative Time’s landmark Art on the Beach sculpture exhibitions. On September 23, 1979, the landfill was the site of an anti-nuclear rally attended by 200,000 people.
Construction began on the first residential building in 1980, followed in 1981 with the start of construction on the World Financial Center.Olympia and York, of Toronto, was named as the developer for the World Financial Center in 1981, who then hired Cesar Pelli as the lead architect. By 1985, construction was completed and the World Financial Center (later renamed Brookfield Place New York) saw its first tenants.
Throughout the 1980s, the Battery Park City Authority oversaw a great deal of construction, including the entire Rector Placeneighborhood and the river esplanade. It was during that period that current City Planning Department Director Amanda Burden worked on Battery Park City. During the 1980s, a total of 13 buildings were constructed. The Vietnam Veterans Plaza was established by Edward I. Koch in 1985. In the early 1990s, Battery Park City became the new home of the Stuyvesant High School. During the 1990s, an additional six buildings were added to the neighborhood. By the turn of the 21st century, Battery Park City was mostly completed, with the exception of some ongoing construction on West Street.
Early 21st century
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had a major impact on Battery Park City. The residents of lower Manhattan and particularly of Battery Park City were displaced for an extended period of time. Parts of the community were an official crime-scene and therefore residents were unable to return to live or even collect property. Many of the displaced residents were not allowed to return to the area for months and none were given government guidance of where to live temporarily on the already crowded island of Manhattan. With most hotel rooms booked, residents, including young children and the elderly were forced to fend for themselves.
When they were finally allowed to return to Battery Park City, some found that their homes had been looted. Upon residents’ return, the air in the area was still filled with toxic smoke from the World Trade Center fires that persisted until January 2002. More than half of the area’s residents moved away permanently from the community after the adjacent World Trade Center towers collapsed and spread toxic dust, debris, and smoke. Gateway Plaza’s 600 building, Hudson View East, and Parc Place (now Rector Square) were punctured by airplane parts. The Winter Garden and other portions of the World Financial Center were severely damaged. Environmental concerns regarding dust from the Trade Center are a continuing source of concern for many residents, scientists, and elected officials. Since the attacks, the damage has been repaired. Temporarily reduced rents and government subsidies helped restore residential occupancy in the years following the attacks.
After September 11, 2001, residents of Battery Park City and Tribeca formed the TriBattery Pops Tom Goodkind Conductor in response to the events of the attacks. The “Pops” have been Grammy-nominated and are the first lower Manhattan all-volunteer community band in a century.
Since then, real estate development in the area has continued robustly. Commercial development includes the 2,100,000-square-foot (200,000 m2) Goldman Sachs Global Headquarters, which began construction in 2005 and opened for occupancy in October 2009.Goldman Sachs is seeking gold-level certification under the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program by incorporating various water and energy conservation features. Several residential projects are underway, including LEED buildings which cater to the environmentally conscious.