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 buildings were located above the station, at 30 and 50 Church Street. The terminal was an architectural and engineering marvel of its time, carefully planned and designed with a series of ramps descending from the street level to the mezzanine, 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 is 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 at the Hudson Terminal.
Overall ridership on New Jersey's Hudson and Manhattan Railroad (H&M) 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 to take over the railroad, but the Port Authority long viewed it as something unprofitable that they were never interested in. In the late 1950s, the Port Authority proposed to build a "world trade center" in New York City, on the east side of Lower Manhattan along the East River.
As a bi-state agency, Port Authority projects require 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 a west side site where the Hudson Terminal was located.
In acquiring the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad, the Port Authority would also acquire 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 to 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.
The new PATH station opened on July 6, 1971, and was sited at a different location from the original Hudson Terminal. The PATH station platform was slightly longer than its predecessor, accommodating 10-car trains versus the 6-car trains that the Hudson Terminal could handle. The tight turns in the loop into the Hudson Terminal were made less tight in the new station. 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.
When the 1993 World Trade Center bombing occurred, a section of ceiling in the PATH station collapsed and trapped dozens. Nonetheless, the PATH station did not suffer any structural damage. Within a week, the Port Authority was able to resume PATH service to the World Trade Center.
The PATH station was connected to the World Trade Center towers, via an underground concourse and shopping center. There were also underground connections to the // New York Subway lines and to the and lines. Prior to September 11, the mall had been leased to The Westfield Group, which intended to rename the mall Westfield Shoppingtown World Trade Center, and embark on a major expansion and renovation program. Plans called for the addition of 200,000 square feet of new mall space and a few well-known sit-down restaurants. By 2001, the volume of passengers using the WTC PATH station was approximately 25,000 daily.
Soon after Flight 11 (first plane) hit the North Tower on 9/11, the PATH station was shut down by order from PATH's deputy director, Victoria Cross Kelly, and Richie Moran who commanded the PATH system at the Journal Square Transportation Center. A train from Newark that came into the terminal at 8:55 a.m. stopped only to pick up passengers. A second train, from Hoboken, came through at 9:00 a.m. but did not stop and returned to New Jersey. PATH sent an empty train to the station at 9:10 a.m. to pick up a dozen PATH employees, as well as a homeless individual, leaving the PATH station empty.
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) and Hoboken–33rd Street (blue)) and one intra-state New Jersey service (Hoboken-Journal Square (green)) were put into operation.
Cleanup of the Exchange Place station was needed after the attacks. As well, 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 never designed as 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 features 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 is also adorned with opaque panel walls inscribed with inspirational quotes attesting to the greatness and resilience of New York City. These panels partially shield 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 PATH station, and will remain in the new station, where it connects with the / platforms. Following its reopening and the resumption of Newark-World Trade Center and Hoboken-World Trade Center service, the station quickly reclaimed its status as the busiest station in the PATH system.
The World Trade Center PATH 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 Spring 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 ongoing 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 new temporary entrance to the PATH station opened for commuters. The entrance is located on Vesey Street, adjacent to 7 World Trade Center. It will serve as the entrance through at least 2011.
Two connections are currently closed:
The Fulton–Broadway–Nassau station complex is one block away. An underground passageway along Dey Street is being constructed as part of the Fulton Street Transit Center project. Currently, there is street-level connection to the following services:
The temporary PATH station will be replaced with a permanent World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which is being built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at a cost of $3.2 billion.
A large transit station was not part of the 2003 Memory Foundations master plan for the site by Daniel Libeskind, which called for a smaller station along the lines of the original subterranean station that existed beneath the World Trade Center. Libeskind's design called for the space to be left open, forming a "Wedge of Light" so that sun rays around the autumnal equinox would hit the World Trade Center footprints each September.
In early 2004, the Port Authority, which owns the land, modified the Libeskind plan to include a world-class transportation station downtown that was intended to rival Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. In a nod to the Liebeskind concept, the station will be at an angle to maximize the effect of the autumnal equinox rays.
Lower Manhattan has never had an ambitious transit or railroad center, as the former complex at the World Trade Center was built beneath the buildings. The station is designed to connect the PATH to the New York City Subway system. A proposal for a connection to the Long Island Rail Road via a new tunnel under the East River, the Lower Manhattan-Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project, is currently in the alternatives analysis stage.
Another critic wrote:
However, Calatrava's original soaring spike design has been scaled back because of security issues. The Times observed, "In the name of security, Santiago Calatrava's bird has grown a beak. Its ribs have doubled in number and its wings have lost their interstices of glass.... [T]he main transit hall, between Church and Greenwich Streets, will almost certainly lose some of its delicate quality, while gaining structural expressiveness. It may now evoke a slender stegosaurus more than it does a bird."
The design was further modified to eliminate the opening and closing roof mechanism because of budget and space constraints.
The station has also stirred problems with developer Larry Silverstein, who owns the lease for the World Trade Center site, since it took away available space for his proposed buildings.