In the wake of 9/11, New York City plunged into an economic downturn. The Lower Manhattan community was decimated, and the entire city grappled with the physical hole in the landscape and a growing sense of uncertainty for the future. Many believed that businesses and families would flee the city.
But walking around Lower Manhattan today, you see an entirely different picture, all the results of the seeds Mike Bloomberg planted during his time as Mayor and the commitments he has made to this day.
His leadership during this historic crisis, and the steps he took in the immediate years after 9/11, laid the foundations for one of New York City’s greatest comeback stories. His efforts – data driven, non-partisan, and focused on growth and recovery for the entire city — are a blueprint for New York City and cities across the nation as they tackle the latest challenge, post-COVID recovery in a reshaped economy.
Mike refused to allow 9/11 to be New York’s downfall. He made the hard choices, never sacrificed the future for the short term, and his deft management allowed the city to come out of the crisis stronger than ever.
It was primary day. Mike voted and was at campaign headquarters when he first got word. Three people from Bloomberg LP died in the attacks.
At Mike’s inauguration, smoke from the World Trade Center was still visible from the steps of City Hall. That afternoon, Mike visited recovery workers at the site.
The official end of the recovery effort was marked by a ceremony and procession of the so-called “Last Column,” the last piece of the World Trade Center left standing. The 58-ton, 37-foot steel column returned to the site in August 2009 and today stands in the center of the Museum’s Foundation Hall.
The New York Stock Exchange officially ended its headquarters expansion effort, begun four years prior and which would have cost the City $1 billion in subsidies. Mike had objected to the proposed project, citing its exorbitant cost to taxpayers.
Construction began on 7 World Trade Center.
Mike gave a speech at an Association for a Better New York (ABNY) breakfast at the Regent Wall Street, where he announced his vision to transform Lower Manhattan into a 24/7 residential neighborhood. His comprehensive plan included major investments in new parks and waterfront access, affordable housing, schools, and transportation.
Mike and Governor Pataki announced the launch of what became the largest open design competition in history. A 13-member Memorial jury gathered feedback from family members and the public, together with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). Jurors narrowed 5,201 submissions down to 8 finalists, which Mike and Governor Pataki reviewed.
Jurors met to make a final decision. After 12 hours of voting, they selected Michael Arad’s “Reflecting Absence.” Arad’s proposal included landscape architecture by Peter Walker. At the time, Arad was a City employee. He worked as an architect at the New York City Housing Authority.
Mike and Governor Pataki announced the launch of a private foundation to assume responsibilities from the LMDC for a memorial. This organization would become the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Mike stepped in and assumed leadership of the Memorial. He became chair of the Memorial foundation board and took on responsibility for fundraising.
Construction began on the “Freedom Tower,” One World Trade Center.
7 World Trade Center opened.
Construction began on 4 World Trade Center.
Eighteen months after Mike became chair, the Memorial foundation reached its $350 million goal for its capital campaign. Overall, the Memorial & Museum has raised nearly $760 million in private donations.
Mike welcomed Pope Benedict to the World Trade Center site.
Construction was again at a stalemate. As talks between the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties faltered, Mike convened a summit at Gracie Mansion. Out of that meeting came the framework for a compromise deal that Mike helped seal the next year.
The placement of the names on the Memorial was controversial. Mike took a hands-on role working with Michael Arad and advised him to use the “meaningful adjacencies`` concept, with names placed near those with whom a person shared a personal or professional bond.
With financial support from the City, the Downtown Alliance’s tech and media incubator The Hive opened at 55 Broad Street.
The “Survivor Tree” was planted at the 9/11 Memorial area of the World Trade Center.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum released the final arrangement of the victims’ names to the family members.
Meeting Mike’s stated goal, the Memorial opened to family members on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. It opened to the public the following day.
Mike gave a speech at 7 World Trade Center recapping the city’s successful efforts to rebuild Lower Manhattan. Mike detailed the neighborhood’s population growth, job growth and economic recovery, the rise of the downtown tech industry, investments in new schools, parks, and waterfront access, and more.
Mike helped cut the ribbon at 4 World Trade Center.
The Museum first opened to family members and 9/11 stakeholders. At the opening cermony, Mike spoke alongside U.S. President Barack Obama. He then gave a tour to President Obama, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Museum opened to the public on May 21st.
After beginning in 2010, construction resumed at 3 World Trade Center.
One World Trade Center officially opened.
Mike welcomed Pope Francis to the Memorial & Museum.
3 World Trade Center officially opened.
Joined by Jon Stewart, Mike spoke at the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Glade, which honors the thousands who participated in the rescue and recovery effort.
With structural steel work below grade complete, the first cranes rose at the site of the Performing Arts Center.
Mike became chair of the Performing Arts Center.
Mike commemorated the completion of major construction at the Performing Arts Center. He was joined on the roof by Ronald Perelman, board members, donors, and the design and construction team.
At the heart of Lower Manhattan’s renewal is the rebuilding of the 16-acre World Trade Center site. For the last 20 years, Mike Bloomberg has been at the center of the rebuilding effort at the World Trade Center site, advancing the key pieces of the process from 2001 to today. Creating the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and building Lower Manhattan back stronger was one of Mike’s foremost priorities – as Mayor of New York City and later Chairman of the 9/11 Memorial.
- The afternoon after his mayoral inauguration, Mike visited recovery workers at Ground Zero. At the end of the year, he gave a speech in which he announced his vision to transform Lower Manhattan into a 24/7 residential neighborhood.
- Mike maintained a laser-focus on realizing the master rebuilding plan for Lower Manhattan, and has personally dedicated over $200 million to the Memorial, Museum, and Performing Arts Center.
- The rebuilding of the site was one of the most complex projects in the city’s history, as the site was governed jointly by two states that have had nine different governors over the 12 years following 9/11, with control and influence exerted by a number of public and private entities. As leadership changed over the years, Mike was the one constant.
- Many thought that long-lasting disputes in the construction of the site would never be resolved, and that the Memorial would never be built. After five years of struggles, logjams, and limited progress, costs to build the Memorial had ballooned to more than $1 billion and fundraising had come to a halt, largely because of a growing concern that it would never be built. That’s when Mike stepped in and took over as Chairman of the 9/11 Memorial in 2006.
“No matter how magnificent the best design for the 16 acres of the World Trade Center site proves to be, it must be complemented by an equally bold vision for all of Lower Manhattan — a new beginning — that meets the needs of all of New York City and of the entire region.”
– Mike Bloomberg in his speech at an Association for a Better New York where he laid out his vision for Lower Manhattan
After five years of struggles and limited progress on building the Memorial, Mike stepped in and took over as Chairman in 2006, setting a clear goal: open the Memorial by the 10th anniversary of the attacks, and he delivered.
- Upon becoming Chair, Mike set a clear goal: open the Memorial by the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
- Mike led this monumental effort by bringing parties together, eliminating logjams, securing consensus and delivering agreements that allowed for the construction of the site we see today.
- One of the first things Mike did was spearhead a comprehensive review that led to difficult, but necessary decisions to streamline the construction and develop a project scope that was achievable and maintained the support of victims’ family members and other stakeholders.
- Mike not only brought costs down to a manageable level, he galvanized fundraising efforts and helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars, including through the post-2008 Great Recession when financial commitments waned.
- In addition to the logistical and financial challenges, Mike worked alongside family members to help resolve longstanding concerns. One of the major issues confronting Memorial planners was the arrangement of names. It was an emotional issue, fraught with tension for years, especially between first responder families and civilian families. Mike worked with Michael Arad, the Memorial architect, to discuss various ways to group the victims, and he supported Arad’s return to his original meaningful adjacencies idea, allowing names of those who shared relationships in life to be together forever on the Memorial.
- On September 11, 2011, Mike opened the 9/11 Memorial, delivering on his promise to the families and New York City on time and on budget.
“The 9/11 Memorial, which opens today, is built as a place where we can touch the face of history – and the names of all those we lost. We also remember that out of a day of unspeakable horror, came an endless outpouring of human kindness that reaffirmed our connection to one another.”
– Mike Bloomberg at the opening of the Memorial
- Three years later, Mike opened the 9/11 Memorial Museum, ensuring the stories and lessons of 9/11 will never be forgotten.
- Today, more than 52.1 million visitors have come to the Memorial and 17.7 million have visited the Museum, making it one of the most treasured historic places in the world.
- As Chairman, Mike has hosted U.S. Presidents, foreign dignitaries and religious leaders, including Pope Benedict and Pope Francis at the Memorial and Museum.
- The 9/11 Memorial & Museum has become a leader in offering free consulting to other cities and countries grappling with the challenge of commemorating victims of mass tragedy; and in working with communities around the world afflicted by terrorism and violence.
- The final piece of the World Trade Center master plan – the Perelman Performing Arts Center is underway. As Chair of the Performing Arts Center, Mike is focused on bringing to life what will be a 129,000 square foot facility with three one-of-a-kind theaters with flexible layouts that can be conjoined or designed to provide multiple seating configurations for up to 1,200 people.
- Over the past two decades, Mike’s leadership and fundraising efforts for the Memorial, Museum, and arts center — which have involved hundreds of phone calls, countless hours at meetings, hosting an annual dinner, and countless other events — have raised $903 million in donations. Additionally, he has given more than $192 million himself, including $30 million in 2020 to help the Memorial and Museum weather the pandemic shutdown.
“As our city rebounds from the pandemic, the role of the arts is more critical than ever. The Performing Arts Center will be at the forefront of the city’s revival.”
– Mike Bloomberg at the “topping off” ceremony for the Perelman Performing Arts Center
Many people wondered whether Lower Manhattan would ever come back post 9/11. Under Mike’s leadership, the opposite came true – it has only grown stronger and more resilient.
- In December 2002, Mike delivered a speech in which he announced his vision to transform Lower Manhattan into a 24/7 residential neighborhood. Mike’s comprehensive plan included major investments in new parks and waterfront access, affordable housing, schools, and transportation. He has since delivered on that vision.
- On September 10, 2001, there were 23,000 people living in Lower Manhattan. Today, there are more than 64,000 people living there. (source: nyc.gov)
- Mike rallied supporters from the public and private sectors to invest in Lower Manhattan’s rebirth, including the Tribeca Film Festival. He invested in schools, parks, playgrounds, riverfront esplanades, picnic gardens, bicycle lanes, public art, sports facilities, and open spaces that have reshaped Lower Manhattan as a family-friendly neighborhood.
- Pre-9/11, Lower Manhattan had 6 hotels, today it is home to more than 20 hotels.
- Spurred by incubator programs and the improved quality of life in the area, Lower Manhattan experienced an explosion of hundreds of tech firms.
- By the end of 2013, five new public schools opened in the neighborhood with 4,300 new classroom seats and another 700 to follow.
- Lower Manhattan was nearly 70% white in 2000 and now 32% white, making it more diverse than the island of Manhattan today (47% white). Lower Manhattan’s Black and Latino population now mirrors the makeup of the entire city – whereas it was only 10% Black and Latino combined in 2000. (sources: urbanresearchmaps.com, nyc.gov)
Mike’s leadership and the steps he took to rebuild the city in the immediate years after 9/11, laid the foundations for one of New York City’s greatest comeback stories. His efforts focused on growth and recovery for the entire city. His post-9/11 leadership is a roadmap for cities around the nation that are rebuilding in the wake of COVID-19, and facing similar difficult challenges. He made hard choices, never sacrificed the future for the short term, and his unique style of management helped the city to come out of the crisis stronger than ever. he He invested in initiatives that made New York City safe, vibrant, and attractive to live, work, and visit.
- New York City’s population grew by about 300,000 people post 9/11.
- In 2013, life expectancy in New York City was 2.2 years longer than the national average.
- By 2013, more people were moving into New York City than moving out of it, for the first time since 1950.
- New York City saw 54.3 million visitors in 2013, a new all-time high and an increase of nearly 20 million additional annual tourists from 2002.
- Mike raised taxes on the wealthy, multiple times (income taxes and property taxes, which fell overwhelmingly on the wealthy) – raising billions for a city in desperate need at the time. (source: nytimes.com)
- A business leader turned mayor, Mike told financial firms “NO” when they demanded tax breaks to stay in New York City and canceled a taxpayer-financed deal for the New York Stock Exchange. (source: nytimes.com)
- Mike made sure those industries – major employers who are a critical piece of the city’s tax base – stayed.
“Overwhelmingly our decision to go back to lower Manhattan was Bloomberg’s reassurances that this would be a livable and safe place”
– Marina Norville, American Express spokeswoman
- When Mike left office, the City had a nearly $2 billion surplus – the first time in recorded history a mayor left office with a surplus. Mike inherited a crushing deficit of $6.4 billion, representing 15% of the overall budget. Equivalent to facing a $15 million gap in today’s budget. The fiscal hole created by 9/11 was 3x greater than the city’s fiscal hole today. (source: nyc.gov)
- Under Mike’s leadership, New York City’s credit rating rose 3x by Moody’s, 3x by S & P and 2x by Fitch from 2002 to 2013.
- Mike diversified the city’s economy, removing reliance on any one sector or any one borough. For the first time in the city’s history, job growth was coming from outside of Manhattan.