The first phase of the long awaited Oculus, the World Trade Center PATH hub, opened on Thursday after years of delays and with a $4 billion cost that’s $2 billion more than anticipated.
Hundreds of construction workers, New Yorkers and tourists joined the prime architect of the hub, Santiago Calatrava, in the otherwise empty white hall for the subdued grand opening on Thursday. And, by and large, they had a mixed reaction to the structure.
“For the past two years, I’ve been taking the PATH to class and I’ve seen them working on it and it just looks like ribs — abnormal ribs outside — I don’t get it,” said Jinane Essasri, 19, a student and photographer from Jersey City. “The white is beautiful but … it’s a waste of money.”
Others hailed the hub as pleasant but not worth the price.
“To me, $4 billion seems a little much for what we’re getting; they could have used the money to widen the platforms and add a second escalator,” said Jim Murphy, 51, an auditor from upstate Nanuet who regularly rides the PATH train daily. “You can’t justify the price.”
Only the side entrances for the hub were open yesterday and dozens had difficulty finding their way inside. Liya Pangiyes, a 24-year-old nurse from Williamsburg, and her two friends were directed in and out of the main PATH entrance several times before finding one of the direct side entrances to the Oculus on their own.
“If they scheduled this kind of opening, there should be more organization,” Pangiyes said.
But despite the rocky start and shaky years that preceded it, the Oculus symbolized hope for many New Yorkers, in a place that was desolated and ruined after 9/11.
“It’s more than a train station… it’s a celebration of light,” said Reed Morrison, a 64-year-old architect from Greenwich Village. “No work of art is evaluated by how much it cost or how long it took to produce,” Morrison added.