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Tucked away in the far southwestern tip of Manhattan is Battery Park City, a planned community that was once a place where no one would go. Bordered by the Hudson River on three of its sides (west, north and south) and the West Side Highway to the east, the neighborhood has spectacular views of the water and uninterrupted sunlight that comes in from all over.
Battery Park City sits on land that was created by a land reclamation project that used 3 million cubic yards of soil and rock that was excavated for construction projects that included the New York City Water Tunnel and the World Trade Center. In total, the neighborhood is 92 acres filled with parks and quiet streets, despite being so close to the financial district.
The neighborhood got the green light in 1966 by then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller, and the proposal for Battery Park City included light industry, social infrastructure, housing and park space. Two years later, the state Legislature created the Battery Park City Authority to manage the neighborhood, and the organization still exists today. It wasn’t until 1972, though, that money was issued to fund construction of the project.
While the landfill itself was finished by 1979, only two buildings were completed by that time, and construction on the first residential building didn’t begin until 1980. In this decade is where a lot of the construction took place for the familiar structures that make up the neighborhood today, including the Rector Place neighborhood and the river esplanade.
Once all the construction was completed, what could be found is a neighborhood that contained a pocket full of parks, low crime and clean streets that made you feel like you were in a quiet suburb and not in a busy city. Battery Park City became home to wealthy elite and upper-middle-class residents who desired this neighborhood feel but also loved the access of the Financial District 15 minutes away, the World Trade Center 10 minutes away, subway lines nearby and easy access to New Jersey via ferry.
Battery Park City was affected greatly from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, since it is so close to where the World Trade Center was located. Many residents were displaced for a long period of time following the attacks, as some areas of the neighborhood were designated a crime scene. While they were gone, looting of their homes occurred, and when they returned, some were faced with toxic smoke that remained for months after the attacks. In all, more than half of the neighborhood’s residents moved out for good following the attacks.
Battery Park City has rebounded nicely following September 11, 2001, though. Development seems to be constantly taking place, and new residents are coming to the neighborhood for the same reasons why the original residents came.
Today, residents of Battery Park City enjoy the open spaces that the neighborhood’s five public parks provide, and the waterfront views that are offered on three of its four borders. Battery Park City is all about enjoying the outdoors and nature, and a lot of the developments were created to take advantage of that, with numerous esplanades highlighting the natural features of the area.