In the wake of the September 11th attacks, residents left Lower Manhattan in droves. But in the past few years, that trend has reversed itself in a remarkable way. Borough reporter Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.
It's been seven years since Lower Manhattan was shaken to the core but people are still calling the neighborhoods their home.
"Coming back after 9/11 was very, very difficult in the fact that it was really like a war zone," said downtown resident Jeanne White.
White was home in Battery Park City on September 11, 2001, right across the street from the World Trade Center. She moved away for a while and then came back, and found her old neighborhood was teeming with activity.
"A lot of new stores and restaurants, things came back very quickly," said resident Walter McAdams.
Battery Park City illustrates what experts call a boom in residential growth downtown. With new buildings going up and existing units renting or selling out, the city has turned a decimated Lower Manhattan into a destination again.
"Prior to 9/11 we had a population of about 22,000. Today we're about 56,000 and we're talking about south of Chambers Street,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. ”We've seen tremendous growth in residential buildings, both in conversions of obsolete office buildings as well as new construction."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan a priority.
“Today you see baby strollers and you see kids playing, you see young couples walking down the street hand in hand. You see people who are building their futures living down here,” said the mayor.
In pursuit of brighter futures, many old residents stayed and new residents moved into the area.
"I had been in the Red Cross helping people down here, helping them relocate temporarily and got to know people and came back to visit them,” said resident Buff Kavelman. “[I] thought the neighborhood looked so beautiful that I wanted to help rebuild it, so I moved here."
Even with the World Trade Center site still largely undeveloped and discernible progress there frustratingly slow, Battery Park residents are not sorry they stayed downtown:
"You're constantly reminded because you have to go by the site, but at the same time like everything else you put it in perspective and try to live with it, but never forget it," said White.