Twelve years after the 9/11 attacks, the first building to be completed on the 16-acre site -- 4 World Trade Center -- offers more evidence that lower Manhattan is back, officials and community leaders said Wednesday.
"This is the greatest comeback story in history," said its developer, Larry Silverstein, who built the 72-story building that will have 2.3 million square feet of light-filled high-tech office space.
"At this moment there is enormous pride in the creation of this amazing building. . . . The World Trade Center is living up to the ideals we set forth after 9/11 when so many doubted its future. This project is by New Yorkers for New Yorkers."
The ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday offered a neighborhood block party atmosphere with a live rock band and free hot dogs.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the completion of 4 World Trade is evidence of how lower Manhattan "has come back roaring . . . and that the heart of the World Trade Center is both a remembrance that goes hand in hand with progress. A big part of that future has officially arrived."
Long Island steam-pipe fitter John Tobin, 46, of Hicksville, who installed "thousands" of pipes for heating, air-conditioning and sprinkler systems in the building, gave a shout after the national anthem was sung at the outdoor ceremony, which was open to the public.
"This makes me feel proud," Tobin, a member of Steamfitters Local 638, said. "There is complete pride right now. We can do anything. We will always come back."
Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki said the mission of his design was to create a building "that would become a family member of New York City's skyline."
After the ceremony Maki said, "4 World Trade submerges with the city skyline but will be distinguishable immediately with a quiet presence and a sense of grace."
The lobby of the new tower's front entrance faces a section of Greenwich Street closed since the 1960s, when the Twin Towers were built. The lobby's 46-foot wall of glass encompasses three sides and offers a view of the Sept. 11 memorial park and 1 World Trade.
A lobby escalator leads to an underground concourse and 11 subway lines and PATH trains. Stores and restaurants will occupy the concourse area and street level.
The main walls of the lobby's two elevator banks will give visitors a respite from the city's hustle and bustle with moving images of nature's wonders that will include tree and water landscapes accompanied by meditative new age music.
"The hundreds of thousands of people who will come into this building will have a dynamic experience that will enrich the life of their occupancy in this building," said Gary Kamemoto, director of Maki and Associates. "It's very special."