Minas Polychronakis ran a shop for 25 years in the World Trade Center before the 9/11 terrorist attacks destroyed the towers and his business. In 2003, Minas Shoe Repair opened again, this time on Wall Street.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesday called Polychronakis "a 9/11 survivor in every sense of the word," citing him as a prime example of lower Manhattan's perseverance.
The district has not only weathered the decade since the attacks, but has also come roaring back with a booming economy and population, Bloomberg said at a breakfast on Wall Street hosted by the Association for a Better New York.
"The rebirth and revival of lower Manhattan will be remembered as one of the greatest comeback stories in American history," he said.
Other examples of the area's growth include the Century 21 department store, located across the street from Ground Zero and hoping to expand by three floors; the Hive, a small-business incubator helping entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground; and the Spruce Street School, newly opened in Frank Gehry's 76-story tower.
The city has since 9/11 invested $260 million in park construction in lower Manhattan, The Associated Press said.
About $30 billion in public and private funds has been invested in capital improvement projects, such as 1 World Trade Center, according to the Downtown Alliance.
The lower Manhattan population has doubled in size since 2001, attracting more new residents than Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia combined, Bloomberg boasted.
So many families call the financial district home that it's been nicknamed the Diaper District, said Leigh Devine, a downtown resident.
Bloomberg said that despite its recovery, the city would never forget 9/11: "This Sunday, as we reflect back on the past, let us remember not only the agony and anguish of the attacks, but how we channeled our pain into something positive and powerful."