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NYC subway station at site of 9/11 attack reopens after nearly 2 decades

Rubble and wreckage blocks a southbound track at the Cortlandt Street subway station in New York City in this undated photo taken after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

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A once heavily-used subway station destroyed when the Twin Towers collapsed finally reopened Saturday, nearly two decades after the Sept. 11 attacks. It's one of the last significant parts of the World Trade Center to reopen as lower Manhattan continues to rebuild what was lost.

The Cortlandt Street station on the No. 1 line, which was located directly below the World Trade Center, has sat unused for the last 17 years — even though high-rises sprouted around it, including the new One World Trade Center and the Oculus transportation hub.

When the towers came down, parts of the iconic buildings tore through the terminal. Pictures taken after the attack show the station buried under debris, a gaping hole above it, and its metal beams bent nearly in half. The ceiling had to be completely renovated and 1,200 feet of track had to be rebuilt, CBS New York reports

Trains began running to the station, now called WTC Cortlandt, at noon local time on Saturday. The reopening also comes just days before the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

"The station's name references its location within the World Trade Center site as well as its legacy under Cortlandt Street, which existed above the station when the 1 line originally opened in July 1918 but was demolished during the construction of the World Trade Center in the late 1960s," the MTA said in a statement.

Over the years, the costs for the project soared from $69 million to $158 million, CBS New York reports. 

Work on the project just started in 2015, The New York Times reports, because New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was not able to gain control of the site until then. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey kept the station closed while it worked on restoring the surrounding area.

The new station is fully accessible and is air-tempered to keep subway riders cooler on hot days, the MTA says. It also features a new piece of art, which incorporates text from the Declaration of Independence and the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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With the re-opening of the WTC Cortlandt Street (1) station, MTA Arts & Design proudly presents “CHORUS” (2018), a new monochromatic marble mosaic by renowned artist #AnnHamilton, fabricated by @mayerofmunich. “CHORUS” marks the historic site below the former #WorldTradeCenter with a field of text in mosaic bas-relief, weaving the words from the US Declaration of Independence with the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, meant to acknowledge the civic ideals and aspirations of humanity and society. The 4,350 square feet of white-on- white tactile surface invites subway riders to engage with the words as they touch the text, creating the opportunity for meaningful personal encounters. .. #MTAArts #WTCCortlandt #CHORUS #subwayart #declarationofindependence #decelarationofhumanrights

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The station will also link the No. 1 train to 11 other subway lines, including the PATH train, according to WCBS 880.

"It will allow people to get on, and they can get to the Upper West Side, they can connect to the number two and number three to take the express to the Upper West Side – it a level of connectivity," Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber told CBS New York.