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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015


DiNapoli Releases Lower Manhattan Economic Snapshot

Downtown Economy in Transformation, 15 Years After the 9/11 Attacks

September 6, 2016

The terror attacks on September 11, 2001 killed 2,753 people in Lower Manhattan, leaving the nation devastated and Lower Manhattan struggling to rebuild. Fifteen years later, Lower Manhattan continues to recover as it evolves into a neighborhood that is increasingly residential, young and family-oriented and supports an influx of tourism and shopping, according to an economic snapshot released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. 

The neighborhood’s growth shows no sign of slowing as it continues to add new residential units, office space and more than 2 million square feet of new or redeveloped retail space that will be completed by 2019, according to the Downtown Alliance. The report is part of a series by DiNapoli examining economic issues across the five boroughs.

“It would have been impossible, in the midst of the unspeakable tragedy suffered 15 years ago, to imagine Lower Manhattan as we know it today,” DiNapoli said. “The terror attacks forged determined partnerships — between the local community, government, and the private and not-for-profit sectors — that made Lower Manhattan’s renaissance possible. The downtown Manhattan area enjoys a diversified employment base and strong annual job growth. Lower Manhattan is doing more than rebuilding, it is transforming and moving forward with resilience and hope.” 

“We’ve witnessed a remarkable transformation of Lower Manhattan over the past 15 years,” said Jessica Lappin, President of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “In the wake of one of the country’s most tragic events, the neighborhood has rallied to rebuild itself as one of the most desirable places in the city to live, work and visit.  We’ve seen the migration of creative businesses, tech startups and some of the world’s most innovative media companies alongside the addition of new restaurants, stores and schools. Top that off with the completion of one of the most connected transportation hubs in the world, and it’s no mystery why Lower Manhattan is proudly drawing more people than ever to spend their time here.”

“Comptroller DiNapoli’s report verifies what those of us who have fought for this neighborhood’s revitalization already know — that thanks to the work and commitment of the local residents and businesses and the support of the federal, state and city governments, this neighborhood has become one of the most vibrant in New York City,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “In the weeks after 9/11, very few believed that Lower Manhattan would recover from the devastation caused by the horrific attacks, let alone become the thriving residential and commercial community it is today. I am extremely proud to have helped bring the federal resources needed to jump start and protect this growth in Lower Manhattan, and look forward to continuing to work with our many partners downtown in the future.”

“Lower Manhattan is the core of our city, and its strengths of density and increasing economic diversity are a microcosm of New York's strengths,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Fifteen years after September 11 and four years after Hurricane Sandy, it is crucial that we continue investing in downtown infrastructure and resiliency, but no one can doubt that Lower Manhattan is back as one of the world's great urban centers.”

“Lower Manhattan’s residential and commercial resiliency, recovery, and growth has come from the partnerships that make this community so strong,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “I thank Comptroller DiNapoli, my colleagues, the Downtown Alliance and local businesses, Community Board 1, and the entire lower Manhattan community.” 

“Nearly 15 years after the devastating attacks of September 11, the renewal of Lower Manhattan as a business, residential, and cultural destination is testament to the strength and determination of not only our city, but our entire nation,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, former chair of the Council’s Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment. “As this report shows, we continue to make great strides in diversifying our economy, creating good jobs, and building up neighborhoods that continue to attract more and more residents. Today, Lower Manhattan is proof of what is possible when all levels of government work together to create a brighter, more vibrant future. I thank Comptroller DiNapoli for highlighting the resurgence of Lower Manhattan — a triumph for which every New Yorker, and every American, should be proud.”

“Since the attacks 15 years ago, the revitalization of Lower Manhattan has been nothing short of remarkable,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “Whether rebuilding the skyline, diversifying its business and retail base, or expanding the area's residential capacity, Lower Manhattan continues to charge ahead with the spirit and strength you would only expect from this city.” 

“Lower Manhattan has proven that the strength and commitment of our residents and business have rebuilt our neighborhoods and even transformed them into vibrant residential and commercial areas,” Anthony Notaro, Jr. Chairperson, Community Board 1. “No one could have imagined 15 years ago, after such tragedy, how our world would change and how we could map out a future that we are proud of. There’s more to do and challenges from such growth but we are confident and excited.”

“We are proud to be part of the rebirth, resiliency and transformation that has taken place in Lower Manhattan over the past fifteen years,” said Stephen J. Friedman, President, Pace University.  “Pace lost 47 students and alumni and the University was closed for several weeks after September 11, 2001. We worked hard to rebuild and recover, just like our residential and commercial neighbors.  On behalf of our almost 13,000 students, particularly the 8,700 who call our Lower Manhattan campus home, we thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his leadership and efforts to support our growing, vibrant community. Pace University has been an integral part of this neighborhood since 1906 and we have never been prouder to call Lower Manhattan ‘home.’”

Lower Manhattan has risen from the ashes of 9/11 a changed neighborhood. Its streets are filled with young professionals and growing families. The population living below Chambers Street more than doubled to 49,000 in 2014, from 22,700 in 2000. In 2014, almost 4,600 families with children under age 18 lived in Lower Manhattan, almost three times the number in 2000. The number of children also tripled to 7,300. 

The residential expansion of the area is helped by construction and conversion projects, including the Gehry tower and the former AIG building at 70 Pine Street. There were 30,000 residential units in the neighborhood in 2015, more than double the amount in 2000. 

The local economy is growing faster than the citywide average and is much more diversified than before 2001. Private sector employment in Lower Manhattan has grown at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent since the end of the Great Recession to reach 228,300 jobs in 2015, equal to one in 10 of Manhattan’s private sector jobs. 

The area has enjoyed dramatic job growth in business services, hotels, restaurants, health care and personal services (e.g. dry cleaners) industries that support the growing residential community and tourism. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector has doubled since 2002, reaching 13,900 jobs in 2015, most of them in restaurants and hotels. Lower Manhattan now has 28 hotels, with another 10 planned to open before 2018.

Lower Manhattan is also home to a large number of media and information jobs with the arrival of companies such as Condé Nast, Time Inc. and HarperCollins. The increased diversification of Lower Manhattan jobs has helped make up for a decline in financial sector employment, which still predominates with 78,600 jobs in 2015 — about 1/3 of the total — but is down from 151,200 jobs in 2000.

It is increasingly a 24-hour neighborhood. New office buildings, improved mass transit, new retail complexes, restaurants and hotels are attracting residents, commuters and tourists. More than 14 million tourists visited Lower Manhattan in 2015. As of 2015, more than 23 million tourists had visited the National September 11 Memorial and 4 million had visited the Memorial Museum. The One World Trade Center Observatory attracted 2.3 million visitors in its first year of operation.

In addition to tourism, the area’s daytime population is swelled with hundreds of thousands of public and private sector employees, and college students. In the past two years, Pace University has opened two student residence halls in Lower Manhattan.

The report also noted that:

  • More than 77 percent of Lower Manhattan’s population is under 45 years old;
  • More than one-third of the families had household incomes of $200,000 or more, compared with 7 percent citywide;
  • Almost 40 percent of area residents had earned a graduate degree or higher, compared with 14 percent citywide; and
  • Lower Manhattan has witnessed the recently completed World Trade Center Transportation Hub, the Westfield World Trade Center Mall, the Fulton Transit Center, and the ongoing redevelopment of the South Street Seaport and Pier 17, expected to be completed by 2017. 

See The Transformation of Lower Manhattan’s Economy online