The collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11th destroyed much of the subway tunnel beneath it, specifically the tracks between Park Place and Cedar Street, and the entirety of the Cortlandt Street station through which the 1 train once passed. Scattered signal power outages threatened other parts of the system as well, causing transit officials to shut down the entire subway—a first since the blackout of 1977. Outside of Ground Zero, most subway service was restored, remarkably, just a few hours after the attack.
Here's how Newsday described the experience of walking into the downtown subways later that evening:
The subway stations under lower Manhattan were eerily quiet shortly after noon. Soot filtered down to the stations near the World Trade Center, covering the floors, the phones, the MetroCard vending machines. Token booths were empty.
Under Chambers Street, at 12:20 p.m., a lone C train idled at the deserted station. The walkways leading to the PATH commuter trains were covered with up to 2 inches of soot. Occasionally, a confused soul would venture down to the subway station only to turn back.
Over the next few years, the city went about repairing the affected routes, and managed to reopen three of the four damaged subway stations within a year. But it took another 17 years for that final stop to be restored. Finally, this past weekend, the Cortlandt Street 1 station was opened to the public, now with a modern new design, improved accessibility, and "air-tempered to maintain a comfortable environment." All told, it cost $181.8 million to rebuild.
More on that gleaming new station here. Thanks to the MTA's archive, you can also take a look at the destruction visited upon the former station, exactly 17 years ago. The striking photos, released by the transit authority a few weeks after the attack, show the towers' iron beams puncturing through the ceiling above the tunnels, subway columns buckling under their weight, and debris covering the floors nears the turnstile. Some 1,200 feet of tracks were fully destroyed, in total, according to the MTA, and the entire tunnel was eventually demolished.