Hudson Terminal was a subway station and office building complex in the Radio Row neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York. Opened in 1908 and 1909, it was comprised of a terminal for the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (H&M), and two 22-story office skyscrapers, plus three underground. The complex occupied much of a two-block lot bordered by Greenwich, Cortlandt, Church and Fulton streets, later the site of the World Trade Center.
The rail terminal consisted of five rail lines and six platforms serving H&M trains to and from New Jersey; these trains passed through the Downtown Hudson tunnels, under the Hudson River, heading west. The two 22-story skyscrapers above the terminal, the Fulton Building to the north and the Cortlandt Building to the south, were designed by architect James Hollis Wells of the firm Clinton and Russell in the Neo-Romanesque style. The underground floors included a shopping mall, an electrical substation, and baggage claim areas. The complex could accommodate 687,000 people a day, more than the original Pennsylvania Station in Midtown Manhattan.
The buildings were opened first, being the largest in office space when completed, while the terminal was opened later. H&M was successful until the mid-20th century, when it went bankrupt. The railroad and Hudson Terminal were acquired in 1962 by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which renamed the system the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH). The Port Authority decided to demolish the Hudson Terminal to build the World Trade Center, with the station being closed in 1971, replaced by PATH’s World Trade Center station. Although the buildings were demolished in 1972, the last vestiges of the station were removed in the 2000s as part of the reconstruction of the World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
planning and construction
In January 1905, the Hudson Companies was created to complete construction of the Uptown Hudson Tunnels, a tunnel between Jersey City, New Jersey, and Midtown Manhattan, New York, which had been under construction intermittently since 1874. The company also built the Downtown Hudson tunnels, which included a station in Jersey City’s Exchange Place neighborhood, as well as a terminal and a pair of office buildings in Lower Manhattan, which would become the Hudson Terminal. Shortly after the announcement of the construction of the Downtown Hudson tunnels, real estate activity grew around the area of the future station. The Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company was created in December 1906 to operate the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (H&M), a public transportation system presided over by William Gibbs McAdoo, which would use the tunnels. The system connected Hoboken, Pavonia and Exchange Place, three of the five major rail terminals on the west coast of the Hudson River.
Land acquisition for the terminal began in December 1905. Hudson Companies acquired most of the two blocks bordered by Greenwich Streets to the west, Cortlandt to the south, Church to the east, and Fulton to the north. A few low-rise buildings on Cortlandt Street were purchased so that the Hudson Terminal view would be assured. One of the owners—the Wendel family, who owned various properties in Manhattan—refused to sell their lot, valued at $75,000 (equivalent to 1,702,273 in 2019), and they unsuccessfully sued H&M, having spent 20,000 dollars (equivalent to 453,939 in 2019) on legal fees. By May 1906, H&M already owned most of the necessary land.:44 The 6,500 m2 purchased for the complex to be built:326 had cost an average of 430 to 480 dollars per m2.
Excavations at the site of the buildings were underway as early as 1907, and the first foundation columns were placed in May of that year.:44 Because of the moisture in the soil in that area, and the proximity to the river Hudson to the west, an underground retaining wall had to be built around the Hudson Terminal site.:328 According to architectural writers Sarah Landau and Carl W. Condit, the structure was five times larger. than any previously built.:328 At the time, there were many office buildings being built in Lower Manhattan, although the area witnessed a reduction in the volume of real estate transactions. The complex was built at a cost of US$8 million (equivalent to US$165 million in 2019).:328 The buildings were owned by H&M when they were completed.