Case #1687.0

Listening to the City: Rebuilding at New York's World Trade Center Site

Publication Date: April 01, 2003
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In the wake of the terrorist destruction of the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, city officials--even as rescue and recovery operations continued--also set in motion a process to plan what might be built on the 16-acre site at the tip of Lower Manhattan. In the months that followed, this planning process came to include not only government agencies and those with property rights to the site but a wide array of community participants, invited to register their views through advisory committees, public hearings, and an innovative computer-enhanced town meeting, at which thousands of New Yorkers would evaluate specific land use proposals. This case tells the story of the steps taken to include and weigh the views of citizens as to the future of a site laden with meaning for the city and the world. It recounts the broad range of interests and values--from the aesthetic to the financial--which come into conflict around the question of what sorts of buildings should rise where the twin towers had fallen. The case covers the first period of public debate and culminates with what amounts to a citizen veto exercised over proposed plans, an outpouring of criticism that leads to the adoption of daring new proposals in early 2003.

Learning Objective:
In addition to recounting details of an important part of the immediate post-9/11 history, the case is meant as a vehicle for discussing the role of citizen participation and opinion, as balanced against other interests, in a democratic planning process.

Other Details

Case Author:
Susan Rosegrant
Faculty Lead:
Archon Fung
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Center for Ethics and the Professions