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16 Acres cover image

16 Acres 2012


Distributed by First Run Features, 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213, New York, NY 10036; 212-243-0600
Produced by Mike Marcucci
Directed by Richard Hankin
DVD , color, 96 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Political Science, Urban Areas, Urban and Regional Planning

Date Entered: 11/14/2014

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

“The skyline of the City can be compared to the human face. New York is essentially a city of tall buildings.”
For many New Yorkers, the Twin Towers was a loss that was traumatic but also something that has to be remembered. 16 Acres gives an in-depth account of one of the "most architecturally, politically, and emotionally complex construction projects in recent American history." (Distributor’s copy) The film examines the politics and drama that went into rebuilding the land at Ground Zero. Larry Silverstein, the then Governor George Pataki, former Mayor Giuliani are some of the major players in this intriguing documentary on how buildings this size and with such impact get built.

While many people were suffering from the loss of lives, other were thinking about how the space could be used. How do we as a city respond to 9/11? Many voices are heard. George Pataki in an interview indicates that when the Towers fell, lives were not the only thing that was lost—over a million jobs were gone in a matter of minutes. The surrounding businesses that had been thriving prior to this event –vanished. The economic devastation was immediate. New York City had to respond quickly despite the emotional toll of many of the people demanding that the site be ‘hallowed ground.’ From the beginning, the rebuilding effort has been fraught with controversy, drama, delays and politics. The project took thirteen years, nineteen government agencies, a dozen projects, and over $20 billion. But it was also a local catastrophe with an immediate political impact: it redeemed New York’s unpopular mayor, Rudy Giuliani, and opened the door for the election of Mike Bloomberg, the second Republican in a row in this overwhelmingly Democratic city.

16 Acres looks at the rebuilding of the Towers from the inside with the major players across many venues. The viewer may not like what they see—if you really want to see how the public drew the short straw at the World Trade Center, look at the subway stations in the immediate areas. Public transportation should have been the glory of any downtown redevelopment with nearly all of the city’s subway lines converging in Lower Manhattan, along with the commuter train from New Jersey. Yet in the summer of 2014, commuters like myself are still trudging through a maze of temporary structures, while the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, languishes unfinished. The hub has metastasized into by far the most expensive rail station in history, an insane $4 billion dollars for a low-traffic terminal that doesn’t even expand capacity.