Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other city and state leaders joined Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg and senior company executives to officially rededicate the landmark building, badly damaged in the September 11, 2001, attacks on the adjacent World Trade Center towers.
In a twist on the usual ribbon-cutting ceremony, the officials used a high-tech machine to melt and splice thin strands of fiber-optic cable. The event symbolized the repairs to the massive switching center also housed at 140 West St., and Verizon's work to rebuild communications in lower Manhattan after the September 11 attacks.
"Today we celebrate more than the rebirth of a landmark building," said Seidenberg. "We take a moment to recognize the resiliency that our employees share with all New Yorkers. This painstakingly restored building and the people who work here reflect our dedication and commitment to this great city."
The 32-floor structure is now home to about 1,500 Verizon executives and employees. Built in 1926 as the original headquarters for New York Telephone, the building houses the principal offices for Verizon's senior leadership and board of directors, as well as for the company's domestic telecom unit serving customers in the Northeast. It will also serve as the headquarters for Verizon in New York.
"Verizon's return to its newly restored historic headquarters, adjacent to the World Trade Center site, is another great sign of Lower Manhattan's rebirth," Gov. Pataki said. "Last week we broke ground on Goldman Sachs' new world headquarters across the street, and today I am pleased to welcome Verizon and 1,500 employees back to their corporate headquarters and rightful home in Lower Manhattan.
"With each commitment to downtown, we send a strong signal to the global business community that New York is still the financial capital of the world. Verizon joins over 75 other large companies and thousands of small businesses that have made a commitment to Lower Manhattan. It's this kind of renewed commitment that will help take Lower Manhattan into the future and further its transformation into a vibrant, 24x7 mixed-use community," the governor said.
Mayor Bloomberg said, "Verizon is one of our best corporate citizens, and I am delighted the company decided to establish its corporate headquarters in Lower Manhattan and move 1,500 employees to this wonderfully restored building. On the heels of last week's groundbreaking for Goldman Sachs' new headquarters building just a block away, Verizon's move shows a strong vote of confidence in Lower Manhattan's remarkable recovery and the extraordinary progress we're seeing every day."
Assembly Speaker Silver said, "I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Verizon for relocating its corporate headquarters here to 140 West St., and I congratulate Chairman Seidenberg on the reconstruction and restoration of this landmark building and survivor of the September 11 attacks. These actions are indicative of Verizon's boundless compassion, pride and patriotism, and an inspiring display of the commitment, vision and leadership that Lower Manhattan so desperately needs in order to remain the business and financial capital of the world."
Thomas A. Dunne, Verizon vice president for public affairs in New York, said, "The re-opening of this grand old building symbolizes the resurgence of Lower Manhattan. Retaining our corporate headquarters in this city, and especially at this location, speaks volumes about our pride in working with and for our fellow New Yorkers."
Verizon expects to continue to employ about 18,000 people in the five boroughs of the city, Dunne said.
Designed by Ralph Walker, 140 West St. was one of the first art deco skyscrapers built in the city. Completed in 1926, the building defined the skyline of Lower Manhattan for many years and was designated as a city landmark in 1991.
During the September 11 attacks, the former 7 World Trade Center building collapsed against the south and east sides of 140 West St. The building was riddled with gaping holes and filled with debris and water.
Verizon spent four years carefully restoring the original architectural elements and upgrading the building's systems and amenities. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently presented the company with its highest award in recognition of the restoration.
Lee Brathwaite, Verizon vice president for corporate real estate, stressed that the work on 140 West St. was much more than a preservation effort. "This building is the cornerstone of our real estate portfolio," said Brathwaite. "We restored its original splendor, but just as importantly, we have modernized the infrastructure systems, including a state-of-the-art telecommunications network that serves a significant portion of Lower Manhattan."
The new and improved West Street facility has an enhanced building fire-alarm system and fire-command station, a new fire-suppression system, 23 modern passenger elevators, 70 new restrooms accessible to people with disabilities, an eight-megawatt emergency power unit, and a first-in-the nation 7RE digital switching center.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other communication innovations to wireline and wireless customers. Verizon operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million customers nationwide, and one of the nation's premier wireline networks, serving home, business and wholesale customers in 28 states. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of nearly 215,000 and generates annual revenues of more than $71 billion from four business segments: Domestic Telecom, Domestic Wireless, Information Services and International. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.