When the Sept. 11 attacks turned much of Lower Manhattan to rubble 10 years ago, many financial firms in the area scrambled to find places to operate outside of the dense Wall Street area, leaving its future as the financial center of the world uncertain. When would the big banks return? Did it make sense to ever return?
Yet there’s something about Lower Manhattan that has made it hard for many firms to call anywhere else home. Maybe it’s the grandeur of Wall Street—being part of the financial capital of the world, where deals are made and broken, and economies shaken.
A decade later, Wall Street is thriving again. Many said it was their loyalty to Lower Manhattan that drove them to either stay or rebuild, and their stories of survival and rebirth have made them and Wall Street stronger than ever.
As part of our coverage of the 10-year anniversary, we looked at 12 of the biggest Wall Street firms to see what made them decide to stay or leave. In some cases, the firms responded with a statement about how 9/11 has affected them.
So who's on Wall Street now? Click ahead.
By Andrea Ludtke
Posted 28 August 2011
Then: 3 World Financial Center; 100 Church; 140 Broadway; and 7 World Trade Center
Now: 3 World Financial Center
With nowhere else to meet one week after Sept. 11, American Express—which suffered the loss of 11 employees and a severely damaged its headquarters at 3 World Financial Center—CEO Kenneth Chenault gathered his New York employees in Madison Square Garden. “You cannot freeze up,” Chenault said of leadership in times of crisis, according to the Thunderbird School of Global Management. “You can’t allow the circumstances to stop you from acting.”
Before the attacks, the 51-story 3 World Financial Center headquarters housed 3,500 of the company’s employees, with a couple hundred scattered around the city in 7 World Trade Center, on Wall Street, and in other nearby locations. The severe damage sustained by 3 World Financial Center, however—just across the street from the site of the Twin Towers—forced American Express to move its headquarters temporarily across the river to Jersey City, N.J.
In May 2002, the company began moving employees back into the building it had called home since 1986. Today, all of American Express’ New York operations are run out of 3 World Financial Center.
“American Express was one of the first companies to return to its offices in Lower Manhattan,” the company told CNBC. It “has supported many initiatives to rebuild Lower Manhattan following the attacks of Sept. 11, including the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
"This year, the company is the lead contributor of the upcoming 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, which is set to be the largest day of service in U.S. history,” the company said.
Then: 101 Barclay Street, 100 Church Street, 75 Park Place
Now: 101 Barclay Street, 1 Wall Street, 120 Broadway
The Bank of New York’s (BONY) headquarters at 101 Barclay Street, just one block north of the World Trade Center, was badly damaged in the Sept. 11 attacks. The nation’s oldest bank temporarily relocated 7,700 employees to one million square feet of office space it scrambled to lease just so it could keep its doors open.
BONY took the hardest financial hit of any of the New York-based banks, reporting $743 million in lost revenue and added expenses from the attacks. The destruction of most of the bank’s crucial technological operations—clustered in Lower Manhattan—shut down its ATMs for nine days after Sept. 11 and made the bank’s recovery an uphill battle.
CEO Thomas Renyi soon realized that decentralizing the bank’s operations had to be part of its disaster-recovery strategy: “The need to increase the geographic diversity of our operations was critical. And it meant moving a portion of our work force outside of Lower Manhattan,” he told real-estate magazine Site Selection.
The next few years saw the bank expand back-up operations to Syracuse and Brooklyn, N.Y., and Orlando, Fla., before merging with the Mellon Financial Corp. to become Bank of New York Mellon in 2007. Despite its moves, though, BNY Mellon has kept its headquarters at its home on Barclay Street, even pledging in 2002 to keep 7,700 jobs in New York City for 10 years.
“New York State has been and will continue to be a vital business partner of the Bank of New York,” said then-Senior Executive Vice President Donald Monks after the attacks.
Then: 1 Liberty Plaza
Now: 1 Liberty Plaza
At the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bank of Nova Scotia was one of three Canadian banks with a major presence on Wall Street. It owned 235,000 square feet of office space and had 400 employees.
Its home at 1 Liberty Plaza suffered so much damage from falling debris that it was thought to be in danger of collapse for weeks. When final reports showed that the lower floors received the brunt of the damage, however, the Bank of Nova Scotia, housed on the 23rd to 26th floors, began returning in April 2002.
Then: 1 World Trade Center (Floors 101 to 105)
Now: 499 Park Avenue
Occupying the top floors of 1 World Trade Center, just above the impact zone of one of the hijacked planes on Sept. 11, Cantor Fitzgerald suffered the greatest loss of life of any company. All 658 employees at the location—almost two-thirds of Cantor’s workforce—were killed.
The former bond-trading powerhouse wasn’t expected to survive the devastating losses, but it managed to get its trading markets back online within a week. CEO and Chairman Howard Lutnick—whose brother was among those killed and who survived because he was taking his son to his first day of kindergarten—vowed to keep the company going.
Reflecting upon the tragedy, Lutnick told ABC News, "It's a big company now but it's a new company now—it's a part of us…9/11." The firm has moved some operations to London, but the bulk of its employees work at its new headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.
Then: 1 World Financial Center; 425 Lexington Avenue
Now: 300 Madison Avenue; 425 Lexington Avenue
The investment-banking arm of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, CIBC World Markets occupied 500,000 square feet of office space in 1 World Financial Center, but chose not to return.
The building sustained moderate damage and was only out of commission for a few months before it reopened, but CIBC World Markets had already temporarily relocated 2,000 employees to Midtown Manhattan, including an existing office on Lexington Avenue. The firm decided to wait out the expected 2003 completion of its 35-story Madison Avenue headquarters, rather than move back into Lower Manhattan.
While the Madison Avenue property has been leased to CIBC World Markets for 30 years, the firm reduced its staff by two-thirds by 2004, the same year parent company CIBC began scaling back investment-banking operations in the U.S.
On rebuilding after the tragedy, then-head of U.S. Equities John Hellier told The Globe and Mail, "We didn't know what else to do, and the harder we worked and the less we thought about the consequences of everything, the easier it was going to be for us to get over it.”
Then: 7 World Trade Center
Now: 399 Park Avenue; Other Midtown Locations
Salomon Smith Barney, then a division of Citigroup, was the largest tenant of the 47-story 7 World Trade Center, which collapsed late in the afternoon on Sept. 11, the result of falling debris from the Twin Towers and uncontrollable fires.
With more than a million square feet of office space on various floors, Salomon Smith Barney’s parent Citigroup was forced to relocate 2,500 employees to existing offices around the city.
And while the new 52-story 7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006, the company—which would later become Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in 2009—did not return. Seven World Trade Center, whose ‘water-white’ glass curtain exterior reflects the crystal blue sky and clouds during the day, and is illuminated by blue lights at night, is often promoted as the safest skyscraper in the country. Among the safety improvements are wider stairways and fireproof elevators.
Then: 130 Liberty Street; 4 World Trade Center
Now: 60 Wall Street
The nine-story 4 World Trade Center sat adjacent to the destroyed South Tower, and suffered a partial collapse following the Sept. 11 attacks. Deutsche Bank, one of its two major tenants, safely evacuated its employees, but its Lower Manhattan home was eventually demolished.
The bank was lucky enough to have its main trading floor in its midtown location, so it was able to keep its market operations up and running after the attack.
In 2002, the German bank announced it would base its U.S. headquarters in Lower Manhattan at the Wall Street location it purchased before the attacks, and keep 5,500 jobs there for at least 10 years. The agreement was part of the World Trade Center Job Creation and Retention Program, which provides grant support for businesses relocating to Lower Manhattan. The bank hasn't said how many jobs it will keep in the area after 2012.
Construction began on the 72-story 4 World Trade Center in 2008. Designed for both retail and office space, it is expected to be completed by 2013.
On Deutsche Bank’s decision to recommit to Lower Manhattan, former New York Governor George Pataki said in a press release, “Each commitment signals to global business that New York is still the financial capital of the world. I commend Deutsche Bank on its decision that will help us make New York prouder, stronger, and better than ever.”
Then: 1 World Financial Center
Now: 61 Broadway; Various Midtown Locations; Jersey City, N.J.
Boston-based Fidelity Investments may not have called New York City home, but it still had 900 employees and more than 200,000 square feet of office space in 1 World Financial Center. The 40-story skyscraper was moderately damaged during the attacks because of its proximity to the World Trade Center site, but reopened after just a few months.
Fidelity initially returned when the building reopened, but most of the firm’s employees are now based in a building on Broadway, still in the financial district of Lower Manhattan.
Then: 1 Liberty Plaza; 85 Broad Street
Now: Battery Park City; Jersey City, N.J.
Although Goldman Sachs’ Broad Street location served as its headquarters at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, it still had 750 employees in the badly damaged 1 Liberty Plaza. Instead of moving back in when the building reopened, though, the firm decided to wait out the 2004 completion of its 42-story tower in Jersey City, the tallest building in New Jersey.
Today, Goldman can ferry employees back and forth across the Hudson River to its newly built headquarters in Battery Park City. It abandoned the Broad Street tower it built for itself in the early 1980s.
“Our firm has over 140 years of history in Lower Manhattan,” the company told CNBC. “We are committed to this community and proud to be a part of such a vibrant neighborhood.”
Then: 2 & 4 World Financial Center
Now: 2 & 4 World Financial Center; Various Midtown Locations
Merrill Lynch owned more than 2.5 million square feet between its locations in 2 and 4 World Financial Center. It had to relocate 7,000 employees following the attacks that killed three employees.
The events of Sept. 11 disabled both of Merrill Lynch’s data centers, bringing down critical trading operations. Marvin Balliet, former first vice-president and CFO of Merrill Lynch’s Technology Group, told ComputerWorld, “What happened is the power kicked back on [after the collapse of the Twin Towers], but the air conditioning didn't. We lost heat here [4 World Trade Center], and we lost contamination [control] in the South Tower.”
Today, Merrill Lynch has moved back into its headquarters at 4 World Financial Center, and maintains offices in 2 World Financial Center, as well as in Midtown Manhattan. Merrill Lynch has been a subsidiary of the Bank of America since 2009.
Then: 1585 Broadway, 2 World Trade Center
Now: 1585 Broadway; Various Lower and Midtown Locations
Morgan Stanley was the largest company in either of the Twin Towers, with more than 20 floors in 2 World Trade Center. Extending up to the 74th floor, its offices were located just below the impact zone of one of the hijacked planes.
The survival of all but six of Morgan Stanley’s 2,700 employees in the South Tower is widely credited to the courageous efforts of Security Chief Rick Rescorla, a former U.S. Army officer and Vietnam veteran who ordered the company's evacuation when people in the unaffected South Tower were still being told to stay put. By the time the second hijacked plane hit right above Morgan Stanley’s floors, most of its employees were already safely out of the building.
Rescorla never made it out. When a colleague told him he, too, had to evacuate, The New Yorker reported he is said to have replied: “As soon as I make sure everyone else is out.”
Morgan Stanley’s global headquarters has been at its Broadway location in Times Square since 1995.
“As the largest tenant of the World Trade Center at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, Morgan Stanley was deeply affected by this terrible tragedy," the company told CNBC. "Ten years later, we honor the individuals whose lives were lost—including 13 Morgan Stanley employees and contractors—as well as their families. As a firm, we draw upon the spirit of teamwork and resilience our employees displayed on that day—and we pay tribute to our professionals around the world who have experienced more recent devastation, and shown similar fortitude in tragic circumstances.”
Then: 2 World Financial Center
Now: 2 World Financial Center
Because OppenheimerFunds’ headquarters was below the impact zone of one of the hijacked planes that hit the South Tower on Sept. 11, all 598 of its employees survived.
"We just never missed a beat during that whole time,” said former Chairman and CEO John Murphy in a press release. “Nobody had time to look back. We had a company to save. We had shareholders to serve. We lost a building, not a company.”
While it had originally planned to relocate all of its operations to Midtown Manhattan, the company decided to keep its headquarters at 2 World Financial Center, which reopened a few months later after being repaired from the severe damaged it sustained in the attacks.