FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The city’s newest subway hub is finally ready for straphangers.
The long-awaited $1.4 billion Fulton Center, which connects nine subway lines and will serve and estimated 300,000 travelers a day, opened to the public at 5 a.m. on Monday.
The centerpiece of the light-filled steel and glass hub at Fulton Street and Broadway is a sweeping circular atrium topped by an elegant 53-foot glass oculus. Beneath the oculus is the conical “sky reflector net,” a soaring net of cables with 952 aluminum panels that help reflect natural light throughout the space and several levels underground.
Retail shops will eventually line the five circular floors in the Fulton Building, as well as the long hall of the Dey Street corridor, which will connect the Fulton Center to the World Trade Center when the new PATH station opens.
Commuters were impressed by the station when they used it for the first time Monday morning.
"I love the light, the openness, the design and the escalators. It's like something out of 'The Jetsons,'" said Rick Rubin, 56, a sign language interpreter from Downtown Brooklyn.
"I've avoided the station for a while because it's been hard to transfer, but I'll definitely be coming around a lot more now.... It was well worth the wait."
Eddie Vasquez, 53, a handyman from Bushwick, paused to marvel at the natural light filtering down through the glass ceiling.
"It's nice. It's beautiful," he said. "It's so much different than before. It's like I've stepped into the future."
Officials celebrated the completed station on Sunday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This building stands as a testament to the strength and resilience New York showed on 9/11 and every day since,” said Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast. “It shows that New York is still thinking big and building big…I’m proud to see this new symbol of our city’s strength open its doors.”
The opening of the transit hub also includes access to the restored Corbin Building, a landmarked 19th-century building on John Street that provides another entrance to the complex. Escalators in the building's base bring straphangers down to the trains at the concourse level.
The hub, which integrates five subway stations, will hopefully improve connectivity between train lines and ease commuting, officials said.
The state-of-the art complex features more than 50 large, digital screens, which will show advertisements, subway announcements and art installations.
The Fulton Center, which was first supposed to open in 2007, was delayed for years because of funding issues and escalating costs.
Now, however, officials said they will meet the latest budget of $1.4 billion.