by Stephen Garner

westfield World Trade CenterWestfield celebrated the grand opening of its World Trade Center location last night, Tuesday, August 16. The celebration included performances by John Legend, Leslie Odom Jr, Jordan Smith and the Harlem Gospel Choir in the Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus.

The day’s festivities kicked off with a color guard and flag ceremony held in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey— and continued with special “Family Day” activities featuring hourly performances and other surprises for guests. The day also included the participation of families and individuals having a special connection with the World Trade Center site; invited in collaboration with the 9/11 Tribute Center, HEART 9/11, and with support from the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Among the biggest surprises of the daylong celebration was a show stopping performance by the multi-Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter John Legend under the magnificent roof of the Santiago Calatrava designed Oculus. Legend treated those in attendance to many of his classic hits such as “Safe Room,” “Green Light” and ended with “All of Me” for the grand finale.

John Legend
John Legend performs at opening day

In many ways, music and performing arts took center stage today at this new Lower Manhattan meeting point. Hourly musical sets featured Leslie Odom Jr., the 2016 Tony Award winner for his starring role as Aaron Burr in the celebrated musical Hamilton— as well as School of Rock (nominated for four Tony Awards in 2016), Jordan Smith (Season 9 winner of The Voice), avant-garde violinist Dr. Draw, and the powerful and inspiring voices of the Harlem Gospel Choir.

The day’s events concluded with an invitation-only VIP reception and dinner held at Westfield World Trade Center’s new Eataly Downtown. Joining Westfield’s Chairman Frank Lowy and co-CEOs Steven and Peter Lowy at the soirée were New York influencers from fashion, culture and business.

“The World Trade Center is a symbol of hope, opportunity, progress, and perseverance,” said William Hecht, Westfield’s chief operating officer in the United States. “Westfield is profoundly proud to be a part of this project and to introduce new experiences and energy to Lower Manhattan. We are incredibly excited to open our doors to our neighbors, New York and tri-state area families, visitors, and all of our community partners.”