Rae Ann Hoffmann



My story of a 37+year career at The Port Authority of NY & NJ started like many others:

I planned to stay there for one to two years, maximum. When I came to 111 Eighth Avenue for interviews, about to graduate college, I knew almost nothing about New York City and had the vague sense that a Port Authority operated buses, as it did in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Those interviews, and the taxi ride to and from the airport were huge eye-openers. The World Trade Center had been dedicated not long before, on April 4, 1973, and I recall hearing that the Port Authority was gearing up to move its headquarters there soon.

My decision-making was a bit muddled, but eventually the thought of doing something foreign in a place that was equally so to me made as much sense at the time as anything else.

How I ended up staying all those years had a lot to do with the challenge of some very unusual projects and some remarkable mentors, among them Guy Tozzoli, Judy Broverman and Mario Salzano, all “World Trade people.”
Most of my Port Authority Career straddled two departments: World Trade and Public Affairs, and they each had goals of engaging the public and putting a human face on the WTC and the Port Authority.

When directed to “activate the Plaza,” a notoriously wind-swept expanse, and create exhibits for One WTC Mezzanine, a lovely balcony never designed for such fare, our aim was to attract audiences and good publicity, get shoppers and diners into the WTC, and try to replace negative perceptions. While I had nothing to do with “The artistic crime of the century” – Philippe Petit’s daredevil walk between the Towers – my credibility was strained when I wrangled (planned) events including fabric wind sculptures between the Towers, metal wind sculptures secured into the Plaza, a fire (dry ice)-breathing dragon suspended in air for a kite show, hundreds of music, dance, comedy and art performances inside and out, the Buskers Fair with stilt walkers, jugglers, unicyclists, a rock-and-roll puppet band, WTC life-size puppets, and Mardi Gras-like costumed performers, and Children’s Day, the first public event after the 1993 bombing, a spirited gathering of some 10,000 international groups and families on the Plaza. Somewhere along the way we created pop-up restaurants on the Plaza, an ice rink landed there one winter, sports showcases and early evening concerts.

A large part of my career was involved in advertising, marketing and promotion, to attract office tenants and “traffic” to the Observation Deck, Windows on the World, the Marriott WTC Hotel, and the shops and restaurants on the Concourse. I was privileged to work with some amazing designers, artists and photographers who helped us create award-winning campaigns, such as “New York Begins at The World Trade Center.” Happily, I was able to preserve a lot of the physical materials developed for these campaigns, and they are now in the possession of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum archive.



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