NEW YORK – The post office across the street from the World Trade Center reopened on Monday for the first time since it was damaged in the terrorist attack nearly three years ago.

“It’s emotional to come back here,” said Carol Valdez, a paralegal who lost her job at a nearby firm when business slowed down after the attacks.

The 15-story limestone building that housed the U.S. Post Office, the Legal Aid Society and the city Housing Authority was contaminated with debris following the trade center’s collapse.

The 1935 building had just been renovated at a cost of $137 million when two hijacked jetliners destroyed the twin towers.

“There was no post office around for quite a while,” said Alison Rozbruch, a who stopped by to mail some packages and admire the renovation. “So I was mailing everything with 100 stamps on it.”

The post office’s art deco lobby with its marble walls and counters and ornate silver fixtures have been carefully restored. The reopening will be celebrated with an official ceremony Aug. 19, and is considered one more step in lower Manhattan’s slow return to normalcy.

Some nearby buildings, however, remained boarded up and shrouded in netting.

The 40-story Deutsche Bank building will be gradually dismantled this winter. The fifth tower of the new World Trade Center is planned for the property, just south of the original trade center.

The opening came amid a heightened terrorism alert aimed at several financial institutions in Manhattan, including the New York Stock Exchange – just blocks from the post office.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.