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To return or not to return

Salomon Smith Barney moves back to lower Manhattan. Will other investment banking firms follow?

Battery Park and beyond: an unaccustomed and
saddening view from the Staten Island ferry

One of the first investment-banking firms to move back to lower Manhattan was Salomon Smith Barney. It had only moved over to New Jersey in part as a precaution, in part because its headquarters on Greenwich Street, a few blocks north of the disaster site, was initially within the exclusion zone. It was its old home, 7 World Trade Centre, that collapsed. There were housed back-office staff and asset-management employees.

Whether other firms will follow suit - or indeed can - is another matter. The downtown financial district of Manhattan west of Broadway is a horrific mess. There is over a million tons of rubble to be shifted, with just 100,000 tons moved during the first two weeks. Where once the twin towers of the World Financial Centre stood a quarter of a mile high there are now two heaps of rubble each over 60 feet high.

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