There are many parts to the city's ambitious redesign of Astor Place and Cooper Square, and it's looking like each one has its own controversy! The southern part of the plan, including an expanded and renovated Cooper Triangle and a brand new pedestrian plaza, has neighbors worried about rowdy late-night crowds. But up in Astor Place, it's tradition, not tranquility, that is threatened. Can't the Native Americans ever catch a break?
The most eye-catching part of the Astor Place plan is the pedestrian plaza surrounding the Alamo sculpture, aka The Cube, at the foot of the Sculpture for Living condo tower. The expanded space?check out the new rendering above by WXY architecture + urban design, via the Architect's Newspaper?would remove Astor Place between Lafayette and Fourth Avenue, and that's a problem, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, because Astor Place follows the path of an old Indian trail that appears on maps that date back to 1639. Astor Place and its connection to Stuyvesant Street?a link that would be severed by the plan?should be better preserved because the two streets are "some of the only reminders of the Native American settlement and Dutch New York," GVSHP writes in a letter to the city's Design Review Commission.
The current version of the plan does call for memorializing the old trail within the new plaza via a winding path of shaded pavement and trees, but maybe that's not enough to appease the critics. The plan is now in the hands of the Design Review Commission, and according to yesterday's GVSHP update, "The Commission held its first meeting on the plan today; we are happy to report that, citing our letter, the commission questioned DOT about the lack of integration of the Astor Place and Stuyvesant Street patterns. into the design." You can read that letter here (warning: PDF), and below is a look at the proposed street reconfiguration and a cheat sheet to the preservationists' gripes.
· Help Preserve Astor Place and Stuyvesant Street [GVSHP]
· Cube's New Square [Architect's Newspaper]
· Huge Astor Place and Cooper Square Transformation Revealed [Curbed]