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This one will inaugurate a new category ‘Truth IS Stranger…”.


Maybe they didn’t get the memo

One would assume that people move to TriBeCa, in part, because they appreciate that the neighborhood looks different from most residential neighborhoods in Manhattan. One would also assume that the folks who bought loft condominiums at 44 Laight St noticed that about 75 feet of the street in front of their building is cobblestone.


One might be wrong.


44 Laight Street is an 18 unit condo converted in 2004 from a hundred year old warehouse. Half the lofts in the building are more than 3500 square feet and there seem to have been 4 sales this year from $3 million-plus to almost $5 million.


(photo from the Tribeca Trib on-line)


If this does not work. you’ll have to scroll down through the July 2006 on-line issue of The TriBeCa Trib for the story ( of the petition to have cobblestones removed in the Tribeca North historic district presented to Community Board 1.


“CB1’s Landmarks Committee, whose members include many longtime residents who consider the north section of the neighborhood to be the last unspoiled territory in Tribeca. Here, the cobblestones are protected and enjoy near-sacred status”


On the one hand, there are not many cobblestone streets left, and the survivors reflect the area’s distinctive mercantile and (relatively) ancient heritage. . On the other hand, cobblestones can be hard to walk on (even in flat shoes, and worse when wet or icy), and are much harder to push a stroller on than other surfaces. The situation for 44 Laight Street residents is made worse by the fact that there is no curb and no sidewalk in front of the building.


But these relative newcomers picked on the wrong sacred cow.


No mace at meetings

Neither the author of the article nor the CB1 Committee was sympathetic to the petition. The condo petitioner “may well have suffered far worse abuse had all of the [Landmarks] committee members been in attendance”, says the author, who proves it by quoting one committee member that if another member had been there “[the absent member] would have sprayed mace in your face”.


No telling if the condo representative appreciated what he missed, but they may persist in their request. CB1 had only an advisory role on this issue, since the authority to approve a change in the street composition rests with Landmarks Preservation Commission. An LPC official was quoted as saying that the condo has been in communication with the condo owners about possible alternatives that could pass muster.


When is a cobblestone not a cobblestone?

But they are not likely to be holding their breath at 44 Laight Street about getting a more stroller-friendly, heel-friendly surface.

“They need to seek our guidance as to what it is going to look like,” [the LPC official] said. And what might an acceptable solution look like?
“Cobblestones,” she said, “made of concrete.”

I would not want to push a stroller on concrete cobblestones, or walk on icy cobblestones, no matter what they were made of. Nor would I want to consider what a “concrete cobblestone” should properly be called. Odds are that the folks at 44 Laight Street won’t have to do any of these things, either.

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