View Full Version : Cobblestone Streets

September 19th, 2003, 01:30 PM
Cobblestone Plymouth Street in DUMBO and the Brooklyn Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/brooklyn_bridge/default.htm).


A stretch of cobblestone Washington Street divides the lot of 270 Greenwich (http://www.wirednewyork.com/skyscrapers/270greenwich/default.htm). 101 Barclay building (http://www.wirednewyork.com/101_barclay.htm) is across the Murray Street.


Cobblestone street under the Henry Hudson Parkway.


[Originally posted by ZippyTheChimp]. Gansevort Market Historic District. Hudson St and 9th Ave looking south. These buildings occupy a prominent spot. If this area is landmarked, will these buildings be preserved? IMO, no architectural value.


[Originally posted by Gulcrapek] Red Hook. Cobblestone to the water.


September 19th, 2003, 03:58 PM
Plymouth Street is unique. So close to so much life, with superb views of it, yet so calm and archaic.

July 10th, 2006, 09:29 PM
From http://cityrealty.com/new_developments:


Cobblestones rule! 10-JUL-06

A hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission on a proposal to replace the cobblestone pavement in front of 44 Laight Street in TriBeCa that had been scheduled as recently as last week for tomorrow has been laid over.

On June 20, Community Board 1 voted 29 to 0 to recommend that the commission reject by application by the building's owners to replace the cobblestones with concrete to make the sidewalk easier to traverse.

The structure at 44 Laight Street is known as the Grabler Building, and is in the middle of block between Hudson and Varick Streets a large open space that is part of the Holland Tunnel roadways in the TriBeCa North Historic District. Almost all of the street’s roadway is covered with cobblestones but not all the sidewalks. The Grabler building has a truck loading dock platform that occupies most of its frontage and the remainder of its sidewalk is covered with cobblestones.

An inspection by CityRealty.com yesterday indicated that many of its cobblestones were broken and that its sidewalk was fairly treacherous in terms of not being very level.

Cobblestone streets, especially in TriBeCa, SoHo and the West Village, are among the most desirable in the city because of their historic connotations whereby the stones in many instances were ballast from sailing ships. They also harken to an urban age where the comfort of automobile riders was of little importance, that is, when pedestrians and horses were kings.

The community board’s resolution noted that “Although it is recognized that the entire block front has variegated pavers, with no curbed separation between roadway and pedestrian walkway and whereas it is nevertheless completely unacceptable to remove the existing cobblestones,” it “may be of some use for representatives of all the buildings along the block to attempt a unified solution to any pedestrian issue, a solution that utilizes these cobblestones.”

The building is a former warehouse that was converted several years ago to 18 residential condominiums. Its 14 parking spaces were sold at $169,000 each. This handsome building was designed in Renaissance Revival style by Clinton and Russell and erected in 1896. It was built for William J. Russell was named the Grabler Building after one of its early tenants that manufactured pipe fittings. It is within the TriBeCa North Historic District and is directly across from the original St. John’s Park that was acquired in 1886 by Commodore Vanderbilt for conversion to a rail depot.

Its apartments have original brick walls, gas fireplaces, washers and dryers. The penthouse units have wood-burning fireplaces, exposures in three directions, six-burner Viking stoves, high ceilings and private terraces of more than 1,400 square feet. The building has a lobby attendant, video security, a key-locked elevator, and a mahogany and steel lobby designed by Bill Massie.

The building has an attractive marquee and no sidewalk landscaping and the second floor apartments have arched windows.

July 11th, 2006, 08:44 AM
Its 14 parking spaces were sold at $169,000 each.


July 19th, 2010, 10:46 AM
Restoring New York Streets to Their Bumpier Pasts


Masons installing cobblestones along Laight Street in the TriBeCa area of Manhattan,
where many restorations are under way.

On a stretch of Greenwich Street in TriBeCa, a construction site hummed with the usual activity. Workers encircled a crane removing dirt from a trench. Others mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow.

But nearby, men in dusty denim were uncharacteristically crouched on hands and knees, working beside a mound of cobblestones, finding just the right one to put into place.

“Cementing, curbs and sidewalks. Almost everyone does it. It’s easy,” said Tony Paiva, 39, wearing a scratched green helmet and kneepads caked with dirt. “But this one you have to do one by one.”

Mr. Paiva, who learned the ancient craft in his native Portugal, carefully aligned the hefty stone with pinkish twine before hammering it into the pattern of the city.

As a result of a preservation rule that a thoroughfare in a designated landmark area, once altered, must be restored to its original state, this street and others in the neighborhood are being torn up and resurfaced with cobblestones as part of a large-scale reconstruction, expected to be completed in October.

Approximately 15 miles of cobblestone still remain in the five boroughs, according to the New York City Department of Transportation, mostly preserved in historic districts including SoHo, Greenwich Village and Brooklyn Heights. Now, a few cobblestone projects are under way around the city.

Stone Street in the financial district, which city officials say was one of the first cobblestone streets, was recently restored to its original state. Water, Washington and Old Fulton Streets in Brooklyn are also under construction, scheduled for completion by September 2011. Cobblestones are being installed for the 9/11 memorial scheduled to open on the 10th anniversary of the attack.

The work on Greenwich Street — part of the $14.1 million Harrison Street reconstruction project (http://www.nyc.gov/html/ddc/downloads/pdf/brochures/HWMWTCA7A.pdf) — became necessary after the spring of 2002, when the cobblestone from Hubert to Canal Streets was paved with asphalt to ease the wear on trucks heading south to ground zero.

Lisa Kersavage, senior director of preservation and sustainability at the Municipal Art Society of New York, said landmark districts were often identified and demarcated because of their historical importance.

“Part of creating that strong sense of place and strong sense of character is the Belgian block streets,” Ms. Kersavage said.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that every single cobble that was there was landmarked and has to stay there forever,” she said, adding that the streets should retain “the same character.”

While three or four blocks can be paved with asphalt in a day, only 250 square feet of cobblestones can be completed in that time. Cobblestone is stronger and more durable than concrete, but it is also more expensive, about $18 a square foot.

“The materials might vary, but the process itself won’t change,” said Thomas Foley, assistant commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, which is managing the Harrison Street project, being paid for mostly by city, utility, and federal post-9/11 emergency relief funds.

Donna Ferrato, a photographer who lives on Leonard Street, part of the Harrison Street project, said she and some of her neighbors were initially skeptical of the work. “It was really noisy, dusty and dirty. Everyone thought they were just wrecking our street,” Ms. Ferrato said. “But then it was like someone pulling a curtain back. We could watch them making it.”

Starting in the 17th century, cobblestones (cobbling refers to the shaping of the stones) began to replace the city’s oyster shell and dirt streets. Round stones were used until the introduction of flat oblong granite, known as Belgian block, which was brought in as ship ballast.

New York grew rapidly, with cobblestones becoming the bumpy and echoing surface of the busiest thoroughfares. According to Kathleen Hulser, public historian at the New-York Historical Society, in June 1789, when New York was still the country’s capital, George Washington was ill and his wife, Martha, ordered that a metal chain be extended across Cherry Street to prevent the metallic clickety-clack reverberation of horse hooves and carriage wheels on the cobblestone in front of the presidential mansion.

In the mid-to-late 19th century, cobblestones began to be phased out as a primary material, in favor of less expensive concrete. Much of the city’s old surface has been dismantled, or paved over. But the current reconstruction projects provide cobblestone a second life, in some cases, even giving observant passers-by a living history lesson.

“I feel it gives a real texture to the urban experience, and it puts you back in history,” Ms. Hulser said. “You have something under your feet that may in fact have been the very same stones that the patriots ran over.”


February 2nd, 2012, 08:26 AM
Crosby Street Belgian block (intersection of Broome and Crosby):



February 2nd, 2012, 09:43 AM
Cobblestone only works well for pedestrian plazas...

And they are hell to get to look right when you need to do something under one section and not the whole region....

(I love the way they look in those plazas/thoroughfares though!)

February 2nd, 2012, 10:08 AM
They have a warm feeling to them, but they take a beating from the plows, among other things. There was one street down there my sister & I were walking on, & someone in an exotic sportscar, very low to the ground, was trying to navigate the cobblestone street, which was extremely wavy. Lots of deep pits (not potholes, just really indented) & I said to my sister no way he's getting through here unscathed. He had to drive about a mile an hour, but he actually made it.

February 2nd, 2012, 10:56 AM
Crosby Street Belgian block (intersection of Broome and Crosby)

They just re-did that stretch on the north side of Broome, after insertion of lots of new water pipe-age. Note the nice crown at the center of the roadway, directing water to the curb. That's how these streets should look (in a perfect world).

Folks farther up Crosby are pushing the city for repairs on the northern blocks, which have gone undone for decades, and very well might be the pitted stretch of Belgian blocks described above.

February 2nd, 2012, 01:29 PM
A little more rare then cobblestones...red brick. W. 2320th just off Bailey ave in The Bronx. I use to live a few blocks from there in the 80's. http://forgotten-ny.com/2009/04/west-230th-bricks/

February 2nd, 2012, 04:22 PM
^They did the same thing down in New Brunswick on George St. For unknown reasons, they paved over it a couple months ago. Didn't look like it took a beating, it wasn't cobblestone, but interlocking bricks. It was a short stretch of a narrow main drag that has slow traffic, so I don't know why they paved it.

February 3rd, 2012, 08:29 AM
Upkeep costs are prohibitive.....

Although asphalt on brick does not last very long either....

February 3rd, 2012, 09:09 AM
The original cobblestones were put down over substrates of gravel and sand. When replaced over the last several decades, it was done the same way as an asphalt street - with a properly crowned concrete substrate. As long as the concrete isn't broken through for repairs or properly patched afterward, the cobblestones last a long time.

They're not suited to busy thoroughfares because when major replacement is done, the street would have to be shutdown for a long time. An asphalt street can be resurfaced overnight.

February 3rd, 2012, 11:19 AM
Whatever. (edit)

February 3rd, 2012, 12:13 PM
I mean what I posted.

February 3rd, 2012, 03:29 PM
Jesus, all that shit over a comma.

February 3rd, 2012, 08:27 PM
^ Crikey! What did I miss?


The Mews, Greenwich Village:


larger version (http://www.flickr.com/photos/18376924@N00/2905488589/sizes/l/in/photostream/)


Shame about the asphalt repairs:



Stone Street:



Staple Street:



Jay/Water Streets, DUMBO:



Ninth Avenue with the Porter House (http://nyc-architecture.com/CHE/CHE-036.htm), 366 West 15th Street, Chelsea, in the distance:



February 3rd, 2012, 09:39 PM
They just removed from that plaza in the meatpacking district ^ the booby bollards and blocks of square cut stone. They've been replaced with light colored missile-head stone bollards, and a big batch of round planters, about 5' in diameter nad painted black (with "brought to you by..." signs affixed to the side). Not as quirky as before, which is fitting for this neighborhood which is getting slicker by the minute. Hardly a greasy bit of meat to be found between the Belgian blocks these days (other than the occasional B&T'er who's seen passed out on the street as the sun comes up).

February 4th, 2012, 06:46 PM
Nada merry.

Just my posting on typos/grammar that added nothing to the thread.... ;)

Thanks for the pics!

February 4th, 2012, 06:49 PM

Which is a shame. That grease and stank is what made it "meatpacking" in the literal sense....

I hope NY does not become so cool that nobody that works in it can afford to be anywhere near it...:(

February 5th, 2012, 12:02 AM
I doesn't matter. All the former work places are being converted into housing.

February 5th, 2012, 12:47 AM
Not so much down in MePa. It's mostly converting to high end offices. And restaurants.

February 5th, 2012, 10:51 AM
You're interfering with my metaphor. ;)

February 6th, 2012, 09:02 AM
5 yard penalty, 2nd down.

June 5th, 2012, 08:21 PM
Hubert St cobbled.

http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/8104/hubertst01.th.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/195/hubertst01.jpg/)

Beach and N Moore Sts also getting new stones.

June 6th, 2012, 08:34 AM
Huh huh huh...


Huh huh....

June 4th, 2013, 10:45 PM
The way they did it in the old'en days - 28th street 1930:


July 12th, 2013, 09:39 PM
DUMBO's Bike-Friendly Cobblestone Future REVEALED

By John Del Signore


The treacherous old cobblestone streets of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill have sent many a cyclist salmoning up Front Street (http://gothamist.com/2013/06/21/in_defense_of_salmoning_on_a_bike.php) to avoid Water Street's painful potholes and wheel-wrenching edges. But relief is on the way, as part of a major $20 million overhaul that will redo some of the most battered streets in the neighborhood, creating a smoother ride for cyclists and a safer path for pedestrians and the precious high-heeled models who flock to DUMBO for photo shoots. Here's a look at the two redesigns the DOT has proposed.


The redesigns were on display this morning by Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6. The one you see above would preserve most of the old cobblestones, adding new ones when necessary, as well as what's described as a "somewhat historically accurate" granite strip for cyclists to bike on without inflaming their hemorrhoids. A century ago these granite strips were used for crosswalks, and they've been brought back at intersections in other parts of the neighborhood, but using them for bike lanes would be a first.


The second option, above, would employ new stones with smoothed edges to replace the battered old cobblestones, which were cut and quarried over a century ago. These granite stones would be the same material, but made smoother for pedestrians, cyclists, and even drivers. I took a spin on this mock-up today, and it was like biking over a baby's bottom.
There has been some objection to the bike lanes from historically-minded Vinegar Hill residents (http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130312/vinegar-hill/vinegar-hill-locals-fear-bikes-lanes-will-destroy-historic-belgian-blocks), who started a petition to stop their streets from being "plowed over and homogenized." But the DOT is determined to redo the street surface one way or another, because the infrastructure underneath the cobblestones is long overdue for repair. The project, which is expected to swing into motion in 2014, will replace existing sewer lines and water mains.

The yellow streets are where the surface would be redesigned, the green areas are were significant DEP work needs to be done underneath.

"Some blogs have written, inaccurately, that cobblestones on Water Street will be removed to install a bike path," DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan wrote in an email to DUMBO NYC (http://dumbonyc.com/2013/07/10/granite-cobble-mock-ups/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DumboNyc+%28Dumbo+NYC%29). "This is false. This is a total street reconstruction project and the cobblestones are being restored as part of the capital upgrade... The section of Water Street in the project area hasn’t been significantly upgraded in more than a century and utilities for the growing number of residences and businesses in the area are overdue for reconstruction. Half of the cobblestones in the project are currently covered by asphalt just to make the street navigable."

It's true; parts of Water Street are an absolute mess and almost impossible to bike on. "As with many other roadway reconstructions across the city, this project also brings an opportunity to improve roadway design to make streets even safer and easier to navigate for all street users and meet ADA requirements—such as installing smooth, walkable crosswalks," Sadik-Khan added.
The DOT is currently seeking public input on the two street surface options, which will be on view at Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. A final design package will be presented to the Community Board 2 on July 22 for project approval.


July 12th, 2013, 11:26 PM
The multi colored mix is all wrong.

July 13th, 2013, 12:46 AM
Yes but grind in enough tire rubber and they will look more similar. (Don't forget the chewing gum factor!)

July 13th, 2013, 12:47 AM
Washington St from the BQE to the river was repaved last year using different stone.

The rough pavers that are common everywhere were used for parking lanes. The traffic lane got a more brick-like smooth stone, and granite was used in the crosswalks. The traffic lane surface is good for bicycles, so I don't see what the big deal is.

And it looks pretty good.

Street View - Washington St (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=washington+st,water+st,brooklyn,ny&ll=40.701821,-73.98865&spn=0.002715,0.004479&hq=washington+st&hnear=Water+St,+New+York,+11201&t=h&fll=40.701858,-73.990399&fspn=0.00192,0.006523&z=18&layer=c&cbll=40.701627,-73.989688&panoid=TaVEb8aS--fUlrXgBxg5QA&cbp=12,359.16,,0,5.06)

At the Front St intersection, the camera view changes to 2009, and you can see what the street looked like before it was repaved.

July 17th, 2013, 12:38 PM
Nevermind bikes, try blading on/near/in memory of any of these surfaces! ;)