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ZippyTheChimp
July 13th, 2004, 08:43 PM
From the collection of the Museum of the City of New York:
http://www.mcny.org/Collections/paint/Painting/Cat15.JPG

An oil painting by Edward Lamson Henry depicting the area circa 1840. The view is south on Varick St, similar to the first two photos.

The land in the area was owned by Trinity Church. In 1803, the church constructed St Johnís Chapel and staked out the park, which was also called Hudson Square. They intended to offer 99 year leases on plots around the square, but at that time the area was too far north of the city, so it was slow to develop.

By the 1820s, the cityís expansion north had made Hudson Square a desirable place to live, and Trinity decided to sell rather than lease the lots. In 1827 the church granted use of the square to the 64 landowners around the perimeter, and St Johnís Park became an upscale neighborhood. Varick St dead-ended at Franklin St (near the Leggett Building with the two water tanks in the first photo), so the area was somewhat secluded from the city.

As the city grew, the expanding warehouse district began to encroach on the neighborhood, and its seclusion was shattered in 1851 when the Hudson River Railroad ran tracks along Hudson St. Rich homeowners moved elsewhere, and St Johnís Chapel went into financial difficulty.

In 1866, Trinity parish sold the park to Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt for $400,000, who built a freight terminal on the site for the Hudson River Railroad.

St Johnís Park Freight Terminal
http://www.railroad.net/articles/railfanning/westside/media/jwsi21a.jpg
A new terminal centered on Houston St between West and Washington Sts was opened in 1934, retaining the name St Johnís Park Freight Terminal. Although no longer used as a railroad terminal, the building is still called St Johnís.

The site of the original terminal became the rotary for the Holland Tunnel, opened in 1927.

St Johnís Chapel was demolished in 1919 for subway construction and the widening of Varick St. One-third of the west side of the Leggett Building was sliced off, evident from the south.

View south on Varick St from pedestrian overpass. A new midblock exit has been added for traffic that wants to head downtown on Varick St. Right turns are no longer permitted on the preceding exit, eliminating conflict with heavy pedestrian traffic.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31237073.jpg

Parking for police vehicles has been reduced by about 20.
Pedestrian enhancements are being made on the entire perimeter of the rotary.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31237189.jpg

What makes this area attractive for housing is the same thing that makes it unappealing (City Proof is a must) Ė the rotary. The area is the most open interior space in Lower Manhattan, and although the buildings are not very tall, the views are expansive.

View from Duarte Square (which could also benefit from a renovation) across Canal St toward the rotary.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31235051.jpg.jpg

View north from the pedestrian overpass across the new park toward the Village. The park began as a request to put sidewalks around the triangle that the Port Authority used for parking and emergency vehicles. Iím not sure of the PA actually owned the property, but they agreed to vacate. I think the park will have a fountain.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31235697.jpg

St Johnís Lane, an artifact of St Johnís Chapel. The American Thread Building is on the right.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31235983.jpg

The Screening Room cinema and restaurant, closed and recently reopened by Robert DeNiro.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31233750.jpg

The Atalanta cold storage building originally had no windows, and the exterior box was self supporting, so cutting out the window openings presented unique problems.
http://www.fwdodge.com/dcp/NYCN/Bestof2001/Atalanta.html
Next to Atalanta with an address at 27 N Moore is the Ice House. Shortly after condo conversion in 1999, suit was brought against the sponsors for shoddy construction by the condo owners, who included Billy Crystal, Alexis Stewart (Marthaís daughter) and sportscaster Warner Wolf. I can see Warner in court yelling, ďLetís go to the videotape, judge.Ē By settlement, 6,000 sq ft of retail space was transferred to the condo board.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31236418.jpg

New construction on a small lot on the NE corner of Varick and Beach Sts. A project was planned for the parking lot on the SE corner, but I havenítheard anything for awhile.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31234849.jpg

NYPD First Precinct, with horse stables in back.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31234883.jpg

View south from Hudson St. Strange lamp posts. The shorter red building is the Merchants Refrigerating and Ice Manufacture Building. Lots of coolness on this street. There are several of these ice warehouses throughout the neighborhood. An identical Merchants building is attached to the south side with an address at 35 N Moore St, called Merchants House.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31237019.jpg

124 Hudson St: New construction completed in 2000. Condominiums with ground floor retail. The site was mostly a parking lot.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31234338.jpg

129 Hudson St
I wish I had a photo of this place before it was converted. It was almost black with grime, had been abandoned for as long as I can remember, its windows broken and much of the ground level stonework crumbling.
The furniture retailer, Baker, now occupies the ground floor.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31234438.jpg

135 Hudson St
Cooperative residences
http://www.pbase.com/image/31234633.jpg

I donít know if thereís anything going on here, but there is a Thai restaurant on the ground floor.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31234175.jpg

View west from the pedestrian overpass. The large building on the left is 145 Hudson Skylofts. Peeking out behind it is the new Hubert, almost complete. The postmodern Citigroup towers over the neighborhood.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31236675.jpg

The Grabler Building, on Laight St. The lofts are expensive enough, but one of the 14 parking spots can be had for a mere $169,000.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31234096.jpg

48 Laight St. New construction on a small lot on the NE corner of Hudson and Laight. I think there was some sort of auto repair business here that was periodically in trouble with Consumer Affairs.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31233334.jpg

http://www.pbase.com/image/31233366.jpg

Roebling Building, 169 Hudson St
http://www.pbase.com/image/31235510.jpg

View west on Vestry St from the Holland Tunnel exit ramp
http://www.pbase.com/image/31233582.jpg

In gold letters over the handsome doorway Ė Holland Tunnel. The building is a PA facility. The garage bays contain tow trucks and other emergency vehicles. The tunnel exit portal running along Canal St is on the right.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31235281.jpg

Vestry and Laight Sts, despite being in the midst of all this traffic, get very little of it. Since they are cut off by the rotary, there is no reason for anything but local traffic to use it.
28 Laight St, the Cobblestone Lofts, view from Varick St.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31236343.jpg

28 Laight St. No pedestrian thru traffic either, so there is no retail.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31233515.jpg

Pedestrian overpass
http://www.pbase.com/image/31233976.jpg

Most of the rotary never had any sidewalks.
Meryl Streepís new digs at River Lofts is 3 blocks down Laight St.
http://www.pbase.com/image/31237253.jpg

The St Johnís Rotary will never be a park again, but it will be more parklike.

billyblancoNYC
July 14th, 2004, 02:58 AM
Great coverage of a truly great NYC neighborhood. The rotary does look a lot better and add Canal Park and the area is going to be much improved. What a transformation.

NYatKNIGHT
July 14th, 2004, 11:10 AM
Very nice and informative. Thanks for shedding some (early morning) light on such an odd area of Manhattan with its strange traffic patterns and unusual buildings. Glad there is finally an effort to re-humanize this old neighborhood.

antinimby
October 10th, 2006, 06:10 PM
Surprisely, I couldn't find any threads specifically dedicated to the discussion of this important tunnel.
Some news. . .


Port Authority Tells Plans for Tunnel Rotary Redo


http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-park.jpg
http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-park-credit288.gif


http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-rotary-diagram.jpg
http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-rotary-credit164.gif


Officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told a committee of Community Board 1 on Nov. 6 that construction on a fifth Holland Tunnel exit, connecting the rotary to Varick Street, will begin next summer and completed the following spring.

According to Port Authority projections, the new exit will help balance the flow of cars off the rotary. And the heavily trafficked pedestrian crosswalk at Ericsson and Varick will be safer, they said, because no right-hand turns will be allowed at the Varick Street exit. Right turns will be made from Exit 4, the planned new exit to the north.

Eventually, the much-maligned rotary will not only move traffic out of the Holland Tunnel more swiftly, but it will be easier on the eye as well. Lighted public plazas, landscaped with seating, three varieties of trees, and special paving, will surround the circleó but not anytime soon. The Laight Street side will be finished in two years after construction begins in the summer. And plazas on the Ericsson and Hudson Street sides are even further in the future. Those sections are slated to be staging areas for the three-to-five-year construction of a water shaft in the center of the tunnel rotary. The plazas canít be completed until the equipment moves out.

The Port Authority and the community board began discussing improvements to the rotary more than two years ago. In November, 2000, the backup of traffic leaving the tunnel was eased, especially at Laight and Hudson streets, with the advent of a no-right-turn rule onto Hudson. According to Port Authority figures, 35 percent of cars entered Tribeca at that exit before the new rule went into effect. Now, only 20 percent of traffic leaves at Laight and Hudson, and they say that overall there is a more even distribution of cars at all the exits.

To see the Port Authorityís figures and projections on the Holland Tunnel Rotary, click below for their diagram.

http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-rotary.gif

http://www.tribecatrib.com/newsnov02/htrotary.html

ablarc
October 10th, 2006, 09:44 PM
Eventually, the much-maligned rotary will not only move traffic out of the Holland Tunnel more swiftly, but it will be easier on the eye as well. Lighted public plazas, landscaped with seating, three varieties of trees, and special paving, will surround the circleó but not anytime soon. The Laight Street side will be finished in two years after construction begins in the summer. And plazas on the Ericsson and Hudson Street sides are even further in the future. Those sections are slated to be staging areas for the three-to-five-year construction of a water shaft in the center of the tunnel rotary. The plazas canít be completed until the equipment moves out.
Sounds a lot like "maybe never."

BPC
October 11th, 2006, 01:11 AM
The whole tree thing is an elaborate ruse to cover up the fact that all they are doing is adding a new motor vehicle exit ramp in the middle of Tribeca. They actually have the balls to say this will make it safer for pedestrians. Since when does turning over more public space to cars make anything safer for pedestrians? And why can't they just plant those trees now? Why do they need an extra car ramp in order to plant some trees?

ZippyTheChimp
October 11th, 2006, 11:57 AM
Hello, anyone paying attention?

This is old news. Most of the work, except the water tunnel riser, has been completed.


They actually have the balls to say this will make it safer for pedestrians.Are you familiar with the Varick-Ericsson intersection? Previously, traffic coming off Exit 3 and wanting to go south would right-turn onto Varick, making it difficult to cross.Now, right turns onto Varick at Exit 3 are prohibited.

Right turns must now be made at the mid-block Exit 4, which is traffic-light controlled. The intersection is now much safer, and cars have an easier time crossing it to go south.


Since when does turning over more public space to cars make anything safer for pedestrians?No part of the Rotary has ever been public space. Now at least, it has a walkable perimeter.


And why can't they just plant those trees now?They have to wait until the water tunnel work on Hudson St is complete.


Why do they need an extra car ramp in order to plant some trees?One has nothing to do with the other. The relandscaping of the Rotary was planned before the decision was made to add the new exit.

Have you at least seen the area in the past year? You don't seem to know anything about it.

BPC
October 11th, 2006, 09:06 PM
Have you at least seen the area in the past year? You don't seem to know anything about it.

I actually have the bad fortune to drive it quite frequently, any time I am coming back from NJ, which is far too often. But I get off on the first exit toward West Street, living as I do in BPC. In any event, what I know about this is that you don't make things safer for pedestrians by adding additional freeway-style exit ramps. And, as you tacitly admit, the coupling of this extra ramp with some tree plantings is just a ruse designed to make the former seem better by falsely implying that it brings with it the latter. The PA should just plant the trees and forget about the extra ramp.

ZippyTheChimp
October 11th, 2006, 09:52 PM
It's bad enough to think an article that mentions a CB meeting in November is current, and not to notice that the photos I posted two years ago show the work in progress, but it is quite ridiculous, after having the error pointed out, to continue with the same argument.



In any event, what I know about this is that you don't make things safer for pedestrians by adding additional freeway-style exit ramps.The "freeway style exit ramp" is pictured complete in the 1st photo. It is 60 ft long, with a traffic light and marked crosswalk at Varick.


And, as you tacitly admit, the coupling of this extra ramp with some tree plantings is just a ruse designed to make the former seem better by falsely implying that it brings with it the latter.Where did I "tacitly admit" anything? To repeat, the landscaping was the original project. The PA also donated the triangle across the street (3rd photo) to the city as part of that project. The ramp was added during the design phase.


The PA should just plant the trees and forget about the extra ramp.The ramp and landscaping (except at the water tunnel) are complete. Should they rip them out?

Are you really that dense, or is it just too difficult for you to admit you made a mistake?

BPC
October 12th, 2006, 01:16 AM
It's bad enough to think an article that mentions a CB meeting in November is current, and not to notice that the photos I posted two years ago show the work in progress, but it is quite ridiculous, after having the error pointed out, to continue with the same argument.

I didn't post the article dude. Go bellow at Antinimby if it upsets you so much. (I love NIMBY's!) I was just commenting on the PA's plan, as reported in that article. It was a bad plan in 2004 and its still a bad plan in 2006. Not sure that the calendar year really affects any of my criticism of it. Sorry I did not remember the photos you posted two years ago.


The ramp and landscaping (except at the water tunnel) are complete. Should they rip them out?

I thought I made it clear that I liked the landscaping. The extra ramp should definitely go. Manhattan has long since run out of room. NO MORE CAR RAMPS, PLEASE.


Are you really that dense, or is it just too difficult for you to admit you made a mistake?

Still not sure what my mistake was. I guess I choose "dense."

lofter1
October 12th, 2006, 02:11 AM
The extra ramp should definitely go. Manhattan has long since run out of room. NO MORE CAR RAMPS, PLEASE.

That block on the west side of Varick between Laight and Ericsson has -- maybe -- two pedestrians per hour (if any) that walk on that side of the road. It's a side of the street that is barely accessible (when you come down from the pedestrian over-walk you'd have to back track on your self to go that way -- and if you intended to go south from there chances are you wouldn't have bnothered to walk over the pedestrian bridge to begin with as you'd have had to go out of your way at the start).

The "new" outlet from the rotary there will / does serve to move the traffic in the area: It separates those that intend to go east on Beach St. from those who want to go south on Varick before they get bottled up at the intersection. Before the new rotary exit opened cars heading both east and south were all crammed onto that short block of Ericsson.

Look at the percentages listing the use of the exits then & now: It shows that this re-route has been successful in shifting the traffic to where the cars intend to go -- rather than having them jammed and immobile.

ZippyTheChimp
October 12th, 2006, 08:15 AM
Are you really that dense, or is it just too difficult for you to admit you made a mistake?


I didn't post the article dude. Go bellow at Antinimby if it upsets you so much.
Question answered. I don't think it's dense.

Instead of driving to exit 1 and pronouncing yourself knowledgeable on the subject, if you actually experienced the area as a pedestrian, you might gain an understanding of what the problem was.

With the A/E subway entrance at 6th Ave, Ericsson Pl became a major pedestrian thoroughfare when Citibank was built on Greenwich. Anyone who drives in Manhattan will tell you it is impossible to make a right turn on a street with a steady flow of pedestrians. You either wait until the light turns red (which means maybe two cars get through) or you jump the light and cut in front of pedestrians. The solution is similar to moving pedestrian crosswalks midblock, as is done in several places in Midtown.

The same thing was done at exit 1. Cars no longer can make a right onto Hudson, freeing up that crosswalk. To turn on Hudson, you must use exit 2. The new exit 4 performs the same function as exit 2.

A three-way traffic light, in which only pedestrians cross, was considered at exit 3, but it was determined that the long light would back up traffic on the Rotary and screw up the timing on Varick.

Having worked at the AT&T building down the street, I was familiar with the problems for pedestrians at that intersection. The solution was well thought out.

Your little catch-phrases, freeway style ramps (they are typically 400 ft long), and Manhattan has long since run out of room, are characteristic of nimbys. They cut off any attempt to solve specific problems with blanket generalizations.

Instead of pronouncing the plan a bad idea, what would you have done to solve the problem?

BPC
October 12th, 2006, 12:46 PM
Question answered. I don't think it's dense.
Instead of pronouncing the plan a bad idea, what would you have done to solve the problem?

The new exit #4's only purpose seems to be reduce the backlog on exit #3, which I guess I don't really see it as a problem. On occasion when exit #1 is backed up, I will take exit #3 downtown and cross over to West Street on Murray Street, and I've never seen any huge backlogs on exit #3. I would have preferred that the space for the new ramp be pedestrian space.

ZippyTheChimp
October 12th, 2006, 12:58 PM
You have it backwards. It was the CB, not the PA, that wanted the reconfiguration, specifically to address the dangerous crossing at Varick-Ericsson.


On occasion when exit #1 is backed up, I will take exit #3 downtown and cross over to West Street on Murray Street, and I've never seen any huge backlogs on exit #3.No backlogs because you can't turn right on Varick.

The Rotary is PA property. NO TRESSPASSING. The only pedestrian space you could have had was the crosswalk itself.

See Lofter's post. There is very little pedestrian traffic on the WEST side of Varick, mainly because there is no sidewalk on that side between Canal and Laight. Anyone walking south on Varick knows this, and crosses Canal on the EAST side.

RandySavage
January 29th, 2008, 08:11 PM
http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-park.jpg
http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-park-credit288.gif
http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-rotary-diagram.jpg
http://www.tribecatrib.com/photos/news/nov02/ht-rotary-credit164.gif

It seems like the construction fences and work have been going on here, particularly on the Hudson Street side, for years. Does anyone know what is currently going on and if there are plans to open the landscaped edges on Hudson to pedestrians?

lofter1
January 29th, 2008, 08:39 PM
It's part of the dig for WATER TUNNEL No. 3 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_Water_Tunnel_No._3), which is the largest public works project ever in NY State. The entire project is set to be completed in 2020.

There is an existing thread HERE (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2933).

Some info ...




... Manhattan section will be 10 feet in diameter and run for 9 miles. It will begin at the Stage 1 valve chamber in Central Park and run south along the west side of Manhattan and curve around the southern end of the island and come partially up the lower east side.


An article on the dig from Popular Mechanics (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/1484317.html) (2005):


Digging NYC Water Tunnel No. 3


Blasting through miles of bedrock,
sandhogs are the unsung heroes
of New York's water system.


http://media.popularmechanics.com/images/PMX0405SANDHOG007-lg.jpg
A pneumatic drill, operated by Mike Warfield (center),
sinks 10-ft. holes into the rock.
Dynamite is tamped in with wooden poles.

***

RandySavage
January 29th, 2008, 08:54 PM
^ Thanks.

lofter1
July 6th, 2010, 10:19 PM
The Curious Travels of the Commodore

Streetscapes | Cornelius Vanderbilt, the Statue

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/realestate/19scape.html?_r=1)
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY

lofter1
July 6th, 2010, 10:36 PM
From the LPC Designation Report for Tribeca North Historic District (1992) (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/TRIBECA_NORTH_HISTORIC_DISTRICT.pdf) [pdf; p.11] ...

Railroads and Freight Terminals

The railroads, which played such an important role in the development of the waterfront and port of New York, also had a strong influence on the growth of businesses located in the area of the Tribeca North Historic District. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt's Hudson River Railroad Company (incorporated in 1846) established freight lines along Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Avenues north of Canal Street in the late 1840s. In 1849 the company extended a line south on Hudson Street, which terminated at a station on Chambers Street. The railroad bridge over Spuyten Duyvil Creek, which opened in 1853, allowed trains to run along the east bank of the Hudson River without a water transfer from upstate New York to Manhattan." The American Express Company took advantage of this early rail line. The firm's building at 55-61 Hudson Street (in what is now the Tribeca West Historic District), built in 1858 and replaced in 1890-91 by the present structure, had direct rail service with two bays entered by rail spurs from the line on Hudson Street.

The St. John's Freight Terminal

In 1867 Vanderbilt acquired St. John's Park from Trinity Church and the owners of the surrounding houses who had a shared interest in the park. Immediately a temporary, one-story freight shed was" erected. This was soon replaced by the Hudson River Railroad Freight Terminal, which came to be known as the St. John's Freight Terminal, a three-story brick building designed by John Butler Snook. The upper two floors of the fireproof depot were, in fact, a warehouse operated by the Frederick C. Linde Company for general and cold storage. The station was entered by eight tracks and could accommodate ninety-six cars inside. A work force of thirty office clerks and up to 300 laborers, tallymen, and scalemen were required to handle the 140 cars of freight that passed through the terminal in a typical week.

The depot was conveniently located for the dry goods and grocery trades, and was a principal shipping point for westbound freight, including goods manufactured in the city as well as those recently delivered by ship and bound for western markets. Drays waiting to deposit their goods formed a line beginning in Laight Street and extending along Canal Street to West Broadway. This line of drays must have been an ever-present feature in those streets, since frequently at 5 p.m. as many as eighty drays were waiting to unload at the station. Two platforms were used for the transfer of a variety of freight, including machinery, fruit, hides, leather, and general merchandise. Manhattan-bound freight arrived in cars from the railroad's 33rd Street station and one platform was used for farm produce such as butter and eggs. Cheese consigned to commission merchants who had no warerooms changed hands on the platform; it was then repacked, branded, and either sent to the cold storage warehouse in the building or shipped.

(...)

Commercial Redevelopment

During most of the second half of the nineteenth century the area of the district was a development backwater surrounded by more thriving areas ó the Washington Market area to the south, the dry goods district to the east, and the area now known as SoHo to the north. Beginning in the early 1850s the area became a mixed commercial and tenement district, as demonstrated by the alteration of dwellings on Greenwich Street for this use. For example, 450 Greenwich Street, a dwelling built around 1821, was converted for commercial purposes around 1852. Around the same time the adjacent residence at 452 Greenwich Street was enlarged and converted for commercial use on the ground story and apartments on the upper floors. A local journalist noted that by 1893 the St. John's Freight Terminal had "crushed the region utterly, so far as its fitness to be an abiding-place of polite society was concerned." She reported that the residents of the St. John's Park area were mainly Italians and some Germans, crowded into the "aristocratic houses" which had been built around the park. Many of the dwellings, converted into "cheap tenements" with small provision stores on the ground floors were occupied by longshoremen, laborers, and teamsters.18 The tenement at 46 Laight Street (1874) was one of several built in the area during the 1870s to accommodate local workers; during the following decade as many as 800 people were housed in the converted single-family dwellings and tenements which formerly stood on the block just north of the St. John's Freight Terminal." An historic photograph of the northeast corner of Vestry and Hudson Street, which shows the warehouse at 8-12 Vestry Street towering above a row of two-and-one-half-story dwellings, illustrates the disparate character of the area that existed from around 1880 until 1930 as warehouses gradually replaced smaller buildings.

The St. John's Freight Terminal, oddly enough, did not prompt an immediate redevelopment of the area. The New York Times had predicted optimistically at the time of its construction that the great freight station would "pretty surely open up all the streets from Franklin to Canal for mercantile business" and add vastly to the wealth of the west side of the ward, by prompting the construction of magnificent warehouses like those between Broadway and Church Streets. The lag in redevelopment may have been due to the economic depression of the 1870s, during which time there was only sporadic new construction in the city. One building whose development seems to have occurred in anticipation of the terminal is the American Express Company's stable (4-8 Hubert Street), begun in 1866. The location of the stable near the depot would have helped to compensate for the lack of direct rail service to the company's building on Hudson Street following the removal of the tracks south of the new station. In addition to the American Express Company's facility, a number of other stables were erected as commercial enterprises, which made use of the horse-drawn dray, moved into the area. These include the stables at 399 Washington Street (1888) and 35 Vestry Street (1907). A stable and loft building was erected at 19 Vestry Street (1891) for veterinarian David w. Cochran, adjacent to the wagon repair shop and blacksmith shop at No. 17. Gradually, however, commercial redevelopment took place near the freight terminal, beginning in the 1880s with the location of several manufacturing firms in the area, and flourishing in the 1890s. Many warehouse and store and loft buildings were erected by real estate developers active in the larger Tribeca area, such as glue and paste manufacturer Samuel Weil, liquor merchant Joseph Beams, the Juilliard family, and builder Hugh Getty.

lofter1
November 27th, 2010, 04:44 PM
Painting the Town

http://www.mcny.org/museum-collections/painting-new-york/Cat15.JPG

MCNY (http://www.mcny.org/museum-collections/painting-new-york/pttcat15.htm)

Old St. John's Church on Varick Street
1905 (depicting 1840s)
Edward Lamson Henry (1841 -1919)
Oil on canvas, 28 X 24
Signed lower left: E. L. Henry 1905
Bequest of Mrs. Ellen P. Moffat, 60.77

St. John's Chapel was designed by John McComb, Jr. (1763 -1853), in 1803 for the vestry of Trinity Church to accommodate its expanding Episcopalian congregation.* The chapel's hewn-oak spire reached more than two hundred feet in height, while a curved stairway to the pulpit and carved acanthus-topped fluted pillars lent elegance to its airy, open interior.

The Trinity parish planned to offer ninety-nine-year leases on land it owned around the perimeter of what was then Hudson Square, expecting fine homes to be built. But upper-class New Yorkers of the period found the area too far uptown, and the long leases seemed onerous. By the 1820s, when the northward push of the city made Hudson Square a desirable place to live and the parish decided to sell rather than lease the property, attendance at the chapel increased.

In 1827 Trinity parish granted use of the square to owners of the surrounding land. Befitting a neighborhood rapidly gaining renown for the wealth of its residents and the grandeur of their houses, St. John's park came to be thought of as one of the finest, with specimens of both American and foreign trees.

In 1866, however, when New York's relentless expansion north rendered the neighborhood less fashionable, Trinity parish sold the park for four hundred thousand dollars to Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who promptly built a freight depot on it for the Hudson River Railroad. Although St. John's gained respite from its financial problems by this transaction, it now faced the walls of the depot's warehouses and also opened itself to criticism for abandoning one of the few parks available to the poor left behind by the northward migration of New York's more affluent citizens.

St. John's Chapel was demolished in 1918 - 1919. The announcement of its impending closing once more exposed Trinity parish to public censure. Others defended the action: "In closing this chapel Trinity parish is not, as has been implied in some quarters, deserting the people of one of the poorer regions of this city, and leaving them without the ministrations of the Church . . . in view of the movement of the population the work of Trinity parish for this region must be done from a center near to the present site of St. Luke's Chapel . . . the work can be done more strongly and effectively from this one center."

Edward Lamson Henry's Old St. John's Church on Varick Street depicts the church and park as they appeared in the 1840s. Henry often developed his paintings from old photographs or sketches, as he has done here, and also collected antique vehicles, clothing, and other artifacts, using them as models for meticulously rendered scenes of earlier times. According to his biographer Elizabeth McCausland, Henry's commitment to the preservation of venerated sites and buildings, such as St. John's Chapel, is documented in letters he wrote to public officials and newspapers and inspired some of his paintings.4 In addition to their documentary value today, Henry's works had great popularity as lithographs published by New York City printer C. Klackner.

Notes:

* McComb was also the architect for City Hall, Castle Garden, and two New York area lighthouses still in use at Eaton's Neck and Montauk.

COPYRIGHT MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK

lofter1
November 29th, 2010, 02:14 PM
From the Tribeca North Historic District LPC Designation Report, 1992; P. 22 - 23 (http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/TRIBECA_NORTH_HISTORIC_DISTRICT.pdf) [pdf]:

... During the mid-century period, as warehouse buildings were becoming more common, the first railroad freight terminals were being constructed; the two building types, which had similar uses, bear comparison. For example, the designs of the St. John's Freight Terminal (1868, John Butler Snook, demolished 1936), which was located in the immediate area of the district, incorporated the kind of functional elements that soon began to appear in warehouses. The depot had loading platforms consisting of door sills twenty-seven inches above the street for the transfer of freight to and from horse-drawn drays and track platforms over three feet above the rail. The wide arched openings in the all-masonry base were secured with sliding and folding iron shutters which, when open, allowed maximum clearance.

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The architectural expression of the St. John's Freight Terminal, the upper floors of which served as a warehouse, relates to utilitarian commercial design of the period. In contrast to the contemporary Italianate designs architect John B. Snook was proposing for store and loft buildings in the nearby area, a more eclectic and restrained ó appropriately utilitarian ó aesthetic was used for the terminal.

Contemporary architectural critic John Kennion described the style of the depot as "Romanic" [Romanesque] and found the ornamentation suitable for the "secular character" of the structure. The long facades of red brick trimmed with stone were divided into sections, each comparable to a commercial building front, by slightly projecting pavilions. The varied placement and shape of arched window openings ó both round-arched and segmentally-arched ó were important considerations in the design, as they would be in the warehouse buildings in the Tribeca area.