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Thread: St John's Rotary

  1. #1

    Default St John's Rotary

    From the collection of the Museum of the City of New York:


    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

    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.


    Parking for police vehicles has been reduced by about 20.
    Pedestrian enhancements are being made on the entire perimeter of the rotary.


    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.


    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.


    St Johnís Lane, an artifact of St Johnís Chapel. The American Thread Building is on the right.


    The Screening Room cinema and restaurant, closed and recently reopened by Robert DeNiro.


    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/Best.../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.


    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.


    NYPD First Precinct, with horse stables in back.


    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.


    124 Hudson St: New construction completed in 2000. Condominiums with ground floor retail. The site was mostly a parking lot.


    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.


    135 Hudson St
    Cooperative residences


    I donít know if thereís anything going on here, but there is a Thai restaurant on the ground floor.


    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.


    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.


    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.




    Roebling Building, 169 Hudson St


    View west on Vestry St from the Holland Tunnel exit ramp


    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.


    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.


    28 Laight St. No pedestrian thru traffic either, so there is no retail.


    Pedestrian overpass


    Most of the rotary never had any sidewalks.
    Meryl Streepís new digs at River Lofts is 3 blocks down Laight St.


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

  2. #2
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    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.

  3. #3
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    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.

  4. #4
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Default The Holland Tunnel

    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










    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/newsnov02/htrotary.html

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by antinimby View Post
    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."

  6. #6

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    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?

  7. #7

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    Hello, anyone paying attention?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by BPC
    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.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    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.

  9. #9

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    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.


    Quote Originally Posted by BPC View Post
    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?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    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."

  11. #11
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BPC View Post

    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.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Are you really that dense, or is it just too difficult for you to admit you made a mistake?
    Quote Originally Posted by BPC View Post
    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?

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    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.

  14. #14

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    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.

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    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?

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