The TCQ&A: “We Used to Close the Streets for Cookouts”

Wickham Boyle, known as Wicki, has worn many hats. She has written on parenting, finance, the arts, and travel for The New York Times, National Geographic, Budget Travel, Real Simple, and the Downtown Express. (Read some stories at She was one of the founders of CODE and Thrivenyc Magazine. She was the executive director of LaMaMa theater (and produced over 60 shows during her tenure there). She has an M.B.A. from Yale and worked as a Wall Street stock broker. Her 2001 book, A Mother’s Essays From Ground Zero, garnered excellent reviews, raised funds for schools closed downtown, and debuted as an opera at LaMaMa in 2008. She’s the mother of two and wife to Zachary Minor, a life-skills coach for professional athletes. On her Memory & Movement blog, she writes about the poems she’s memorizing while walking along the Hudson River. And as if all that weren’t enough, she’ll soon be writing a blog-within-a-blog, Wickiworld, for Tribeca Citizen.

How long have you lived in Tribeca?
A scant 33 years.

Which restaurants do you frequent most often?
We live between Walker’s, Zutto, and Petite Abeille [left].

Which restaurants do you tend to go to for special occasions?
We loved Fresh, alas gone. Bouley when the stock market was rollicking. Now it’s home cooking or we still love Odeon.

Where do you order in (or get take-out) from? Are there dishes you always order?
Salaam Bombay, everything spicy. Mudville 9 for wings of every description.

Which shops do you find it hard to resist popping into when you pass by?
Stella on West Broadway, Shoofly with my goddaughter for tutus. Can you have too many? I mean the word “too” is in the object. Koh’s Kids on Greenwich. Oh, and the new bike store on Reade—Adeline Adeline—with the fancy three-speed bikes. When I asked, all the owners say they would never leave on the street. So what’s the point? But it is like bike pornography.

What was the last non-essential item you bought in Tribeca?
Are cake and Champagne essential? An amazing sacher torte from Duane Street Patisserie, and a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Champagne from Tribeca Wine Merchants [right].

Are there any services (salon, fitness, etc.) that you’re particularly glad are in the neighborhood?
Gotham Bikes which our neighbor’s kid used to call the GOT HAM bike store. I ride my bike everywhere—really everywhere—and I need a place that will fix flats and love my 1968 Raleigh. Also Sweet Lily for peppermint pedicures while sitting in giant overstuffed armchairs. And in truth I would be out of biz, such as it is, without Mail Boxes Etc., and college would have been a nightmare—you know, with kids leaving things and then overnighting them back with no post-office lines or rage.

What’s Tribeca’s best-kept secret?
The Ghostbusters firehouse on North Moore and Varick, where they let kids ring the bell and let cute foreign girls take pics with the firefighters.

Tribeca Issey Miyake by Paul Warchol

Where do you always take out-of-towners?
See above and the mini Bilbao Guggenheim ensconced in the Issey Miyake store. Yes, it’s the same undulating polished steel for the ceiling in the store done by Frank Gehry, of multiple magnificent buildings fame. And it’s on a dollhouse scale.

Which neighborhood building do you wish you lived in and/or owned?
I love the building with the bridge across Staple Street. I have coveted and visited that for years. Now there are always photo shoots and the best graffiti.

What’s your favorite part of Tribeca (street, park, whatever)?
My favorite parts are the old—and by now they really are old—friends I run into. There are many many artists who raised kids down here and still live here, largely because where else could we go to find the open space we all jealously guard? I bump into folks with changed countenances—but with the same energy and lots of stories—and it makes me know I’m a part of a neighborhood. You can’t buy that.

Your most memorable Tribeca celebrity sighting?
Back in the day, before Bubby’s was Bubby’s it was a fancy food place called Peter Dent. I went in for scones and coffee. And the man in front of me had a huge bike chain around his waist, as did I. I said provocatively, “Hey, nice big chain you have there!” The biker turned and it was John Kennedy. I was so embarrassed, but after that we laughed and talked theater and the neighborhood.

If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would it be?
More street life—the way it used to be. We would close the streets for pie-eating contests or cookouts on weekends, and it was such a small-town party feeling.

What’s changed in Tribeca that you like? That you don’t?
My joke is that I liked myself much more when I glanced in the mirror 30 some odd years ago. Things change and you either go with the morphing or you are a curmudgeon in a corner. I embrace change. I like that friends come here and cabs can find it. I like that. But I also loved the isolation, the Day the Earth Stood Still feel to the streets after the egg and butter guys left the warehouses for the day. I miss that quiet. It almost approaches that silent hum on holiday weekends. I miss throwing the keys out the window when someone used to visit because there were no buzzers or intercoms.

Why Tribeca?
Pure luck. I was living in a perfectly nice, smallish, two-bedroom apartment in the West Village and working in the theater. I know this sounds so spoiled, but I felt cramped; I wanted space to rehearse. So I got the Village Voice and there was one loft. I went to see it and have been there ever since.

Any questions you wish you’d been asked?
Is it North Moore or Nathaniel Moore, and how do you know? Answer: I know it’s North Moore because Nathaniel Moore was a chancellor of Columbia University who came to prominence after the street was named. It’s as if two hundred years from now people were to think that Clinton Hill or Clinton Street was named for Bill Clinton. Also, there’s a one-block long street downtown, called—you guessed it—Moore Street. Hence, this is the Moore Street north of that. Whew, glad you asked! Wait, I asked….

Previous TCQ&As:
Matt Schneider: “Life Just Keeps Getting Better and Better”
• Judy Dunne: “Last Halloween, a Client Dressed Her Son as a Lobster in a Pot”
• Donna Marotta: “The Number of Nail Salons Baffles Me”
• Susan Bernfield: “I Almost Invited Jon Stewart Over on Passover”
• Paulette Goto: “I Buy ‘Play-Date Punch’ at Chambers Street Wines”


1 Comment

  1. Very good interview (and glad I finally have an answer to N. Moore question). The TCQ&A’s are a great feature for TC.