Open Letter: I Wish…

Last week’s “I Wish…” post got some excellent comments (although I’m not sure I can get behind hoping that Buster’s Garage would return). Troy Torrison, meanwhile, fired off an extensive email that put my original wishlist to shame—and warranted a post in its own right.

It’s amazing how some of these wishes come true! I once wished in a Tribeca local paper that Collect Pond Park could be fixed up and that a bathroom be added to Washington Market Park and voilà! (Well, 15 years later….)

I wish triangle by tribeca grand 31113Extending that stretch of triangular concrete [in front of Tribeca Grand]… I wish Church Street was narrowed. This street should go on a serious road diet. The stretch north of the Tribeca Grand should mostly be turned into a park. One lane should do it.

Downtown’s pretty dullsville. I wish something like Area, Danceteria or Mudd Club (sue me, I’m old) would open down here. I wish more cool kids would be on the streets late at night. My vote for location: that cool old firehouse on Lafayette near the Tombs. Wouldn’t have worry about waking the neighbors—they’re locked up. [The old firehouse is becoming even more dedicated to documentary film. But have you ever been to Santos Party House?]

I wish W. Broadway was re-named Memorial Drive to stop the confusion with regular Broadway and to honor 9/11. It’s amazing to me that we haven’t recognized that with a street! This street, too, should go on a “road diet.”

cobblestoneI wish more side streets of Tribeca were paved with real cobblestone pavers. They last forever and slow cars down.

I wish there were more boats moored in the Hudson. There should be hundreds of them parked south of Houston. Maybe that could help pay for Pier 40.

Speaking of which, I wish the city would pay for Pier 40 to be done right.

I wish Greenwich Street could be narrowed and ‘greened’ south of P.S. 234. Currently, it has a sad ending as it gets down close to the temporary PATH station.

I wish sort of average looking three-bedroom apartments in the area didn’t cost $3,000,000. To that end, I wish building housing was easier and cheaper for developers. It amazes me how many buildings in the area seem to be “lying fallow”—e.g., nice, old loft buildings and ostensible commercial buildings used to store bolts of fabric and boxes. Are the owners are just waiting for the right moment to sell? Are they hoping the building catches on fire and they don’t have to worry about landmark status? I’m sure every situation is different but it amazes me how much potential housing in the area goes wanting.

Speaking of that… I wish downtown’s new über-expensive Calatrava PATH station offered fast train service to all local airports. If this terminal had a bullet train connecting Lower Manhattan to even JFK it would be a game-changer for downtown.

I wish someone would come up with a realistic and aesthetically pleasing plan to remake the Seaport and Water Street. Wasn’t Water Street supposed to be turned into our Park Avenue? Why so many pie-in-the-sky plans that never go anywhere? This neighborhood seems doomed to be “the area of the future that always will be.” [I believe the Water Street plan is moving forward, possibly even this summer.]

I wish all the crappy buildings on Canal Street would get bought up by same people who remade Soho and Dumbo. Canal is a blight!

On that point, the problem with Canal Street is the horrible traffic. East River tolls would help, but long-term I’d love a toll tunnel connecting New Jersey I-78 and the Turnpike directly to Long Island with a big tunnel. Remember how pleasant it was to walk downtown during the run up to Sandy? Because the bridges and tunnels were closed!

More bike paths. I wish the bikes getting off the Brooklyn Bridge in particular had an easy way to get places. Cobblestones for cars & trucks, asphalt for bikes and scooters.

I wish stretch limos (beyond a reasonable length) were banned.

I wish all the  plastic eyesores that are the free Village Voice/L Magazine/Gotham Writers’ Workshop racks would be either trashed or consolidated into the kinds of dispensers they have around Grand Central. Those look good and seem to work fine. What’s the holdup?

I wish there were more doctor’s offices downtown. Compared to the Upper East and West Sides we are underserved.

I wish all the old-style Bishop’s Crook light posts will be the uniform lighting provider downtown. Everything street south of 14th Street should use these. The ‘cobra’ light fixtures are a modernist blight.

I wish those mobile home classroom units used by the Borough of Manhattan Community College along the West Side Highway would be sent to help tornado victims in Oklahoma. [FYI, I’ve asked BMCC twice about when they’ll be removed, since they were supposed to go after Fiterman Hall reopened, but I got no response.]

I wish local law 11 (the sidewalk shed law) would be changed to give these projects a much tougher time limit. It’s crazy that some of these sheds have been on our streets for over a decade! Woolworth Building, ahem!

I wish all the round glass sidewalk basement illuminators would be landmarked. Some city agency should help the “owners” bring these back all these useful little treasures to their former glory. I wish new buildings built in the area had to use them so we’d have more of them. That’s contextual.

I wish the police would get serious about arresting and deporting the people who sell fakes in Chinatown. There should also be a law against buying fake LV handbags, Rolexes, and other merchandise. [Councilmember Margaret Chin has introduced legislation to that effect.] A few weekends of mass arrests of tourists and the trade in knockoffs would stop. For a while, at least.

I wish the FDR Drive and all the piers on the East Side could get the same sort of makeover the West Side Highway got. (I think this is happening… slowly.)

I wish Tribeca had a Trader Joe’s. My dream location? The useless, windswept base of the AT&T Long Lines Building.

I wish Tribeca had a middle school as good as Stuyvesant High School and P.S. 234.

I wish the farmer’s market along Washington Market Park had more farmers and a more substantial array of offerings.

I wish we had year-round public schools that started at 8:30 till 6 without having to pay extra to the Downtown Community Center. Why we continue to have short school days/years when no kids are needed to bring in the crops is beyond me.

I wish Tribeca had a Kumon center.

I wish someone would take 92YTribeca and keep essentially the same programs (albeit with a new name).

I wish All Good Things was like twice the size and had a bookstore and a pool table or something. [Initially the plans included a bookstore—or at least a bookshelf—but I guess that didn’t happen.]

I wish the police would catch our neighborhood cat burglar. Let’s get all the people filming police procedurals in the area on the case.

I wish more side streets in Tribeca had tree planters like the ones on White Street between Broadway and Church. [Contact Trees for Tribeca to get some in front of your building.]

I wish the area around the Franklin Street subway stop became a much larger park. (Again, this seems be happening.)

I wish the as yet unfinished Collect Pond Park would be extended to the edge of that government building on Leonard Street. Right now it’s an underused street and a strip of parking for the placard posse. I wish the city would really crack down on placard parking. Let’s get more city/state/federal employees to take the subway like the rest of us!

That’s all for now.



  1. Great list. I wish. But while the tree planters on White are attractive, they leave a sidewalk that’s just too narrow (eg for strollers that can’t easily move up onto the metal steps also common on that street).

  2. The Water Street initiative is absolutely moving forward! Lots of changes are in store!

  3. Incredibly thoughtful, well-considered list.

    (keep going. any ideas for neighborhoods beyond tribeca)

  4. People in my building periodically suggest sponsoring tree planters but apparently they also sponsor rats. That usually kills the idea, which I also wish would catch on more.

    I happen to like and have always liked the cobra-head street lamp. I think it is one of NYC’s most iconic contributions to the global image-répertoire for “New York.” I would like some of them to be kept around. So graceful, and yet so menacing! Who designed them?

    bullet train airport transit from Calatrava: unbelievably good idea.

  5. The airport train is a fantastic idea, but not an original one, sadly. It had been talked about a lot in the early planning stages for the WTC/Path site. I think the moment where it might have been possible has passed.

  6. I’m pretty sure there was federal money for the airport train from the stimulus and then one of the recent governors nixed it.

  7. I wish….the idiots that tie up their non-stop barking dogs outside of Food Emporium or Duane Reade were not allowed to own pets AND live in the Triangle below Canal.

  8. I wish….mommy-blogs were outlawed. Mothers who think they know how to raise a kid before their kid(s) has/have reached adulthood should shut-the-focaccia-up until they are 95-100% sure their theories worked and their fully-grown offspring is worthy of sainthood.

  9. I also want a Trader Joe’s to open in TriBeCa! Even though we have Whole Foods and Food Emporium a TJ’s would be a welcomed addition, ESPECIALLY in TriBeCa east where there are NO grocery stores.

  10. 1. We should create another ball field similar to the Battery Park fields on one of the piers. The population of field using individuals has ballooned, but we have added no new field space below canal.
    2. Make whoever is buying St. John’s give a school and space for Trader Joes.
    3. Need a Daffy’s
    4. As the fastest growing neighborhood in NYC, we need a development process. We can’t convert every parking lot to condos without ensuring we have schools, grocery stores, transportation, etc to support the new developments.
    5. A choice public school open to all citizens of NYC.
    6. a girl’s soccer league as part of Downtown Soccer. Having 40 girls of varying ages show up a couple of times a week for a girl’s workshop does not constitute a real effort to provide school aged girls with a meaningful soccer experience. It doesn’t take a rocket scientists to see why girls keep dropping out of our local recreation league.
    7. Non Battery Park City residents should have to pay more to use Asphalt Green and the ballfields–sorry not a wish list for Tribeca, but….
    8. a great, cheap ramen place, Kati rolls, and a falafel place
    9. Fines for dog owners who let their dogs urinate on trees or in the middle of the sidewalk.
    10. Fines for Stuy kids, BMCC students and Families who clog the intersections at Chambers when everyone needs to get through.
    11. Some super futuristic material that can be laid on top of the grass at Washington Market and the laws in Battery Park City that will enable winter/spring usage while still enabling the grass to recover

  11. Fines and additional charges? I’m not wishing punitive measures.

    Daffy’s went out of business in 2012. There’s a discount store called Century 21.