Seen & Heard: Will Staple Street Ever Be Cobblestoned Again?

••• K. asked whether Staple Street will ever be cobblestoned again, the way at least one block used to be. I tried the Department of Transportation, to no avail—and anyway I’m not sure this isn’t an LPC matter. Does anyone know?

Staple Street cobblestones••• Church Publick is taking a two-week vacation.

Church Publick••• “Anyone found good vegan pizza in the area?” asks Marcus. “East Village has a few good spots (00 + Co, John’s, etc).” Lulu recommended Saluggi’s. Anyone know of anything else?

••• I’ve grown fond of that wall next to 108 Chambers.

108 Chambers••• Babesta‘s shopping bag popped up in “Tallulah,” now on Netflix. (It shot here in June of 2015.)

Babesta in Tallulah



  1. Funny you post this about Staple St. Lately Staple St. has become really dirty and littered from garbage (left by the kids getting stoned, and endless photo/rap video shoots)
    So while Staple looks like a garbage can’s been dumped over- Collister St/Alley always looks immaculate. I’m not sure if it’s the city or who is responsible for picking up all the scattered trash.

  2. I recall one of your recent interviews, the interviewee was asked what they wished for in TriBeCa, and the wish was that all the streets were cobble-stoned. I would agree….The cobble-stones have an old-world beauty and charm that asphalt cannot match. Of course, cobble-stone is more expensive to maintain, which is presumably the (only?) reason for its scarcity in the city.

  3. All cobblestone would be aesthetically beautifully but practically terrible for infirm people, especially older ones. There’d be falls, twisted ankles etc. Also countless cigarette butts which would be a bitch to remove from between the cracks. 1916, sure, 2016…nah.

  4. Mike – Thank you for the comment. Are cobblestone streets really that much more dangerous to pedestrians? Yes, they take a bit more care to navigate. The plus side is that (perhaps) that applies to cars as well, who have to slow down instead of driving as if on a highway (as they do on many avenues and streets of the city).

    As for 1916, there are some aspects of old cities that I miss. Streetcars (trolleys) are another one. Hopefully those will return to NYC, in a suitably modernized form as “light rail” (call it what you will) in the near future, as they already have in many other cities.

  5. Although the area is landmarked, this has not prevented the paving over of cobbles such as on Cortlandt Alley or Franklin PL
    or here. This current view of Staple St. shows the (then)Merchant
    Marine Hospital on the right at Jay. St.(originally NY Hospital)and across the alley what was it’s ambulance entrance. The bridge was used to wheel emergency patients to the operating room on
    the top floor of the hospital. These no doubt included those injured
    during U-boat attacks on merchant ships during World War II.
    In the 1970’s during the artist heydays downtown the bridge was
    occupied by Mindy Stevenson, a local artist. The Fire Dept. once tried to demolish the bridge as a potential hazard but I assured them it was unoccupied.

  6. Yes, Marcus, cobblestone streets are more dangerous to walk for older and/or infirm people as they’re obviously not as flat as paved streets. Cobblestone is also bad for highheels for obvious reasons haha. I’m all for preserving them on Harrison and Staple Streets plus any other streets above Harrison tho, especially Harrison which is beautiful.

    No to light rail, a complete waste of money in the city with the most extensive public transit system in the country if not the world besides that it would be a traffic and pedestrian nightmare. It’s bad enough the cost to ride the current transit system keep going up and up, light rail would only add to it.

    I think an elevated people mover a la downtown Detroit below Fulton Street would be cool.

  7. I love the cobbles, but at the same time the section of Greenwich that has ’em (c. Laight street) is ALREADY all screwy and it feels like they only put them back in again a couple of years ago…

  8. Well, I’m “infirm” as well as clumsy, and have taken my share of falls on NYC paved streets (not to mention in my own home), what with the unevenness, cracks and potholes, but I’d still prefer cobblestones, even if I have to be more careful. But I prioritize beauty over practicality; perhaps that’s my lonely vote in the wilderness.

    The thought for light rail is that population of NYC keeps increasing, so our existing subways will become increasingly overcrowded, to the point of not being able to keep up. The city is experimenting with bus rapid transit (dedicated lanes), which already take lanes away from other use. It would be a natural evolution to eventually convert those to light rail use. Streetcars are cleaner (in terms of local pollution, at least), quieter, smoother ride, etc. than buses.

    The mayor is proposing some light rail already:

    Also some interesting info on the Village Crosstown Trolley Coalition site (no idea how active this group or initiative is):

  9. Price of cobblestone restoration is insane, of course. Restoration of Bond Street in NoHo was $50k, and that was 10 years ago:

    The city didn’t pay for it; privately funded by “NoHo N.Y. Business Improvement District and the nonprofit National Architectural Trust.”

    So maybe that’s the only way for streets that want to re-cobble.