Let’s close Duane Street to through traffic for summer

The idea is not a new one. When Boston redeveloped Faneuil Hall in the ’70s, planners closed the streets around it to encourage business. The city also made seven blocks of Newbury Street car-free the past few summers for the same goal. Stone Street in the Financial District was closed to pedestrians in the ’90s, and one result was restaurants brought the historic street to life.

Now Corey Johnson, the City Council speaker who represents Chelsea and the Village, has proposed shutting some city streets to benefit restaurants in an op-ed in Crain’s recently. And the Friends of Duane Park submitted an application to the city’s new Open Streets program, with the hope that the area around the park could be closed to through traffic for two or three days a week.

The resulting open plaza — like a New England town green — could be a real boon to the neighborhood’s restaurants and a respite for residents, especially during these times. It would allow people to gather more easily while abiding by the current restrictions, and would breathe some life into the too quiet streets.

The city has recently added several downtown blocks to the Open Streets program, largely to add more space for recreation: seven blocks of Pearl from Cedar to State; Doyers from Pell to Bowery; Front from Beekman to Peck Slip. And this is great, but the opening of the bars for takeout here have shown already, in just a few days, how much we need areas for passive recreation, especially if the city truly wants us to be able to support local business. That program closes streets from 8a to 8p; ours could be noon to 9p, to allow for deliveries for local businesses, or those same hours but only a few days a week — Wednesday to Saturday, for example.

One of the best things about this neighborhood — if not *the* best — is how easy it is to bump into neighbors, chat on the street, catch up. I have built lifelong friendships from the accumulation of dozens of five-minute conversations. Our local businesses are important to us because they add to that formula too — by greeting customers they have known for years and giving us a way to interact in those brief and casual moments. It all adds up to a life.

So at the risk of using the G word — gather — we should start claiming some of our streets to get outside and to see our friends and neighbors, even if just for a wave from six feet away. We could all use a little cheer.

Duane Park 7 oclock cheer from Tribeca Citizen on Vimeo.



  1. I am all for it provided that:

    1. David Steingard gets those street seats for his Laughing Man Coffee; and,

    2. Madeline Lanciani gets a designated and reserved delivery approach and traffic lane for Duane Park Patisserie.

    Failing that, let the battle royale commence!

    • I’m a Duane Street resident. Sounds good to me especially if #2 above. I don’t think Laughing Man seating is in the cards, though–too close together and too close to the line that forms in front of the store itself.

    • NO, NO, NO to Laughing Man taking over anymore of our streets. Yes to whatever Madeline needs at Duane Park Patisserie.

      But NO to this bizarre idea – I mean what about the FDNY? Or do we not care how they will navigate getting back to their house?

      Anyway, thanks for the ideas.

  2. In addition to what James has mentioned, there needs to be trash cans provided outside by these places serving food, drinks and coffee. Currently people are leaving cups and trash on the sidewalk or on the steps of the buildings they are sitting at to eat and drink and it is a big mess. The citibike baskets are filled with trash as well. There are plenty of street trash cans at the corners and inside Duane Park but I *guess* that people think someone is cleaning up after them as if they were inside.

  3. Let’s open up a lot more than Duane St. Almost every restaurant in the neighborhood on a street should be able to have outdoor areas for people to spread out. Retail shops could exhibit wares as well.

    It’s looking like the risks of outdoor spread is much lower than indoor, and our streets are underutilized spaces that could really benefit the neighborhood.

  4. Last night, we got drinks from Weather Up and sat outside on an empty stoop on Duane Street – and we were discussing how great it would be if they closed this “triangle” to traffic. I hope this comes to pass; it will be a huge boon to those of us who have stayed in the neighborhood during the shutdown.

    • That’s wasn’t an empty stoop it is our home and we are sick and tired of people gathering on it leaving garbage and smoking that comes straight into our building and our children’s bedrooms. I LOVE my neighborhood but people must be respectful and remember that people live here and deserve peace quiet and cleanliness in, on and around their homes.

      • The “empty stoop” is the entrance to someone’s home. Not a huge deal except when people leave cups, cigarette butts and other pieces of trash on it instead of walking to the corner trash cans. Today I saw a neighbor cleaning the citibike baskets of trash. Thanks Blueshirt man.

  5. YES! we were just talking about this yesterday as we had our “curbside” happy our on a stoop on Duane St. great idea.

  6. great idea! but can i ask what nabe can also do about growing homeless pop settling in our area? the numbers keep rising and i feel unsafe walking around.

    • i live up the block from Duane Street. I would love to see the street “open” as a temporary plaza. As long as people are minduful and respectful to residents, why not. I rather see people enjoying the little park and restuarants instead of the homeless and preditors I am seeing around as soon as it gets dark. Something needs to be done and now. Scary!

      • native or naive? “As long as people are minduful and respectful to residents” – sweet Jesus of Nazareth, did you just fall off the turnip truck? That’s not going to happen. Just look at the beaches and the anti-mask machos. Lots of people are deplorable. Lots. That’s how Trump and Hitler came to power.

        • Hey Jim Smithers, who are you to say I’m naïve! Oh, I assume your one of the entitled living down here. I was being nice mentioning respectful of others! I fell off a truck!! I was born and raised down here! We built this neighborhood and many other neighborhoods in this city! The city isn’t safe already once it gets dark and is going to get worse! I bet you will be running to get out as soon as things get bad, which they will!!! Mentioning politics that have nothing to do with opening Duane Street! Shame on you !!!!!! Yes, I want to see Duane Street open to people enjoying it and being respectful!! nothing to do with politics!!!! Go pack up and go to your house in the Hamptons!!!!

  7. All for it. Resident, Duane Street, and Founder, Friends of Duane Park, Tribeca Trust, and Human-scale NYC.

  8. Couldn’t agree more. We live above the Lovely Bridal Shop next to Laughing Man and it is a joy to see people sitting on our steps as we walk out (MINUS the TRASH). To have it all open would really help the support of us in quarantine as well as proper social distancing!

  9. expand Duane Park North to entrance of 165 Duane Street

    more open space is nice.

  10. agreed, gotta let Madeline through with her truck. and restore the sidewalk to the south side of Duane Park, and return the missing bit of Duane Park on the east side.

    • Seems like someone is using a pandemic to try to push through their wish list for Duane Park. However, all is denied. Duane Reade Park will remain open to cars, delivery trucks, parking and all of the transportation wants and desires of the aforementioned Madeline. It has been decreed.

      • I love you Jim Smithers! Thank you! Duane Street is already perfect as a… oh yeah… street. And for those of you who think your “innocent” little gatherings are harmless and free please remember that someone pays for those spaces – inside and out – in the form of taxes, cleanup and repair (and there’s always cleanup and repair) as well the sacrifice of their opportunity to live peacefully in THEIR own homes without people congregating outside their doors.

  11. Although, I live on Duane Street, is it a good idea to have all of these people congregating close together on the open streets?

    • This is a real concern. I’d love to see Duane Street closed to traffic, and believe that there is a way to do it. However, the growing “sidewalk bar” scene has made it hard for residents to safely navigate back to their homes. The only option right now is to walk in the street. Keep in mind the number of people on the street who are over 70 or are otherwise at risk. One option would be have clearly distinguished seating options similar to what happened in Domino Park. The challenge will be the lines up to the bars and figuring out a pathway for pedestrians while maintaining social distance.

  12. Bad idea. Duane St is a through street to Broadway. If it was closed it would add more traffic to Chambers St. We don’t need more room for the adult playground at Laughing Moms.

  13. Many of the streets in downtown Manhattan could be closed/restricted for motor vehicles, with very little additional pain for drivers and a boon to residents and visitors (our city’s tourism and especially our restaurants, to name just two, are going to need all the ‘boost’ they can get when things return to normal).

  14. I’m all for this on side streets that make sense. This needs to be implemented quickly so the restaurants can take advantage of the warmer months, and there needs to be a system for garbage and recycling, and restroom facilities.

  15. I’m surprised that The Hideaway hasn’t taken responsibility for the trash they are creating on the street outside of their place of business. There are empty cups and food wrappers on the street and filling all of the Citibike baskets on the rack directly in front of the business. It seems their attitude is one where they feel that the trash is no longer their responsibility once they get their cash and sling the merchandise out the window.

    Sad really for what was once a great neighborhood focused watering hole. Puffys and Weather Up seem to have taken responsibility and both maintain clean streets. Surprising in that they are clearly operating on a shoestring on an attempt to survive. Unfortunately for them, they’ll quickly realize the error in their “not my problem” attitude when the city comes to fine or shut them down destroying what little income they have been able to generate. Walking a block past this weekend I overheard a pedestrian on her cell phone speaking with 311 (I assume) to voice her complaints. I truly hope they get their act together

    • I live close to Puffy’s and last weekend they absolutely didn’t pay any attention to the trash issue that comes from people drinking and eating in front of the place. A homeless guy situated himself at the citibike stand and and every so often he’d go through the trash can and drink the remnants out of various plastic cups.
      I’m happy for Puffy’s being able to partially open- but there’s been a definite increase in people urinating in front of my bldg and leaving empty wine bottles and cups on the sidewalk. I know there’s a move for this takeaway booze to be permanent so I hope the places make more of an effort to clean up.

  16. Would love to see this happen! Would love to see lots of restaurants in the neighborhood get to expand their outdoor seating. Anything to help tribeca come back.

  17. Let’s open up Washington Market Park to traffic!

    • definitely a hater! mentioning Trump and Hitler! So republicans are deplorables? So what are democrats?? Shame on you to post hate on Tribeca Citizen. Shame on you.

      • I didn’t mention republicans, you did. Double shame on you.

        • Jim Smithers you mentioned deplorables which Democrats referred to Republicans . Give me a break.

          • Again, I didn’t mention democrats or republicans, you did. And why are you mentioning politics that have nothing to do with opening Duane Street?! Triple shame on you!!!!!!

          • Jim my first comment was about ” opening Duane Street” you mad a rude uncalled for comment to me. I feel off truck? Trump , Hitler, Deplorables was mentioned. Your commented on my comment neighbor you get your facts straight. I’m done now. Stop the hate.

          • But once again, I didn’t mention republicans. Does calling me nasty make you nasty? Asking for a friend.

  18. I love the idea of NYC having more outdoor dining and terraces. The sidewalk cafes in Spain and Italy are lovely. Doing something similar here would give restaurants a chance to recover safely and making it official would give them the chance to be good citizens of the neighborhood (e.g. taking responsibility for trash and guest management).

  19. hmmm- tempting to support the idea,bc i think it would definity be a help for my business- as well as the others, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and unless Jay St and Reade street can be rerouted to one way east, closing Duane St would create a ton of traffic issues, especially for the narrow streets of Jay & Reade.
    this is the kind of proposal that needs an impact study.

    • Now you want to impact everyone on Duane, Jay, and Reade Street? And waste money on an impact study? I didn’t move to Duane Street to live on a town square. Sorry Madeline your business doesn’t take priority over the quality of life of the 24/7 residents and the access (deliveries, trash, car loading/unloading, etc.) to their homes. Why don’t we close all the streets in NYC, so ALL businesses can benefit?

    • There was talk of a traffic study. Don’t know what happened.

      “The NYC Department of Transportation is hoping to change the direction of traffic on Jay in order to make getting around easier for FDNY and other emergency vehicles. Community Board 1 thinks Harrison would be a better choice. —Broadsheet”

      From the Broadsheet:

      “In November, 2016, the Fire Department requested that DOT conduct a feasibility study to determine the impact of reversing traffic on Jay Street, so that cars would flow westbound, because of a traffic puzzle that has confounded generations of Lower Manhattan motorists: Jay is one of four consecutive blocks (the others are Duane, Franklin, and Harrison Streets) that require traffic to move west to east.”


      • I literally called for Jay to be westbound but it was shot down by CB1 a little over a year ago.

        The four consecutive eastbound blocks is a relic of a long gone time when trucks had to turn left/east to get to the meat, fish, and dairy markets. CB1 still thinks it’s 1920 not 2020.

        Jay should run west. Chambers two ways, Reade west, two-pronged Duane east, Jay west, Harrison and Franklin east, No Moore west. Not entirely alternating west-east above Chambers but close enough.

  20. I’d love to see this and more pedestrianized streets in the city. What’s the update on congesting pricing plans, now that we are in viral mode?

  21. Isn’t Jay already one-way east?

    • Yes, Jay is eastbound but people including myself want it to be westbound for this:

      Chambers – east and west
      Reade – west
      Duane (both paths) – east
      Jay – west
      Harrison & Franklin – east
      No Moore west

      This way people don’t have to drive all the way up to No Moore to go west if they miss Reade moreover a second further south westbound street would reduce northbound traffic including that for the Holand Tunnel.

  22. Jim Smithers here is your comment. Maybe you have forgotten what your reply was to my opening up Duane Street Respectfully. You are a nasty person.

    native or naive? “As long as people are minduful and respectful to residents” – sweet Jesus of Nazareth, did you just fall off the turnip truck? That’s not going to happen. Just look at the beaches and the anti-mask machos. Lots of people are deplorable. Lots. That’s how Trump and Hitler came to power.

    • What does a NATIVE of Tribeca even mean? Do you get special privileges that someone that moved in an hour ago doesn’t? And which building did you build? Are you an owner or renter?

      • Native? That is my name. If you are smart and read all the comments I was responding to Jim, not you. If I own or rent what does it matter. Have a good weekend.

    • Native,
      Are you new to Tribeca Citizen?
      Never take on Jim Smithers, our precious resident satirist.

  23. What an absolutely lame idea. Every weekend would be like the taste of triburbia. This is a residential area with business that folks can access via sidewalks. Ridiculous.

  24. Mostly looking as to whether anyone has noticed/cares or other thoughts. Someone has started playing and singing everyday in Duane Park. On average this person has been playing for about 6 to 7 hours a day and mostly appears to be singing religious songs. There is rarely a moment one can sit in Duane Park without this as the singing goes from around noon to 12ish or 2PM and then again at 4 to around 8:30 PM. I’m all for people trying to make some money and get their voice out especially in these times, but it would also be nice to sit in the Park during these hours and enjoy the relative quiet.