Time to liberate the neighborhood’s sidewalks

The NYPD has blocked off Ericsson Place in front of the First Precinct for two months, since at least June 4, to all traffic — even that on foot. And while Chambers Street was open to pedestrians during Occupy City Hall, once the NYPD cleared it out on July 22 they also closed all of Chambers between Broadway and Centre along with the plaza on Centre, City Hall Park and its east-west crossings at Warren and Park Place.

It’s time to give the neighborhood and the city back its sidewalks and open spaces. The NYPD can keep cars (but not bikes!) off the streets if it wants, though requiring vehicles to take circuitous routes off the bridge and around the neighborhood does none of us any favors. But prohibiting pedestrians from walking down one of our main thoroughfares, and from travelling across Ericsson Place, which I will note is one of the easier ways east in the top half of the district, is unfair and unreasonable.

The officer stationed on Hudson and Ericsson told me the street has been closed off because of “riots.” If he’s talking about the couple dozen protestors who gathered in front of the precinct after Nikki Stone was taken off the streets in an unmarked van, that does not seem to justify a precinct having to barricade itself off from the public. (The NYPD press office has not replied to any of my questions.)

And while I am at it, the steps of City Hall and the crossing at Murray have been closed off from the public and used as a private parking lot since 9/11. Let’s liberate that too.



  1. While I agree the sidewalks should be open to foot traffic, many residents would be very happy seeing street closures to “non-resident” car traffic.

    I’ve heard clamoring to see the Beach Street exits (the Holland Tunnel round-about exits that book-end Ericsson Place street) be permanently closed! How do you argue with reducing downtown vehicular traffic, especially cross-borough.

  2. It’s a good thing they prevented us from using these spaces in case somebody prevented us from using these spa– wait

  3. I live on Broadway & Warren. I just had surgery, so having to walk all the way around City Hall Park in order to get to the Lexington Avenue subway is beyond my capabilities. I keep hoping that they will open Chambers Street, at least to pedestrians, and they show no inclination to do this. This is completely outrageous.

    I don’t know what’s going on with the other side of City Hall Park, by the Lexington Avenue subway station. I certainly hope that they have opened that, because it has the only elevator to that station. If you were old or disabled, without the elevator, you’re simply out of luck. That means to me.

    Open Chambers, open the pathway through the park, open the park! NOTHING is happening re: protests!!!!

  4. I’m so tired of City Hall Park being closed. And why do they need 20 police standing around in there at all times? One officer was smoking a cigar. It’s beyond ridiculous.

    • Alas, yes, watching all those cops standing around each day chatting and earning overtime while the beauty of City Hall Park sits, languishing. Incredibly frustrating, both to me and my little Yorkie, Sylvia.

  5. Does anyone know the right government contact to reach about the City Hall Park closure? It’s utterly ridiculous that a giant barricade has been blocking the park and sidewalks for weeks without any apparent end in sight. The protests have largely died down and the occupiers from last month have all moved elsewhere. There is no excuse for this space to be taken from the residents without any consideration for the value it brings to the families here.

    • Friends of City Hall Park agrees that it’s wonderful the security is loosening. We look forward to a return to normal access to our neighborhood park and all New Yorkers city commons as soon as sections are safe. Further, how about making the Northeast Plaza of City Hall Park into an Open Streets recreation area? Please email CityHallParkNYC@earthlink.net to join our campaign for better parks in lower Manhattan.

  6. At 5:30 this afternoon, NY’ers are rallying at Broadway and Warren Street to demand that Mayor de Blasio order NYPD to re-open foot and bicycle traffic at/around City Hall and every precinct house in the city. I’ll be there. I hope to see many of my neighbors, including the good folks who have voiced their dissatisfaction with NYPD’s takeover of our public space and routes.

  7. It does suck but let’s not forget the complaints when the park was occupied. Let’s all not be naive enough to think they won’t come back to make their point(s) whatever they feel they may be

    • The police officers currently there doing nothing could very easily make sure the park and surrounding areas are not taken back by protestors. It made sense to close it all for a few days after they cleaned it up, but at this point it’s useless. You can’t close public spaces just because you think they can come back.

  8. Also the street is blocked on West Broadway between Lispenard & Canal (although I seem to now be able to squeeze through on a bike), with additional barricades blocking two traffic lanes along 6th Ave (which causes traffic backups), and others blocking pedestrian flow at Canal Street, barricades across the sidewalks (and into the street) at North Moore and Varick blocking pedestrian flow, additional police and other vehicles blocking the bike lane along Varick between Beach & North Moore Streets (causing bike riders to have to squeeze into one of the two remaining active traffic lanes, while dodging the aforementioned street barricades), all for no discernible reason as mentioned previously.

    • West Broadway between lispenard and canal is controlled by NYPD Transit District 2, with offices located in the A,C,E station below. They seem mostly concern about room to park their (aboveground) patrol vehicles.

      That is a separate command from the 1st Precinct, who is blocking cars and pedestrians from accessing Ericsson and Varick Streets to various extents.

    • The closure of two lanes of 6th Avenue and West Broadway between Lispenard and Canal seems to be pointless at this time. This entire area needs to be reconsidered by the DOT. The parking for cars from TD-2 is out of control. These cars have commandeered the west side of West Broadway and jump the curb to park. This narrows the sidewalk on this block considerably and is a constant eyesore.

  9. Let’s not forget Park Row, the original blocked street from 9/11 that is still blocked today. Not only is it blocked but there are permanent security barriers and the street has been turned into additional parking for police officers. This is all under the guise of security for Police Headquarters.

  10. Yes to Park Row, and (it’s not Tribeca but) Zuccotti Park is still barricaded, and the barricade around the 9/11 memorial makes even less sense–the barriers are several feet into the pedestrian sidewalks around the memorial and it’s very crowded on the Liberty Street side.

  11. I’ve lodged many complaints with 311 about the street closures and blocked park access. Dozens of police standing around watching pigeons is not a good use of our dwindling city funds. Additionally, blocking off a green space and access to the 4/5/6 trains is extremely disruptive. Any advice on whom else to call?

  12. I couldn’t agree more. There is absolutely NO reason for them to keep City Hall Park closed (and the areas around it). They can open it to the public and still use those officers standing/sitting there doing nothing to make sure no one sets camp there again.

    And speaking of closing streets, not happy with that, they have decided streets around City Hall are now their parking lot. Barclay St is now full of “official business nypd” cars parked, including blocking the entrance of residencial buildings like Barclay Tower. Tried calling 311 (only to have a car open and closed in 30 min nothing done), tweeting does nothing either. I was able to get in touch with someone from Councilwoman Chin’s team and they were able to have 1st precinct move the car away from 10 Barclay entrance only to have them do it again today. This is a total abuse of power by the NYPD. We need that park open and our streets returned to us… public transit with working ok so there is no reason why suddenly it’s all a NYPD parking lot. If we the citizens have to abide by the rules, so should they. I’m willing to start some official point of contact to address all this with our elected officials and the NyPd. Enough is enough !

  13. The NYPD still blocking off Ericsson Place in front of the First Precinct for two months, since at least June 4, to all traffic — even that on foot is ridiculous. They also seem to be taking a vacation since there are no less than 10 of them there doing nothing!

  14. I completely agree that City Hall needs to be open to the public! Yesterday morning, Saturday 8/9 there were no less than 50 officers lining the barricades around City Hall and City Hall park. When asked how I could gain access to the 6 train, most of them did not even know what I was talking about? That is stunning, how can they not have the slightest familiarity with the neighborhood they are policing? I literally asked 8 police officers before one of them directed me to the 1 Center Street location and said “Maybe you can get in there?” Honestly.

    The park and the thoroughfares need to be opened immediately. How do we instigate a movement for opening the area?

  15. Where are our representatives? Community Board, City Council, Borough President? They could do something about this but they haven’t.

    • File the 311 and then call Mayor’s office and CIty Council Margaret Chin’s office to complain further because they need to back up the community! In July CB1 spoke out about all of these areas which I suspect is why the sidewalks around City Hall were reopened the next day instead of walking in the bike lanes and streets.

  16. This occupation by the Police is an abuse of power. Totally unjustified after all this time. They act as if they own our city and they would like us to love them!

  17. I live on Chambers St. and was thrilled to have the NYPD and the street closed as opposed to sleepless nights due to the squatters down the block blasting noise and defacing the buildings.

    This morning vehicular traffic was opened, let’s see what happens next.

  18. I simply don’t understand it.. we are dealing with enough down here open the park..
    We have 100 or so officers standing around doing, i’m not sure what with insanity going on one block away.
    The homeless situation is OUT of control.

  19. I’m rather grateful that we have police in our precinct who see after our residents, buildings and sidewalks.

    Yes, I’ve also seen the cigar smoking cops standing around. No, that’s not a great look.

    However, if current police duties are to oversee tunnel & bridge entry/exits (i.e Holland Tunnel & B’lyn Bridge) while at worst leaving verbal skirmishes on the sidewalks, I’m happy the police are present and not having to engage vandals, looters, or any gun battles in the 1st Precinct.

    Yes. The homeless issue needs to be addressed, too. But is that a police issue anymore?

  20. I am very happy to see police finally protecting that area. No more vandals, looters and homelessness around City Hall. We need all the help we can get right now. The city is in turmoil. People are afraid to live here and are moving out. Pray for our city. Crime is through the roof!

  21. I have to ask myself whether I’m living on the same planet much less the same neighborhood after reading some of these comments. After just weeks is the preference to return to 2:00 a.m. helicopters, blaring horns, “kill pigs” graffiti, looting and blatant lawlessness in exchange for regaining a few parking spots and quicker walk to the 6 train? How can police officers acting as a deterrent not make sense during what is clearly still a fluid situation. Has anyone been to the upper west side lately? Did anyone see Chicago last night? I’ll take officers “standing around” any day.

  22. My 3 block walk to the 4,5,6 train is now a 10 block walk to get to and from the train to get to work. The continued closing of Chambers seems totally unnecessary. The police at the barricades are really rude and they don’t wear masks. At first they were cleaning post-encampment. From what I can see, it’s clean now. Its time to open up Chambers Street, City Hall Park and the subway entrance.

  23. I am responding to Bizarro World. I totally agree with you. I want a ” safe neighborhood”. Not what is going on uptown or Chicago. Lots of my friends are moving out not from the virus but afraid to walk the streets in this crime filled city ( going back to the 1980s) . I rather see Cops all over than crime.
    These people are more concerned about streets being opened. Once the streets near City Hall have no more officers to protect it you see them all come back for no good!! They are destroying our city more and more each day. Blame the horrible administration that I believed in a long time ago.
    Its so sad.

    • Agreed. The spike in crime, and the mayhem in major cities across this country represent utter failure of progressive Democratic policies on public safety. Unfortunately it will only get worse here in our once great city as the group of potential mayoral candidates on the horizon are further left of de Blasio. What is happening now is far worse than the Beame era and the Dinkins era.

  24. I am reading these comments and wonder seriously if I have swallowed something and am living in a totally different downtown. First, I spent many days and nights at Occupy City Hall. Up until the budget decision that entire community was peaceful and actually pretty impressive. I was disappointed that the media only covered it from a distance–literally–a few photos from afar, which was so disappointing. They had food donated from local restaurants and were feeding anyone who needed to eat, they had a free bodega with donated items, a medical center, library, art station etc. It was organized, non-violent and more civil than the “dog eat dog” world of the outside world. The graffiti certainly picked up after the original protestors left. And I suspect, this was the sort of movement that the old timers in the neighborhood might have been more familiar with.
    We have been eating and drinking at Tribeca and Soho establishments for the past few weeks, always waking there and back and we do not feel unsafe. Is crime really spiking down here or are people grabbing onto the Post’s Murdochesque headlines? Summer is always quieter down here as second home owners flee for the summer. And more businesses are shuttered so streets are quieter,and I anticipate this will intensify. Dining al fresco has been so pleasant and I hope NYC will opt to have tables in the streets every summer. Subways seem safe and clean. We have seen a few more homeless people, but not some “invasion.”Our kids are still out and about–no adjustment in how or where they travel. Am I living in another world????

    • “Is crime really spiking down here or are people grabbing onto the Post’s Murdochesque headlines?”
      Now that’s funny. Unfortunately it is true, crime really is spiking. Perhaps when you have time you can read some of these articles:

      City of bullets: Shootings across NYC surge by 177% in July 2020, NYPD reports –amNY

      The Wave of Gun Violence in N.Y.C. –NY Times

      What’s Fueling New York City’s Rise in Violent Crime? There Are Several Theories –WSJ

      New York City Shootings Are Up 277 Percent From This Time Last Year –Newsweek

    • You’re seeing what you want to see because it fits your narrative. There was plenty of news coverage from up close and some of those reporters were attacked. Do you really have to ask why people didn’t like seeing the litter, tarps, graffiti, drug use, hostility and violence at city hall? You really can’t see it?
      You are indeed living in another world.

      • Deblahhhsio–

        Haha–I don’t need someone to go in and “report” on Occupy City Hall so I can see what “others” in my neighborhood are doing. If you already believe those “others” were out to undermine your safety and well being, just the graffiti would have given you all the “evidence” you needed to validate that narrative.
        I went there–many times (probably spent more time there than “reporters”, spoke to people, participated in meetings with my kids, let my son spend the night etc. FYI–much of the art on the sidewalks which was easily removed, was impressive. Thank you artists. That community from the inside was unbeleivably compassionate and kind. To be honest, I was shocked at the degree to which it was organized. And also, after the original protestors left, things really did devolve, but mostly becuase homeless people showed up and were not kicked out.
        Its precious that so many people in our nabe are so angry and upset about the protests-blinding fury rising from second homes or luxury high rise perches. My god,how can “those people” come to our little safe neighborhood and dare to make demands of our government.

    • Hi Cami, you seem like such a nice person. I wish what you just wrote is true. .Believe me I really do.. I hate to break the news to you but there is a huge spike in crime downtown as well. Add the app Citizens to your iPhone. You will than see all the crime down here, Tribeca and add Financial area. Its heartbreaking. Also, stories I hear on the street when I walk my dog about mentally ill homeless attacking citizens etc. a doctor I actually know who lives near Gold street had his bike stolen right in front of the cops by four young punks. The cops were right there and did nothing at all. They said if we intervene we will get in trouble. Law enforcement is backing down, I don’t blame them in this environment. Its very scary. I bought my place early 90s. Raised my kids here and now I hope and pray it gets better. I am heartbroken and afraid to walk around at night so are my neighbors.

      • Your sincerity in your sentiments towards Cami are hard to believe.

        But beyond that, you’re saying (anecdotally) that four cops saw a bike being stolen by ‘punks’ and they declined to intervene? Because they thought they would get in trouble?

        So much to unpack here. So you are okay with police declining to do their jobs? Because they are afraid of getting ‘in trouble’? What would they get in trouble for doing, specifically? If they don’t put anyone in a chokehold or unlawfully use excessive force, they’re fine. Let’s please live in reality.

        Cops are public servants paid to do their jobs; jobs they choose to do. The fact that you’ve said they’ve abdicated their duty, and you choose to blame *others* is extremely telling.

        I don’t get the commentary here right now; it reeks of privilege. It’s been a rough few months for the city, and definitely has for our neighborhoods and those adjacent. (Though I hasted to add, it’s been much worse in other parts.) And I agree that once Occupy became more of a homeless encampment, it should have been dismantled. But what I really end up reading is that your inconveniences outweigh the importance of eradicating the injustices in our society. And the way that our own police force reinforces them.

        I’m sorry to say that sometimes change is a little messy, and it’s a struggle. In this case, it’s a necessary one. I’ll count myself as one of the privileged people that lives here and lives here comfortably, and I will gladly deal with some discomfort for societal change.

        Not feeling safe walking around at night? I don’t know, but I don’t know your experiences, so who am I to judge, though I find it a stretch. More than anything, let’s hold cops accountable and demand they not only treat people with respect, but follow the laws that they are sworn to uphold.

        • Malcolm I think you may have posted your statement to the wrong article and series of comments. The debate above has been about reopening certain areas that have been closed off to pedestrian traffic in light of recent looting and destruction of property vs keeping the existing police presence that’s been used as a deterrent to that illegal activity. It’s also touched on the spate of crime in the neighborhood – witnessed first hand by some of us – and the use of police presence to deter that. I’m not sure that peaceful protesting or social injustice are being debated in any of these comments and I’m fairly certain that every single commenter would agree that the concept of good policing is indisputable. Pick a side in the debate if you like but don’t hijack the subject like the thugs who smashed windows up and down west broadway have done.

          • I responded directly a comment on the very topic, but you are right that there are multiple threads dealing with the debate on attitudes towards and treatment of our police.

            I personally do not think that the police taking over our public streets (the topic at hand here) is deterring crime, or even about that. I think it is more of a demonstration of their entitlement and disrespect for our space. Remember, most of them don’t even live in the city, and don’t care for our urban fabric.

            I’m not sure I’m analogous to criminals who looted for ‘hijacking’ a comment thread, but other than that, I respect your generally respectful tone which comment sections aren’t always conducive to.

  25. Malcom thanks for a kind and thoughtful dialogue in a world that needs more of it. From me to you – Respect