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NYTimes.com Article: In Downtown Canyon, a Vibrant Social Scene Blooms

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  • rickrise@earthlink.net
    This article from NYTimes.com has been sent to you by rickrise@earthlink.net. Another carfree delight, this time in Manhattan! rickrise@earthlink.net
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 4, 2003
      This article from NYTimes.com
      has been sent to you by rickrise@....

      Another carfree delight, this time in Manhattan!


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      In Downtown Canyon, a Vibrant Social Scene Blooms

      September 4, 2003

      YOU can find signs of new life downtown if you look
      carefully. And listen.

      Listen for the sound of laughter over the gurgle of
      conversation along Stone Street. Once a grim rivulet in the
      canyons of Lower Manhattan, Stone Street is now a sea of
      umbrellas - Heineken green, Guinness black, Stella Artois
      red, Amstel blue and Illy white - marking eight
      restaurants, side by side, that fill almost every square
      inch of this 19th-century precinct.

      Suddenly, surprisingly, the two blocks of Stone Street
      between Hanover Square and the Goldman Sachs headquarters
      at 85 Broad Street have become a social scene, crowded
      morning through night by Wall Streeters, tourists and
      neighbors pushing baby strollers or walking their dogs.

      This overnight transformation was eight years in the

      What made it possible were coordinated public and private
      measures, including a $2.3 million investment in the
      physical environment and a landmark designation that some
      property owners resisted. The result is different than its
      planners envisioned. So far, it is even better.

      "It just makes you happy to go on that street," said Carl
      Weisbrod, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York,
      which runs the Lower Manhattan business improvement
      district and was heavily involved in trying to resuscitate
      Stone Street, a dingy back alley for buildings along South
      William and Pearl Streets, where it was once easier to buy
      drugs than lunch.

      Today, a French pastry shop, Irish pub, French bistro,
      American grill and Italian, Chinese and Japanese
      restaurants occupy the ground floors of the small brick
      buildings. A Scandinavian sandwich shop, Smorgas Chef, is
      to open next week. Tables spill out to the sidewalks and
      stone-paved roadway, less than 20 feet wide, which is
      closed to traffic.

      What is emerging is a classic village marketplace, where
      nominally competitive businesses profit from operating
      cheek by jowl, attracting outsiders to an insular quarter
      with the promise of variety.

      "We all benefit from each other," said Harry Poulakakos,
      proprietor of Harry's at Hanover Square at the end of Stone
      Street. "You cannot eat at the same restaurant every day."

      His son, Peter, who owns Bayard's restaurant (upstairs
      from Harry's), has opened two establishments on Stone
      Street in the last nine months: Financier P�tisserie and
      Ulysses' pub, where his partner is Danny McDonald. "We're
      on the verge of making Stone Street a real destination,"
      Peter Poulakakos said.

      From its debut on Bloomsday, June 16, Ulysses' has stayed
      open until 4 a.m. and served Sunday brunch, which would
      have been almost unthinkable downtown not long ago. The
      four-year-old Waterstone Grill will probably open on
      weekends by the end of the year. "It looks like the demand
      has just about arrived," said Ronan Downs, a partner.

      This is not the demand foreseen in 1995, when the Downtown
      Alliance and Landmarks Preservation Commission sponsored a
      master plan for Stone Street by the Praedium Group, as
      economic development consultants, and Beyer Blinder Belle,
      for design and preservation. Praedium called for a mix of
      restaurants and "sports clothing and gear stores, corporate
      gift shops, hair salons or dental clinics."

      AS Mr. Weisbrod recalled it: "We were certainly
      anticipating one or two outdoor cafes. We could hardly have
      envisioned creating a street-length series of restaurants
      of different kinds working in a complementary and
      compatible fashion. There is no street like this in New

      To ensure that Stone Street would keep its distinctive
      character, formed in large part during the rebuilding of
      New York after the great fire of 1835, the landmarks
      commission designated it a historic district in 1996. Since
      then, it has issued 18 permits for new storefronts, signs
      and awnings.

      To spur economic development, the street was rebuilt with
      granite paving blocks, bluestone sidewalks and lampposts,
      at a cost of $1.8 million, financed by the federal
      government, the City Transportation Department, two other
      agencies and the Downtown Alliance.

      Owners on Stone Street chipped in $170,000 to repair vaults
      under the sidewalks. Goldman Sachs and the Metropolitan
      Life Insurance Company contributed $350,000 to rebuild the
      adjoining Coenties Alley.

      Stone Street was repaved and relandscaped by the end of
      2000. But like the rest of New York, it needed time to
      recover after the attack in 2001.

      What amazes Jennifer J. Raab, who was chairwoman of the
      landmarks commission when Stone Street was designated, is
      not so much the scene - though she said her jaw dropped
      when she first saw it - as the fact that it survived Sept.

      "It's more precious because of that," she said, "a
      wonderful social experiment to see if you can bring back a
      historic district. To be able to do that after the most
      extreme crisis our city has faced is spectacular."



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    • J.H. Crawford
      Thanks, this has come to me from several sources. Interesting. ... -- ### -- J.H. Crawford
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 6, 2003
        Thanks, this has come to me from several sources. Interesting.

        >This article from NYTimes.com
        >has been sent to you by rickrise@....
        >Another carfree delight, this time in Manhattan!
        >In Downtown Canyon, a Vibrant Social Scene Blooms
        >September 4, 2003
        > By DAVID W. DUNLAP
        >YOU can find signs of new life downtown if you look
        >carefully. And listen.

        -- ### --

        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
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