Last month, Cap’n Transit had a post about the Really Narrow Streets of Manhattan. Here is a narrow street in Greenwich Village, not too far from NYU.
I think we can safely say that Minetta Lane, about thirty feet wide, is not living up to its potential as a Really Narrow Street. In this case, there are three possible reasons that come to mind. First, the city is imposing a division of street and sidewalk that keeps the sidewalk too narrow for any real commerce to take place (see also parts of Paris), and bolstering this division by allowing the same 30mph speeds as anywhere else in the city, but allowing the division to be erased by the well-connected drivers of these vans. Second, the lots are large and have at most one retail establishment each.
There may be a noise issue here: I know that noise complaints are relatively common in the Village, but I don’t know how much residents may have complained specifically about the Minetta Lane Theater, Bellavitae or the back door of Cafe Wha?.
It turns out that there is quite a backstory, discussed by Stephen Crane and a number of posts on the Media History of New York blog. Will Minetta Lane ever transcend this history to become more than a quiet backwater where people just pass through and become a place once again?