Month: March 2012

Commentary, Greenwich Village

Modern towers can respect the street

If you’re walking up Broadway in Greenwich Village, you’ll get to the block between Waverly Place and Eighth Street:

Notice how there’s a continuous row of shops (except for the garage) that respects the “build to” line, as do the shops on the following block. Above the shops is a setback, and then the 31-story Georgetown Plaza tower, built in 1965.

On the same block, right next to where I took the picture above, the shops continue with the venerable “Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger” diner, a liquor store and the Delion Deli. Above them is the 35-story Hilary Gardens tower, built in 1972.

It’s not classic Greenwich Village urbanism or a quiet residential street, but it’s easy to walk and provides a stimulating visual environment. It fits in so well with the surrounding ground-floor retail that I only recently noticed that the buildings were postwar towers.

Contrast this with the boring vegetation along Washington Square Village, or the pointless lawn of Silver Towers.

If the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation really wanted to “protect the character of our neighborhood,” they would ask NYU to build retail out to meet the sidewalks of Third, Bleecker and especially Houston Street. That’s what the area needs, not more pointless, inaccessible “open space,” and not to be frozen in amber in 1967.

Commentary, Greenwich Village

A beautiful residential block

Here is West Tenth Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues:

Whenever I walk here I feel calmer and happier, much more so than on Mercer or LaGuardia, even though those streets have “green space.” Something about the buildings coming up to the lot lines and the subtle diversity of styles.