Volume 75, Number 23 | Oct. 26 - Nov. 01, 2005

Photos by Malcolm Pinckney/ NYC Parks Department

Cutting the ribbon for the new Canal Park, from second from left, Barbara Siegal of the Canal West Coalition and Canal Park Conservancy; Richard Barrett of the Canal West Coalition, president of the Canal Park Conservancy; Carole De Saram of Community Board 1 and the Tribeca Community Association; Jana Haimsohn of the Canal Park Conservancy and Canal West Coalition; Allan Scholl, Parks Department landscape architect; Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe; Sam “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz; Councilmember Alan Gerson; State Senator Tom Duane; Laurie Anderson and Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Bill Castro. They are flanked by Park Enforcement Patrol officers Manuel Molina, left, and George Parker, right. Below, Schwartz led residents in celebrating with a toast.

Unpaving a parking lot to bring back paradise

Last Friday, neighbors and Parks Department and elected officials came together to celebrate the opening of the restored Canal Park at the west end of Canal Street.

The park existed in Colonial times, but was commandeered for the Holland Tunnel construction and never returned as a park, most recently being used as a parking lot for Department of Sanitation trucks. But community residents uncovered documents showing the property had never been demapped as a park and fought to have it restored. The current design closely mirrors that of the historic park.

“There’s the song, ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,’ ” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in his remarks at the ceremony. “Well, this is getting rid of a parking lot and bringing back paradise.”

Sam Schwartz, known as “Gridlock Sam” in his Daily News traffic column, did traffic studies to support traffic-direction changes and extending the park to the east beyond its original borders.

Performance artist Laurie Anderson played a number on her pillow speaker, which she explained she bought for 49 cents on Canal Street and which is intended to be put in one’s pillow at night to facilitate learning something, like a language, while asleep. But Anderson said it never worked as a learning aid, so she now puts it in her mouth and somehow plays it to create ambient sounds. “It’s fun to put electronic things in your mouth,” she noted.

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