Volume 73, Number 50 | March 14 - 20, 2004

Cobbling together stones story

The cobblestones removed from Charles Lane for the latest Richard Meier-designed condo tower are supposed to be restored after the work is complete, according to Jennifer Givner, a Department of Buildings spokesperson. Givner said that the cobblestones were removed to allow for excavation of the new building’s foundation.

According to a source, original plans may have called for a small sidewalk to be built into Charles Lane, which was the reason the cobblestones were removed. But Givner said that wasn’t the case.

Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said the cobblestones on Charles Lane are especially old and possibly unique, having somehow survived when the city replaced its cobblestones in the late 1800s with Belgian blocks, which is what most of the streets New Yorkers know as cobblestone are paved with today. The Charles Lane stones are a light brown, larger and rounder than Belgian blocks.

“The stones there are remnants of the type of stones used throughout the 19th century, before the more familiar Belgian blocks — making Charles Lane all the more historic and valuable a resource which the city should be preserving,” said Berman.

A spokesperson for Alexico Management Group, the developer, gave the following statement: “We will be replacing the cobblestones on Charles Lane in accordance with Department of Buildings and city regulations.”

Berman added that he’s working with some neighborhood groups in Brooklyn that are also upset about the destruction of historic cobblestone streets, in hopes of creating a citywide cobblestone coalition.

Meier’s glitzy high-rise towers have become symbols for the overdevelopment of the waterfront and Far West Village. A rally against overdevelopment will gather at Charles Lane this Sun., April 18, at 1 p.m.

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