Thursday, August 4, 2016

The new Astor Place rolls out the tables, chairs and umbrellas



The tables, chairs and umbrellas arrived on Astor Place this week... as the reconstruction of the plaza inches closer to completion this fall.

More seating is on the way... as are some trees... and the Alamo...


Meanwhile, the Village Alliance Business Improvement District is presenting the "Astor Alive! Festival" Sept. 15-17 "to celebrate the upcoming reopening of the new Astor Place, which will be complete in the fall."

Here's more on that via the Facebook invite:

As a vibrant cultural district with over two dozen theater, dance, music, art, architecture and historic landmarks including Blue Man Group, Fourth Arts Block, Cooper Union, Joe’s Pub, St. Mark’s Church and the Public Theater, the festival will debut Astor Place’s four new public plazas, among other civic space transformations as part of its larger $16 million revitalization project. The vibrant downtown New York City neighborhood will celebrate the imminent reopening with entertainment, workshops, tours, a parade, local restaurant specials and more, which will be free and open to the public.

Astor Place Festival highlights will include:

• Performances & Stages – With four performance stages starting from 4th Street to 9th Street, there will be 20+ groups of diverse local theaters, performing arts companies and schools performing throughout all three days. They include La MaMa, Joe’s Pub, Bowery Poetry Club, The Public Theater, Theater for the New City, Hetrik-Martin Institute, The Standard Hotel’s Sounds, Rod Rodgers Dance Company, Peridance Capezio Center and Danspace Project. All performances will focus on five historical themes of Astor Place, including Theater for All, Alternative Cultures and Radical Politics, Thinkers and Writers, Immigrant Populations and Architectural Frontiers.

• Mosaic Light Pole Dedication (September 15) – Popular East Village Artist Jim Power will debut the restored mosaic light poles throughout Astor Place in honor of the festival.

William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance, recently told us that the Alamo would return to the plaza this month, and "it is exactly the same as it was before ... It received a thorough cleaning and coating to protect it from the weather and will return in good shape."

Kelley also said that there will be a single food concession in the north and south plaza spaces at Astor Place (not around Cooper Square or points south), per the license agreement with the DOT. He said that no other vending will be allowed on the plazas.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Five years later, Astor Place apparently ready for its 2-year reconstruction project

The all-new Astor Place is coming along (for real)

52 comments:

No one ever said...

OMG! The umbrellas make all the difference! This must be the world's most beautiful public space!

Anonymous said...

Still ugly. Now it looks like a farmers' market minus the farmers' market.

It'll be free workspace for assholes who will hog up the tables nursing their lattes from the nearby Starbucks.

NOTORIOUS said...

Somewhere Neil Armstrong thinks, "I wish my moon had seating..."

Giovanni said...

What happens when there's a storm and those umbrellas turn into deadly flying projectiles? Or does the entire East Village magically turn into Mary Poppins and just fly away?

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic - the junkies from the nearby methadone clinic now have a place to sit in the shade. It's brutal for them now having to stand on the sidewalk in the hot sun arguing about where to find their next score. Thanks Village Alliance Business Improvement District!

Anonymous said...

So, they're actually including the true neighborhood folks (LaMama, DanceSpace, Hetrik-Martin, The Mosaic Man), but all we're seeing on the comments is "WAAHHH! I HATE THIS!! IT'S NOT MY EV!!! WAAAAH!"

I'm 51. I'm a native NYC boy. I've lived in the EV for 30 years. I'm not keen on all the changes, but jeezus! Not everyhting is gonna be like you want. I am glad they're actually inlcuding the real performance heroes, not soulfly or Duane read.

NOTORIOUS said...

They let you sit on the graves like that? Seems disrespectful to the dead.

Tom Stir said...

WHY ???is there no action in the plants and TREES area???
The sooner these things are in the planters the more chance they have to establish a root system and survive the winter!!How about some EVERGREENS so there aren't just bare branches most of the YEAR???LANDSCAPE THAT MAKES SENSE YEAR ROUND NOT JUST HALF THA YEAR???WHO MAKES THOSE CHOICES???

blue glass said...

this is the first phase of the umbrella-chair-table march along cooper square from astor place to the end of "cooper union's park" as depicted in a rendering on the wall in their former office of community affairs.

i cannot even guess at what that office had to do with the community.

then they will make it their outdoor campus and put a locked fence around it.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Midtown South, indeed.

Anonymous said...

@Giovanni, all of these setting areas (like Union Sq, Madison Sq, etc) have workers who set up, clean and take down every day.

Anonymous said...

It's all about wasteful contracts with this parking lot. The redoing of shoddy work, a full staff to take those chairs, tables and umbrellas to another location each night. For all of the money spent on this redevelopment there's absolutely nothing close to remarkable about it.

Anonymous said...

I hate the Death Star building, but I like the new Astor Place. It's much easier to walk. So tired of people complaining for the sake of complaining. This used to be a dirty parking lot. Is that what you want? Then you'd complain about the cars.

cmarrtyy said...

"No further vending on the plaza" but what about on the Bowery side? This is typical bureaucratic speak. They tell you half truths. What is going to happen is this. The Asian BBQ will ask for a outdoor license and get it. The empty store next to them will be a restaurant with an outdoor cafe. Lost City Arts will be lost to greed and a restaurant with an outdoor cafe will open in its space. That's why there are so few plantings. The committee which put the plans together know that this area will be Union Square South and they need restaurants for tourists and sad to say... kickbacks. Oh, the money from the bidders will line the pockets of the usual suspects. Where are our politicians!? Probably lining up restaurants.

cmarrtyy said...

One other thing... The tables and chairs take up so much space there's very little room for the hoards of pedestrians that use Astor every day. This design is a compromise of greed and arrogance by people who care little for a neighborhood out side of using it as a trough for themselves. This sad project should be investigated along with the nursing home.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad for this. Far from perfect, but still an improvement.

- East Villager

Anonymous said...

Terrible.
It was bad enough, but now we have to walk around tables, chairs, etc.

Gojira said...

I don't think I ever heard anyone complain about the parking lot. Or the cars parked in it. It served a real purpose for real people with a real need to find a place to park their cars, plus the nice guys working there let you cut across it. And now? Feh.

DrBOP said...

seems to be

a field of seams

you come to see

but you never come to know

Anonymous said...

Oh baby are the EV Gripers out in force today...

Anonymous said...

Worse yet, the bicyclists and boarders will have to whiz around the tables and chairs. The pedestrians will have to walk in the street.

Yesterday I saw a bicyclist come within inches of hitting a mother with a newborn on the plaza, scaring her half to death. This plaza has been an open invitation to cyclists on the walkways. Even when the street is repaired, it will be easier and faster to ride on the plaza, pedestrians be damned.

Anonymous said...

You people are hilarious. You bitch about the new Astor Place being a 'moonscape', and then, when tables, chairs, and umbrellas start to appear, it's 'boo! they're blocking pedestrians! What a scam!'

Today they're paving the roads around AP. I'm sure you'll find something to complain about regarding that, too. Let me guess, doing it in the day instead of night time? How inconvenient! What a scam! (Never mind what overtime costs.. it's still a scam).

What a bunch of classic New York jerks.

Sal Porcaro said...

I think its wonderful ! Please put some trash cans there too so people have somewhere to dispose of the Starbucks cups. I wish they would make a park like that on 7th Street and Second Avenue at the site of the Gas Explosion in honor of the two young me killed in that horrific accident !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mike Diaz said...

So true

Anonymous said...

I wish there were trees at least with all this bright sunlight---maybe later???

There really aren't enough tables/chairs either considering all the foot traffic that goes through. Why not just nice benches, trees, a fountain? Create a bit of ambiance?

I too never minded the "dirty" parking lot---it did serve a purpose and I cut through it all the time. This vast blot of paving is not much of an improvement and I walk through it as fast as possible. UGH!

For those who criticize those of us who expected more, fuck you! We have a right to air our thoughts and opinions on this space. We waited literally years----for THIS?

Let's hope "they" re-think this space and make some aesthetic and practical improvements.

Anonymous said...

More places for the homeless to sit and watch porn on their Obamaphones. Thanks DiBlasio!

Anonymous said...

Gojira@2:35: EXACTLY! The parking lot was actually useful, and not the urban blight some people seem to think it was. To me, the shittybike stations actually ARE urban blight, spreading everywhere, not to mention the bike riders endangering the rest of us as WE attempt to go about our business on FOOT.

But the rich have the city by the balls, and won't be happy until Manhattan looks like Disneyworld North - all cute and sanitized for tourist consumption; screw the locals, b/c who are we and we do we matter to anyone?!

Anonymous said...

It just looks so cheesy.

Anonymous said...

This yet another place for fucking tourists to occupy while eating some corporate food from nearby chains. This is sooooo not NYC and has the appeal of a suburban mall food court.

Anonymous said...

Unlike the cement football field the parking lot was useful. Last time I checked there's no shortage of places to sit and eat around here.

Anonymous said...

Gee Anon 4:38 the umbrellas and chairs have been in place for two days and already you are ranting about tourists. Why do you immediately assume that people who live and work in the EV or have some business there or are students at Cooper Union or at Grace Church High School won't avail themselves of this space? Get a life: I am not sure what tourist in your terms means: Someone who doesn't live in the defined East Village as you understand it? Someone with a foreign passport? If it weren't for people coming from different parts of the city and from different countries many of the businesses in YOUR East Village might have a tough time surviving. No one likes the excessive noise and drunkenness that seems now to be part of East Village life, but tourists are a vital part of the economy.

Giovanni said...

This just ooks like a hotel roof bar without the bar. So, will the umbrella attendants be available to bring us a nice frosted beverage with a little umbrella in it when we get thirsty? Or are they just there to clean up after all the slobs and shoo away the riff-raff?

Anonymous said...

@7pm: I am not 4:38, but I agree with 4:38. How many real NY'ers do you see sitting in the "pedestrian malls" at Times Square and Herald Square? If it weren't for tourists, this city would be a LOT less overcrowded and more livable. If we have to sell out the soul of NYC (and MY East Village, where I have lived for many, many years), then this isn't really NYC anymore.

And I dispute that excessive noise and drunkenness, along with an overflowing amount of tourists, is somehow "vital" to this city. These things were NOT necessary for many decades, and they are actually not necessary now. If drunkenness is a requirement, then NYC should be ashamed of itself and its so-called "values".

You'll note that you don't find excessive noise, publicly disgusting drunkenness, and seating areas for tourists in the "better" neighborhoods of this city - you don't see any of this being tolerated near Gracie Mansion, on Park or 5th Avenues, on CPW, or in front of Bloomberg's townhouses!

Some landlords & bigwigs decided that the East Village was a place that didn't matter; that could (literally & figuratively) be pissed on - and that's what we now have that WE WHO LIVE IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD DO NOT DESERVE OR WANT.

Anonymous said...

Astor Place wasn't a 'parking lot' before the reconstruction. The only things 'parked' there were vending carts, on the north sidewalk in front of the Chase bank, every day. Across the (now gone) street from them, was the triangular plaza with the Alamo cube -- a popular *tourist* attraction for years. And across the street from *that* was the pathetic, narrow, treeless triangle of concrete and dirt that held the beautiful 'Parisian' #6 uptown entrance (which remains).

If you don't believe me, go look on Google maps, the Earth images there are from before the reconstruction.

How was any of that more 'useful' than what's developing there now?




Anonymous said...

Great when will Spider-Man and Wonderwoman show up for Camera Shots will this be another FUN Zone

Anonymous said...

There was a lovely little shaded park in the triangle where you could sit and be obscured from the noise and rush of 3rd Ave, there was a roadway (4th Ave) that eased congestion on Broadway, used by cars and bicyclists. Now the cyclists are on the lifeless mall, imposing themselves on pedestrians, there is no shade and visually, the unending stretch of concrete is an eyesore.

No fountains, no decorative ironwork for the planters, no dog run, no play area for small children, nothing that makes this an "improvement."

Anonymous said...

@ 3:41. So you approve of a dog run taking up a large chunk of this area, but can't abide the cyclists. Your bias is showing. A fountain always improves the atmosphere. I don't know how practical one is at this location.

Dan C. said...

Anonymous 10:31 PM ... your newness is showing, my young friend.

Before the glass amoeba building with the Chase bank, there stood a large parking lot next to the Schirmer Building (when it was still a music store). It was not until the late 90's/early 2000's that the parking lot disappeared. I know reality (aka Google Maps) doesn't go that far back, so it must not have been real.

Here's a photo from 1998, not really THAT long ago: http://vassifer.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341c18b253ef0120a69d846f970c-pi

Anonymous said...

"Gee Anon 4:38 the umbrellas and chairs have been in place for two days and already you are ranting about tourists. Why do you immediately assume that people who live and work in the EV or have some business there or are students at Cooper Union or at Grace Church High School won't avail themselves of this space? Get a life: I am not sure what tourist in your terms means: Someone who doesn't live in the defined East Village as you understand it? Someone with a foreign passport? If it weren't for people coming from different parts of the city and from different countries many of the businesses in YOUR East Village might have a tough time surviving. No one likes the excessive noise and drunkenness that seems now to be part of East Village life, but tourists are a vital part of the economy."

This is not a park but a hard surface in a transportation area, few people people that live in the immediate area will use it other than to cross it to get to the subway or to go East or West for some other purpose. When the NNYC puts some shit "oasis" in a place like Astor place it is to disguise the purely functional reason for that space (a place to get the subway) into a place that will attract tourists who have a lot more time to hang around drinking so sugar drink from Starbucks than an EV resident heading to or returning home from work. I have been saying this for years, "everything new is built for tourists". Look at the High Line, the Disney makeover of Washington Square Park, Shake Shack in Madison Park, the boutique hotel invasion of The Bowey, etc... The new Astor place will be packed with tourists staring at the Death Star building while they figure out which direction St Marks place is, this is not a place someone who lives here (at least not someone who is employed) will be interested in.

Anonymous said...

Gojira said: "I don't think I ever heard anyone complain about the parking lot"

I complained about it, and heard others complain about it. I considered it an eyesore and a horrible waste of space.

That given, I am happy for a pedestrian plaza, but had hope for far more green. Maybe that is still to come.

- East Villager

Anonymous said...

The dirtpile furthest north, vaguely hemmed in to resemble a rectangle, is supposed to be the new fountain. The addition of a water element in no way makes up for this disgusting concrete monstrosity. It's now a tree-less, soul-less wind tunnel that makes my eyes bleed to look at. No amount of street furniture can ever fix this fiasco of "urban planning." Go home Amanda! There got to be something not in Manhattan that needs your paved over touch.

Anonymous said...

A fountain would be a great idea, but please design it so it cannot be used as a public bath, pool, or urinal.

- East Villager

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about hazards from skaters and cyclists if they use this plaza. Maybe speed bumps have to be installed.

Anonymous said...

So if I suggested a velodrome instead of a dog walk, that would make me "unbiased?" Bicycle riders belong on the road, not on sidewalks and walkways. Walking a bicycle on a WALKway is okay, as is WALKING dogs. I've seen countless people using the unplanted dirt piles for their dogs, so a designated enclosed dog run appears to be something people would want here.

Anonymous said...

Yo, Anon 9:56 what pretentious self-indulgent dribble about the city. Many of us who live here enjoy the High Line and think that it was a creative use of what was urban blight. There is no point in taking you on point by point, you seem to be mired in your nostalgia for your lost youth in the city. By definition a city is a constantly changing, evolving enterprise. Yes, sometimes lots of mistakes are made by even well-meaning urban planners. Fortunately some of us will live to see those mistakes corrected (I've lived through a few changes in the design of Washington Sq. Park). Nothing is going to please you. You see tourists as an evil--I--along with some others who post here see them as an important part of the economy that helps support lots of small shop keepers. Is Astor Place a perfect urban redesign--probably not--but its faults can be corrected over time. The nature of this corner of the East Village is changing--what was once (in the 1960s to early 1970s light manufacturing along Broadway south of Astor Place has changed to residences and offices. The Wanamaker's building is filled with offices (I know you don't like AOL etc or the millennials who work there) and the 51 Astor Place building has students and workers. They, according to your idea of the East Village don't deserve any amenities like an open space. They need to show their "papers" as residents of your East Village before they have the right to sit down at a bench to eat their lunch or read or just observe life passing by. Explain what you mean by the Disneyfication of Washington Square Park--please.

cmarrtyy said...

This is just a sad example of how government works. Community input. Then the design is thrashed out Everyone approves. The they send out renderings that are not really representative of what the plan really is. What the pols don't tell us. In the renderings the proportion of concrete to plantings was smaller. And there were no renderings of tables and food carts. If this isn't sad enough and frightening. What are they still hiding from us? And we wonder why people have little or no faith in politicians. And might I add single party rule.

Anonymous said...

Speed bumps would be a hazard for disabled (blind, unsteady, walkers, etc.) but I would love to sit at the plaza and watch the incessant texters deal with speed bumps! That could be real plaza entertainment...

Anonymous said...

I was skeptical of the tables and chairs and giant umbrellas but I was able to get a seat after a few minutes yesterday aft. and it was quite pleasant. Let's face it there is not an abundance of places to sit comfortably and read or gaze outdoors. Stop theorizing and try it.

Anonymous said...

@1:45 AM

When is the last time you tried to go to MOMA or any valued institution in this city? There is always a long as in hour wait in line just to buy a ticket. Once inside it's impossible to see any of the art.

The High Line was exciting when it was new, I did enjoy my visits there but then practically overnight it became the hottest tourist destination in town and now its packed with people talking selfies and goodbye to a serene urban space. The proposed Low Line will be a repeat of this experience. This new project is being billed a "serving the neighborhood and community...." we know from the High Line this valuable city owned (tax payers like you and me) will become yet one more thing for tourist to invade followed by corporate chains not the "mom and pop" store you falsely believe benefit from tourism Tourist eat what they are familiar with for the most part, the more sophisticated ones stand in line at foodie eateries like Momo Fuko, a place I used to enjoy until it landed on every foodie blogg.

Anonymous said...

This plaza is nothing more than an extension of the Death Star, public space being made into their private space.

Umbrellas and tables people will hog up will be the pits.

Close this entire fucking shitshow and build a new park with trees, plants, flowers, benches etc. It could be done.

Anonymous said...



Astor Place has been remade a handful of times. But isn't this the first time the original, historic traveling routes, which date all the way back to Native American times, were altered? Can any of our local historians confirm if true?

Either way, 9:59 who mentioned that the new plaza is an impediment to those who actually work for a living, is right. It's inconveniently "in the way." Which gets back to this being a historic travel route for hundreds of years and how ignorant to alter it.

It has similarities to when the same (former mayor's) coterie decided to condemn CBGB or relocate the central fountain in WSP. Another assault on local NYC culture using development as the weapon.

Tourists are good, and necessary, but 65 million of them annually is excessive for a small island, even one like ours with a well-above-average amount of infrastructure.

Serving the needs of residents, not tourists, needs to be restored to top priority with sane business and building regulations implemented and enforced to ensure it.

Anonymous said...

This does serve residents. It provides more outdoor pedestrian and seating space without having to pay for the privilege by buying a meal. It's free.


And it's public space, not private.