Move it!

That is, move the location of square footage lost with the destruction of the World Trade Center.

One important re-imagining of a solution has West Street buried entirely from below Chambers Street through old Battery Park until it joins FDR Drive around the bottom of Manhattan. Above ground, on the footprint of the current intrusive West Street there would be more than enough room to restore all that was lost September 11 and much more, leaving the actual 16-acre site of the Trade Center for whatever grand purpose consensus the City may produce.

Mr. Schwartz's plan, which builds on precedents going back to Westway in the 1970's and the Plan for Lower Manhattan before that, sets forth two integrated goals. The first is to reduce market pressure on the World Trade Center site. The second is to mend the cityscape now shattered by the stretch of West Street south of Chambers Street. With remarkable elegance, both objectives are accomplished with a single move: transferring the bulk of the required commercial space from the World Trade Center site and distributing it along West Street.

The aim of this concept, I hasten to add, is not to create a huge void in the middle of Lower Manhattan. Nothing in the plan precludes building on the 16-acre site. The goal is simply to reduce the economic and political pressures that have compelled the development corporation's planners to pack the 16-acre site with more bulk than it can handle.

For my part, whatever the comparative merits of this proposal, the mere fact that it suggests the effective elimination of the disruptive, dehumanizing and anti-urban assault of a broad highway in the midst of one of the most densely-occupied sections of the City makes it especially worthy of consideration. Battery Park City would become part of New York at last, as New York would become part of Battery Park City. Win win.

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Published on July 25, 2002 12:31 PM.

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