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232 East 11th Street, New YorkNY 10003
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NYC Public Design Commission
253 Broadway, Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10007
fax: (212) 788-3086 

Re: Proposed Astor Place/Cooper Square Redesign

Dear Members of the Public Design Commission:

I strongly encourage you to require the preservation of the historic street patterns of Astor Place and Stuyvesant Street in DOT’s plan for the redesign of Astor Place and Cooper Square.

Astor Place and Cooper Square are two of the oldest and most historic streets in New York. Stuyvesant Street dates back to the first generation of Dutch settlement in New York, and traversed the holdings of Governor Peter Stuyvesant. It pre-dates the Manhattan street grid, and is Manhattan’s only true East-West street. Astor Place is even older, following a Native American footpath through the area. Both have existed for more than 350 years.

However, the DOT plan would remove any reference to or record of these very important pieces of our city’s history. Under the current plan, their existence would be lost forever.

This needn’t happen. These street patterns could easily be integrated into any redesign for the area, even if they are pedestrianized. But it should be made permanently clear that this land was originally a street, which can be done by maintaining the difference in grade or using a different material to mark where Astor Place and Stuyvesant Street ran. It would also strengthen the design if it included historical markers which explained and celebrated the history of these two unique and venerable thoroughfares.

I hope you will integrate the preservation of Astor Place and Stuyvesant Street into your review of the DOT plan.

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