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As we were saying...

Tour-goers photograph George Segal's "Four Figures" and the Park Dept. interpretive sign (with Fred W. McDarrah image) at Christopher Park, which lawmakers are now pushing for National Park status.  Stonewall is in background with the green scaffolding.

Tour-goers photograph George Segal's "Four Figures" and the Park Dept. interpretive sign (with Fred W. McDarrah image) at Christopher Park, which lawmakers are now pushing for National Park status.  Stonewall is in background with the green scaffolding.

As we reported a few weeks back (scroll down), there is a push to create a national park at Christopher Park to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

Now the movement is getting bigger.  

Excellent. More plaques to go up for us to photograph! Nah. Seriously, federally protected status won't much change anything in the park itself, as the current owner, the City of New York, isn't about to do anything to fudge things up. But it could help in preserving the Stonewall façade, ensure funds from Washington D.C. to maintain the park and streets around it, and it adds another level of legitimacy and gravitas to the location.   

And it couldn't hurt with preserving other landmarked and non-landmarked but vitally important historic places in New York on the Save the Village walking tour route, and elsewhere.

When Is Kickoff?

Green Bay Packers fans awaiting a Sunday opening of the Kettle of Fish bar, which hosts gathering of Wisconsin sports fans.

Green Bay Packers fans awaiting a Sunday opening of the Kettle of Fish bar, which hosts gathering of Wisconsin sports fans.

A funny thing happened on the way to the tour the other Sunday. There was quite a crowd across the street from Christopher Park, the kick off point for the Save The Village tour. But as we quickly learned, they were not there for an entertaining two hours learning about the Village or why there needs to be a real balance between progress and preservation.

They had not heard of the Village Voice, and while most were not from New York, they were not tourists. More like interlopers. From Wisconsin, of all places.

Fans of most out of town football teams - college and pro (as if there is a difference!) have an adopted New York bar where they gather to watch and root for their old school team, or their hometown NFL team.

The Kettle of Fish, which has a proprietor who used to be a Wisconsin Badger, is where Green Bay Packers fans come to watch their team play. (Badger college football fans gather there too, apparently.) And they gather before 10 am for a 1 pm game. Or even for a 4 pm game. Anything to get a good seat by the TV.

Idiotic, I thought. Then I realized it was not much different from our old game plan of being in the Lincoln Tunnel by 9 am to get a nice parking spot in the swamps of the Jersey Meadowlands to tailgate before we'd root for Richard Todd to finally beat Dan Marino.

All the Packers fans were offered a Greenwich Village walking tour sometime to learn more about the significance of the Kettle of Fish, and the Lions Head bar that preceded it, and the Stonewall Inn a few doors down, and all the other historic spots within, well, walking distance.

Nah. To a man (and woman), each and every one of them passed on a golden opportunity to learn something.

Hence the reason they are called Cheeseheads.  


11th Avenue Freeze-out. Every other street too.


We are suffocating ourselves.

If we don't Save the Village - and every other neighborhood in town with a little scale, history and charm - we are in deep trouble.

Kevin Costner heard it first: "If you build it, they will come." Here in Gotham City, it keeps getting built. People keep coming. And by my calculations (and I did go to Stuyvesant HS!) we are fast approaching absolute gridlock. Complete and total shutdown. Like a can of sardines but more tightly packed.   

Case in point: Driving from Astoria to SoHo at 5 pm this afternoon was a nightmare. It could have been worse, perhaps, if the weather was especially hideous or there had been an accident on the 59th St. Bridge or elsewhere, and it will be worse in the coming days as streets are closed off and parking disrupted for the coming U.N. session and visit by the pope. Or a ticker tape parade if the Mets win the World Series. (Though that is a traffic jam I wouldn't complain about!)

But this was a reverse commute trip (into Manhattan at rush hour, not out) on a "typical" day. Nightmare is now typical when driving in Manhattan during daylight hours.

There are periodic stories in the tabloids about "races" between a crosstown bus and a turtle: who can cross 14th Street from river-to-river faster. (The turtle wins of course or else it is not a very interesting story.) And while the express bus lanes are a great idea, illegally parked UPS trucks, taxis, flummoxed drivers, cop cars, food trucks and the like do tend to slow things down. 

Same on the subways (and the LIRR!). Everyone has recent horror stories. I was on the 7 train coming home from Shea - oops, CitiField - on Monday night and while everyone was chatting about the delightful new 7 station at 11th Ave., I was predicting chaos. I was right - and a lot quicker than I thought. Trains on the 7 line were off from about 10:30 to 11:30 pm  due to "signal troubles."  Thousands of sleepy, angry Mets fans, the glow of the team's 8th straight win wearing thin thanks to overcrowding and system shutdown.

Every morning lately the traffic and transit report stretches longer and longer as trains on the Ronkonkoma line, or the PATH or Metro North has another breakdown. Things just be too crowded up in this joint, as the urban youth would phrase it.

There are more buildings being built for people to live in. But you know what? There are not more streets for them to drive on, or sidewalks for them to walk on, or subway lines or tracks to transport them. All there seems to be are more CVS drug stores, Chase ATMs and Starbucks counters.

In the last few months I have really noticed a difference in the general level of crowds everywhere. There's always been swarms of people in New York of course, including residents, workers who commute from elsewhere and the 50 million or so tourists who come here each year.  

But finally, the end is near. Call me Nostradamus: I am predicting complete, total, absolute gridlock within next five years.

Unless anyone wants to do something about it.

One guy does, and he has started this:

I am sure he often feels like he is pissing into the wind, as do many uncaped crusaders. (Abbie Hoffman for example, the radical, revolutionary, political activist and social clown and 1960s activist, Chicago 8 defendant, environmentalist and peace lover, committed suicide in 1989 - we covered the story - because he was said to be despondent that a lifetime of activism had resulted in what boiled down to what he thought was a failure, his death coming after eight years of Ronald Reagan and a rising conservative tide.)

You can do something about what is happening all around us. Become involved. Become aware. Know what your local community board is up to. See what projects are in the pipeline. Go here and join an advocacy campaign:  Or start one in your 'hood.

People come to New York and Greenwich Village in particular because it is a manageable scale, it has history, it has excitement.  But that appeal is being destroyed, one new condo project at a time.