Time To Visit Stone Street, Lower Manhattan’s Original Open Street
Long before the Covid era’s outdoor dining, there was Stone Street.
The curved, cobblestoned alleyway lined with restaurants and shops looks like it was airlifted in from the tightly packed streets of a European city like Edinburgh. But it’s pure Manhattan — and the Downtown Alliance helped create it.
The block is now home to vibrant local restaurants and bars with picnic tables that sprawl across the cobblestones and bring life to the narrow corridor. Stone Street was the first paved street in Manhattan, and its architecture hearkens back to the days of Dutch New Amsterdam; plus, it’s a rare street in Manhattan lacking both through traffic or parked cars.
Neighborhood favorites on the street include The Dubliner, a recreation of a classic Dublin pub, Route 66 Smokehouse and Stone Street Tavern, all places where you could get a drink and enjoy street seating long before outdoor dining turned citywide in 2020.
The street wasn’t always so picturesque. It dates back to 1996, when the Downtown Alliance began a major streetscape program aimed at animating and transforming public spaces into more comfortable, pedestrian-friendly environments.
The Alliance collaborated with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to completely overhaul Stone Street. That involved installing bluestone sidewalks (made of a dense, fine-grain sandstone found in the tri-state area), new light fixtures, bollards, signage and other streetscape elements. All that added up to the vibrant enclave seen today.
The street gives a look into Manhattan’s past — and, as outdoor dining and open streets continue to reclaim roadways for the people, a glimpse of what it could be again.
photo: Ann-Sophie Fjellø-Jensen/APTags: stone street