Is a New Cobblestone a Better Cobblestone?

In Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood, NYCDOT is looking to replace the area's historic cobblestones with artificially aged new ones to improve accessibility and bike-friendliness. Preservationists and residents are aghast at the "phony urbanism."
March 31, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"[A]mid efforts to make the rickety streets of Dumbo and Vinegar Hill more accessible and bike-friendly, the city has delivered a disquieting message to residents who say they were drawn to the neighborhoods for their historic feel: Many of the old cobblestones on their streets have to go," writes Matt Flegenheimer.

"Some of the original Belgian blocks have already been replaced with more uniform stones, including ones cut with machines and lasers, startling preservationists," he adds. "In a compromise that has not eased all minds, the city’s Department of Transportation has offered to install new cobbles that are aged artificially, like a pair of stonewashed jeans, to appear more worn."

“'It is far worse than I could have imagined,' said Andrew S. Dolkart, director of the historic preservation program at Columbia University, decrying the 'phony urbanism' of the replacement stones. 'It is appalling that the D.O.T. would destroy real historic material and replace it with a completely ersatz program.'”

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Published on Friday, March 29, 2013 in The New York Times
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