There’s a fine line between historical preservation and needless fetishism. The Modern Lover may love the old world, but time marches on regardless, things break down and become inconvenient, and the question has to be asked: is it worth keeping this old thing? DUMBO is facing that exact question right now, now that the city has informed residents there that it wants to rip up and replace the old cobblestones that make up some of neighborhood’s streets.
Kim Velsey at the Observer did a good job going over the arguments both in favor and against changing the streets, pointing out the city’s “compliance with American with Disabilities Act” excuse comes 13 years after the ADA was passed and that replacing the old stones with faux-old cobblestones is expensive and hated by preservationists. On the other hand, a cobblestone street looks pretty stupid with cars parked all along it, and things like roads aren’t art, they’re conveyance infrastructure.
Despite being cyclists ourselves, we’re not totally sold on the city’s other reasoning for changing the streets, the it will make them more bike friendly. For starters, Brooklyn’s streets have nightmare potholes and divots even where there aren’t cobblestones. And you can just stand while you pedal on cobblestones. But then the Times talks to someone who says of DUMBO, “One of the positives was the inaccessibility of the area,” and you want to not only rip up the cobblestones but then throw the pieces through the person’s window. But, since we don’t live there, we’re not going to lecture DUMBO resident on how they should feel. But you can feel free to in the comments section!