Never Too Late. Bogardus Plaza Gets Its Long Delayed Formal Opening.

City officials and local leaders cut the ribbon on Bogardus Plaza. At far right is Signe Nielsen of Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, the firm that designed the plaza. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

May. 28, 2021

City officials and community leaders gathered at Bogardus Plaza on Thursday for the triangle’s official ribbon cutting, nearly half-a-year after the popular Tribeca public space had come to life. But for the neighborhood volunteer who spent the past decade shepherding the project from idea to completion, the ceremony’s pandemic-created delay couldn’t dampen the excitement.

“I have to say that I’ve imagined this moment for so many years,” Victoria Weil, the president of Friends of Bogardus Plaza, told the gathering as she fought back tears. “And I’m so happy to finally and formally open the plaza. We did it!”

The ceremony was a celebration of the Herculean efforts by Weil and her small Friends group to partner with the city in transforming the triangle at Chambers, Reade and West Broadway from a fenced viewing garden and the adjacent Hudson Street into a unified, 18,000-square-foot plaza. With its chairs, tables and benches, planted beds, and 1910 clock, the newly created plaza has proved itself a popular oasis amid the hubbub of street traffic. Following years of delays, the $7.4 million project was finally completed last December. 

Weil recalled how the plaza began with the germ of an idea not long after she and her husband, Thatcher Bell, moved to Tribeca in 2009. Walking by what then was an “overgrown” fenced garden, “I said, ‘You know what, honey, wouldn’t it be nice if we did a capital campaign and raised $20,000 or something and really made this garden look good?’ And he said, ‘Why are you thinking so small? Think outside of the fence. Think all the way to Hudson, all the way to West Broadway.’”

What followed was first convincing the city’s Department of Transportation to temporarily close Hudson Street between Chambers and Reade and allow the group to create a makeshift plaza with tables and chairs. In 2012, after showing they could raise their own sizable donations from the community, and city money from elected officials, the group was awarded $2 million from the Department of Transportation for the construction of the newly designed Bogardus Plaza.

“So New York is like this amazing place where a small group of volunteers can actually make a huge change and impact in the city’s landscape,” Weil said. “We didn’t come into this with a degree in urban planning. We didn’t come in with connections to anybody. We didn’t come in with big checkbooks. This is truly a public-private partnership, which was fueled by hard work, patience and community buy-in.”