Volume 19 Issue 42 | March 2 - 8, 2007

Letters to the editor

What’s in Tribeca’s name

To The Editor:
In the “Raging Bully” story regarding Robert DeNiro’s lawsuit against Tribeca arts organizations for what, he claims, is their infringement on his trademark of the name Tribeca, the reporter mistakenly attributed the name Tribeca, the acronym for Triangle Below Canal, to the “triangular-shaped neighborhood” (news article, Feb. 9 – 15, “’You copyin’ me?’ DeNiro makes claim to Tribeca name”). However, the neighborhood resembles an irregular trapezoid. Tribeca’s etymology is more site-specific.

In the early 1970s, a couple of years after artists in Soho were able to legalize their live/work situation, artist and resident organizations in the area to the south, known then as Washington Market or simply the Lower West Side, sought to gain similar zoning status for their neighborhood.

A group of Lispenard St. artist/residents living on the block directly south of Canal St., between Church St. and Broadway, joined the effort.

Just as the members of the SoHo Artists Association coined “SoHo” after looking at a City Planning map which marked the area as

“So. Houston” and shortened it to Soho, these Lispenard St. residents likewise employed a City Planning map to describe their block.

Since that block below Canal is wide on the Church St. side but narrows towards the Broadway end, it appears as a triangle on City maps. The Lispenard residents decided to name their group the Triangle Below Canal Block Association, and, as activists had done in Soho, shortened the group’s name to the TriBeCa Block Association.

A reporter covering the zoning story for The New York Times came across the block association’s submission to City Planning and mistakenly assumed that the name Tribeca referred to the entire neighborhood, not just one block. Once the “newspaper of record” began referring to the neighborhood as Tribeca, it stuck.

Which brings us to Robert DeNiro’s attempt to trademark a name he did not create. About the same time Tribeca was being coined, DeNiro was still a relatively unknown actor. Due to his penchant for Mohawk haircuts, locals in the South Village referred to him as “Bobby the Indian.” Since Mr. DeNiro wants to monopolize “Tribeca”, wouldn’t it be ironic if the Tribeca people he is suing trademark “Bobby the Indian” as a stab at poetic justice.

Sean Sweeney
Director of the SoHo Alliance

Fishing for a plan

To The Editor:
I have lived in the Village for many years, and have been using Pier 40 for recreation, along with my family, especially for fishing. If Pier 40 becomes a mega-entertainment complex, it most certainly will not be a park anymore (news article, Dec. 29 - Jan. 4, 2007, “Cirque, youth group, float Pier 40 plans”). As someone who has spent many happy hours fishing at the pier, I vote solidly for the People’s Pier project.

Matt Umanov

Express & S.L.A. are wrong

To The Editor:
Re “Just Say No” (UnderCover, Feb. 9 – 15):

While I was giving a report to the Tribeca Committee of Community Board 1 with regards to a community meeting with the State Liquor Authority you incorrectly printed that I stated that I was advocating the following: “C.B.1 vote no to any application it doesn’t like at face value and ask the S.L.A. to impose the desired restrictions as a prerequisite for approval down the line.”This is false. The recommendation that the community board vote no on liquor license applications when we would otherwise vote yes, so that our stipulation would be reviewed by the S.L.A. commissioners, came from the S.L.A., not from me. I was simply reporting what the S.L.A. requested at the meeting and in a phone conversation to confirm that this is what they wanted — something that I along with my fellow committee members did not agree with, as I stated at the Tribeca Committee.Additionally, I reported that there is a lot of good news and new positive initiatives coming from S.L.A. in working with the neighborhoods. This is the story I believe that should have been written about by the Downtown Express in an informative regular article, not in the UnderCover column. I hope the Downtown Express will write a follow up article to inform the public of how the community boards and S.L.A. are working together to improve the quality of life in our communities in conjunction benefiting our neighborhood bars and restaurants, the majority of whom are good neighbors.

The Downtown Express needs to correct the record about what I actually said and print a correction.

Marc Ameruso

Editor’s note: We reported in our “Just Say No” UnderCover item three weeks ago that Marc Ameruso was “filling in Tribeca Committee members on recent discussions with the S.L.A.” making it clear he was relaying a suggestion from the State Liquor Authority on how to handle liquor license stipulations in the short term. Since receiving Ameruso’s letter, we have spoken to him and others present at the committee meeting and our reporter has reviewed her notes to examine further whether Ameruso expressed support for the recommendation, as we reported, or opposition. We all agree that after we published our item, Ameruso said that he disagrees with the S.L.A. suggestion. But Ameruso did imply support for the S.L.A. position at the meeting and it is not at all clear to us that he made his opposition clear at that time.

Letters policy
Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to or can be mailed to 145 Sixth Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.

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