I thought the Central Subway project currently tearing up the streets around Union Square would terminate at the Chinatown station, about 6 blocks south of North Beach at Clay and Stockton. I was pleased that North Beach would be spared from the subway construction nightmare that will last for years. I was wrong.
When I got back from New York City last week the Village was abuzz. Everyone is worried about the Central Subway plan to end the tunnel bore, not at the Chinatown Station, but in the middle of Washington Square Park, even though no North Beach station is planned.,
Washington Square Park? The Village’s outdoor living room? That’s where the monster machine would come out of the ground after boring a tunnel under Stockton from the Chinatown Station to Columbus and then up Columbus to the Park.
Get ready for lots of shaking from the tunnel construction. Columbus will be closed from Vallejo to Union for utility relocation and surface work. Get ready for crazy street congestion. Get ready for a torn-up Washington Square Park. Get ready for the end of North Beach as we know it neighbors say.
I was amazed to hear long-time merchants predict that the Central Subway invasion will be North Beach’s death knell. It’s hard enough to attract customers now. Who will want to endure the construction mess? Some shopkeepers are already talking about shuttering their businesses for good even though the North Beach extension won’t start for years.
I’m hopeful that previously fractious elements of the community will coalesce to work out a solution to this latest threat to North Beach. Last Thursday’s Central Subway meeting at North Beach Restaurant was packed with neighbors, Telegraph Hill Dweller and North Beach Merchant Association members. That’s a good sign.