Yes, John Lennon Was Shot Here. Now Move the Damn Tour Bus.

by - May 24, 2010 at 1:41 am -

Tour buses love to park at the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West, often to let tourists gawk at the Dakota and the spot where John Lennon was fatally shot by Mark David Chapman in 1980. And it’s driving local residents nuts.

The buses, idling on the corners near the famous building, are often double-parked, snarling traffic and fouling the environment, residents say.

“It’s awful,” said Ralph Alterbaum, who lives at 72nd and Central Park West. “They’re spewing exhaust into the air.”

IMG_4528Councilwoman Gale Brewer has taken up their cause, writing a letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly urging them to take action.

“As we approach the summer season, my office is once again hearing many reports about the noxious fumes and idling engine noise from double parked tour buses between the hours of 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM, particularly on weekends,” Brewer wrote. “In addition, constituents report that poor coordination between the various tour companies results in large numbers of tourists blocking the streets and sidewalks as they get on and off the buses…residents cannot be expectedto endure a significant loss in their quality of life in exchange for tourist dollars.”

What’s more, most of the buses aren’t even from New York!

“Both I and my staff have visited the intersections on weekend mornings and have learned that the majority of the tour buses come from out-of-state and Canada.”

dakotaBrewer wants a full-time officer placed at the intersection on weekend mornings. The city has the power to fine tour buses for idling.

“The bus drivers must be informed,” Alterbaum said.

The management of the buildings at that intersection is also willing to get involved.

“The managers of large buildings in the area, The Dakota and The Majestic in particular, are willing to meet with relevant city agencies if such a discussion is needed in order to solve the problem,” Brewer wrote.

How about telling tour guide writers to stop including Lennon’s assassination in their guides. It’s a kind of macabre little vacation stop, isn’t it?

(Photos by Avi)

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  1. Claudia4Ever says...

    I totally agree & would even extend the “local resident quality of life” doctrine to also include:

    1. no buses on the one-way residential side streets. stay on the big 72, 79, 86th streets. they usually can’t get thru with cars/cabs unloading, double-parking, deliveries, and they can’t make the narrow turns from the avenues causing huge backups at lights, crosswalks, and the subsequent frustration HORNS at all hours, esp. early AM

    2. no double-parking along CPW. sorry, but it’s a major N/S route and on weekends esp. it gets absurd.

    3. no unloading BUSLOADS and BUSLOADS of people who then stand/block sidewalks; have zero awareness of proper etiquette for dog walkers & their pets; and who seem to feel they can also unload their travel trash.

    4. no tour buses parking/idling at NYC bus stops. besides the fact that it’s illegal, it’s dangerous for bus drivers trying to pick up/let off passengers, and for those wanting to get to the bus, to get to it. enough said.

    5. inform tourist the concept of hustle when crossing with the lights. the lights are changing and they just meander, or worse, stop to take friggin pictures.

    i think the city should seriously consider specificl “load zones” for tour operators that are NOT in the middle of NYC residential living: Columbus Circle; the circle at 110th/CPN; anyhere along CPS. 72nd St was never made for the MASSES and relentless streams of buses that now invade every weekend, and on most weekdays.

    Ah, nothing like a Monday morning rant…..

  2. joeyjoey73 says...

    I encourage you to keep fighting the fight on this. Involving your local representation is a step in the right direction. I’m a resident of Perry Street in the West Village, and we’ve had some success getting changes made to that horrendous Sex and the City tour. We weren’t able to get it stopped entirely, but we were able to create guidelines and rules that led to buses parking in non-obtrusive areas, tour guides leading groups down less residential streets and encouraging them to keep moving, and establishment of a donation box at the Carrie Bradshaw stoop, the proceeds of which go to fund the Perry Street Block Association. It’s not the ideal situation (most, if not all, West Village residents would like a return to the pre-2000s Marc Jacobs-“I’m here to take over” era, but it’s a compromise that has worked somewhat.

  3. sam says...

    I live on this block, and it’s not just CPW that gets clogged with buses. They park all the way down 72nd street, blocking the M72 bus stop and blocking in parked cars, and up and down columbus, blocking those bus stops and parking as well.

    I actually had to yell at a bunch of yahoos the other day, because, while I could weave in and out of the ridiculous crowd they formed while blocking the entire sidewalk, the poor older woman in the motorized wheelchair in front of me couldn’t move anywhere.

  4. Brad Jones says...

    But this location is not just the place where he was shot — it is also a convenient entrance to Central Park and the Strawberry Fields memorial with the “Imagine” mosaic. In 1985, the city set up this area to be visited by tourists by building the memorial in the park. Yoko Ono contributed a million dollars to it. It seems a little unfair to expect people not to visit any more.

  5. sam says...

    We don’t expect people not to visit. We expect people to be respectful of the fact that this is a residential neighborhood and not leave 10-20 tour buses at a time double parked and idling up and down our streets and blocking every city bus stop in the neighborhood. We expect even tourists to not completely clog the street so that no one can actually walk anywhere.

    This is New York City. We have one of the best public transit infrastructures in the world. There is a subway stop DIRECTLY at the entrance to the Dakota and the Park. This is also one of the best cities for WALKING in the world, with our wide sidewalks. There is no reason that ANYONE, even tourists, needs to take a giant private bus from stop to stop to stop around the city, alighting, en masse, at every stop and filling/blocking the sidewalk with 40-50 people per bus (remember, 10-20 buses at a time!), all standing there like cattle waiting for someone with a stupid little flag to lead them on their way, with zero respect for the fact that people actually need to walk down the street.

  6. Brad Jones says...

    Respectfully, I think you’ve never traveled anywhere. Taking a bus that makes stops at the highlights is actually a very efficient way to see a lot in a short period of time. It’s not my style of touring either, and I’ve been to many places, but it works for many people, some of whom are actually here to pay respects to John Lennon. This is a good city for walking but there are a lot of things to see that are vast distances apart and cannot be covered by walking. Our subway is not user-friendly to outsiders who don’t speak English (there is insufficient signage in foreign languages). If you accidentally hop on the uptown A train as you are trying to navigate the four CPW lines, you will end up at 125th Street in Harlem one stop later — and very lost. I think the buses are a fact of life and I’m not sure where you would put them (perhaps inside the park?) I agree sidewalk shepherding could be done better with no adverse effects to the tour groups.

  7. sam says...

    I’ve traveled plenty of places, and I’ve even lived in foreign countries (and shockingly learned how to use public transit in those places just fine). In addition, I see non english-speaking tourists on the subway all the time, and happily attempt to give directions to those who ask (or look confused). I get that tour buses can be handy, and I don’t even mind too much the Citysights-type hop-on hop-off buses that run down my street, which seems to be more of what you’re describing (so long as they’re not blasting announcements directly into my bedroom window). But these buses, largely from Canada (where they speak english just fine), just sit and idle for ridiculous lengths of time, illegally blocking parked cars and bus stops, and creating pedestrian logjams that can’t be enjoyable to the tourists either, especially those who want to actually “pay respects” to lennon, as opposed to mawkishly crowding around the entrance to a residential building where people still live and snapping pictures of each other with widely grinning faces.

  8. Brad Jones says...

    The buses should not be idling, double-parking or blocking active bus stops. I agree. As I said before, he didn’t just die there, he lived there and the memorial is across the street. It’s not reasonable to suggest that people should not visit the site because it’s an active residential area. Also, many tourists from Canada speak French. Even if we had foreign language signage, the subway maps are pretty confusing compared to other systems in the world (I’ve been on the subways in London, Paris, Moscow, St. Petersberg, Tokyo, Chicago, Boston, and many others I can’t remember). People are often visiting with limited time rather than living in the foreign country as you did. They don’t know before they make their plans how easy or hard it will be to get around. What they do know is that this is the largest city in the country and that the buses make touring convenient and stress-free. So: There’s room for improvement, but let’s not be so harsh with respect to our visitors.