Story of Tribeca's Skybridge Landmark, the Centerpiece of a $24 Million Sale

The much photographed footbridge over Staple Street was built to connect New York Hospital's House of Relief at 67 Hudson Street to a building at 7 Jay that housed the hospital's laundry and horse-drawn ambulances. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 30, 2022

If there is one landmark that says Tribeca more than all others, it’s the footbridge over Staple Street. That bridge, which connects the townhouse at 9 Jay Street to a condo unit at 67 Hudson, has been in the news recently with the $24 million sale of the townhouse, the condo, and the unique bridge. According to 6sqft, that’s a record, per square feet, for a townhouse sale in the neighborhood. (The seller, fashion designer Zoran Ladicorbic, who has lived in the townhouse since the early 1990s, conveniently strolled to his Hudson Street studio via the bridge.) 

We thought this would be a good time to revisit the story of the skybridge, and the history of the buildings it connects. Following is an excerpt from an article on Staple Street by the late Oliver E. Allen, for many years the Trib’s “Old Tribeca” history columnist. This is from the September, 1994 print issue, our first.

By Oliver E. Allen

What story lies behind the footbridge that arches above the street? 

One clue can be found near the bridge, on the corner of Jay. There, mounted on a faded Red Cross, is a terra-cotta shield bearing the initials “N.Y.H.” It is the insignia of the New York Hospital.

Back in the early part of the 19th century, when the New York Hospital was located on Broadway, between Duane and Worth Streets, it was persuaded by the city to take over operation of an emergency service that was located at City Hall Park. The hospital moved the service to a building at 160 Chambers Street and called it the House of Relief. Although the hospital itself moved uptown (to 16th Street) in the 1870s (and later to 68th Street), it continued to operate the House of Relief.

When the House of Relief needed larger quarters in the 1890s the hospital built the impressive structure at 67 Hudson. A decade later, hospital administrators decided that a separate building was needed for a laundry and the horse-drawn ambulances that clattered about the cobblestone streets to meet all emergencies. The hospital put up the three-story  structure across Staple Street and linked the two buildings with the footbridge. To proclaim its connection with the House for Relief, the hospital posted its “N.Y.H.” shield.

After World War I, the New York Hospital closed the House of Relief and in due course the building acquired other uses. Recently, a fashion designer bought and remodeled the ambulance building for his studio and office. As 67 Hudson Street is now a condominium, he bought an apartment in it. His commute to work is just a short stroll across the footbridge. 

But it’s not exactly the same bridge that he bought. Having noted that his purchase had only three windows on each side, the designer expressed a desire to have windows all along the bridge, the better to appreciate Staple Street’s charms. The Landmarks Commission, in the absence of evidence that it ever had so many windows, said no. Then the owner’s architect, Lloyd Taft, learned that the Department of Transportation had the bridge’s original drawings on file. A quick look at these plans revealed a long row of windows on each side. Taft took the plans to the Commission, which gave its assent. The designer’s view is now unfettered.