Two late Village legends honored on street
BY GABE HERMAN
Rainy weather didn’t dampen spirits
at a ceremony to co-name the
corner of MacDougal and Houston
Streets “Lucy and Lenny Cecere
Way” in honor of the late Greenwich
Village fi xtures.
The Cecere couple bought nearby
51 MacDougal St. in 1962, where they
lived for the rest of their lives. Lucy
died in 2010 at age 87, and Lenny lived
to be 91, passing away in 2015.
They wed in 1949 at Our Lady of
Pompeii Church and afterward moved
to Sullivan Street, before eventually
settling into their MacDougal Street
Lucy Cecere was raised in Greenwich
Village by Italian immigrant parents.
and was an advocate and activist in the
community, co-founding the nonprofi t
Caring Community and helping to prevent
the Village Nursing Home from
closing in 1975. She was also a tireless
advocate for creating the South Village
Lenny Cecere was also raised by Italian
immigrants in Brooklyn and moved
to the Village in 1949 after marrying
Lucy. He was a World War II veteran
who was involved in the Battle of the
Bulge and the Allies’ recapture of
Friends and family of Lucy and Lenny Cecere unveiled the new street
sign in their honor last week.
Lenny would eventually open a general
store on the ground fl oor retail
space at 51 MacDougal St., “Something
Special,” which became a beloved spot
for Villagers to gather.
During the Oct. 16 street co-naming
ceremony, about two dozen people,
including local residents, offi cials and
family members, huddled under scaffolding
PHOTO BY GABE HERMAN
to keep out of the driving rain.
“I was deeply honored to know
them,” said Assemblymember Deborah
Glick at the ceremony. She called the
Ceceres “the heart of the Village,” adding
that the naming “touches our heart
because they touched ours.”
Andrew Berman, executive director
of Village Preservation, which proposed
the honorary street renaming in
2017 to Community Board 2 and Council
Member Corey Johnson, called Lucy
“a nudge” in the best sense of the word.
“She would not ever give up,” Berman
said, including her advocacy for the
South Village Historic District.
“I know I will never forget them,”
Berman said. “They really touched my
life. I’m sure everyone here feels the
The Ceceres’ daughter Francine
thanked all of the offi cials and community
members who made the day possible.
“To the community, thank you for embracing
my parents,” she said. “There’s
no other place my parents wanted to
be.” She remembered her parents as always
thinking of others, and looking to
help other people fi rst.
After the ceremony and the street
sign unveiling, granddaughter Clare
told this paper that the day was “very
“I don’t know how to put it into
words,” she explained.
Son Lenny Jr. said that his parents
were devoted to Greenwich Village
until the end of their lives, even sticking
it out during the area’s tough times
in the 1970s. He called the day “very
emotional, adding: “You’re happy on
the one hand, and you miss them very
much on the other.”
Buses now ‘sailing along’ 14th Street: MTA exec
BY VINCENT BARONE
Ridership has jumped on the M14
SBS since the roll out its 14th
Street busway pilot, according
to early MTA data.
MTA Transit President Andy Byford
attributed the initial uptick to
“incredibly encouraging” improvements
in speed and reliability along
the major Manhattan route since the
busway took effect Thursday, Oct. 3.
“This is what it’s all about folks. It’s
about getting people back on public
transit,” said Byford. “But to do that
you have to make it attractive and you
have to show that it’s the best way to
go along these key corridors.”
The transit authority touted a 17
percent increase in average weekday
M14 ridership — from 26,350 riders
to 31,031 — when comparing the fi rst
eight weekdays of busway operations
to fi gures September of 2018. The
slight, gradual increase can also be
attributed to the L train “slowdown”
and launch of SBS service, which took
effect earlier this year, Byford said.
At the same time, M14 speeds have
risen nearly 35 percent along the busway,
with average run times down
from 16.3 minutes to 10.6 minutes.
That data comes from comparing the
fi rst eight weekdays of busway operations
MTA Transit President Andy Byford says that bus traffic on 14th Street
Busway is “sailing along” during its first few weeks.
to the average run times from
all of October of last year, tracked
between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Buses have been “sailing along,” to
use Byford’s words, so effi ciently that
the MTA is looking to rework M14
schedules to more accurately refl ect
The city is also considering tweaks
PHOTO BY VINCENT BARONE
on the street. City Transportation
Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, who
implemented the busway alongside
the MTA, reminded reporters that
the 18-month pilot was just getting
started and that adjustments could be
coming to improve traffi c fl ow.
“We’re seeing pretty minimal impact
on the side streets — a little
more impact on the avenues,” Trottenberg
said. “But so far on the bus
performance side, it’s exceeded our
expectations. The traffi c issues on the
side streets — that too has exceeded
Local neighborhood blocks around
14th Street had held up the project
for months through a lawsuit that was
ultimately dismissed, warning that a
ban on private through traffi c would
lead to chaotic backups on nearby
arteries, like 12th, 13th, 15th and
But the project has led to “no discernible
performance changes to
neighboring roads,” according to an
independent analysis from the transportation
analytics fi rm INRIX.
Arthur Schwartz, a local resident
and attorney leading the fi ght against
the busway, plans to move ahead with
his appeal of the lawsuit’s dismissal,
arguing that traffi c has worsened in a
way that could be negatively impacting
other buses on the avenues.
“I get reports every day of people
complaining about streets being
backlogged from one avenue to another,”
said Schwartz. “It seems to be
worse in Chelsea than in the Village.
The only reason they’re actually moving
cars through is because they have
traffi c agents.”
4 October 24, 2019 Schneps Media