Ns News Online Desk: At least a dozen homeless people — each a “different shade of crazy” — have colonized the historic Manhattan Bridge colonnade, terrifying residents and besmirching the century-old neoclassical structure with shanties, tarps and tents.
Nearby businesses and residents told The Post their new neighbors are not only a blight near the 111-year-old span once hailed as the gateway to the Big Apple — they’re dangerous too, throwing things when jostled, stealing, and even pooping al fresco.
“Every day’s a problem,” said Zhong Yi Wang, 53, who manages his family’s restaurant, Jisu on Canal Street, where he said three bamboo plants — which cost $800 a pop — recently disappeared.
Bridge denizens often urinate on his door, bang on his window, and even barge inside to scream at him, he said.
Urine isn’t the worst of it, according to a woman who works at the nearby Mahayana Temple.
“Somebody pooped in front of the temple,” said the woman, who only have her first name, Cindy. “And when we talk to them, they just will throw things on you and do all kinds of strange things.”“It’s not so safe,” she continued outside the Buddhist house of worship. “They will try to punch you or kick you, you have to run away.”
Even other homeless people avoid the area now. “It’s real sketchy over there, man. It’s not my scene. They’re junkies over there,” said one homeless man who said his name was Jonathan, 47.
Those who live on the colonnade conceded to The Post it’s a dangerous drug den where people do anything to survive. “Everyone here is a different shade of crazy,” said one resident, who gave his name as Ray, 41. “You have to have some sort of craziness to have the gall, balls, whatever you want to call it, to deal with this.”
Ray decided to set up between two granite Tuscan columns on the northern side of the bridge approach about three weeks ago, when “money ran out,” he said. With a shovel he “equipped” himself with from the city Parks Department, he said, he cleans up trash, including needles. “A lot of people here do drugs,” he said.
When he needs cash: “Door Dash. Or pretty much f–king steal. I’ll be honest, steal s–t. […] Stupid s–t, like if somebody left a bike but they didn’t chain it up well.” Scattered over the plaza: trash, rifled-through suitcases, three Citi Bikes, a propane grill.
As Ray spoke with The Post, one of his neighbors approached with a well-groomed German Shepherd on a chain. “He f–king stole some f–king dog!” Ray said. “Who’d you steal the dog from, Nico?”
Cleanups are periodic, Ray explained — but since the city gives advance warning, on the appointed day he will break down his shelter and decamp to nearby Sara D. Roosevelt Park.
The Beaux-Arts approach to the bridge, completed in 1915, was envisioned as a City Beautiful era adornment of a great metropolis.
Back then, Bridge Commissioner Arthur K. O’Keefe described the planned approach as “probably the most artistic treatment of a bridge entrance that has yet been attempted on this continent,” this paper’s predecessor, the “New York Evening Post,” reported on April 17, 1913. He compared it to work of Bernini, the Renaissance sculptor and architect who designed the colonnade embracing St. Peter’s Square in Rome.