- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) — The street below Danny Chen’s window in lower Manhattan has changed over the last decade from a bustling four-lane thoroughfare to an empty road lined with police barricades.

To get home each day, Mr. Chen has to present his ID at a police checkpoint. When the officer lowers the metal gate into the ground to let him in, he drives through as quickly as he can. More than once, the barricade has risen too soon, lifting his wife’s minivan into the air.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the New York Police Department barricaded off its headquarters on Park Row. About 2,000 residents in two apartment complexes found themselves living inside a security zone.

Nine years later, they still are.

Many vehicles, including commercial traffic, are forbidden on the street, which used to be a key link between the Financial District and Chinatown.

“This used to be a bustling area,” said Mr. Chen, a 52-year-old software engineer. “Now, it’s ghost-townish.”

In big cities across the country, security planters, metal gates and the concrete slabs called Jersey barriers have sprung up near government buildings.

Washington, D.C., is littered with bollards. Nearly half of Los Angeles’ financial district is now partially restricted, according to a study at the University of Colorado Denver. Roads across dams have been closed to traffic for security concerns.

“I don’t want us to lose a way of life that we’ve had, but sometimes we have to consider security, too,” said Pace University Professor Joe Ryan, whose daily commute has been rerouted because of a road closure over the Kensico Dam in Valhalla.

The restrictions are especially noticeable to those sharing a backyard with the NYPD.

Park Row residents say ambulance response times have risen and traffic has become bottlenecked since they began living behind barricades.

Business owners say foot traffic has plummeted. Paul Lee says his family’s 113-year-old general store folded in 2003 because of the new security measures.

“The suppliers don’t want to come down anymore, and you have no more customers,” Mr. Lee said.

Those who live and work behind the barricades say 9/11 is when everything changed, but, in a way, their struggle started long before.

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