To the editor:
The opening of the iPic movie complex in the historical South Street Seaport area marks an historical occasion for the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Instead of being the first major movie house to geographically service the large population while complementing its unique seafaring location, it vividly illustrates another glaring symbol of how Howard Hughes Real Estate plans to turn the Seaport Historical District into an upscale, pricey mall.
The first thing you discover on entering the new lobby is that there is no list of prices, movies and times anywhere. You will be informed personally that this multiplex theater has two price scales, one for its registered, paid annual club membership (lower),the other public,(higher) with a rising scale of prices according to varying plushy seating and service. In the words of the receptionist,” We are not designed for children and no discount for seniors.”
Food varies from restaurant to faster service including personal service and what should have been a modern, egalitarian, typical American movie theater is now an elitest cinema club for upscale spenders who don’t ask,”How much?”.
This is another dramatic example of the implementation of the Howard Hughes strategy,business plan with the support of the New York EDC adding to the totally modernist glass cube building now replacing the period salty, redwood multi-service one on pier 17 to bury its historical identity.In addition, the attempt to build a forty-eight story tower in the water next to the tin building and proposal to move the iconic Seaport Museum to the remote pier 16 from early 1800’s Schermerhorn Row houses , the heart of the historical area,demonstrates what happens when politicians put business (and the commerce oriented Economic Development Corporation) in charge of priceless cultural sites.
Remember the destruction of the grand old Penn Station to build Madison Square garden now being talked about razing (and the near destruction of Grand Central) is what happens when city leaders don’t care, or learn from history .
Schools include the study of the past to deepen our view and valuing of the present. The South Street Seaport is the last ,oldest location where Manhattan seaport began and is a place that draws visitors from the world as well as locals to view our heritage, not a pricey mall.