Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Hoping to Make Whirlybirds an Endangered Species
Nadler Sponsors Legislation to Make Lower Manhattan Heliopolis No More
Passengers aboard a “doors-off” tourist flight bank over the Brooklyn Bridge.
U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler, who represents Lower Manhattan in Washington, has introduced legislation that would impose stricter regulations on helicopter tour flights. Such flights have long been a source of quality-of-life concerns among Lower Manhattan residents, who have complained for years about the incessant buzz of engines passing directly outside their windows as often as three minutes apart.
Mr. Nadler’s “Safe and Quiet Skies Act” would prohibit tours over National Parks (such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island), while also imposing minimum altitude maximum noise limits on all flights.
“The commercial air tours that buzz incessantly through New York Cityʼs skies are not only a source of unnecessary and damaging noise and environmental pollution,” Mr. Nadler says. “They put New Yorkers and tourists in danger. After more than thirty helicopter crashes in New York City since 1980 alone, many of which were fatal, I have repeatedly called on the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] to impose additional regulations to keep our City safe.”
“Unfortunately, the FAA has failed to take meaningful action,” he adds. “In 2019, nearly eight thousand commercial air tours flew over the National Parks of New York Harbor, which include national treasures like the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The large volume of commercial air tours over National Park sites are increasingly unsafe and create quality of life issues for New Yorkers and tourists through noise and negative environmental impacts.”
Congressman Jerry Nadler, flanked by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and State Senator Brian Kavanagh at a 2019 City Hall rally, announcing proposed legislation to ban non-essential helicopter flights from New York skies.
He continues that the proposed bill will, “place needed restrictions on commercial air tour operations. Low-flying tourist helicopters and small planes are both a nuisance and a clear danger: Itʼs time we put an end to reckless joy-rides over New York City.”
In addition to banning tour flights over National Parks, the legislation would require that tour operators fly above 1,500 feet at all times (with very limited exceptions for emergencies and takeoff/landing) and require that tour flights over occupied areas (including residential, commercial and recreational zones) emit noise no louder than 55 decibels—the same level of noise commonly allowed for residential areas. The bill would also allow states and localities to impose additional, more rigorous requirements on tour flights.
This follows a broader push by Congressman Nadler, first proposed in 2019, that included a comprehensive ban on non-essential helicopter flights in New York’s airspace, with “essential” defined as those conducted by law enforcement, emergency response, disaster response, and medical services, or those required by the public interest (such as helicopters operated by news organizations). This legislation was never enacted.
In 2013, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Albio Sires (both Democrats from New Jersey) called for a complete prohibition of helicopter tour flights over the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. (The mayors of five New Jersey cities and towns joined in this call for a ban: Hoboken, Weehawken, North Bergen, West New York, and Guttenberg.) Their proposal, too, was never enacted.
According to official data, sightseeing and tourist flights are the third leading category of fatal helicopter accidents. In 2016, the nationwide helicopter accident rate was 3.19 per 100,000 flight hours, with an overall total of 106 helicopter accidents, including 17 that resulted in loss of life.
The scene on the East River in March, 2018, where a “doors-off” flight crashed, killing all five people onboard.
Local safety worries became even more acute three years ago, when five passengers in a tour helicopter were killed when the aircraft crashed into the East River. This raised concerns separate from the immediate danger to passengers onboard such flights, which are especially resonant as the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 approaches. What had never been publicly acknowledged before the March 2018 incident was that passengers on “doors-off” flights, who wear cumbersome safety harnesses to prevent them being ejected from the aircraft as it banks and dives, are also issued knives with which to cut themselves out of these restraints in an emergency.
These blades did not save any of the passengers on the 2018 tourism flight. But in the hands of a terrorist with some cockpit training, they could be used to kill a pilot, whose body would then be tossed out of the helicopter, before the hijacker took the controls and dove it into a local target, such as the World Trade Center.
This worry is compounded by the fact that the heliport at which tour operator FlyNYON is based, in Kearny, New Jersey, is not staffed by screeners from the Transportation Security Administration, who check passengers at major airports for weapons. As Delia von Neuschatz, a Battery Park City resident and member of Stop the Chop/NY-NJ—a grassroots coalition of waterfront residents in Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey that is lobbying to scale back the flight tours—told the Broadsheet in 2014, “nobody who gets on those flights is searched or screened the way every passenger is at LaGuardia and Kennedy and Newark Airports. But the site of the worst terrorist attack in American history, which was perpetrated using hijacked aircraft,” is just a few minutes flying time from this facility. “So anybody who wants to take control of a helicopter and dive it into a building in Lower Manhattan would just have to pretend to be a tourist, pay for a ticket, and get onboard.”
In this scenario, even if rigorous security and passenger screening measures were implemented at a heliport from which “doors-off” flights originate, it would make no difference, because every passenger is provided with a deadly weapon after boarding.
Atlantic City on the East River?
Mayoral Hopeful Proposes Casino Development on Governors Island
Former Democratic presidential aspirant and current City mayoral contender Andrew Yang says he has found a way to help lift New York’s economy out of the pandemic-triggered recession, as well as to help fund his universal basic income plan, which would offer $2,000 annual payments to about half a million poor New Yorkers: He wants to develop a casino on Governors Island.
In a story first reported by Politico, Mr. Yang on January 14 told interviewers on the Breakfast Club morning radio program, “one way I think we can generate money, and also make New York City more fun [is that] New York City should have its own casino on Governors Island.”
To the editor:
I just read the article by Matthew Fenton on Andrew Yang’s proposal for a casino on Governor’s Island. (BroadsheetDAILY January 26)
I am so angry at Mr. Yang right now that I don’t even have words to describe it. A “casino” on that historic and beautiful island?? It will be ruined instantaneously. Let it be used for what it is now—like a Central Park for downtown.
Where you can truly relax and enjoy the beautiful views it offers that so many of us don’t have unless we commute to it. The Harbor View School is there along with so many other wonderful offerings at this time. I understand that the city needs money but there are other ways to get it. I’m comforted to hear that the Trust already put in place that casinos cannot be built there. Tell Yang he’s an idiot.
Annual Food Fest Puts Lavish Local Meals within Reach of Thrifty Epicures
New York’s annual food celebration, Restaurant Week, has been reimagined for the era of COVID-19. What’s new is that all meals will be for takeout or delivery. What remains the same is the deep discounts on fine food.
Starting today (Monday) and though next Sunday (January 31), those disinclined to venture above Canal Street can order from 35 participating restaurants located in Lower Manhattan for the bargain price of $20.21 (including a prix-fixe entrée and at least one side). To read more…
Plus, diners who pay with a registered Mastercard will get a $10 statement credit per meal, with a ten-meal ($100) redemption limit per customer. (To register, or find more information, please browse https://www.mcallinnyc.com
At many of these eateries, the everyday prices are significantly higher than Restaurant Week offerings, which makes this value proposition a compelling opportunity to try places that might ordinarily be outside your budget.
You can order directly from each restaurant (via phone or their websites), or by using their preferred delivery app. Participating restaurants in Lower Manhattan include:
More than one million Jewish children were killed during the Holocaust and countless others survived. Some, like Anne Frank, kept diaries in which they confided their hopes, fears, and experiences. Join us on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, for a special virtual reading of excerpts from these diaries. The excerpts will be read by young actors and public figures including Liev Schreiber, Mandy Gonzalez, Adam Kantor, and Daniel Kahn. The evening’s readings are curated by Alexandra Zapruder, the author of Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust.
Quit Your New Year’s Resolutions Early
And Indulge In Restaurant Week
No judgment for those of you who will want to drop those new year’s resolutions (or whatever other health kicks you’ve got going on) after reading this PSA:
NYC Restaurant Week launched this week, as hundreds of hot spots citywide have been lining up special delivery deals through January 31.
Promotions include lunch or dinner with a side for $20.21, two-course brunches and lunches ($26) and three-course dinners ($42), mostly Monday through Friday. (Some participating restaurants are honoring those prices on weekends.)
Dozens of restaurants south of Chambers Street plan to take part in NYC Restaurant Week, including Brooklyn Chop House, The Fulton, Crown Shy, Stone Street Tavern, The Dead Rabbit and more.
The Restaurant Week website lists several more tempting options to treat yourself — even if it means playing it a little fast and loose with your commitments to fitness. (We won’t tell.)
Eyes to the Sky January 25 – February 7, 2020
Sirius, The Big Dog and Thor’s Helmet
Sparkling, blue-white Sirius the Dog Star, the brightest star in the night sky, rises in the east-southeast 20 minutes after sunset this evening and will rise simultaneously with sunset by month’s end.
As twilight deepens, Sirius – from the ancient Greek Seirios for “scorcher” or “glowing” – appears above the skyline leading one of winter’s most alluring constellations, Canus Major, or The Big Dog, into the sky.
January’s Full Wolf (or Hunger) Moon rises at 4:55pm on Thursday the 28th as the Sun sets on the opposite horizon at 5:02pm. Twilight gathers half an hour later.
Thor’s Helmet, NGC2359 Emissions nebula.
Astrophotography by Mario Motta, MD. All Rights Reserved
Doyenne of the Estuary Departs
HRPT President Who Oversaw Build-Out of Waterfront Park to Step Down
Madelyn Wils, president and chief executive officer of the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) for the past decade, will step down February 5. In a January 19 letter to the Trust’s board of directors, she noted, “we are well on our way towards accomplishing our shared goals of completing the Park’s construction while ensuring it is also on solid financial footing.” She also cited a broad range of achievements in the ongoing build-out of the Park, including the September opening of Pier 26, in Tribeca, the beginning of reconstruction of Pier 40 (near Houston Street), progress on the development of Little Island and a plan for the Gansevoort Peninsula (both near West 14th Street).
Stuyvesant Student Calls for Climate Justice Curriculum
To the editor:
As a student at Stuyvesant High School, one of New York City’s most well-funded, affluent public high schools, I’ve always been vaguely aware of the fact that I am incredibly lucky and privileged.
But I take for granted my new textbooks each year, how my teachers can devote individualised attention to each student, and that, due to the wealth of resources my school has access to, it is one of the most sustainable and eco-conscious schools in the city.
During my freshman orientation last year, much of it focused on the green team, the roof-top garden, and extensive recycling and composting systems; all sustainability efforts that go far beyond the basic requirements laid out by the Department of Education.
Before, I thought this was normal because I’ve always had access to sustainability opportunities. I do not identify as white, and although my privileged background has made it harder for me to see this gaping disparity, my identity has made it easier for me to see how the ability of a school to be sustainable is intrinsically related to the school’s economic resources.
However, these resources aren’t equal, and so most public schools in New York City are forced to make a choice between basic education and helping combat an existential crisis. Most schools who are able to be part of the climate movement encompass privileged populations which make the movement seem that it is only comprised of advocates from one demographic. As Leo Ramirez, a senior at Food and Finance High School, described, “the teen climate movement within NYC is very white washed and privileged” and that to “to accurately represent the melting pot of the entire NYC caucus” we must level the playing field for all students.
Schools in neighborhoods with majority Black and Hispanic communities have been found to be disproportionately lacking in funds to properly run their school compared to schools with predominantly white or Asian communities, yet the city only provides these schools with 15 percent more money than they do better-funded schools.
There is a simple solution that would allow all students in the NYC public school system to become climate justice leaders: a mandatory climate justice curriculum.
Wealthy schools have climate education integrated into some parts of their lessons, but there is no mandate that makes climate education as crucial to teach as math, science, or English. However, a climate justice curriculum would encompass the scientific aspects of climate change, the across-the-board impacts on environmental justice communities, policies, and much more. The climate crisis is one that brings together so many different fields, and it takes skill to learn and act on the intricacies of policies, science, and politics. New Jersey and Washington have already taken the leap into the revolution, and we need to do our part to train the next generation of climate justice leaders.
As an Indian-American teenager, I want to help make more space for people who look like me to take charge of their future.
For the Birds
New Law Aims to Play Fair with Fowl
The New York City Council recently enacted new legislation that will protect birds, who are killed by the thousands each year in collisions with the reflective glass on the facades of skyscrapers, including those in Battery Park City.
“There may be as many as one billion birds killed by window and glass collisions every single year in the United States,” explains Battery Park City resident Michelle Ashkin, who is licensed by New York State as a Wildlife Rehabilitator, and also serves as the co-director of education for the Wild Bird Fund. “In New York City alone, we estimate that there are anywhere between 90,000 to 230,000 bird collisions every year, so this legislation is a major step in the right direction, especially since there are so many bird-safe glass options.”
To the editor,
Thanks so much for your coverage of a very important issue regarding bird collisions in BPC.
It is of much concern to me especially since this past fall alone there were so many collisions at Brookfield Place. In one week alone I picked up 6 injured birds within a 5 day period and several did not survive (see photo of warbler – found at the overpass on Liberty and South End Ave.).
I hope that the management at Brookfield Place will make a concerted effort to mitigate this issue so that we don’t see this happening in the future. Spring will be here very soon and the birds will be passing through on their Northbound trek. Time is of the essence. I appeal to Brookfield Place to do the right thing.
Lower Manhattan Unchained
Questions about What’s In Store for Local Retail Point to Glum Answer: Not Much
Small businesses aren’t the only ones hurting in Lower Manhattan. Large national retailers are also shuttering their local stores in record numbers, according to a new report from the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a public policy think tank that uses data-driven research to bring attention to overlooked issues. The analysis documents that the number of chain stores in Lower Manhattan decreased dramatically during the past 12 months, with a total of 63 national retailers shutting their doors permanently.
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TODAY IN HISTORY
The Apollo 1 crew, from left to right, Roger Chaffee, Ed White and Gus Grissom.
(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
AD 98 – Trajan succeeds his adoptive father Nerva as Roman emperor; under his rule the Roman Empire would reach its maximum extent.
1343 – Pope Clement VI issues the papal bull Unigenitus to justify the power of the pope and the use of indulgences. Nearly 200 years later, Martin Luther would protest this.
1606 – Gunpowder Plot: The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators begins, ending with their execution on January 31.
1825 – The U.S. Congress approves Indian Territory (in what is present-day Oklahoma), clearing the way for forced relocation of the Eastern Indians on the “Trail of Tears”.
1880 – Thomas Edison receives a patent for his incandescent lamp.
1943 – World War II: The Eighth Air Force sorties ninety-one B-17s and B-24s to attack the U-boat construction yards at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. This was the first American bombing attack on Germany.
1967 – Apollo program: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of their Apollo 1 spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
1967 – Cold War: The Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom sign the Outer Space Treaty in Washington, D.C., banning deployment of nuclear weapons in space, and limiting use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes.
1973 – The Paris Peace Accords officially end the Vietnam War. Colonel William Nolde is killed in action becoming the conflict’s last recorded American combat casualty.
1980 – Through cooperation between the U.S. and Canadian governments, six American diplomats secretly escape hostilities in Iran in the culmination of the Canadian Caper.
1983 – The pilot shaft of the Seikan Tunnel, the world’s longest sub-aqueous tunnel (53.85 km ~ 33 miles) between the Japanese islands of Honshū and Hokkaidō, breaks through.
2011 – Arab Spring: The Yemeni Revolution begins as over 16,000 protestors demonstrate in Sana’a.
1585 – Hendrick Avercamp, Dutch painter (d. 1634)
1708 – Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna of Russia(d. 1728)
1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian pianist and composer (d. 1791)
1850 – John Collier, English painter and author (d. 1934)
1859 – Wilhelm II, German Emperor (d. 1941)
1900 – Hyman G. Rickover, American admiral (d. 1986)
1908 – William Randolph Hearst, Jr., American journalist and publisher (d. 1993)
1919 – Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., American singer-songwriter, pianist, producer, and actor, created Alvin and the Chipmunks (d. 1972)
1948 – Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russian-American dancer, choreographer, and actor
947 – Zhang Yanze, Chinese general and governor
1592 – Gian Paolo Lomazzo, Italian painter (b. 1538)
1596 – Francis Drake, English captain and explorer (b. 1540)
1851 – John James Audubon, French-American ornithologist and painter (b. 1789)
1901 – Giuseppe Verdi, Italian composer (b. 1813)
1910 – Thomas Crapper, English plumber and businessman (b. 1836)
1967 – The heroic crew of Apollo 1
Roger B. Chaffee, American pilot, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1935)
Gus Grissom, American pilot and astronaut (b. 1926)
Ed White, American colonel, engineer, and astronaut (b. 1930)
2010 – J. D. Salinger, American soldier and author (b. 1919)
2014 – Pete Seeger, American singer-songwriter, guitarist and activist (b. 1919)
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