A Onetime Haunt of Ponies, Plutocrats, and Club Rats Will Get a Room with a View
Above: The facade of 157 Hudson Street (the smallest building in this lineup) is an elegant, but unassuming mid-block presence, opposite the Holland Tunnel Rotary. Below: The owners of a top-floor apartment are seeking permission to add a new, rooftop structure to the historic building, which will be invisible from the street.
Tribeca will soon have a new (albeit invisible) penthouse apartment, if the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is guided by the advice of Community Board 1 (CB1). At its November meeting, the Board recommended that the LPC give its okay to a proposal to add a rooftop structure to 157 Hudson Street, located between Laight and Hubert Streets, opposite the Holland Tunnel rotary.
The T-shaped building has a storied history. Erected in 1867, it was originally designed to serve as a multi-story stable for the hundreds of draft horses kept at the ready by the newly founded American Express Company. This was an era when the firm was primarily engaged in the secure shipment of valuable cargo, almost a century before the invention of credit cards.
This location was strategic for American Express, because its mounted couriers could pick up and drop off shipments across the street at the St. John’s Freight Depot, located at what is now the gargantuan traffic circle from which cars entering Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel are disgorged onto local streets. That structure was the southern terminus of the Hudson River Railroad, remnants of which are visible today as the High Line. The stables at 157 Hudson Street were also a short walk from American Express’s corporate headquarters, at Jay and Hudson Streets. While the building is a narrow, midblock presence on Hudson Street, it also reaches westward to Collister Street, where the back of the structure it takes up the entire block between Laight and Hubert Streets.
With the coming of World War One, American Express was forced out of the freight business by the federal government. This had the effect of forcing the company to focus on financial services (it had started with a sideline in money orders in the 1850s), while also obviating its need for horses (as well as for the building that housed them). And in the 1920s, the St. John’s Freight Depot was demolished, to make way for the Holland Tunnel.
The T-shaped building’s western side, on Collister Street, spans the entire length of the block, attesting to its former use as a home for hundreds of horses serving the American Express Company.
In the decades that followed, 157 Hudson went through a succession of owners, as the district now called Tribeca fell into decline. By the early 1980s, inexpensive property values and the urban frontier ambiance made it the ideal location for a new nightclub, called Area. Nominally a dance venue, the 33,000-square-foot club became a nexus for New York’s art world, attracting young painters like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf who contributed to the continual renovation of the club’s decor, and displayed their work on its walls.
The presence of artists and nightlife hipsters, in turn, began to transform the surrounding neighborhood, where fashionable young people began to take up residence in former industrial spaces, known as lofts. Starting in the mid-1980s, this led to a wave of gentrification, which had the effect of shuttering one of the original drivers of transformation: Area closed its doors in 1987.
By the early 2000s, 157 Hudson was ripe for conversion to a residential condominium. Starting in 2008, the new owners were offering apartments priced in the mid-seven figures.
Now, the owners of one of these units want to add an additional room to 157 Hudson’s roof, and connect it to their top-floor apartment. This cannot be done as-of-right, because the building falls within the legally protected Tribeca Historic District. Instead, it must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which first solicits an opinion from the local Community Board.
CB1’s resolution notes that during the building’s conversion to a condominium, “two non-visible stories were added to the original four-story building.” The same measure observes that the plan now under consideration will be similarly inconspicuous from below, and urges the LPC to, “approve an additional penthouse level as long as it is not visible from the street.”
Where to Figure Out How to Save the World
Plan for Climate Solutions Center on Governors Island Advances
In one of its last official acts before departing City Hall on December 31, the administration of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio selected four finalists in the competition to build a Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island.
The competition, announced in 2020 and formally launched a year later, envisions combining interdisciplinary research with education and public engagement in a single physical hub. Universities from around the world were invited to submit proposals in the first stage, called a “request for expressions of interest.” A dozen plans were submitted, and four of these were deemed worthy of moving to the final round. To read more…
After an unplanned interruption in service at the end of 2021, the Downtown Alliance has announced that its popular Connection Bus shuttle, which provides free service to 36 stops around the perimeter of Lower Manhattan, has resumed.
Daily service starts at 10:00 am and continues through a final run at 7:30 p.m. Arrival times average ten-minute intervals on weekdays, with 15 minutes between buses on weekends (depending on traffic conditions).
‘We Need An Activist and an Advocate’
Assembly Member Niou Challenges Kavanagh for State Senate Seat
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou has announced that she is challenging incumbent State Senator Brian Kavanagh in his bid for reelection this year. Both Ms. Niou and Mr. Kavanagh represent Lower Manhattan in their respective houses of the State legislature. To read more…
A boon for stargazers, unusually long, dark mornings follow the winter solstice and continue as the New Year begins, rewarding the curious who venture outdoors at dawn. The solstice-time Sun rises at 7:20am this week through January 10. Mornings continue dark as afternoons are increasingly brighter: today’s sunset is at 4:40pm; sundown on January 10 is 4:47pm.
What is China’s goal in making global development investments? Despite the fact that the U.S. declined to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, are U.S. investors still welcome in AIIB projects? Is there room for U.S.-China collaboration around global development and governance in the financial arena? Jin Liqun, President of the AIIB and one of China’s top development experts, will share his insights in an exclusive, virtual conversation with James Heimowitz, President of China Institute. $10
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Providing Companion and Home Health Aide Care to clients with dementia.Help with grooming, dressing and wheelchair assistance. Able to escort client to parks and engage in conversations of desired topics and interests of client. Reliable & Honest
78 year old refined intellectual gentleman having a passion for cruises and travel seeking a male or female caregiver/companion in exchange for all expense paid venture on the ocean. Only requirement is relationship comfort between us and ability to help with physical care regarding the limitations and restrictions of COPD.
Warrie Price, the president and founder of the Battery Conservancy (the nonprofit that designs, builds, and maintains, the 25 acres of historic public parkland at the southern tip of Manhattan) is proposing to adapt the abandoned restaurant space within Pier A as an embarkation point for ferry passengers bound for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
At a meeting of the Waterfront, Parks, and Cultural Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) earlier this year, Ms. Price recalled that, “at one point, a visitor center was going to be housed at Pier A, when the Fire Department left and it was at Parks.” To read more…
Kids Play at the Battery
The New Battery Playscape is the Final Piece of the Master Plan
On December 16, as children whooped down long slippery slides and explored a treehouse, and the Knickerbocker Nighthawks band played danceable Dixieland tunes, The Battery Playscape opened at the southernmost tip of Manhattan.
The final piece of The Battery Master Plan, this new 1.5 acre playground completes more than 25 years of work by The Battery Conservancy to revitalize and rebuild this historic public park using sustainable design and ecological practices.
Under the leadership of founder and president Warrie Price, the Conservancy initiated the Playscape’s resilient design after Tropical Storm Sandy battered the Battery with a 15-foot storm surge. Designing for sea-level rise became imperative, and Battery Park—the historic southern tip of Manhattan that will always bear the brunt of rising waters—became a focal point. Designed by BKSK Architects and Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, The Battery Playscape is built with absorbent elements that will accept floods and storm surges, and then recover. The playground design features five ecological zones—bluff, riverbed, marsh, dune, and meadow—each inspired by topography created by water shaping the land. Creative, adventurous play is encouraged.
“We immerse children into the natural wonders formed by plants, trees, sand, and ancient stone while building an understanding of accommodating climate,” Ms. Price said.
The $18.3 million project was funded by $9 million from Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, a $7.65 million MTA grant, $800,000 from Mayor Bill de Blasio, $500,000 from City Council Member Margaret Chin, and $350,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Visited by 15 million people each year, The Battery is one of the oldest public spaces in continuous use in New York City.
‘One False Promise After Another’
Lenders Who Fronted Millions to Operators of Pier A Allege Fraud
Investors who lent more than $16 million to the operators behind the shuttered restaurant at Pier A, on Battery Park City’s southern border allege that the borrowers, “used a fraudulent scheme to squeeze out of the Project all the fees and distributions for themselves that they could before shutting the doors.”
In a development first reported by property industry newsletter the Real Deal, the lenders (Tribeca-based New York City Waterfront Development Fund II) filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court in November, seeking the return of $16.5 million (the original amount of the 2011 loan, none of which has been repaid), along with $2.63 million in accrued interest, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
The defendants in this action are a partnership between the Poulakakos restaurant family (who operate numerous Lower Manhattan eateries) and the Dermot Company (a developer of garden apartment complexes around the United States that more recently branched out to New York projects, such as the conversion of Brooklyn’s landmarked Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower into condominium residences). To read more…
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Every Wednesday & Saturday, 8am-3pm
Food Scrap Collection: Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Open Saturdays and Wednesdays year round
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Green Greenmarket at Bowling Green
Broadway & Whitehall St
Open Tuesday and Thursdays, year-round
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Compost Program: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.
Fulton Street cobblestones between South and Front Sts. across from McNally Jackson Bookstore.
Locally grown produce from Rogowski Farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, and other farmers and small-batch specialty food products, sold directly by their producers. Producers vary from week to week.
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States
1066 – Edward the Confessor dies childless, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman conquest of England.
1757 – Louis XV of France survives an assassination attempt by Robert-François Damiens, the last person to be executed in France by drawing and quartering, the traditional and gruesome form of capital punishment used for regicides.
1781 – American Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold.
1875 – The Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, is inaugurated in Paris.
1882 – Charles J. Guiteau is found guilty of assassinating President James A. Garfield, and is sentenced to death by hanging.
1895 – Dreyfus affair: French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.
1914 – The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and minimum daily wage of $5
1933 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay.
1957 – In a speech given to the US Congress, President Dwight D.. Eisenhower announces the establishment of what will later be called the Eisenhower Doctrine. Under the doctrine, a Middle Eastern country could request American economic assistance or aid from U.S. military forces if it was being threatened by armed aggression. Regarded as a transparent ploy to promote Western influence in the Middle East by restraining Nasser’s brand of Arab nationalism that opposed Western domination, and some like the Syrians publicly denounced the initiative as an insidious example of US imperialism. Following the 1958 crisis in Lebanon and accusations by US senators of exaggerating the threat of communism to the region, Eisenhower privately admitted that the real goal was combatting Arab nationalism. (wikipedia)
1968 – Alexander Dubček comes to power; “Prague Spring” begins in Czechoslovakia.
1679 – Pietro Filippo Scarlatti, Italian organist and composer (d. 1750)
1876 – Konrad Adenauer, German lawyer and politician, Chancellor of West Germany (d. 1967)
1926 – W. D. Snodgrass, American poet (d. 2009)
1931 – Alvin Ailey, American dancer and choreographer, founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (d. 1989)
1932 – Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, literary critic, and philosopher (d. 2016)
1946 – Diane Keaton, American actress and director
1527 – Felix Manz, Swiss martyr (b. 1498)
1589 – Catherine de’ Medici, queen of Henry II of France (b. 1519)
1625 – Simon Marius, German astronomer (b. 1573)
1922 – Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish sailor and explorer (b. 1874)
1933 – Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States (b. 1872)
1942 – Tina Modotti, Italian photographer, model, actress, and activist (b. 1896)
1943 – George Washington Carver, American botanist, educator, and inventor (b. 1864)
1998 – Sonny Bono, American singer-songwriter, producer, actor, and politician (b. 1935)
Credit: Wikipedia and other internet and non-internet sources