Amid scores of restaurant local closures, City Winery has debuted its new location, on Pier 57, within the Hudson River Park
While hundreds of Lower Manhattan restaurants have shuttered as a result of the pandemic coronavirus (and dozens of these have announced that they will never reopen), one operator has gamely chosen to open his doors for the first time, instead. Last week, City Winery debuted its new flagship location, on Pier 57, within the Hudson River Park (near the intersection of West 15th Street and the waterfront).
With 32,000 square feet in floor space, City Winery is one of New York’s largest restaurants. Originally slated to open in April, but rescheduled for October as a result of COVID-19, the current (truncated) 200-seat indoor capacity will be complemented by another 70 seats on an outdoor deck, overlooking the Hudson, which are likely to prove handy in the era of socially distanced dining. (When pandemic precautions end, however, the facility will be able to host more than 900 people.) But the true specialty of the house is wine: the list of more than 1,000 bottles (from a dozen-plus nations) easily makes the new location the most capacious wine bar in the City.
City Winery’s other specialty is music: Its two performance spaces (a concert hall that seats more than 300, plus a loft with space for more than 100) attest to its status as one of New York’s premier destinations for listening to everything from folk to alternative to jazz. But the performances will have to wait until government health officials ease restrictions on public gatherings.
City Winery occupies the ground floor of a 1950s steamship dock that is also being remodeled to serve as office space for Google. It replaces the legendary venue of the same name that vacated its decade-old home on Varick Street in the summer of 2019, forced out by Disney’s purchase of the entire block, with plans to build a massive new headquarters there.
All rooms in the new facility have views of the nearby Little Island Park (which consists of undulating, tulip-shaped platforms), now being constructed at Pier 55. Another amenity likely to draw passersby into City Winery is the two-acre park currently being laid out on the roof of Pier 57.
City Winery founder Michael Dorf: “I’m excited, after presenting live music Downtown for over 30 years, to unveil what is the greatest music room in New York, or anywhere, for that matter.”
Founder Michael Dorf (who made his reputation as the creator of the Knitting Factory music venue) is no stranger to taking risks in the midst of an economic downturn: He opened the original City Winery in 2008, amid the onset of the Great Recession, and quickly built it into a musical and viticultural powerhouse, with branches in Nashville, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. The venues are noted for an eclectic roster of musical acts, and for a diverse selection of wines—made possible by a custom-developed tap system that dispenses fine reds and whites from a dozen-plus aluminum tanks and more than 300 wooden barrels. A large part of the wine list comes from blends made on the premises, for City Winery is one of the small handful of functioning wine-making facilities in the five boroughs of New York. Mr. Dorf’s passion for wine may also be familiar to Lower Manhattan residents who have visited his other local restaurant, City Vineyard, located on Pier 26 (near North Moore Street), also in the Hudson River Park.
Like the Knitting Factory before it, City Winery became famous as an “intimate” venue, where headline acts performed for audiences numbering in the hundreds, rather than the thousands.
Mr. Dorf, who is the father of three children, has lived in Tribeca since 1994. In addition to running a successful restaurant empire, he has built a reputation as a philanthropist in recent years. He created the Tribute series at Carnegie Hall, which has partnered with artists like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Sedaka, Elton John, REM, The Who, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon to raise more than $1 million for charitable causes. Mr. Dorf is also the founder of Tribeca Hebrew (an after-school Hebrew program in Lower Manhattan) and Downtown Arts Development (which oversees the New York Jewish Music and Heritage Festival).
“I’m excited, after presenting live music Downtown for over 30 years,” Mr. Dorf says, “to unveil what is the greatest music room in New York, or anywhere, for that matter. It really is a beautiful space. What is unfortunate right now, almost ironic, is we are prohibited by the State from doing any ticketed concerts or even marketing live music, which unfairly hurts musicians. But we are open for dinning and do hope to put on shows soon.”
The Perelman, aka World Trade Center Performing Arts Center under construction
The advent of City Winery underscores another shift in the Lower Manhattan streetscape. As Downtown has morphed into a residential community and dining destination, another ongoing evolution has attracted less notice: Lower Manhattan is becoming a performing arts district. The highest-profile illustration of this shift is the Perelman, which (thanks to the largesse of its eponymous benefactor) has become the shorthand name for the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center that is slowly rising out of the ground near the intersection of Vesey and Greenwich Streets. But the opening of this facility is still several years away.
These are precious days for monarch butterflies embarking on three-thousand-mile-trips in their annual migration to Mexico—and for humans privileged to see them. With Lower Manhattan on the monarch flyway, the gardeners of the Battery Park City Authority, Liberty Community Gardens, Hudson River Park and the Battery Conservancy have planted milkweed in recent years, an offering to these delicate yet amazingly hardy creatures, who rely on this plant’s nectar for strength and nourishment.
Fall is a special time in BPC: along with the changes in trees and gardens, Monarch Butterflies and many species of unique birds are migrating through. Celebrate this time with art and nature activities.
Participants are expected to bring their own general supplies, such as crayons, markers, colored pencils, watercolor paints (bring your own container of water), glue, and scissors. Pick up a “kit bag” with instructions for the project of the day. Program is first come, first served for up to 20 children with accompanying adults.
Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Activity is self-guided. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free
1) Policing in Perspective by Brian Nelsen, Community Affairs Officer, New York Police Department 1st Precinct
2) New York State Housing Legislation – Discussion and reports by New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh and Peter Nguyen Legislative Director, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou Office and Andra Stanley, Housing Committee Director and Counsel
3) Walking While Trans Ban NYS Legislation – Discussion
4) Racism as Public Health Crisis – Presentation by Pauline Ferrante, Office of External Affairs, Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
5) The Anti-Racism in public act of 2020 – Report by Hanna Weinerman, Congressman Nadler’s Office – Possible resolution
6) Columbia Presbyterian Downtown Hospital – Presentation by Dr. Brenan Famer, Site Chief of Emergency Medicine
7) Affordability and Housing for 80/20 Tenants at 225 Rector Place – Report by board member Justine Cuccia
8) Capital and Expense Budget Items for FY 2022 – Discussion
State Judge Halts Planned Transfer of Homeless Men to FiDi Hotel
In a dramatic reversal of a previous ruling, New York State Supreme Court Justice Debra James on Monday afternoon granted a temporary restraining order barring the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio from implementing its plan to begin moving homeless men into a Financial District hotel—a transfer that was slated to start on Monday.
The last-minute motion, filed on Monday morning by attorney Michael S. Hiller, acting on behalf of the homeless men who were scheduled to be transferred to the Radisson New York Wall Street (located at 52 William Street), argues that planned move “would have a devastating effect on the lives and well-being of the Lucerne Residents.”
A Veteran Poll Worker and Community Leader Reflects on a Moment When the Franchise Is More Confounding Than Usual
Longtime Battery Park City resident Bob Schneck has always looked for ways to serve—whether as a member of Community Board 1, or a poll worker or an activist for more than a decade.
Asked to reflect on what drives him to show up at local voting locations before 5:00 am each Election Day, and stay until 10:00 pm, he says, “I see it is a civic responsibility, plus I get a rush out of it. It is a wonderful chance to meet the neighbors and fellow poll workers each year.”
“The challenge is that this work is extremely difficult and demanding,” he reflects. “And it needs to be delivered 100 percent. Poll workers put in almost 17 hours, with three minimal breaks. But overall, it is a system that works reasonably well.”
The Harbor House Restaurant on Pier A has shut down, with no definite plan to reopen. A spokesman for the Battery Park City Authority says that agency, “is working with all relevant parties to determine a path forward.”
This distress (which predates the restaurant-industry woes triggered by the pandemic coronavirus and the economic slowdown that followed) was highlighted in December, 2018. To read more…
A Lament for Local Luncheonettes
Losses and Closures Mount Among Downtown Dining Spots
A new report from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli documents the impact of the ongoing pandemic coronavirus on the restaurant industry in Lower Manhattan.
In this report, Mr. DiNapoli finds, there were 1,981 operating restaurants and bars before the pandemic began, which places Lower Manhattan behind only the Chelsea/Clinton/Midtown Business District PUMA area, with 2,661 such establishments. (Together, these two areas account for nearly 40 percent of the City’s restaurant jobs.) To read more…
Quay to Success
Pier 26 Opens with Amenities Galore
The tally of great public spaces in Lower Manhattan has increased by one. Last Wednesday, the Hudson River Park Trust officially opened Pier 26 in Tribeca (near Hubert Street), the product of a decade-plus of planning and construction, and a $37-million budget.
The result is 2.5 acres of woodland forest, coastal grassland, maritime scrub, and a rocky tidal zone—all culminating in a breathtaking view of the Hudson River. Additionally included in the design are a multi-use recreation field and a spacious sunning lawn, as well as boardwalks and seating areas. To read more…
TODAY IN HISTORY
Train Crash in Paris
794 – Emperor Kanmu relocates the Japanese capital to Heian-kyō (now Kyoto).
1707 – Four British naval vessels run aground on the Isles of Scilly because of faulty navigation. In response, the first Longitude Act is enacted in 1714.
1746 – The College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) receives its charter.
1784 – Russia founds a colony on Kodiak Island, Alaska.
1797 – André-Jacques Garnerin makes the first recorded parachute jump, from one thousand meters (3,200 feet) above Paris.
1877 – The Blantyre mining disaster in Scotland kills 207 miners.
1879 – Using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tests the first practical electric incandescent light bulb (it lasts 13½ hours before burning out).
1884 – The Royal Observatory in Britain is adopted as the prime meridian of longitude.
1895 – In Paris an express train derails after overrunning the buffer stop, crossing almost 30 metres (100 ft) of concourse before crashing through a wall and falling 10 metres (33 ft) to the road below.
1941 – World War II: French resistance member Guy Môquet and 29 other hostages are executed by the Germans in retaliation for the death of a German officer.
1957 – Vietnam War: First United States casualties in Vietnam.
1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy, after internal counsel from Dwight D. Eisenhower, announces that American reconnaissance planes have discovered Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that he has ordered a naval “quarantine” of the Communist nation.
1964 – Jean-Paul Sartre is awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but turns down the honor.
1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 7 safely splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean after orbiting the Earth 163 times.
1975 – The Soviet unmanned space mission Venera 9 lands on Venus.
1976 – Red Dye No. 4 is banned by the US Food and Drug Administration after it is discovered that it causes tumors in the bladders of dogs.
2008 – India launches its first unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-1.
2014 – Michael Zehaf-Bibeau attacks the Parliament of Canada, killing a soldier and injuring three other people.
1197 – Juntoku, Japanese emperor (d. 1242)
1701 – Maria Amalia, Holy Roman Empress (d. 1756)
1811 – Franz Liszt, Hungarian pianist and composer (d. 1886)
1882 – N. C. Wyeth, American painter and illustrator (d. 1945)
1903 – George Wells Beadle, American geneticist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1989)
1913 – Robert Capa, Hungarian-American photographer and journalist (d. 1954)
1920 – Timothy Leary, American psychologist and author (d. 1996)
1925 – Robert Rauschenberg, American painter and illustrator (d. 2008)
1929 – Dory Previn, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 2012)
1942 – Annette Funicello, American actress and singer (d. 2013)
1946 – Deepak Chopra, Indian-American physician and author
741 – Charles Martel, Frankish king (b. 688)
842 – Abo, Japanese prince (b. 792)
1383 – Ferdinand I of Portugal (b. 1345)
1973 – Pablo Casals, Catalan cellist and conductor (b. 1876)
1993 – Innes Ireland, English race car driver and engineer (b. 1930)
2002 – Richard Helms, 8th Director of Central Intelligence (b. 1913)
2017 – Paul Weitz, American astronaut (b. 1932)
Credits include wikipedia and other internet sources