City Hall Demands Fed Funding for FiDi & Seaport Resiliency Plan
Mayor Adams on October 26, at a ceremonial groundbreaking for resiliency measures near the Manhattan Bridge: “We need our partners in the federal government to help provide us with regular and reliable resiliency funding of approximately $8.5 billion. We must continue to act quickly to bolster our defenses, prevent damage, and save lives.”
Mayor Eric Adams is pushing the administration of President Joe Biden to provide $8.5 billion in federal funding to advance a suite of ten resiliency projects throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Among these is the Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan, which was unveiled in January, and for which funding has not been allocated.
At an October 26 event beside the Manhattan Bridge, timed to mark the decade anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Mr. Adams said, “ten years ago, flooded subways, a weeklong blackout Downtown, billions in property damage, and 44 of our neighbors killed tragically showed what climate change can do to our city. Sandy wasn’t just a storm; it was a warning. Another storm could hit our City at any time. We have embarked on the some of the largest urban climate adaptation projects in the county, with initiatives like the Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience project,” which the Mayor launched with a ceremonial groundbreaking.
“We need our partners in the federal government to help provide us with regular and reliable resiliency funding of approximately $8.5 billion,” he continued. “We must continue to act quickly to bolster our defenses, prevent damage, and save lives.”
An aerial view (looking south from a point near the Brooklyn Bridge) illustrates the interlocking network of “passive” flood protection measures that City planners hope to build into a new East River waterfront in Lower Manhattan, at an estimated cost of $5 to $7 billion.
Catherine McVay Hughes, a co-founder of the Financial District Neighborhood Association, said, “investing in coastal defense at the Seaport-Financial District segment, an area devastated by Sandy ten years ago, is an investment in the future of Lower Manhattan and the future of all of New York City. Today’s request for funding would meet an important need to fill the last gap in the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resilience Project.”
Jessica Lappin, president, Alliance for Downtown New York, said, “Lower Manhattan provides jobs for New Yorkers from all five boroughs and resides at the core of our transit system. What happens here and now impacts the city for generations to come. Fortifying the neighborhood’s coastal vulnerabilities is costly, but the upfront investment will ultimately generate more employment and economic gains—a stark contrast to the catastrophic costs incurred from unmitigated climate events.”
This boosterism may understate the scale of the need. While Mayor Adams is asking for $8.5 billion to fund ten projects, the Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan, which aims to protect the nearly mile-long stretch of East River waterfront between the Brooklyn Bridge the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, is projected to cost between $5 and $7 billion all by itself.
Estimated to take a minimum of 15 years to construct, with no start date yet announced, the plan focuses on “passive” flood defense, which translates into refashioning the landscape and elevating the riverbank, thus creating a physical barrier that will stop flood waters. Documents released by City Hall at the close of 2021 envision building a network of decks, berms, and breakwaters that will extend into the East River between 90 and 200 feet. The outermost edge of this complex would rise to an elevation between three and five feet above the waterline, while its landward side would reach as high as 15 feet.
This rendering shows what a new inlet (provisionally called “Pine Street Cove”) would look like, incorporating landscape features engineered to hold back both rising sea levels and storm surges. No start date has been announced for the project, which is projected to require 15 years for construction.
Such permanent (rather than temporary or deployable) measures are deemed necessary because Lower Manhattan is expected to face regular flooding in the years to come, and it is impractical to raise and lower floodgates, for example, on a daily basis. Current projections call for the East River to overtop it banks routinely in the 2040s, with such floods becoming a monthly event in the 2050s, and a daily occurrence in the 2080s. By the turn of the next century, daily high tides are expected to penetrate up to three blocks inland (to Pearl Street), with severe storms bringing as much as 15 feet of water as far as William Street (five blocks from the shoreline).
This plan took nearly a decade to develop, with its first iteration being pushed by then-Mayor Bloomberg in 2013, who advocated creating a mirror image of Battery Park City on East River. That proposal lay dormant until 2019, when Mayor de Blasio revived it. In the next two years, it evolved further into a resiliency-only project, stripped of the landfill and development features that were a prominent part of the original version.
Even that halting progress, however, may come to seem like a streamlined process compared with what comes next. First will be a complicated series of overlapping environmental reviews, involving not only City regulators, but also officials in Albany and Washington. That process is slated to move ahead in tandem with more detailed design and engineering studies. But all of these assume that billions of dollars in budget allocations will be forthcoming from every level of government. As the City’s summary noted when the plan was released, “no one funding source will cover the entire cost; therefore, a variety of local, state, and federal sources—both existing and new—will need to be considered.”
Born Free, But Everywhere in Chains
Provocative New Public Art Piece Critiques Economics, Politics, and History
A monumental and deeply affecting work of public art is on now on view at the waterfront of Governors Island. “Moving Chains,” by Charles Gaines, is a 110-foot long “kinetic sculpture” fashioned from steel and sustainably harvested African mahogany. Visitors are invited to walk through the installation, beneath nine custom-made chains, each weighing over 1,600 pounds, which are in constant motion. Read more…
Where to Figure Out How to Save the World
Three Proposals for a Climate Solutions Center on Governors Island
The administration of Mayor Eric Adams unveiled on Wednesday a trio of proposals submitted by the finalists in a competition to build a Center for Climate Solutions on Governors Island, which will combine interdisciplinary research on climate change with education in a single physical hub. Read more…
The Right to Light
Community Groups Revive Lawsuit Against Towers Using New State Constitutional Provision
A years-long saga of legal battles aiming to thwart the planned development of a cluster of super-tall residential towers proposed for the Two Bridges neighborhood of East River waterfront in Lower Manhattan has taken a new twist, with a lawsuit that relies upon a provision of the New York State Constitution that was approved by voters last November, and formally enacted in January of this year. Read more…
Walk and writing session led by poet Jon Curley. Taking inspiration from the unique landscape of Battery Park City, participants will be encouraged to consider the environment and learn to use observations in nature as a way to enhance their writing styles in any preferred mode. Free program, space is limited, registration required. Free.
The global economy is at a crossroads. Can finance fix it? Proponents of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing say yes. In Sustainable, a finance-industry veteran offers an insider’s look at the promises, prospects and limitations of ESG investing and provides comprehensive solutions that would promote more optimal outcomes. Free.
Journalist Helen Epstein is the daughter of Holocaust survivor and Olympic swimmer Kurt Epstein. In this illustrated talk, she will describe the process of designing a documentary photographyt exhibit, starting with one artifact – her father’s tallis in which he was a bar mitzvah in 1917. $10 suggested donation.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
Tuesdays, 8am-5pm (ending this month)
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturdays, 11:30am-5pm
Today in History
1908: Harry Houdini gets ready to jump off the Harvard Bridge in Boston. Houdini, a magician and escape artist, died on this day, Halloween, in 1926. He had allowed a man to punch him repeatedly, boasting that he could withstand the blows. But his appendix ruptured, and he refused medical treatment—even performing in great pain—until it was too late.
1517 – Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The Protestant Reformation begins.
1861 – In the American Civil War, Union General Winfield Scott resigns as Commander of the United States Army.
1863 – The Maori Wars resume as British forces in New Zealand led by General Duncan Cameron begin their Invasion of the Waikato.
1864 – Nevada is admitted as the 36th U.S. state.
1913 – Dedication of the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile highway across United States.
1922 – Benito Mussolini is made Prime Minister of Italy
1926 – Magician Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis that develops after his appendix ruptures.
1941 – After 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore is completed.
1956 – The United Kingdom and France begin bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.
1968 – Citing progress with the Paris peace talks, US President Lyndon B. Johnson announces a complete cessation of all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam effective November 1.
1992 – Roman Catholic church apologizes for its treatment of Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei after 359 years.
2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion.
2017 – Truck careens down the West Side bike path near Stuyvesant High School, killing 8, injuring 11.
1795 – John Keats, English poet (d. 1821)
1815 – Karl Weierstrass, German mathematician and academic (d. 1897)
1860 – Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the United States of America (d. 1927)
1920 – Helmut Newton, German-Australian photographer (d. 2004)
1931 – Dan Rather, American journalist
1941 – Derek Bell, English race car driver
1957 – Brian Stokes Mitchell, Broadway singer and actor
1964 – Frank Bruni, American journalist and critic
1926 – Harry Houdini, magician and stuntman (b. 1874)
1984 – Indira Gandhi, thirrd Prime Minister of India (b. 1917)
1991 – Joseph Papp, American director and producer (b. 1921)
2008 – Studs Terkel, American historian and author (b. 1912)
2018 – Willie McCovey, American Baseball Hall of Fame 1st baseman (b. 1938)
2020 – Sean Connery, actor and producer, dies at 90