First Lady of Lower Manhattan Recognized, Half a Century On
A map of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, proposed in the early 1960s, which would have obliterated vast swaths of Tribeca, Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown.
If you live in Lower Manhattan, and are even remotely fond of the community, you owe a debt of gratitude to the woman who saved it from slum clearance and multiple highway schemes. The late Jane Jacobs (she died in 2006) was recognized last week with a plaque outside her longtime home at 555 Hudson Street, in the West Village. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation honored the author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” for multiple battles, waged primarily against master builder Robert Moses, that preserved the community fabric of not only Greenwich Village, but also of Soho, Tribeca, Little Italy and Chinatown, while additionally making possible the creation of Battery Park City.
Among the schemes that Ms. Jacobs derailed was the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway (LOMEX), a serpentine arterial that would have connected the Holland Tunnel with the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, by ramrodding a new, elevated ten-lane easement along Canal, Watts, and Broome Streets, which would then dive below ground near Chrystie Street, before emerging at surface level once more to approach the two spans crossing the East River. All along this route, Moses would have demolished 400 more than existing buildings (many of historic value) and replaced them with new skyscrapers. In the early 1960, conservative projections estimated that the LOMEX would displace more than 2,000 families and nearly 1,000 small businesses.
But this was just the beginning. Moses also planned to construct two other cross-Manhattan expressways: one at 30th Street, linking the Midtown and Lincoln Tunnels; and the other at 125th Street, linking the Triborough Bridge to the Henry Hudson Parkway. And he also meant to connect the Brookyln-Battery Tunnel to the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels with a north-south highway that would have been buried beneath miles of new landfill in the Hudson River.
Above: Author and pioneering urbanist Jane Jacobs addresses a Lower Manhattan protest meeting, called to organization opposition to the Lower Manhattan Expressway.
Below: The plaque recently installed outside the longtime Greenwich Village home of the late Jane Jacobs.
That last component of the overall plan, which eventually came to be called “Westway,” would have prevented the building of Battery Park City, with most of the acreage now occupied by parks and residential towers instead given over the entrance and exit ramps for the submerged highway.
Ms. Jacobs was able to stop all of these plans—with the exception of Westway—in their tracks by mobilizing at the grassroots level in Lower Manhattan, organizing local coalitions of business owners and parents with small children in each neighborhood that would have been affected. Westway’s fate was determined by a federal judge, who ruled that newly enacted environmental laws in the early 1970s called for a heightened level of public review, which ultimately scuttled the project.
In “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Ms. Jacobs formulated an urban planning creed that still resonates today: “Government works best—most responsibly and responsively—when it is closest to the people it serves and the needs it addresses.”
“Howard Hughes Corporation Proposes Scaled-Back Towers for Seaport Site, Along with Package of Amenities”
Your recent story about the Howard Hughes (HHC) plan to build two new 47 story towers in the South Street Seaport relied a bit too heavily on the very slanted press release put out by HHC with the assistance of their high paid PR consultants.
Not until the 8th paragraph did you report the key element making these buildings so controversial and inappropriate… that they are proposed to be built within the 10 block South Street Seaport Historic District. Nor did you mention that prior eight or nine proposals to build far smaller buildings in this special district characterized by 4 and 5 story buildings were all denied by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) because they would “dominate and overwhelm the neighboring buildings in this low scale district by virtue of its size” and “cause an abrupt change in scale within the district which would be disruptive of the district’s homogeneous quality.”
The 12 story height limit agreed to in 2003 which would allow for a building at 250 Water St that would be properly scaled for this historic district, was supported by entities ranging from CB1, local elected officials, the Downtown Alliance, EDC, the City Planning Commission, and the South Street Seaport Museum.
If two 47 story buildings were proposed elsewhere in Lower Manhattan, no one would object just like no one objects to far larger supertowers going up a block or two outside the Seaport Historic District.
You also failed to mention that the Seaport Historic District has a special mechanism that allows for the transfer of unused development rights (aka air rights) to sites outside the Historic District that could easily generate far more affordable housing and funding for the Seaport Museum and for other needed local improvements than the HHC plan. That is a far better plan to assure the future of the Seaport Museum and Historic District.
To the editor:
As we told them three times at three different “stakeholder” meetings, this plan is a “Non-Starter”. The Seaport Coalition has a better plan to save the museum AND the historic district. www.seaportcoalition.com
To the editor:
The fate of the museum has always been paramount for CB#1 and our community. 250 Water Street will be developed by this plan or by “as of right”, resulting in a 14-16 story blockhouse on the site.
One way or the other the parking lot will be developed. One way, we weigh in as to what goes there and save the museum for years to come. The other way is a death nell for our museum.
In my many years fighting for our community we stopped many developments and supported some. We have 7 schools with another in the process by allowing development. There is only one South Street Seaport Museum.
Let’s save the lynchpin of our historic district.
Eyes to the Sky
November 2 – 15, 2020
Big sky, long night
Evening sky circa 7pm. November 2, 2020.
See gibbous moon rise first, then Taurus the Bull’s brightest star, Aldebaran.
Constellations and planets approximate positions November 2 – 15. Moonrise later every night.
Illustration: Judy Isacoff/Starry Night
Night is fast overtaking day. During the course of November, day length will shrink from 10 hours 26 minutes to 9 hours 30 minutes, when there will be only 15 minutes left to lose in December. Earth-centered celebrations of the harvest and fellowship in November quickly lead into preparations for winter solstice holidays, when light is foremost in our cultural festivals.
For our ancestors, oil lamps, candles and open fires lit the darkness. To make light was a triumph. Natural materials, gathered from the wild and farmed, were the hard-earned fuel for creating light. Living by the radiance of the Sun, moon and stars was optimized, both physically and spiritually. Today, excessive and poorly designed artificial light has become a pollutant that blocks starlight from view. In the countryside and urban centers, the memory of star-filled night skies inspires holiday décor: twinkling lights, stars placed atop trees, colored sparkles on fabric to resemble cosmic light on snow. Increasingly, lit environments designed to be winter wonderlands replace contact with the complex sensory experiences of the natural world. Mostly, lights turned on with the flip of a switch have divorced us from the source of production and the responsibility to use light wisely.
Now to the visual imperative of the long night season! Tonight, see the waning gibbous moon, two-nights past full, rise in the east-northeast around 7pm, followed by bright star Aldebaran. Enjoy bright Mars, Saturn and Jupiter and all the constellations as depicted in the star chart, above.
Preview the stars and constellations of the winter’s evening sky every morning until 5:30am. Dazzling planet Venus is visible rather high in the east until after 6am once you know where to look.
CB1 Offers Qualified Endorsement to Plans for Brooklyn Bridge Revamp
The August designation of two winners in the Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge design competition has spurred Community Board 1 (CB1) to weigh in about the pragmatic implications of the vision contained in the proposals.
The competition, sponsored by the City Council and the Van Alen Institute (a New York nonprofit architectural organization, dedicated to improving design in the public realm) was announced in February. The contest was sparked by the fact that, after 13 decades, the Brooklyn Bridge is in need of some surgical enhancement.
The Tale of the Ticker Tape, or How Adversity and Spontaneity Hatched a New York Tradition
What was Planned as a Grand Affair became a Comedy of Errors
New York’s first ticker-tape parade erupted spontaneously from bad weather and an over-zealous stockbroker.
While the festivities in New York Harbor didn’t go as scripted that afternoon, the spontaneous gesture it generated from the brokerage houses lining Broadway famously lives on more than a century later.
On October 28, 1886, Liberty Enlightening the World was to be unveiled to New York City and the world as it stood atop its tall base on Bedloe’s Island. But the morning mist had turned to afternoon fog, blurring the view of the statue from revelers on the Manhattan shore and the long parade of three hundred ships on the Hudson River.
What was planned as a grand affair-with President Grover Cleveland as the main speaker-became a comedy of errors. The fog prevented efficient communication between the dignitaries on the island and the ships awaiting orders to fire their salutes and blast their horns at the given signal.
Even the dramatic unveiling moment itself went awry. To read more…
TODAY IN HISTORY
In California, designer Howard Hughes performs the maiden (and only) flight of the Spruce Goose or H-4 The Hercules; the largest fixed-wing aircraft ever built.
1675 – Plymouth Colony governor Josiah Winslow leads a colonial militia against the Narragansett during King Philip’s War.
1889 – North Dakota and South Dakota are admitted as the 39th and 40th U.S. states.
1917 – The Balfour Declaration proclaims British support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” with the clear understanding “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities”.
1920 – In the United States, KDKA of Pittsburgh starts broadcasting as the first commercial radio station. The first broadcast is the result of the United States presidential election, 1920.
1930 – Haile Selassie is crowned emperor of Ethiopia.
1947 – In California, Howard Hughes performs the maiden (and only) flight of the Spruce Goose or H-4 The Hercules; the largest fixed-wing aircraft ever built.
It was intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The winged giant made only one flight on November 2, 1947. The unannounced decision to fly was made by Hughes during a taxi test. With Hughes at the controls, David Grant as co-pilot, and several engineers, crewmen and journalists on board, the Spruce Goose flew just over one mile at an altitude of 70 feet for one minute. The short hop proved to skeptics that the gigantic machine could fly.
1959 – Quiz show scandals: Twenty One game show contestant Charles Van Doren admits to a Congressional committee that he had been given questions and answers in advance.
1963 – South Vietnamese President Ngô Đình Diệm is assassinated following a military coup.
1965 – Norman Morrison, a 31-year-old Quaker, sets himself on fire in front of the river entrance to the Pentagon to protest the use of napalm in the Vietnam war.
1984 – Capital punishment: Velma Barfield becomes the first woman executed in the United States since 1962. Margie Velma Barfield was an American serial killer, convicted of one murder, but she eventually confessed to six murders
During her stay on death row, Barfield became a devout born again Christian. While she had been a devout churchgoer all of her life and had often attended revivals held by Rex Humbard and other evangelists, she later said she’d only been playing at being a Christian. An effort was made to obtain a commutation to life imprisonment but after a Federal court appeal was denied, Barfield instructed her attorneys to abandon plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
She was executed on November 2, 1984 at the Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina. She released a statement before the execution, stating “I know that everybody has gone through a lot of pain, all the families connected, and I am sorry, and I want to thank everybody who have been supporting me all these six years.” Barfield declined a last meal, having instead a bag of Cheez Doodles and a cup of coffee.
1734 – Daniel Boone, American explorer (d. 1820)
1755 – Marie Antoinette, Austrian-French queen consort of Louis XVI of France (d. 1793)
1795 – James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States (d. 1849)
1865 – Warren G. Harding, American journalist and politician, 29th President of the United States (d. 1923)
1961 – k.d. lang, Canadian singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
1887 – Jenny Lind, Swedish operatic soprano (b. 1820)
1950 – George Bernard Shaw, Irish author, playwright, and critic, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1856)
1990 – Eliot Porter, American photographer, chemist, and academic (b. 1901)
2004 – Theo van Gogh, Dutch actor, director, and producer (b. 1957)
2007 – The Fabulous Moolah, American wrestler (b. 1923)
Credits include wikipedia and other internet sources
Howard Hughes Corporation Proposes Scaled-Back Towers for Seaport Site, Along with Package of Amenities
The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) has unveiled its plans for 250 Water Street (a 1.1-acre parking lot in the Seaport District), including high-rise towers, more than 100 units of affordable housing, and a plan to build a new headquarters for the South Street Seaport Museum. This announcement has inspired both enthusiastic support and fierce criticism.
The full-block site, bounded by Beekman, Pearl, and Water Streets, as well as Peck Slip, has been the focus of debate and speculation ever since HHC purchased it from the Milstein family of real estate developers, for $180 million in 2018. Planning for the parcel was complicated the following year, when HHC disclosed after purchasing the site that environmental tests indicated contamination with mercury, lead, and other toxins—remnants from its historical use as the location for a thermometer factory in the 1800s. This led to the parcel becoming part of the State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. The cleanup’s primary investigation phase wrapped up in early September.
Biological rhythms are relevant for almost every aspect of an organism’s life, from adapting physiology to the night-and-day cycle of the environment to synchronizing social behavior with other organisms. In 2017 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Jeff Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young for their groundbreaking contribution to the understanding of the cellular circadian clock. Since then, research in chronobiology has seen an astonishing renaissance.
This one-day symposium highlights the translational aspects of chronobiology research, from developing drugs that target the biological clock for treating sleep and mood disorders to optimizing efficacy of drugs by timing administration in alignment with circadian rhythm; from uncovering the genetic basis for different chronotypes to understanding the impact of “metabolic jetlag” and other circadian dysfunction on the immune system, metabolic syndrome and neurodegenerative disease. Register for a public panel discussion on Your Internal Clock and Your Health to learn how your internal clock works and how it affects your health, mood, and productivity. $15-$85
Just below the surface of City Hall Park sits one of New York’s architectural gems. Built during the City Beautiful movement, its design sought to uplift the spirits of New Yorkers on their daily commute.
City Hall Loop station—Contract One, Station One—was the flagship of New York’s first subway and the focus of the international press on October 27, 1904, when Mayor George McClellan connected the Tiffany-designed motorman’s handle to propel the first train north to its endpoint on 145th Street and Broadway.
The design of the other twenty-seven stations it stopped at that afternoon was dictated by the practical needs of subway efficiency—the architect’s only role was to choose the tile work that would cover the structural columns and walls. But the station below City Hall Park is different. Here, design and structure are one in the same.
City Hall subway station, was designed to be the showpiece of the new subway system with its elegant platform and mezzanine featured Guastavino tile, skylights, colored glass tilework and brass chandeliers.