Downtown Restaurants Brace for More Closure Orders
Blue Smoke, on Vesey Street, has announced that it will suspend indoor and outdoor dining, in anticipation of new restrictions
As New York wades deeper into its second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, some local restaurants are trying to get ahead of the curve of anticipated closures by voluntarily shutting down both indoor and outdoor dining.
Among these is Blue Smoke, in Battery Park City, owned by legendary restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, which is also taking similar measures at the company’s Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern. Each of these popular eateries will remain open for delivery and take-out, but have halted in-person dining until further notice.
This move comes in anticipation of orders that may undo the recent loosening of restrictions on restaurants, which have been allowed to operate indoors at reduced capacity, as well as in newly created outdoor spaces.
Last Thursday, Mayor de Blasio predicted that, with current trends of testing positivity rates, “the orange zone rules are clear and New York City will, before long, be in that orange zone status… those restrictions are coming” He added, “it’s just a matter of time. It’s very likely to be in the next week or two, and I think you’re going to see that across the board.”
A City-wide declaration of Orange Zone status would mean closure of all indoor dining, as well as other non-essential businesses, such as gyms. Such as order would represent a hardship from which many local small businesses would be unlikely to recover. Lower Manhattan has already experienced a wave of permanent restaurant closures—among them Augustine, Bennie’s Thai Cafe, China Blue, China Chalet, Mariachi’s, Maxwell’s, Sole di Capri, Tokyo Bay, the Trading Post, and Vietspot, as well as the venerable Paris Cafe.
This attrition has been in spite of Lower Manhattan eclipsing all other communities in New York City for the share of of restaurants approved for outdoor seating, with 1,089 establishments (or 54.9 percent of the total) obtaining official permission to serve guests on sidewalks and in streets. (The City-wide average is 43 percent.) Although outdoor spaces might remain open, albeit at reduced capacity, under Orange Zone restrictions, the partial reprieve offered to restaurants by outdoor accommodations earlier in the year is likely to be of less value in the cold-weather months.
Loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program were another cushion that has failed to rescue many restaurants. Earlier this year, roughly 45 percent of Lower Manhattan restaurants (slightly more than the City-wide average) received some amount of government financial assistance. But this did not prevent still more eateries, such as the bar and restaurant at Pier A, or the highly regarded Financier Patisserie chain, from shutting down.
Putting the ‘Lower’ in Lower Manhattan
Distressed Downtown Real Estate Indicators Point South
The first Baron Rothschild is said to have advised, “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets, even if the blood is your own.” If he was correct, this may be an auspicious moment to purchase real estate in Lower Manhattan, where the distress is acute.
This anxiety is evidenced by a slew of recent reports, the most comprehensive of which is the “Lower Manhattan Market Real Estate Report” for the third quarter, from the Downtown Alliance, which documents (among other indicators) that the median rents for apartments Downtown fell 6.4 percent (to $3,568) from the second quarter, and almost 11 percent from the third quarter of 2019, to levels last seen in mid-2017. This is a sharper drop than experienced by Manhattan as a whole, where rents fell by only 5.6 percent from the second quarter of this year.
Trinity Church has launched its Compassion Market to aid New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity during this economic downturn unleashed by the pandemic coronavirus. Although Lower Manhattan may not seem like a community where very many people suffer from need, it is. In addition the hundreds of local homeless men who camp out beneath the FDR Drive every night, one of out every five elderly residents City-wide (a total of more than 200,000 seniors) relies on soup kitchens and food pantries for at least part of their nutrition, while three out of ten veterans are dependent on the same outlets for sustenance.
The National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase is an annual celebration of the best in Native film. This year, for the 20th-anniversary showcase, the museum presents the full program online, streaming new films, fan favorite classics, and conversations with filmmakers. The showcase provides a unique forum for engagement with Native filmmakers and stories from Indigenous communities throughout the Western Hemisphere and Arctic. Free
Liu Xiaodong is a super star in contemporary Chinese art. He is best known for his involvement in the Neo-Realist movement in China during the 1990s. Throughout his painting practice, Liu explores the conceptual aspect of documenting the developing economy of China. “I like to find scenes that are part of life, of someone’s everyday existence and I choose places that interest me,” he has said. “When I paint someone, I want to capture their environment, their living state. I want to show the personal story behind the image of the person.” Liu lives and works in Beijing. His work is in the collections of the Shanghai Museum of Art, the Singapore Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. On November 24, Lu Xiaodong joins renowned art journalist Barbara Pollack to discuss his life, career, and what it means to be an artist in China today.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
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
1248 – An overnight landslide on the north side of Mont Granier, one of the largest historical rockslope failures ever recorded in Europe, destroys five villages
1642 – Abel Tasman becomes the first European to discover the island Van Diemen’s Land (later renamed Tasmania).
1859 – Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species.
1917 – In Milwaukee, nine members of the Milwaukee Police Department are killed by a bomb, the most deaths in a single event in U.S. police history until the September 11 attacks in 2001.
1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy, is killed by Jack Ruby.
1969 – Apollo program: The Apollo 12 command module splashes down safelyin the Pacific Ocean, ending the second manned mission to land on the Moon.
1971 – During a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (aka D. B. Cooper) parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been found.
1973 – A national speed limit is imposed on the Autobahn in Germany because of the 1973 oil crisis. The speed limit lasts only four months.
1974 – Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discover the 40% complete Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, nicknamed “Lucy” (after The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression.
2013 – Iran signs an interim agreement with the P5+1 countries, limiting its nuclear program in exchange for reduced sanctions.
1859 – 1934 Cass Gilbert designed the United States Supreme Court Building, the Woolworth Building, 90 West Street, The Custom House at Bowling Green among other Downtown treasures.
1655 – Charles XI of Sweden (d. 1697)
1784 – Zachary Taylor, American general and politician, 12th President of the United States (d. 1850)
1859 – Cass Gilbert, American architect, designed the United States Supreme Court Building and Woolworth Building (d. 1934)
1864 – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French painter and illustrator (d. 1901)
1868 – Scott Joplin, American pianist and composer (d. 1917)
1888 – Dale Carnegie, American author and educator (d. 1955)
1921 – John Lindsay, American lawyer and politician, 103rd Mayor of New York City (d. 2000)
1925 – William F. Buckley, Jr., American publisher and author, founded the National Review (d. 2008)
1801 – Philip Hamilton, Oldest son of Alexander Hamilton (b. 1782)
1890 – August Belmont, German-American banker and politician, 16th United States Ambassador to the Netherlands (b. 1816)
1957 – Diego Rivera, Mexican painter and sculptor (b. 1886)
1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of John F. Kennedy (b. 1939)
1982 – Barack Obama, Sr., Kenyan economist and academic, father of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States (b. 1936)
1990 – Marion Post Wolcott, American photographer (b. 1910)
Judge Will Rule Next Monday on Whether to Allow FiDi Shelter Plans
Hearings before State Supreme Court Justice Debra James on Monday and Tuesday left unresolved the question of whether the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio will be allowed to implement a controversial plan to move more than 200 homeless men from a hotel on the Upper West Side to another hotel in the Financial District, which the City plans to convert into a permanent shelter.
Court Rules That FiDi Condo Buyers Can Recover Damages from Developer for Shoddy Construction
More than a decade ago, real estate developers in Lower Manhattan were performing a feat that seemed akin to alchemy. Buying up unglamorous office buildings (abandoned by financial firms that had decamped for Midtown after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) and converting them into high-priced residential towers, such developers rode the wave that was transforming Downtown into a chic residential district.
One example among many in this narrative was 90 William Street, a 17-story back-office facility constructed in 1967, that was rebranded as “Be@William,” a 113-unit condominium in 2008.
But residents began to notice problems with the building within weeks of plunking down a million dollars or more per apartment. To read more…
A Victim’s Vengeance
New Sculpture on Centre Street Inverts Myth to Send a Feminist Message
In a caustic counterpoint to the “Fearless Girl” statue that attracted worldwide attention after it was unveiled at Bowling Green in 2017, a new feminist icon is calling Lower Manhattan’s streetscape home.
Standing in the center of Collect Pond Park (bounded by Centre, Lafayette, and White Streets), “Medusa with the Head of Perseus” makes a stark statement about violence against women. The bronze depicts the Medusa of Greek myth holding aloft the head of the hero who is said to have slain her. To read more…
Contract One, Station One
The Jewel in
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.