Downtown Advocacy Group Prepares Lawsuit Over Lack of Connectivity for Homeless Kids
The Radisson New York Wall Street Hotel, in the Financial District, has been used as a temporary homeless shelter since March. Advocates for the homeless are preparing to sue the de Blasio administration over lack of internet connectivity in shelters.
A non-profit based in Lower Manhattan is threatening to sue the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio over the lack of Wi-Fi service in City-operated homeless shelters that house thousands of public school students living below the poverty line.
The Legal Aid Society, headquartered at 199 Water Street, has notified City Hall that the lack of this service, “is not only a moral and policy abdication; it is a violation of state and federal law protecting homeless youth’s equal access to a sound basic education. In the absence of a solution that takes seriously the scale and urgency of the problem, we will have no choice but to take legal action to remedy these violations.”
“Reliable internet connectivity is a necessity, not a luxury, for the City’s students during the COVID-19 pandemic,” an October 30 letter from the Legal Aid Society and the Milbank law firm (which is acting as co-counsel on this case, as a public service). “Without it, students who attend school fully remotely—estimated at more than three quarters of all New York City students as of this week—are effectively locked out of the classroom.”
This gap has become critical since the onset of the pandemic coronavirus, and the closure of public schools that followed. For children of relatively affluent families, access to high-speed internet connectivity in their homes was more than rule than the exception. This meant that the new program of remote learning represented a transition, but was at least possible.
But for homeless children, learning outside the classroom presented two daunting hurdles. The first was a lack of equipment, such as tablets and laptops. The City, helped by corporate donors, partially filled this gap by supplying thousands of devices to children who needed them, while prioritizing children in the poorest districts.
The second proved more intractable, however. Wiring homeless shelters (or any large structure, such as an apartment building) for high-speed internet access takes many months, and a budget in the millions of dollars. This need became acute just as the City was confronted by a shortfall in tax revenue, triggered the economic downturn that followed the public health crisis.
“The latest indication from the Department of Social Services (“DSS”) is that Wi-Fi cannot be expected in the City’s shelters until the summer of 2021 at the earliest,” the October 30 letter continues, “effectively writing off the 2020-21 school year for thousands of children residing in shelters who have been unable to reliably access the internet in any other way.”
“The timeline by Mayor de Blasio is a dereliction of the City’s duty under state and federal law to ensure that homeless children have reliable access to educational opportunities,” says Susan Horwitz, supervising attorney of the Education Law Project at The Legal Aid Society. “The City can rectify this by immediately allocating the resources to expedite Wi-Fi installation. In the absence of such a solution, too many children residing in shelters will literally be excluded from the virtual classroom for the entire 2020-21 school year.”
Giselle Routhier, the policy director at Coalition for the Homeless, adds that, “the lack of internet service for students who so desperately need it is a solvable problem and is a matter of social justice. It is incomprehensible why the City is not giving students in shelters the opportunity to have equal access to free public education.”
The Legal Aid Society’s primary mission is to ensure that New Yorkers are not denied their right to equal justice because of poverty.
Votes Aren’t All That’s Still Being Counted…
Lower Manhattan Contributed Almost $20 Million to Political Campaigns
Votes Aren’t All That’s Still Being Counted…
Lower Manhattan Contributed Almost $20 Million to Political Campaigns
Individuals, businesses, and organizations domiciled in nine zip codes spread across Lower Manhattan contributed $18.7 million to various political campaigns this election cycle, data from the Federal Election Commission shows.
Centuries ago, a coded language developed on the road in Europe that blended words from Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Romani, Czech, and other European languages. Martin Puchner learned to speak it as a boy, only to discover as can adult that his grandfather had been a committed Nazi who despised this “language of thieves.” In his newly-released book The Language of Thieves: My Family’s Obsession with a Secret Code the Nazis Tried to Eliminate, Puchner interweaves family memoir with WWII history and the mysteries of language. Join Puchner and Harvard Magazine writer Marina Bolotnikova for a conversation about this fascinating work.$10
Transportation & Street Activity Permits Committee
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
Raymond Loewy, French-American engineer and designer
1138 – Lý Anh Tông is enthroned as emperor of Vietnam at the age of two, beginning a 37-year reign.
1605 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is arrested.
1768 – Treaty of Fort Stanwix, the purpose of which is to adjust the boundary line between Indian lands and white settlements set forth in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 in the Thirteen Colonies.
1831 – Nat Turner, American slave leader, is tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in Virginia.
1862 – American Indian Wars: In Minnesota, 303 Dakota warriors are found guilty of rape and murder of whites and are sentenced to hang. 38 are ultimately executed and the others reprieved.
1872 – Women’s suffrage in the United States: In defiance of the law, suffragist Susan B. Anthony votes for the first time, and is later fined $100.
1895 – George B. Selden is granted the first U.S. patent for an automobile.
1911 – After declaring war on the Ottoman Empire on September 29, 1911, Italy annexes Tripoli and Cyrenaica.
1914 – World War I: France and the British Empire declare war on the Ottoman Empire.
1940 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is the first and only President of the United States to be elected to a third term.
1968 – Richard Nixon is elected as 37th President of the United States.
1990 – Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the far-right Kach movement, is shot dead after a speech at a New York City hotel.
2006 – Saddam Hussein, former president of Iraq, and his co-defendants Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, are sentenced to death in the al-Dujail trial for their roles in the 1982 massacre of 148 Shi’a Muslims.
2007 – China’s first lunar satellite, Chang’e 1, goes into orbit around the Moon.
1615 – Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire (d. 1648)
1854 – Paul Sabatier, French chemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1941)
1855 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (d. 1926)
1893 – Raymond Loewy, French-American engineer and designer (d. 1986)
1941 – Art Garfunkel, American singer-songwriter
1943 – Sam Shepard, American playwright and actor (d. 2017)
425 – Atticus, archbishop of Constantinople
1942 – George M. Cohan, American actor, singer, composer, author and theatre manager/owner (b. 1878)
1946 – Joseph Stella, Italian-American painter (b. 1877)
1979 – Al Capp, American cartoonist (b. 1909)
1989 – Vladimir Horowitz, Ukrainian-American pianist and composer (b. 1903)
1991 – Robert Maxwell, Czech-English captain, publisher, and politician, father of Ghislaine Maxwell (b. 1923)
Downtown Dowager Gets Her Due
First Lady of Lower Manhattan Recognized, Half a Century On
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. To read more…
Validating the Vision
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.
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. To read more…
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.
Share to the Utmost, or Admit That You Have No Business Here at All
Fear not, dear reader. You are in no danger of being asked to peruse a Broadsheet endorsement—a prospect that would amuse many, but persuade few. Instead, we will ask you to consider a contrarian, even heretical question: Why bother voting at all?
Students of history like to showcase their erudition (in this case, really disguised cynicism) with the weary observation that, “voters in the presidential election of 1800 got to choose between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. But these are choices we get?” To read more…
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Freedom of Speech,” 1943. Illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post”, February 20, 1943. From the collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.
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.