Above: Pier A, which has been abandoned as a tavern and restaurant, could find new life as a point of embarkation for ferry passengers bound for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, under a proposal by Battery Conservancy president Warrie Price.
Below: Warrie Price: “As we all know, Pier A is a glorious building, which has been beautifully restored. It’s time for that building to again have a position of service to the City.”
Warrie Price, the president and founder of the Battery Conservancy (the nonprofit that designs, builds, and maintains, the 25 acres of historic public parkland at the southern tip of Manhattan) is proposing to adapt the abandoned restaurant space within Pier A as an embarkation point for ferry passengers bound for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
At a meeting of the Waterfront, Parks, and Cultural Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) earlier this year, Ms. Price recalled that, “at one point, a visitor center was going to be housed at Pier A, when the Fire Department left and it was at Parks.”
This was a reference to the convoluted history of the dock, which was built in the 1880s, and variously served as a headquarters for the maritime units of the Police and Fire Departments, before being closed in 1992, after which, responsibility for the structure was transferred to the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. In the years that followed, the City allocated $4 million toward redeveloping Pier A as a reception facility for tourists visiting attractions in New York Harbor, primarily Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, both of which are operated by the National Park Service.
These plans were complicated by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which resulted in the closure of both destinations until the following year. When they reopened, federal officials deemed the need for enhanced security measures to be so pressing that a massive white vinyl tent was constructed to house a large screening facility, where all passengers are searched before boarding ferries.
Initially justified by officials as a “temporary” measure, the tent has remained there ever since, occupying several hundred feet of scenic waterfront and blocking access to more than 10,000 square feet of parkland, resulting in years of complaints from local residents, and objections by elected officials.
In 2008, the National Park Service responded by indicating a willingness to relocate its security center to Pier A, which was then being renovated by the Battery Park City Authority. But that plan was abandoned in favor of a competing proposal, to move the screening facility to the U.S. Coast Guard building, located elsewhere in the Battery, alongside the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. (The rationale given at the time was that the National Park Service could save funds by occupying space within a building owned by another federal agency, without paying rent, but leasing Pier A from local officials would be a significant cost.) The Park Service never implemented this plan, however, and the eyesore has continued to blight the waterfront.
In 2013, the National Park Service promised to move its screening center to Ellis Island before the end of the year. But this plan was also abandoned.
Ms. Price’s proposal has taken on new urgency in light of two more recent developments. First, Pier A is now vacant, because the tenant that occupied the facility since 2014 (a bar and restaurant) closed in March, 2020, and has no plans to reopen. (The partnership that operated the bar and restaurant there appears to be insolvent, and is being sued by lenders for more than $16 million.)
Another possible virtue of the plan is that it would move indoors the massive and unsightly security tent that has encroached on the Battery waterfront as a “temporary” measure for two decades.
Second, in a story first reported by the Daily News, Statue Cruises (the operator of the ferries serving Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty) has indicated that they foresee the popssibiulity of having to abandon the wharf space along the Battery waterfront that is now being used to pick up and drop off passengers, because the docking space has deteriorated (because of rotting timber piles and cracked concrete decking) to the point of being nearly unusable, and is expected to become inoperable sometime in the next few years. In such a scenario, the only remaining access to Liberty and Ellis Islands would be from New Jersey.
This problem would be solved, Ms. Price argues, by moving the security screening center into Pier A, while also relocating ferry boarding to its exterior. “Security screening would happen on the ground floor,” she explained, “and then passengers could walk right outside to board.” She added that, “the upper floors could be used for exhibitions, for meetings, and for community space, to host meetings, lectures, and film screenings.”
“The elongated architectural footprint of Pier A, makes it so appropriate for LED interpretive screens on either side,” she continued. “So instead of just waiting on line to go through security and being bored, the building can offer wonderful descriptions, so that visitors understand all of the other destinations nearby. The walls on that base floor will be filled with ways to inspire people. We will use the opportunity to talk about the museums that are very close by, like the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Skyscraper Museum. The projections and presentations that people will be able to enjoy will be much more engaging, a ‘wow—only-in-New-York’ type of experience.”
“We can also educate students with content,” she observed. “I believe that the social studies, the geography, this sense of our history for our school children are also a very important part of what Pier A could be. We would develop a curriculum that will be specific to the place.”
She added that Pier A’s location at the foot of the newly established Empire State Trail system (750 miles of biking and pedestrian paths that stretch to the Canadian border) could make the facility a gateway to that network, as well.
“As we all know, Pier A is a glorious building, which has been beautifully restored,” Ms. Price concluded. “It’s time for that building to again have a position of service to the City.”
Traditions in Lower Manhattan
While Battery Park City is one of the newer neighborhoods of New York City, it happens to be in the oldest part of Manhattan, home to traditions such as Evacuation Day (commemorating the day in late November when we escorted the British off the island), ticker tape parades in our Canyon of Heroes, and 9/11 remembrances over the last 20 years.
Sometimes traditions are linked to holidays, some to sports events. In Battery Park City, one early tradition was the annual children’s Halloween parade. In the spring, the rest of Lower Manhattan struts to the Battery Park City ballfields in the Downtown Little League opening day parade.
On December 2, Gateway Plaza management hosted what’s become their annual tradition celebrating the holiday season with special lights, music, cookies, cocoa and gifts. A train ride around the ring road completed the evening, and Santa arrived, to the children’s delight.
Gateway Plaza staff members Chelsea Akneida, Chanel Mowatt, Luke Konig Sr.,Vanessa Laucella and Andrew Chu staff members take a ride on the Polar Express.
On that very same night, the Battery Park City Authority (Can Santa be in two places at once? That’s a bit quarky, but it’s said to happen once a year) hosted a neighborhood gathering to celebrate the holidays. As the BPCA tree was lighted for the season at the South Cove, neighbors sipped hot chocolate and ate cookies while being serenaded with holiday music.
Being back semi-permanently in this beloved neighborhood drives home that The Broadsheet is key to getting acclimated.
There is such a breadth of information in each issue that it boggles the mind. I feel I could read every word. That is often true for The New York Times, but with The Broadsheet, it is actually conceivable and the relevance-to-me quotient is SO MUCH HIGHER. It truly is a feat that you perform.
It is exciting to see that Matthew Fenton continues to be a mainstay of explaining things clearly. In composing this letter, I’ve scanned through again—more and more important stories and notices. I hope you get lots of accolades and know what a powerful service you have.
Hannah Arendt was many things during her life: an author, a journalist, a philosopher, and a theorist. She was one of the most influential and controversial Jewish figures of her time. Her works include The Human Condition and Eichmann in Jerusalem. This year is the 70th anniversary of her landmark book, The Origins of Totalitarianism, which explores the ways that totalitarian regimes come to power. Join the Museum for a program exploring Arendt’s legacy and continuing impact. The program will include a discussion between Samantha Rose Hill, author of the new book Hannah Arendt, part of Reaktion Books’s short biography series Critical Lives, and the upcoming translation of Hannah Arendt’s Poems, and Ken Krimstein, author of The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt. Free suggested $10 donation
Brew up a pot of your favorite tea and join Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center’s Catherine Prescott and Fraunces Tavern Museum’s Mary Tsaltas-Ottomanelli to explore the history of tea: its journey from Asia to Europe and the Americas, as well as its unique role in the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. They will also discuss the types of tea available to colonial Americans and the how tea would have been served and consumed in homes and taverns. Free; suggested donation of $10.This program will take place via Zoom, and advance registration is required..
Webinar.Lunchtime program with Robin Wigglesworth, the Financial Times’s global finance correspondent and author of Trillions, as he discusses the incredible true story of the iconoclastic geeks who defied conventional wisdom and endured Wall Street’s scorn to launch the index fund revolution, democratizing investing and saving hundreds of billions of dollars in fees. Fifty years ago, the Manhattan Project of money management was quietly assembled in the financial industry’s backwaters, unified by the heretical idea that even many of the world’s finest investors couldn’t beat the market in the long run. The motley crew of nerds—including Gene Fama, Jack Bogle, John McQuown and Nate Most—succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Passive investing now accounts for more than $20 trillion, equal to the entire gross domestic product of the US, and is today a force reshaping markets, finance and even capitalism itself in myriad subtle but pivotal ways.. Free
Launched during the height of the pandemic and hosted by James Beard Award-winning chef and New York Times bestselling author Rocco DiSpirito, the series features chefs from Lower Manhattan restaurants cooking up signature recipes and sharing tips. All donations go directly to a food-security charity of the restaurant’s choice. Today, cook with Malibu Farm executive pastry chef Abby Swain, from the Bar Room at The Beekman. Free
In-person screening of Suzhou River, followed by a talkback with film expert Richard Peña. Lou Ye is one of the most influential and important directors in China today. Through his films, Lou brings to light his interpretation of social issues of the marginalized in the Chinese society. One of his most important works, Suzhou River, is a tragic love story set in modern Shanghai. But rather than show off China’s glamorous “pearl of the orient,” writer-director Lou sets the film amid the chaotic factories and abandoned warehouses along the Suzhou River, which runs through the city. The film, which was never shown in China, gives us an up-close look into contemporary China’s gritty urban underbelly. $10
1. Support for the WTC 5 Coalition – Discussion & Resolution
2. Creating Public Access to Bathrooms in Government Facilities – Discussion
3. DDC Project Updates
4. Public Safety Update
5. Changing the of the Meeting Day – Discussion
Snowbirds: A Cultural Phenomenon
Museum of Jewish Heritage
South Miami Beach is a tiny gem of Art Deco architecture, warm sun, and cool breezes. It was also the winter destination of choice for Jewish seniors during the 1970s and 80s, including many Holocaust survivors. Visual artist Naomi Harris moved to South Miami Beach to photograph the last remaining snowbirds. Her rich, colorful images from the multi-year pilgrimage are featured in her new book The Haddon Hall, which profiles bubbehs and zaidehs lounging by the pool, doing exercises, playing bingo, at the beauty parlor, and kibitzing on the veranda in the community that she made her own. Join the Museum for a program with Harris celebrating The Haddon Hall and exploring the lost world she captured with her camera. Free suggested $10 donation
Neither Starved Nor Cold is a movement piece about identity and self-acceptance as it follows Canadian amputee dancer Lawrence Shapiro’s journey through dance. With two non-disabled performers of Heidi Latsky Dance, Carmen Schoenster and Judith Garfinkel, as his “Greek chorus”, Lawrence boldly exposes both his vulnerability and fierceness in this work. The piece challenges preconceptions of the non-normative body and creates a rich dynamic of integrated performance art. A short post performance talkback with the artists will follow the performance. $15-$20
Experience the Chinese literati salon inspired by ancient tradition, with an evening of classical music, poetry, calligraphy—and wine! As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to celebrate the joy of reunion in China Institute’s newly expanded space! Artists, musicians, and literature experts will perform and invite attendees to participate in an evening promoting solidarity, friendship, and culture. $10
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Providing Companion and Home Health Aide Care to clients with dementia.Help with grooming, dressing and wheelchair assistance. Able to escort client to parks and engage in conversations of desired topics and interests of client. Reliable & Honest
78 year old refined intellectual gentleman having a passion for cruises and travel seeking a male or female caregiver/companion in exchange for all expense paid venture on the ocean. Only requirement is relationship comfort between us and ability to help with physical care regarding the limitations and restrictions of COPD.
Nadler Pushes for Federal Grant to Subsidize September 11 Museum
Congressman Jerry Nadler is pushing for a one-time cash infusion from the federal government to benefit the cash-strapped National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located within the World Trade Center complex.
During December 7 testimony before the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives, Mr. Nadler voiced his support for the proposed September 11 Memorial and Museum Act (of which he is a co-sponsor), noting that, “since its dedication in 2011, the September 11 Memorial has welcomed more than 51 million visitors, including September 11th victim family members, first responders, veterans, and the public from all 50 states and 190 countries.” To read more…
Pentacle on the Plaza
Abstract Actinoid Enlivens Plaza in World Trade Center Complex
Lower Manhattan has a new piece of grand public art.. In November, Silverstein Properties (the operator of the World Trade Center complex) installed “Jasper’s Split Star,” an abstract piece by legendary artist and sculptor Frank Stella on the plaza in front of Seven World Trade Center (located between West Broadway and Greenwich Street, south of Vesey Street).
The metal-clad starburst sculpture is a reprise, of sorts, to Mr. Stella’s 1962 painting, “Jasper’s Dilemma,” which was meant as a tribute to his friend and fellow artist Jasper Johns. Six of the structure’s sides are solid aluminum, and six remain open to reveal shades of blue, purple, and gray. The star motif refers to Mr. Johns’s paintings of flags, and “Jasper’s Dilemma” contained a spectrum of closely related colors.
Lenders Who Fronted Millions to Operators of Pier A Allege Fraud
Investors who lent more than $16 million to the operators behind the shuttered restaurant at Pier A, on Battery Park City’s southern border allege that the borrowers, “used a fraudulent scheme to squeeze out of the Project all the fees and distributions for themselves that they could before shutting the doors.”
In a development first reported by property industry newsletter the Real Deal, the lenders (Tribeca-based New York City Waterfront Development Fund II) filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court in November, seeking the return of $16.5 million (the original amount of the 2011 loan, none of which has been repaid), along with $2.63 million in accrued interest, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.
The defendants in this action are a partnership between the Poulakakos restaurant family (who operate numerous Lower Manhattan eateries) and the Dermot Company (a developer of garden apartment complexes around the United States that more recently branched out to New York projects, such as the conversion of Brooklyn’s landmarked Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower into condominium residences). To read more…
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets are open
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Every Wednesday & Saturday, 8am-3pm
Food Scrap Collection: Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Open Saturdays and Wednesdays year round
Schedule Changes: Market closed 12/25 for Christmas Day and 1/1 for New Year’s Day.
The loyal community of neighborhood residents who shop at the Tribeca Greenmarket show up each Wednesday and Saturday year-round to get their fix of locally grown produce, sustainably raised meat, seafood, sheep’s milk cheese and yogurt, orchard fruit and berries, herbs, live plants and cut flowers. Cooking demonstrations, raffles, and educational activities make the market a hands-on experience for shoppers of all ages.
American Pride Seafood Wild-caught fish and shellfish from Suffolk County, NY
Dipaola Turkeys Turkey and turkey products from Mercer County, NJ
Francesca’s Bakery Breads and baked goods from Passaic County, NJ
Hudson Valley Duck Farm Heritage breed ducks and duck products from Sullivan County, NY
Jersey Farm Produce Vegetables, herbs, orchard and small fruit from Hunterdon County, NJ
Lani’s Farm Vegetables, eggs and prepared foods from Burlington County, NJ
Millport Dairy Eggs, cheddar cheese, beef, pork, pickles and baked goods from Lancaster County, PA
Prospect Hill Orchards Fruit, some certified organic, granola, and baked goods from Ulster County, NY
Tucker Farms Cut Flowers from Burlington & Monmouth County, NJ
Westmeadow Farm cow and goat milk cheeses and cows butter from Montgomery County, NY
Yellow Bell Farm Chicken and eggs from Dutchess County, NY
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Green Greenmarket at Bowling Green
Broadway & Whitehall St
Open Tuesday and Thursdays, year-round
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Compost Program: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.
Fulton Street cobblestones between South and Front Sts. across from McNally Jackson Bookstore.
Locally grown produce from Rogowski Farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, and other farmers and small-batch specialty food products, sold directly by their producers. Producers vary from week to week.
INDOOR FARMERS MARKET STORE:
91 South St., bet. Fulton & John Sts. Open Monday – Saturdays 11:30 AM – 5 PM
Indoor Market Hours: Monday – Saturday
11:30 AM to 5:00 PM, year round
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
Setting Up House
The Church Street School for Music and Art (41 White Street) is continuing a 25-year tradition by offering Gingerbread Family Workshops on Saturdays and Sundays (11 and 12; and 18 and 19), priced at $85 for early registration or $100 on the day of the event.
To-go kits are also available to assemble at home, complete with a gingerbread house, candy, and freshly made icing. In addition to offering great holiday fun, this program is one of the most important fundraisers for the highly regarded non-profit institution that has brought enrichment to the lives of generations of Lower Manhattan kids.