Brewer Pushes for FiDi Thoroughfare to Be Made Pedestrian-Friendly in Perpetuity
Above: This map illustrates the quarter-mile length of Pearl Street, in the Financial District, which has been converted to limited vehicular access under the Open Streets program.
Below: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer: “Going forward, Pearl Street can be redesigned to prioritize pedestrians, charting a path forward for how other comparable streets in Lower Manhattan can follow suit.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is pushing the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to expand and make permanent a trial implementation of the Open Street program in Lower Manhattan. Since last summer, the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has each day restricted vehicular access to Pearl Street, between Broad Street and Hanover Square, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm and again from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm
The Open Street initiative enables local communities to create and embrace new public spaces, while also supporting small businesses (such as restaurants), by prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists. Although some Open Streets are closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles, Pearl Street has been subject to a modified version of the program, under which local vehicle access (usually a single lane) is allowed for limited use (chiefly pick-ups and drop-offs, as well as deliveries), while the speed limit is reduced to five miles per hour, and drivers are advised to be extremely cautious.
Above: One potential redesign for Pearl Street, and many other similar streets in the Financial District, could expand pedestrian space and make the street more comfortable for cyclists through the creation of a shared street, which would still allow a few vehicles at slow speeds.
Below: This schematic illustrates the shared uses to which Open Streets can be put.
A report issued by Ms. Brewer earlier this month, “The Future of Open Streets,” argues that, “there is no question that, even amid its problems, the Open Streets program has been a major success and should continue in perpetuity. DOT should use the original program—quickly rolled out during an incredibly challenging time period—as a starting point worth building off.”
About Pearl Street, where the program was implemented in partnership with the Downtown Alliance, Ms. Brewer’s analysis notes that its, “designation as an Open Street in the Financial District was a response to years-long calls to increase pedestrian space in the area. Prior to the pandemic, the narrow street was often congested with pedestrian, vehicle, and bike traffic, thanks to an abundance of office buildings, restaurants, and storefront retail, and the many subway lines that run through the Financial District.”
“Aside from some maintenance challenges,” the report continues, “the Open Street has been largely successful, and DOT should consider a similar model, like a shared street, for a permanent redesign. Going forward, Pearl Street can be redesigned to prioritize pedestrians, charting a path forward for how other comparable streets in Lower Manhattan can follow suit.”
Ms. Brewer contends that, “turning Pearl Street into a shared street would still allow local traffic at slow speeds. The shared street, a concept successfully implemented by DOT in other parts of the City, would make bicycling safer and more welcoming by slowing down traffic even without painting a bike lane. It would also expand pedestrian space by breaking down the delineation between street and sidewalk, making pedestrians feel that they could walk safely in the low-traffic, slow-speed street.”
In the Borough President’s vision, an updated version of Pearl Street would contain a reduced number of parking spots (to make room for outdoor dining), plus more space for Citi Bike docks, planters, and public seating. “In many ways,” she observes, “this shared street would function almost identically to the current Open Street and make Pearl Street a more welcoming and calmer space for those who traverse it, now with permanent improvements.”
Earlier this week, the DOT announced that it was considering an expansion of the Open Streets Program. “I’m glad,” Ms. Brewer responded. “They should also work to improve the program with more connected Open Streets and street redesigns in consultation with local communities.”
Proposed Federal Law Would Further Restrict Helicopter Flights Over New York City
For the second time in as many months, U.S. Congressman Jerry Nadler (who represents Lower Manhattan in Washington) has introduced federal legislation that would impose stricter regulations on helicopter flights over New York.
On March 7, Mr. Nadler reintroduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Act—a measure that he first sponsored in 2019, when it failed to pass. According to the Congressional Research Service, this law would “prohibit operating helicopter flights over any city with a population of over eight million and a population density of over 25,000 people per square mile, except for purposes of (1) public health and safety, including law enforcement and emergency response; and (2) heavy-lift operations in support of construction and infrastructure maintenance.” To read more…
One Act of Kindness
Matt Keating is a singer/songwriter who lives in Lower Manhattan with his wife Emily. In a recent post on Facebook, he described his friendship with a man who took shelter outside his building, and how he helped this man receive his federal stimulus check.
This is my neighbor Jamal. We became friends about a month ago when I met him taking shelter outside of my building under the construction scaffolding that’s been put up for a while now. He is currently without a home and asks politely for any help from me whenever I walk by so I started giving him something every once in a while whenever I had it. He was very grateful and we struck up a conversation about politics and the current situation of inequality in this country.
About two weeks ago, as Emily and I were leaving to do our weekly visit to the Union Square Farmers Market, he came up to us and showed us that his shoes were falling apart. His soles were flapping and it was wet out. To read more…
Join Fraunces Tavern Museum for another virtual trivia night! Challenge your history-loving friends and test your knowledge of the American Revolution. Brush up on your revolutionary history and compete to win some great prizes. This program will be hosted on Zoom. Registration ends at 3:30pm on the day of the program. $5
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Turn-of-the-season dazzle: brightest stars, vivid constellations, and rusty-gold Mars
The calendar in the night sky marks Spring Equinox evenings with the rising of golden Arcturus, the second brightest star in our sky. Sunset is at 7:11 this evening and about a minute later each day going forward.
As twilight deepens, about an hour after sunset, gold-to-red twinkling Arcturus climbs above the northeastern horizon. The great star, -0.05 magnitude, appears later over obstructed views. To be sure to locate Arcturus at any time of night, follow the diagram at the top of this page. On spring evenings, the Big Dipper can be found high in the sky from the northeast to southeast. Trace the arc of its handle down to “arc to Arcturus”.
On Friday, for the second time in three weeks, a task force of New York City sheriffs shut down an illegal bar and nightclub in Tribeca. At 11:30 pm, half a dozen sheriffs entered One Harrison Street (at the corner of Hudson Street), ordered more than 120 patrons to disperse, and arrested five of the party’s organizers, charging them with violations of emergency health orders related to the pandemic, selling liquor without a license, selling liquor to minors, and dispensing cannabis products to minors, along with various vice and health-code violations. To read more…
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Alliance For Downtown New York Hosts 2021 Shred-A-Thon
And Clothing Drop-Off
After a year like the one we all just endured and the promise of a brighter day emerging, the idea of “spring cleaning” takes on new energy and meaning.
Now is the time to round up all the old clothes and unwanted documents that have been piling up and bring them over to Fulton Street (between Cliff and Gold Streets) for the Downtown Alliance’s annual dual shred-a-thon and clothing drop-off Saturday, April 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A shredding truck parked on Fulton Street will securely dispose of and recycle all your sensitive documents, tax receipts, junk mail and old bills.
The Alliance is also partnering with NYC clothing recycler Wearable Collections, which is providing a bin to collect all dry, used clean clothing including shoes, sneakers, belts and hats, as well as household items such as linens, towels and handbags.
Rain or shine, the Alliance will be there to dispose of your much-loved old outfits and no-longer-needed memories, minus a few items (e.g., carpeting, rugs, bath mats, comforters, pillows, large luggage). This spring will be even sweeter when you’ve got some extra space.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Othmar Ammann’s contributions to New York City are the George Washington, Bayonne, Triborough, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, and Verrazano-Narrows Bridges.
1780 – First British Sunday newspaper appears (Brit Gazette & Sunday Monitor)
1812 – Earthquake destroys 90% of Caracas Venezuela; about 20,000 die
1845 – Joseph Francis, a New Yorker, patents a corrugated sheet-iron lifeboat
1871 – Paris Commune founded
1910 – US forbids immigration to criminals, anarchists, paupers and the sick
1943 – First woman to receive air medal (US army nurse Elsie S Ott)
1945 – Japanese resistance ends on Iwo Jima
1953 – Dr Jonas Salk announces vaccine to prevent polio[myelitis]
1958 – US Army launched America’s third successful satellite, “Explorer III”
1970 – 500th nuclear explosion announced by the US since 1945
1974 – Romanian communist party names party leader Ceausescu president
1997 – Thirty-nine bodies found in the Heaven’s Gate cult suicides.
1999 – The “Melissa worm” infects Microsoft e-mail systems around the world.
1999 – A jury in Michigan finds Dr. Jack Kevorkian guilty of second-degree murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man.
2012 – Canadian Film maker, James Cameron, becomes the first person to visit Challenger Deep, the deepest point on Earth in over 50 years