The Broadsheet – Lower Manhattan’s Local Newspaper
Down in the Depths on the 50th Floor
Elevator Outages Have FiDi High-Rise Tenants Out on a Ledge
The Art Deco tower at 20 Exchange Place was built in 1929 as the headquarters of the City Bank–Farmers Trust Company (a predecessor of Citigroup), and designated a City landmark in 1996.
Months of chronic elevator problems at a historic skyscraper in the Financial District have left tenants at 20 Exchange Place hiking dozens of flights to and from their apartments each day. At a Monday rally called by elected officials to show support for the plight of residents in the building, City Council member Christopher Marte said, “this is the worst-case scenario for any resident. The first incident was in late October, almost six months ago.” Since then, he said, “there has been neglect from Con Edison and the management office. This is unacceptable. Enough is enough. Let’s get this fixed.”
The cause of the elevator outages has not yet been precisely identified, beyond that it appears related to high-voltage electrical surges that burn out the computerized “mother boards” that govern elevator operation. A spokesman for the landlord said, “in late October, the building first alerted Con Edison to electrical issues at 20 Exchange and have been repeatedly asking Con Edison for further support for months, and they only engaged Electric Power Research Institute within the last few days. For several months, the building has engaged multiple third-party experts, including elevator companies, electrical engineers, elevator consultants, and electricians.”
Above: Tenant Gina Chen: “I have trouble soothing my shaken dog, who is trying to hold herself on the long trip down, and then sprints for the front door.” Below: City Council member Christopher Marte: “We’re committed to putting as much pressure as we need to on Con Edison and City agencies in order to make sure this gets done, and that the tenants are taken care of.”
Resident Gina Chen (who was wearing a cast on one foot), said, “the last few years have taught us that we don’t live alone; we depend on each other and depend on interconnected systems for shared public good. When those systems are disrupted, our world becomes a lot smaller.” She recounted “soothing my shaken dog, who is trying to hold herself on the long trip down, and then sprints for the front door.”
Tenant Astin Hutch said, “this goes beyond standards of living. Recycling and trash accumulate in the hallways. When a sprinkler broke in my hall, it took emergency services 15 minutes to reach the 35th floor. Imagine firefighters in full gear trying to get to my apartment. At some point, somebody will die.”
State Senator Brian Kavanagh said, “we understand that these systems are complicated. But we don’t understand is why the combined efforts of Con Ed and building management and City of New York, which has regulatory responsibility, cannot get this situation addressed.”
He added, “we also have reports that although management is trying to provide additional services, their lawyers are playing hardball with people who are saying, ‘enough is enough,’ and want to go. We’ve heard two things: that they are asking people to sign non-disclosure agreements and also that they forego the opportunity to sue. The notion that people who’ve lived in this building shouldn’t be disclosing their experiences is crazy to me.”
Above: Tenant Astin Hutch: “Imagine firefighters in full gear trying to get to my apartment. At some point, somebody will die.” Below: State Senator Brian Kavanagh: “We don’t understand is why the combined efforts of Con Ed and building management and City of New York, which has regulatory responsibility, cannot get this situation addressed.”
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou said, “the current situation is patently unacceptable. People are trapped within their homes, putting their lives on hold, and the challenges tenants face are compounding. The time to twiddle thumbs and shrug shoulders has long since passed. This is a safety and security issue. Con Edison needs to treat this with the same urgency as they would a power outage or an electrical fire. And management needs to be clear and generous in proposing concessions, commensurate with the stress and discomfort tenants have been placed under.”
The spokesman for the landlord continued, “the ongoing electrical surges causing the elevator outages have dramatically impacted the daily lives of hundreds of residents. Resolving this issue and alleviating the impact on our residents has been the building’s priority since the issues first began, and the building has engaged more than ten leading elevator, electrical and engineering experts to determine the origin of this problem and seek a resolution. These experts have performed a thorough review of building equipment and so far have been unable to determine the source of the surges or identify any building equipment that could cause electrical surges of this magnitude. These experts also believe that we will not be able to identify the underlying cause of the electrical surges without the full collaboration and 24/7 support of Con Edison. The building will continue to work closely with local elected officials and City agencies to help enlist all necessary support and commit whatever resources are necessary to fix the issue and support building residents until proper elevator service is restored.”
The Art Deco tower at Twenty Exchange Place, built in 1929 as the headquarters of the City Bank–Farmers Trust Company (a predecessor of Citigroup), was designated a City landmark in 1996. The building operated as an office tower until 2006, when it began a staged conversion to residential use. The process was completed in three sections (in 2008, 2011 and 2014), resulting in 767 high-end, rental apartments, ranging from studios to three bedrooms.
Resident Jim Barrett observed, “this big, beautiful, broken building is our home. I’ve lived on 54th floor for 11 years. When the elevator isn’t working, it’s a long way home. Residents need a timeline. When is something going to be done to fix the problem? The solution might be to rewire the building, as drastic as that might be. Let’s set a deadline.”
In a communication with tenants on March 25, the landlord said, “ownership is finalizing a fair and equitable program for concessions for all impacted residents, and members of the management team will reach out to residents next week to communicate this program.”
Mr. Marte concluded, “we’re committed to putting as much pressure as we need to on Con Edison and City agencies in order to make sure this gets done, and that the tenants are taken care of. You have gone through this for too long.”
Local Rates of Infection with BA.2 Version of COVID Among Highest in City
In a sharp reversal of previous trends, four Lower Manhattan neighborhoods are ranking among the top five anywhere in the City for rates of infection with the new BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron mutation of COVID-19.
In data released by the City’s Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday (covering the period from March 18 through March 24), southern Tribeca, two areas of the Financial District, and southern Battery Park City all placed among the five communities with the highest percentage positive test results for COVID infection. The four local zip codes with the highest level of positive test results were:
Join in on the fun featuring easy-to-follow Latin dance choreography while working on your balance, coordination and range of motion. Come prepared for enthusiastic instruction, a little strength training and a lot of fun. Participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment: weights, water bottle, hand towel etc.
The second session of the Construction History series concentrates on Frames and the evolution of metal-cage construction in each city. Chicago has claimed the “invention” of steel-skeleton construction, which historians often call “the Chicago frame.” In New York, building codes and concerns about fire discouraged the use of skeleton frames until after 1892, so alternative, hybrid systems developed. Tom Leslie and Don Friedman will examine these and other issues. Chicago and New York offered a handful of very different preconditions that influenced the way skyscrapers were designed and built in the two cities. Chicago’s murky soil forced engineers to carefully parse their structures into point supports and broad, snowshoe-like pads, which suggested structures above could be thought of as more skeletal frames than continuous walls. The city’s large, regular lot sizes also allowed a regularity in structural grids, and its laissez-faire politics permitted thinner walls than other, eastern cities—at least through 1893, after which unions and builders began a pitched battle over the city’s building code. Free
In the world of WÜNDER, we watch with glittering eyes the magic all around us, the shimmer of life — and move in awe at the moments we create together. An immersive dance party and theatrical show — at sunrise in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. Kicked off by a magical meditation practice scored by live musicians. This tour only happens once…wonder is ephemeral. Bring a mat, bring a water bottle. Get ready to dance! Free
Meeting of the Board’s Investment Committee (12:30PM)
Meeting of the Members of the Authority (2:00PM)
The meetings will be livestreamed at: bpca.divacommunications.com/bpca-live/ and video recordings made available for post-meeting access via the Battery Park City Authority website. Agendas will be made available at least 48 hours in advance of the scheduled meetings, and a public comment period will be scheduled during the Meeting of the Members of the Authority at a time on the agenda determined by the Chairman.
Anyone wishing to participate in the public comment period should submit their comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than 5:30 p.m. on the day prior to the Meeting. Comments should be no longer than two minutes in length, and may be read into the record during the livestream broadcast. BPCA reserves the right to prioritize comments that have not been previously raised.
THURSDAY MARCH 31
A Righteous Woman: Doña Gracia Mendes Nasi
Museum of Jewish Heritage 36 Battery Pl
Beatrice Nasi, who would come to be known as Doña Gracia, one of the richest women in the world, was born in 1510 in Portugal. Join the Museum for a program exploring the incredible life and legacy of Doña Gracia on the 530th anniversary of the Alhambra Decree. The program will consist of a conversation with Andrée Aelion Brooks, author of The Woman Who Defied Kings: The life and times of Doña Gracia Nasi, and Howard Tzvi Adelman, Associate Professor of History at Queen’s University. The program willl be moderated by Josh Nathan-Kazis, a reporter at Barron’s and a former staff writer at the Forward.
During the coronavirus pandemic, a queer disabled woman bikes through a locked-down NYC for the ex-girlfriend who broke her heart. In pandemic-era NYC, Orpheus just manages to buy a bike before they sell out across the city. She takes to the streets looking for Eurydice, the first woman she fell in love with, who broke her heart. The city is largely closed, devoid of touch, connection, and community. But Orpheus hears mysterious news of an underground bar, Le Monacle, fashioned after the lesbian club of the same name in 1930s Paris. Can she find it?
Jazz at the Poster Museum
Grammy Award-winning drummer Robby Ameen has lived in Tribeca since the early 90s and has established a recording and touring career stretching from Dizzy Gillespie to Paul Simon to Ruben Blades. See Robby and his band at Philip Williams Posters, 52 Warren Street. $20, $10 students; with complimentary wine. For reservations, 212-513-0313 or email@example.com
Thomas Cooley, tenor; Jonathan Woody, bass; The Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Trinity Youth Chorus; The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys; Trinity Baroque Orchestra; New York Baroque Inc.; Dana Marsh, conductor. Trinity ensembles join forces with the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and New York Baroque Incorporated to present Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, one of the quintessential masterpieces of western classical music. The Passion According to St. Matthew, BWV 244, is a dramatic integration of scripture, new poetry, and great hymns of the Lutheran tradition. Free
On Saturdays and Sundays, visit the exhibitions and the ships of the South Street Seaport Museum for free. At 12 Fulton Street, see “South Street and the Rise of New York” and “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners, 1900-1914,” and at Pier 16, explore the tall ship Wavertree and lightship Ambrose.
For the Birds
A Guide to our Feathered Friends in Lower Manhattan
Gail Karlsson is a local writer and photographer who recently began focusing on New York City birds. She has put together a photo book called A Birds’ Guide to The Battery and New York Harbor. Most of the text is written from the birds’ point of view.
In 2017, she began going on morning bird walks in The Battery led by Gabriel Willow, a naturalist working with New York City Audubon. “One day he told me that not very many birders went to The Battery, and it would be good to document what we saw there. I didn’t know much about the different birds, but I did have a new telephoto lens, and Gabriel helped me identify ones I didn’t recognize. I was amazed at how many different types of birds we found there.I decided to put them together in a book – which turned into a much bigger project than I imagined. But a really fun one.”
‘Downtown Birds’ is now on display in the ground-floor window gallery at the former Western Union building (60 Hudson) located on the northwest corner of West Broadway and Thomas now through May 1
The book A Birds’ Guide to The Battery and New York Harbor is available on Amazon.com.
Local Legacies Lionized
Three Downtown Preservation Projects Cited as Exemplars of Landmark Protection
Three of Lower Manhattan’s architectural masterpieces have been singled out for the prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, conferred each year by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a highly regarded non-profit organization (itself based in Lower Manhattan, on Whitehall Street) that seeks to protect New York’s architecturally significant buildings. To read more…
New Production of Museum of Jewish Heritage Recalls 1930s Saga That Resonates Today
Previews have begun for the seven-week run of Harmony, a musical by Barry Manilow and his longtime collaborator Bruce Sussman at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place, near First Place).
The production recalls the story of the Comedian Harmonists, “a singing group that was hugely popular in the 1920s and 30s,” Mr. Manilow recalls. “They were very inventive—a combination of the Manhattan Transfer and the Marx Brothers. They made 13 movies, along with dozens and dozens of records. But nobody remembers them today.”
Mr. Sussman reflects that, “when Barry and I write a big project, I need to be able to know what the spine sentence is—the guiding sentence for what this piece is about. I knew immediately this was about the quest for harmony in the broadest sense of the word, during what turned out to be the most discordant period of human history.” To read more…
Not a Penny for Tribute?
Community-Focused Cultural Center Faces Possible Closure
The 9/11 Tribute Museum, a highly regarded local cultural institution, is grappling with the prospect of imminent closure, according to chief executive officer and co-founder, Jennifer Adams-Webb, who told the Broadsheet, “without a donor or partner stepping forward, we are unable to sustain the 9/11 Tribute Museum with current visitation. The 9/11 Tribute Museum has served as a support for thousands of survivors, first responders, families and residents who were all directly affected by September 11. It will be a substantial loss to New York City and the community of support.” To read more…
Lower Manhattan Students Mobilize to Demand Return of Park Space Beneath Brooklyn Bridge
On March 15, a team of student leaders from the Urban Assembly Maker Academy, a charter school located in Lower Manhattan, presented to the Waterfront, Parks, and Cultural Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) a plan for reopening the Brooklyn Bridge Banks Park, located in the shadow of the iconic span that stretches across the East River from City Hall.
Amy Piller, the principal of the Urban Assembly Maker Academy (headquartered alongside the Brooklyn Bridge, within the Murry Bergtraum Campus, on Pearl Street) began by noting, “most of our students go out to eat at lunchtime. Particularly now, in light of the pandemic, there are really limited places where they can go.” To read more…
Eyes to the Sky
March 21 – April 3, 2022
Equinox Sun, Spring Star Arcturus rising, Solar Orbiter’s closest approach
We are several days past the Vernal Equinox (aequus = equal and nox = night), the astronomical first day of spring in the northern hemisphere when the rising Sun (due east on the horizon) and the setting Sun (due west) trace an arc in the sky that brings about equal day and night. Our star’s equinox trajectory is halfway between the winter and summer solstices, the shortest and longest days of the year, respectively.
Historic, Publicly Owned Battery Maritime Building Has Reopened, But Only for Paying Customers
Community Board 1 (CB1) is raising questions about the use of what was supposed to be public space at the Battery Maritime Building, located at Ten South Street.
The publicly owned structure, located next to the Staten Island Ferry, is a landmarked Beaux Art ferry terminal built in 1909. It served for three decades as the gateway for boats taking passengers across the East River, but after commuters and vehicles gained direct access to Manhattan with the advent of bridges, tunnels, and subways, ferry usage declined and the building fell into disrepair.
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
Ethical and respectable gentleman, an IT Wizard, seeks a living/work space in BPC. Can be a Computer help to you and your business, or will guarantee $1,500 for rental. Reciprocal would be great!
Folk dance group seeks empty space of 400+ sq feet for 2 hours of weekly evening dance practice.
Average attendance is 10 women. This is our hobby; can pay for use of the space.
Call 646 872-0863 or find us on Facebook. Ring O’Bells Morris.
Kind loving and honest Nurse’s aide seeking FT/PT job. Experience with Alzheimer’s patients
Excellent references available please call Dian at 718-496-6232
HOUSEKEEPING/ NANNY/ BABYSITTER
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
Call Tenzin 347-803-9523
Esplanade or Espla-Nada?
City Says Planned Improvements to East River Waterfront Are On Hold
The February 22 meeting of Community Board 1 (CB1) included an update about long-planned improvements to the East River Esplanade, some of which are being cancelled.
Paul Goldstein, the chair of CB1’s Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee, said, “we got a report from Economic Development Corporation [EDC] regarding some of their waterfront assets and projects that are ongoing—or not.” (The EDC is a not-profit corporation controlled by City government, which oversees development of assets, such as publicly owned property.)
“Unfortunately, a lot this project is not moving ahead for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Goldstein explained, “the biggest one being that the City is focusing much more on resiliency, and they don’t want to go ahead with improvements that may interfere with that.” To read more…
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Every Wednesday & Saturday, 8am-3pm
Food Scrap Collection: Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Open Saturdays and Wednesdays year round
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.