Above: Jan Lee, co-founder of Neighbors United Below Canal: “Chinatown has witnessed the City tear down jails and build bigger ones before, and they have never got it right. When you build bigger jails, you inevitably fill them with more and more people.” Below: City Council member Christopher Marte: “We want to do renovation. We can achieve the goals of the City’s borough-based jails plan, for a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time, and with a fraction of the impact, in terms of disruption and environmental problems.”
Monday marked the start of what is planned to be a daily vigil and protest at the site of the Manhattan Detention Complex, where the City plans to demolish an existing jail and replace it with the world’s tallest penal institution. The rally was sparked by the City’s announcement that it planned to install construction fencing around the site (centered on White Street, between Baxter and Centre Streets), in a sign that the start of demolition was imminent. More than 150 protestors gathered before 7:00 am, planning to block access to the site, and thus prevent the start of work.
“We have an alternative that works,” said City Council member Christopher Marte. “We want to do renovation. We can achieve the goals of the City’s borough-based jails plan, for a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the time, and with a fraction of the impact, in terms of disruption and environmental problems.”
He added, “we’re going to be out here demanding that they work with us, because we can give them a win.” Mr. Marte was one of more than a dozen protestors who were wearing blue armbands, in a prearranged signal to the police that they planned to commit non-violent acts of civil disobedience by obstructing the installation of the fence, but also planned to submit to arrest without offering any resistance.
Edward Cuccia, an attorney who both lives and practices in Chinatown, was on hand to act as a legal advisor to the demonstrators. He was also there to represent anybody who was arrested, and to monitor any possible violations of their rights. Mr. Cuccia said, “the City plans to put up a jail taller than the State of Liberty, but they have done virtually no community outreach. They have violated dozens of applicable laws and regulations.”
In the event, contractors did not attempt to install the fence on Monday, and no protestors were arrested. In a possible signal that City Hall had decided to delay, at least for the time being, the planned start of work that sparked the protest, the rally was observed from across Centre Street by more than half a dozen high-level police commanders (identifiable by the gold braid on their hats, and uniform shirts that are white, rather than blue), while very few rank-and-file patrol officers were visible.
At issue is the purported need to expand the Manhattan Detention Complex, because the City plans to close its primary jail, on Rikers Island. Community leaders in Chinatown and Little Italy are supportive of the need to shut Rikers Island, but are gravely concerned about the impacts that five years or more of demolition and construction will impose on the surrounding neighborhood.
Jan Lee, a co-founder of Neighbors United Below Canal (a community organization that opposes the plan to demolish and rebuild the Manhattan Detention Complex), said, “their plan is to spend $2.3 billion on this project, but it will run over-budget. Chinatown has witnessed the City tear down jails and build bigger ones before, and they have never got it right. When you build bigger jails, you inevitably fill them with more and more people.”
“What we’re saying,” he continued, “is to re-use the existing buildings, and to get serious about ending mass incarceration. You don’t decrease mass incarceration by building bigger and more expensive jails.”
Alice Blank (above), the vice chair of Community Board 1, said, “nothing can be achieved by demolishing these buildings that cannot be achieved by renovating them. There are critical issues of social justice, environmental justice, and preservation that have not been addressed in this plan.”
In an ironic twist, the protestors played video of Eric Adams joining them at a rally on the same site last fall, before he had been elected Mayor. In that clip, the then-candidate said, “I did not just discover you when I decided to run. I know how much this community has endured. We have stood together, side by side. Let’s stop the institutionalization of hate that we are seeing in government.”
“We can do a better job,” Mr. Adams continued. “The problems we are facing can’t be solved with incarceration and the destruction of communities. So I am here with you, standing side by side. No new jail! No building up a jail at this location!”
Mr. Adams has made no public statement explaining his change of heart since taking office, nor he has acknowledged the contradiction between his promise as a candidate and his policy as Mayor.
As Monday’s rally drew to a close, Mr. Lee promised, “we will be back tomorrow.”
Getting to the Route of the Problem
CB1 Discusses BPCA Revamp of South End Avenue, Calls for ‘Soft Reboot’ of 2018 Plan
At the March 7 meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) announced that it is taking preliminary steps to move ahead with a controversial plan to reconfigure South End Avenue and West Thames Street. This project envisions safety improvements that narrow both South End Avenue and West Thames Street, widen nearby sidewalks, and relocate several bus stops.
America’s First Synagogue Celebrates Anniversary at Site Where, Centuries Before Liberty’s Lamp, Lower Manhattan Offered Refuge to Persecuted Jews
On April 8, 1730, the seventh day of that year’s Passover, the fledgling Jewish community of New York City consecrated the Mill Street Synagogue, located on what is now South William Street. They called their new temple “Shearith Israel,” which translates literally as, “remnant of Israel.” It was the first Jewish house of worship in North America. To read more…
Taking the ‘Our’ Out of ‘Arcade’
CB1 Opposes Deal to Hand Developer 4,000-Plus Square Feet of Public Space
Community Board 1 (CB1) is reiterating its opposition to a plan that will allow a real estate developer to privatize more than 4,000 square feet of public space, in exchange for a promise to enliven an adjacent plaza.
At issue are the arcades—columned porticos that adorn the ground-floor facade of 200 Water Street—which the building owner hopes to enclose, thus creating additional retail space, which can be monetized. (The same owner plans to create three new market-rate rental apartments at the second floor level, and to use several hundred square feet of outdoor space on the plaza in front of 200 Water Street, for a cafe.)
Elected Officials Want Prospective Buyer of Affordable Housing Complex to Share Info
A coalition of elected officials are cautioning the prospective buyer of a Lower Manhattan affordable housing complex not to get any ideas about making the development any less affordable.
Nestled in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, Knickerbocker Village is a giant apartment complex in the Two Bridges neighborhood (bounded by Monroe, Market, Cherry, and Catherine Streets), which was built by a public-private partnership in the 1930s. Consisting of 12 buildings with a total of 1,590 apartments, it has been a bastion of affordability for nearly a century. As recently as 2019, a one-bedroom apartment rented there for $810 per month, and a three-bedroom units were priced at $1,250. To read more…
Alliance Launches Program to Help Local Small Businesses Connect with Customers Online
The Downtown Alliance, as part of its broader effort to help Lower Manhattan’s business community recover from the COVID-19 crisis, has launched Get Social, a free program teaches local firms how best to use social media to bolster their bottom line. The Alliance will pair ten businesses with social media consultants, each of whom has demonstrated skills and strategic insight on building an audience across a variety of platforms. The program also provides each participating business with a $1,500 grant to spend on advertising and content creation. To read more…
Floating an Idea
Port Authority Interprets Governor’s Order Littorally
Lower Manhattan residents could soon have a new option for accessing LaGuardia Airport, if planners at the Port Authority approve an option to launch ferry service between the Wall Street pier and the aerodrome in northern Queens.
The Port Authority has been compelled to take a fresh look at ways to access LaGuardia after Governor Kathy Hochul killed plans formulated by her predecessor, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, to build a new AirTrain. That proposal would have connected the airport to both the Long Island Rail Road and the subway’s 7 train—in both cases by moving passengers eastward for those transfers, when the vast majority of users would likely be headed to destinations west of the LaGuardia (such as Manhattan). This scheme was slated to cost several billion dollars.
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. Free.
Webinar. Is there an ideal portfolio of investment assets, one that perfectly balances risk and reward? In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio examines this question by profiling and interviewing ten of the most prominent figures in the finance world―Jack Bogle, Charley Ellis, Gene Fama, Marty Leibowitz, Harry Markowitz, Bob Merton, Myron Scholes, Bill Sharpe, Bob Shiller and Jeremy Siegel. We learn about the personal and intellectual journeys of these luminaries―which include six Nobel Laureates and a trailblazer in mutual funds―and their most innovative contributions. In the process, we come to understand how the science of modern investing came to be. Each of these finance greats discusses their idea of a perfect portfolio, offering invaluable insights to today’s investors. Talk followed by audience Q&A. Advance registration is required. Registered guests will receive the link prior to the program.
The third session of the Construction History series focuses on Facades. Steel frames freed exterior walls from structural duties, allowing architects new freedom to develop facades that could respond to changing functional and aesthetic criteria. Developers’ desire for efficiency and natural daylight led to thinner, lighter walls – “veneers” in the dismissive language of early critics and “curtain walls” in the parlance of more enthusiastic designers. Electric lighting, building materials, and environmental controls all played roles in changing skyscraper skins in both New York and Chicago. However, each city’s proximity to varying sources of stone, glass, and terra cotta – coupled with differing approaches to fire codes and the politics of local labor unions – created subtly different approaches to skyscraper facades. Free.
In a genre-defying book hailed as “exquisite” (The New York Times) and “spectacular” (The Times Literary Supplement), the best-selling memoirist and critic Daniel Mendelsohn explores the mysterious links between the randomness of the lives we lead and the artfulness of the stories we tell.
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. Free.
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:
Census Analysis Indicates Downtown Has Become a Lot Younger, Quite a Bit More Crowded, and Slightly More Diverse
The population of Lower Manhattan has grown by almost 20,000 residents in the decade preceding the 2020 Census, according to an analysis co-authored by James Wilson-Schutter, a Community Planning Fellow affiliated with the Fund for the City of New York, who is consulting with Community Board 1 (CB1), and Diana Switaj, CB1’s Director of Planning and Land Use.
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
$2.00 per notarized signature.
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.
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.
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
Today in History
This photograph, dated 1911, is by Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976), an American photographer known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes.
1204 – The Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade breach the walls of Constantinople and enter the city.
1776 – The North Carolina Provincial Congress authorizes its Congressional delegation to vote for independence from Britain. The act becomes known as the Halifax Resolves, and is the first official move by the American colonies to call for independence from Great Britain.
1831 – Soldiers marching on the Broughton Suspension Bridge in Manchester, England, cause it to collapse.
1864 – In the American Civil War, the Battle of Fort Pillow takes place on the Mississippi River in Tennessee. The battle ends when Confederate forces massacre most of the Union soldiers, many of them African American, who were trying to surrender.
1927 – The Shanghai massacre occurs when Chiang Kai-shek orders the Chinese Communist Party members to be executed in Shanghai, ending the First United Front.
1928 – The Bremen, a German Junkers W 33 type aircraft, takes off for the first successful transatlantic aeroplane flight from east to west.
1945 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies in office; Vice President Harry S. Truman becomes President upon Roosevelt’s death.
1955 – The polio vaccine, developed by Dr. Jonas Salk, is declared safe and effective.
1961 – The Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to travel into outer space and perform the first manned orbital flight, Vostok 1.
1981 – The first launch of a Space Shuttle (Columbia) takes place.
1999 – U.S. President Bill Clinton is cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionally false statements” in a civil lawsuit; he is later fined and disbarred.
1612 – Simone Cantarini, Italian painter and engraver (d. 1648)
1777 – Henry Clay, American lawyer and politician, 9th United States Secretary of State (d. 1852)
1883 – Imogen Cunningham, American photographer and educator (d. 1976)
1916 – Beverly Cleary, American author (d. 2021)
1940 – Herbie Hancock, American pianist, composer, and bandleader
1947 – Tom Clancy, American historian and author (d. 2013)
1947 – David Letterman, American comedian and talk show host
1949 – Scott Turow, American lawyer and author
1957 – Tama Janowitz, American novelist and short story writer
45 BC – Gnaeus Pompeius, Roman general and politician (b. 75 BC)
1878 – William M. Tweed, American lawyer and politician (b. 1823)
1945 – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States (b. 1882)
1975 – Josephine Baker, French actress, activist, and humanitarian (b. 1906)
1981 – Joe Louis, American boxer and wrestler (b. 1914)
1989 – Sugar Ray Robinson, American boxer (b. 1921)
1989 – Abbie Hoffman, American activist, co-founded Youth International Party (b. 1936)