HRPT Moves Ahead with Plans to Recast Former Tow Pound as Waterfront Park
Demolition and reconstruction work now underway will transform it into a public open space the size of three football fields.
Lower Manhattan residents who use the Hudson River Greenway to traverse the waterfront will soon have another open space to savor. The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) has begun demolition and reconstruction work on Pier 76 (located at 12th Avenue in the West 30s, across from the Javits Convention Center), which will be transformed into an interim park by June.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who oversees HRPT, said, “there is only a precious limited amount of green space left for community use, and we have to make sure we are protecting and preserving it on Pier 76, carefully balancing the Park’s financial needs with protection of green space. The redevelopment of this valuable land will maximize underutilized green space and recreational and market potential with the possibility of connecting regional landmarks like Javits and the High Line.”
Pier 76, for decades used as an impound lot for towed vehicles, has been scheduled to be relinquished by the New York Police Department since 1998, when the Hudson River Park Act (the enabling legislation that created the Park an the HRPT) stated that New York City, “shall use best efforts to relocate the tow pound on Pier 76.”
In the two decades that followed, however, that transfer was never effectuated. This intransigence was inspired in part by the administration of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which demanded that any revenue from commercial development of the valuable space redound to the benefit of the City, rather than the HRPT. In the 2000s, this standoff earned Pier 76 the nickname of, “the world’s priciest parking lot.”
In January, 2020, however, Governor Cuomo upended that calculus. As he vetoed a law that would have enabled commercial development at Pier 40 (near Houston Street), he issued a memorandum noting that, “there have been several attempts to move the tow pound currently used by the City of New York at Pier 76 to allow for additional development. Indeed, the [Hudson River Park Act] currently states that the City, once it has vacated the tow pound, will transfer the pier to the State for use as part of the Park. It is wholly underutilized and has tremendous potential and the site must be maximized…. I will work on legislation that will ensure that the Park will finally have access to Pier 76, which will ensure Pier 40 reaches its full potential.” This policy was made a priority in January of this year, when Mr. Cuomo included the transfer of Pier 76 from the City to HRPT as one of the goals in the 2020 State of the State address.
The facility may prove crucial to HRPT’s long-term financial viability. Pier 76, which extends 745 feet into the Hudson, encloses 245,000 square feet and adjoins an upland, open-space area of another 55,000 square feet. From this total, the Trust hopes to create slightly more than 178,000 square feet (or just over four acres—the equivalent of three football fields) of new parkland, while setting aside 122,000 square feet for commercial development.
Pier 76, on the Hudson waterfront in the West 30s, has served as the New York impound lot for towed vehicles since 1977.
All of this will have to await a final plan for Pier 76, however. In the meantime, the State’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has begun a selective demolition, which will strip the walls and roof from the existing structure, but leave its skeletal steel frame in place. Within these confines, plans call for a new surface on the Pier’s deck, which will support a walking area with benches, and an outdoor, passive recreation space—all surrounded by railings and lighting. This phase of the project is budgeted at $20 million.
“COVID highlighted the importance of outdoor recreational spaces for New Yorkers, and it is critical that we expand open space as we continue to build back better,” the Governor said on March 24, when he announced the start of the project. “After more than 20 years of inaction, the transformation of Pier 76 will convert a blight on Manhattanʼs western shore into a crown jewel for the Hudson River Park and create a beloved urban recreational space that will be enjoyed by all for generations to come.”
Pier 76 was opened in 1964, as a freighter terminal for the United States Lines. Built at a cost of $9 million, it was regarded as a technical marvel and as a behemoth—replacing the former Piers 75, 76, and 77, which has been built in the second half of the 19th century. Leased by the United States Lines from the City’s Department of Marine and Aviation at $2 million per year, for 20 years, Pier 76 was briefly the City’s most lucrative dock rental on a thriving waterfront. Within a decade, however, both the port and the company fell into steep decline, with the United States Lines vacating the facility in the early 1970s and declaring bankruptcy in 1988. Briefly used as a storage facility for postal vehicles, the dock was taken over by the Police Department in 1977, and became a reluctant pilgrimage site for New Yorkers whose cars had disappeared from Manhattan streets.
In the 2000s, Pier 76 was variously considered as the site for a Department of Sanitation marine transfer pier, a hotel casino and development that would add to the lure of the Javits Convention Center (and be connected to it via a skybridge), and the world’s largest Ferris wheel—a plan that was transplanted to Staten Island, before going bankrupt in 2018.
re: The New Roaring Twenties
New York City Won’t Be The Same,
But It Will Be Great
(The BroadsheetDAILY, April 9, 2021)
To the editor:
Historically what has made NYC attractive to newcomers in the past has been:
1. Employment opportunities on many levels of wages
2. Commercial opportunities on a vast array of possibilities
After arrival what kept residents from moving out of the city were:
a. Relatively low-cost reliable public transportation
b. Fantastic array of reasonably priced recreational, educational, and cultural opportunities
c.. Affordable housing reasonably adjacent to mass transit
d. Outstanding health, educational and general public institutions
e. The spectacle, diversity, excitement and overall ambiance of the city itself
And tourists arrived (and spent their dollars) for various combinations of the above.
It is of course possible that an argument could easily be made that any item a/e should be moved up into the 1-2 attraction list.
The point being is that what attracted folks to come and live in the City has not disappeared, and with civic planning and hard work that attractiveness can be expanded upon in the future.
City Preservation Agency Okays Plan for New Structure on East River Waterfront
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved a proposal by the Howard Hughes Corporation, the real estate firm that is redeveloping the South Street Seaport, and the City’s Parks Department, to create a new outdoor restaurant underneath the FDR Drive.
At a Tuesday hearing, the LPC praised the modifications to a 2019 proposal that would have placed a much larger structure (also beneath the FDR Drive) at the intersection of South and John Streets, blocking the view corridor of the East River, and eclipsing the historic tall ships docked on the waterfront. Community Board 1 (CB1) strongly opposed that version of the plan, and the LPC was guided by the Board’s judgment.
Nadler Proposes to Expand Historic African Cemetery with Museum and Education Center
Congressman Jerry Nadler is sponsoring to expand the African Burial Ground National Monument, the Lower Manhattan site that holds the remains of an estimated 15,000 African-Americans from the Colonial Era (both free and enslaved), with a new museum and education center.
On April 2, Mr. Nadler reintroduced legislation that would establish an African Burial Ground Advisory Council, which would manage the proposed museum, in partnership with the National Park Service (the agency that oversees the current National Monument). The new museum would additionally serve as a sister institution to Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. To read more…
Born to Be Wild
The Battery Park City Authority is urging residents to observe, admire, even adore local fauna—but to do so from a distance.
The agency’s Keep It Wild campaign springs from the Authority’s Strategic Plan, which aims (in part) to establish the 92 acres of the community as a biodiversity haven and sanctuary for nature.
Battery Park City is currently home to a diverse array of wildlife. More than 100 species of resident and migratory birds, along with countless species of insects (including native pollinators) inhabit local gardens and lawns, but these green spaces provide all the food and habitat the animals need.
Sadly, wildlife does not benefit from human interaction (however well intentioned), so the BPCA asks that residents avoid feeding animals and limit themselves to watching from a safe distance, for the safety of both man and beast.
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.
David Cale will present a selection of new works including the song, “Georgia O’Keeffe”; the monologue “Ellie”, a portrait of an unstable actress who seeks revenge on a famous co-star she once appeared in a play with, who she felt subsequently undermined and de-railed her career; and the poem, “The Day I Got Older”. Free
‘No Epitaphs Spill Out’
The Stella Adler Studio of Acting will host, “This is Not a Small Voice: An Evening of Poetry as Celebration” (part of its Harold Clurman Poetry Reading Series) on Tuesday, April 20 (starting at 7pm). Readers will include contemporary poets Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Sonia Sanchez, and Aracelis Girmay. This online event is free, and open to the public.
East River Park Advocates Demand to See Resiliency Planning Documents
A coalition of activists based on the Lower East Side has filed suit against the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to force the release of documents detailing plans for resiliency infrastructure between Montgomery and East 25th Street.
The group, calling itself East River Park Action, contends that a consensus plan to make the East River Park safe from climate change, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events, which had widespread community support, was abruptly abandoned by City Hall in three years ago.
New York City Won’t Be The Same, But It Will Be Great
A chorus of New York naysayers are telling us that the City will never be the same after this pandemic. They are right—but not in the way they think. New York City is on the cusp of another “Roaring 20’s,” and I, for one, can’t wait.
One hundred years ago we were recovering from a pandemic (the Spanish Flu) and a Great War that spread fear and death. New York is facing a similar trauma. Loved ones lost are never coming back. Some of us have lost jobs, homes, or even just our favorite restaurants. A century ago, when it was all over, people were ready to let loose—and let loose they did. I believe that a similar spirit is about to start a recovery that will reshape the city in exciting ways, creating new opportunities for many.
Local Leaders Seek Temporary Easing of Federal Mortgage Regulations on Condominiums and Cooperatives
Community Board 1 is calling upon elected officials to intercede on behalf of condominiums and cooperatives, where the economic downtown triggered by the pandemic coronavirus has resulted in distressed finances. 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.
Brewer Pushes for FiDi Thoroughfare to Be Made Pedestrian-Friendly in Perpetuity
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 To read more…
Local Leaders Get Irredentist to Reclaim Park Space Dispossessed for a Decade
Community Board 1 (CB1) wants the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to give back park space beneath the Brooklyn Bridge that was “temporarily” closed more than a decade ago. The area, informally known as “Brooklyn Banks,” is an iconic destination for skateboarders, because the streetscape provides an undulating terrain of ramps, rails, ledges, and jumps. Long before any of these stunts were legal in New York, boarders from around the United States would come to the City to compete there, and connect with one another. To read more…
TODAY IN HISTORY
1178 BC – A solar eclipse may have marked the return of Odysseus, legendary King of Ithaca, to his kingdom after the Trojan War
1346 – The Serbian Empire is proclaimed in Skopje at an Easter assembly and Stephen Uroš IV Dušan crowned Emperor over much of the Balkans
1705 – Queen Anne of England knights Isaac Newton at Trinity College
1777 – Battle of Bennington-New England’s Green Mountain Boys rout British
1853 – The first passenger rail opens in India, from Bori Bunder, Bombay to Thane.
1862 – Slavery abolished in District of Columbia
1922 – Annie Oakley sets women’s record by breaking 100 clay targets in a row
1943 – Dr. Albert Hofmann discovers the psychedelic effects of LSD
1956 – First solar powered radios go on sale
1962 – Walter Cronkite begins anchoring CBS Evening News
1965 – Test flight of heavy Saturn S-1C-rocket
1986 – To dispel rumors he’s dead, Moammar Gadhafi appears on TV
2004 – The super liner Queen Mary 2 embarks on her first Trans-Atlantic crossing, linking the golden age of ocean travel to the modern age of ocean travel.
Walter Cronkite, once polled as the “most trusted man in the US”
778 – King Louis the Pious (d. 840)
1495 – Petrus Apianus, German mathematician (d. 1557)
1660 – Hans Sloane, England, physician/naturalist/founder (British Museum)
1867 – Wilbur Wright, of aeronautical fame (Wright Brothers)
1889 – Charles ‘Charlie’ Chaplin, London UK, actor/comedian (City Lights, Gold Rush)
1919 – Merce Cunningham, choreographer (Acrobat in Every Soul is a Circus)
1947 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, [Lew Alcindor], NBA center (Mil Bucks, LA Lakers)
1446 – Filippo Brunelleschi, architect, dies
1756 – Jacques Cassini, French astronomer (discovered rings of Saturn), dies at 79
1850 – Marie [Gresholtz] Tussaud, maker of wax figures, dies at 88
1859 – Alexis de Tocqueville, French historian (b. 1805)
1946 – Arthur Chevrolet, Swiss-born race car driver and automobile designer (b. 1884)