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.
What makes me so optimistic? First, I believe that the vaccines will work and make us generally safe again for the first time in more than a year. After that we can get to work reinventing our city. Second, I’ve lived in lower Manhattan for more than a decade and half and I’ve watched this community come back from 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008, and Hurricane Sandy—not becoming the same as before, but becoming great in a whole new way.
We will have a lot to work with. Many of us lost jobs or otherwise have suffered terrible financial losses. But even more of us have been able to keep working, and with little to spend it on beyond the bare necessities, Americans have been saving at record rates. All of us are restless to get out, to do something new, to make something happen.
Those of us with money will be ready to spend it. Restaurants that made it through will be bursting at the seams and flowing onto the newly reclaimed streets. Out-of-work restaurant workers will rush to open new restaurants in the spaces of those that didn’t make it. We’ll see a similar explosion in the arts where actors, musicians, and dancers will fill every performance space. The city is filled with talented people desperate for work, desperate to share their passion, desperate to just get out there and do what they do. And the audience is just as desperate to have them back.
We’ll see similar bursts of creativity and innovation in other fields, where the newly unemployed and underemployed are looking for new ways to get back to work.
In the face of all of this unleashed energy, even many of our challenges will become opportunities. Empty storefronts, many offering lower rents, will be transformed into something new. Landlords will need to fill empty offices. In lower Manhattan, we’ve seen these buildings turned into housing for thousands of new neighbors, turning the Financial District into a 24-hour community. The same may happen in other neighborhoods. Those landlords who can’t adapt will sell to those with more vision or lose their buildings to the banks.
Some of our fellow New Yorkers have fled the city, many for good. But this is an opportunity, too. The kind of folks who have found peace and happiness in the quiet of the suburbs might not be the sort of dynamic go-getters we’ll need in the coming years. Their leaving will make room for the type of people who will be attracted to the dynamism that is coming.
The most puzzling “threat” I’ve heard is that New York City is doomed because people can now work from anywhere. Really? If people all over can now work from anywhere, I expect some folks to leave New York City, but I also expect New York City to be the magnet it has always been for the more adventurous. Our city is less than three percent of the U.S. population. Anybody who doesn’t believe that three percent of Americans would jump at the chance to live here is (perhaps willfully) ignoring the gravitational pull this city has always had on restless, talented, and ambitious people seeking opportunity and the chance to rub up against their own kind.
We’ll all have a role to play in the revival and renewal that are about to begin, even if it is just going to that new restaurant or taking in a show. We’ll also all be needed to make sure that New York City becomes the place we want it to be. We are about to get a once-in-a-generation chance to correct some of our past mistakes. We’ll want to make sure we have the affordable housing, schools and infrastructure we need. We can make sure the workers who played essential roles, often for middling wages, get their due. If we get this right, then New York City won’t be the same, it will be better.
We are in for one hell of a ride, and it’s going to be great.
Andrew Greenblatt is a labor activist and Lower Manhattan resident.
re: The BroadsheetDAILY 4/7/21
“Community Board 1 Discussion Tonight Will Examine Battery Park City Authority Finances”
To the editor:
Good luck, my former BPC condo owners. I saw the writing on the wall, sold and left.
In 2011, our ground rent doubled instead of tripled and the paper described it as a give away to the “fat cats” owners of Battery Park City. City politicians fall all over themselves to protect the renters ($480,000 per unit in saved PILOT???!!), but the owners can go fend for themselves.
State and local politicians are looking to use the PILOT to fund other projects and budget gaps. Meanwhile the owners (like I was) invested our life savings and invested in the City. Fat cats when most of us are living in 600 SF cookie cutter one-bedrooms.
Sorry, guys, it’s a beautiful community, but I could not afford to grow old there. Best of luck to all of you.
The Rejuvenary River Circus is an allegorical tale that follows Malakai the water carrier and messenger as he travels between Mountain Peaks and the Deep Blue Sea. Along his journeys Malakai encounters a host of creatures, including a lyrical sea turtle, a fast-talking crow, a pair of industrious beavers, filter-feeding oysters, and schools of migrating fish. Each creature offers insights into their particular role in a watershed’s ecosystem services. When the old man falls ill, his granddaughter Rachel is confronted by the challenge of restoring her grandfather, the River, back to health. This special performance will be available to registrants for two weeks. This Arm of the Sea Theater event has been made possible by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Grades K to 8. Free
Celebration of Rosamond S. King’s new book, All the Rage! Free
The Plots Thicken
Liberty Community Gardens Wait Listers Will Finally Get Their Hands Dirty
Mounded with dark soil, teeming with earthworms, 26 new community garden plots are ready for action at the corner of Albany and West Streets. Thanks to the deconstruction of the Rector Street Bridge and ramp in 2019, and the support of the Battery Park City Authority, the New York State Department of the Transportation and the New York City Department of Transportation, Liberty Community Gardens (LCG), a cherished part of the neighborhood, has expanded by about a third.
Liberty Community Gardens were founded in 1987 by local residents with the guidance of Battery Park City Parks. Initially, there were 24 plots on the north and south sides of Rector lawn.
Museum of Jewish Heritage Commemorates Losses Among Community of Survivors
Battery Park City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage is marking the occasion by launching a new tribute page that shares the stories of people who survived the Nazi campaign of genocide, but perished during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. To read more…
The Fate of a Neighborhood
State’s Highest Court Blocks Suit by Brewer, Chin Opposing Two Bridges Plan
On Tuesday, the New York State Court of Appeals effectively ended a lawsuit begun in 2018, in which Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Margaret Chin sought to compel the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to subject several massive residential developments planned for the Lower East Side to the highest-possible degree of legal scrutiny. New York’s highest judicial review panel upheld an August ruling by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, which itself had overturned a 2019 lower-court decision favoring Ms. Brewer and Ms. Chin. To read more…
How Much Is Too Much?
CB1 Discussion Will Examine BPCA Finances
Tonight (Wednesday, April 7) the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) will host a review of the finances of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA). To participate in this online meeting, which starts at 6:00 pm, please browse: https://live.mcb1.nyc.
The BPCA’s finances are of particular interest to condominium owners, for whom the cost of owning a home in the neighborhood is becoming increasingly prohibitive. These themes are closely linked because of the exotic nature of property ownership in Battery Park City, where homeowners, landlords, and developers do not own outright the acreage they occupy, but instead lease the space (through the year 2069) from a government agency—the BPCA—in exchange for yearly remittances of “ground rent,” as well as so-called “payments in lieu of taxes” (PILOT). To read more…
Harboring Good Will
Highly Regarded Maritime School on Governors Island to Expand
A years-long campaign by Lower Manhattan community leaders, elected officials, and parents came to fruition on Monday when an agreement to expand the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governors Island was released.
The Trust for Governors Island and the School Construction Authority (SCA) announced that several long-standing priorities will be addressed in one package of funding: the Harbor School will grow into a building adjacent to its current home, where it will have room for an additional 18 classrooms, a pool and a gymnasium. To read more…
Getting Squeezed Coming and Going
Washington Okays Congestion Pricing Program that Local Leaders Fear will Penalize Lower Manhattan Residents
The prospect of Lower Manhattan residents being penalized for the privilege of driving to or from their homes moved a step closer to reality on Tuesday, when the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sent word to City and State officials that they would allow the congestion pricing plan, devised by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, to move forward under the less rigorous of two possible environmental oversight standards.
The FHWA, an arm of the federal Department of Transportation, decided to allow New York to move ahead under the looser benchmark of an environmental assessment, rather than a full environmental impact statement. “An Environmental Assessment generally requires less time to complete than an Environmental Impact Statement, should no significant impacts be identified,” the agency said in a statement. To read more…
Pearl of Wisdom
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…
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.
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…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
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…
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.