City Council Measure Stands to Make FiDi Thoroughfare 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.”
The City Council has enacted a law, co-sponsored by member Margaret Chin, that will make permanent the Open Streets program begun by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio as a provisional measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ratified on April 29, the bill is now awaiting Mr. de Blasio’s signature. This measure is significant for Lower Manhattan, because it may have the effect of preserving a local implementation of the Open Streets project, on Pearl Street, where (since last summer) the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has each day restricted vehicular access—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.
A report issued by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in March, “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.”
This schematic illustrates the shared uses to which Open Streets can be put.
About Pearl Street, where the program was implemented in partnership with the Downtown Alliance, Ms. Brewer’s analysis noted 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 continued, “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 argued 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 will contain a reduced the 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 observed, “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.”
Strengthen the whole body from warm-up to cool-down with a variety of fun exercises. The instructor will lead you in aerobics, balance and coordination exercises, as well as strength training. Come join for a fun workout in the fresh air! Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: weights, water bottle, hand towel, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Battery Park City Authority Free
Online concert. During trying times, music stills our souls and provides a healing grace. Throughout the season of Lent, Comfort at One will present performances that are inspired by the Gandhi quote: “In the midst of darkness, light persists.” These concerts include improvisations by Julian Wachner, light-inspired Bach cantatas, our 2014 Lenten “Lamentatio” series featuring NOVUS NY and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, new performances from the Trinity Youth Chorus and St. Paul’s Chapel Choir, and new virtual content on Fridays from our extended family of artists. Free
Community Board 1’s Land Use, Zoning & Economic Development Committee
1) 5 World Trade Center – Presentation by Empire State Development Corporation
2) Elevate Transit: Zoning for Accessibility (ZFA), Citywide Zoning Text Amendment – Presentation & Possible Resolution
3) Hotels Special Permit, Citywide Zoning Text Amendment – Presentation & Possible Resolution
4) Planning Together (Int. 2186 [Johnson], A Local Law to amend the New York City charter, in relation to requiring a comprehensive long-term plan) – Resolution
Landmarks Panel Approves Howard Hughes Proposal for Scaled-Back Tower at Seaport Site
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on Tuesday approved a proposal by the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) to erect a large building at 250 Water Street, a 1.1-acre parking lot bounded by Pearl, Beekman, and Water Streets, as well as Peck Slip. This site has been the focus of debate, speculation, and controversy since HHC’s purchase of the lot from Milstein Properties for $180 million, in 2018. To read more…
Local Public High Schools Perform Well in National Rankings
The U.S. News & World Report has issued its annual national rankings of high schools, and several local secondary institutions, either located in Lower Manhattan or else attended by large numbers of students from this community, have earned favorable mention.
Stuyvesant High School, located in Battery Park City, was deemed to rank number 44 among all secondary schools in the United States, and seventh among all New York City public high schools. Reviewers noted that Stuyvesant has a graduation rate of 99 percent, that 100 percent of its students are proficient in math and reading, and that 88 percent of pupils there passed at least one advanced placement exam. To read more…
Lower Manhattan Resident Charged with Defrauding Millions from Pandemic Loan Program
A resident of the Financial District has been arrested in connection with what federal prosecutors describe as a $5.8-million scheme to defraud the paycheck protection program (PPP), the federal loans given to small businesses hurt by the economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcus Frazier, who resides at 19 Dutch Street, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning. Federal prosecutors allege that he filed for almost $6 million in PPP loans, and actually received approximately $2.17 million, based on these applications. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Note to the 22nd Century: PATH Used to Cost a Quarter
Port Authority Buries Time Capsule at World Trade Center
As part of the ongoing celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, that agency has buried a time capsule on the plaza of the World Trade Center. The vessel was entombed last Friday beneath the plaza, at a location near Church and Fulton Streets, beside the Oculus. The 16-inch steel container was lowered by Authority chairman Kevin O’Toole, assisted by Robert Alwell, the agency’s longest-serving employee, who started there in 1965.
BPCA Prepares Preliminary Steps to Implement South End Avenue Plan
The Battery Park City Authority offered an update on its plans to reconfigure South End Avenue and West Thames Street. This project envisions narrowing both South End Avenue and West Thames Street, while widening nearby sidewalks, and relocating several bus stops.
Board chair Tammy Meltzer began the discussion by noting that CB1, “passed resolutions and had dialogue about South End Avenue going back five years. It’s been very long time that we’ve been waiting for capital improvements on South End Avenue,” in a reference to the BPCA’s presentation about its budget, offered at the April 7 meeting.
BPCA president B.J. Jones replied, “we do have a line item for South End Avenue for this year, to kick the design and engineering into gear. And you’re right, Tammy. We have talked and spent a lot of time with that effort. And it is time that we get started.” To read more…
The Downtown Alliance, in partnership with The Tank and En Garde Arts, will present a live, free outdoor performance festival in Lower Manhattan on the weekends of May 15/16 and May 22/23.
Three open-air venues (Four New York Plaza, where a covered loading dock will become a stage; the 85 Broad Street arcade, adjacent to Stone Street; and One Battery Park Plaza, featuring with views of New York Harbor) will host performances from noon to 8:00 pm. Participating artists include multiple Obie Award and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as emerging voices, such as playwright/actress Kaaron Briscoe; playwright/actor David Greenspan; hip-hop, spoken word and performance artists Baba Israel and Grace Galu; and popular downtown music and storytelling duo James and Jerome. Tickets are free, but required—and must be reserved in advance for social distancing and pandemic precautions. To R.S.V.P., please browse: TheTankNYC.org and/or EnGardeArts.org
Ars Gratia Artis
The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) is offering 18 free arts classes for older adults, with offerings ranging from a Japanese dance workshop to memoir writing. The organization has enlisted more than a dozen professional artists, working across a broad range of disciplines, oversee creative-aging projects for Downtown seniors. The classes are offered through June 30, and all are remote and free to attend. No previous experience is required, and art materials are provided. The series includes dance and movement, music, theater and storytelling, visual arts and writing and literature. For more information, or to sign up, please browse: https://lmcc.net/resources/artist-residencies/su-casa/
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
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.
1849 – Astor Place Riot: A riot breaks out at the Astor Opera House in Manhattan over a dispute between actors Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready, killing at least 25 and injuring over 120.
28 BCE – A sunspot is observed by Han dynasty astronomers during the reign of Emperor Cheng of Han, one of the earliest dated sunspot observations in China.
1497 – Amerigo Vespucci allegedly leaves Cádiz for his first voyage to the New World.
1768 – John Wilkes is imprisoned for writing an article for The North Briton severely criticizing King George III. This action provokes rioting in London.
1773 – The Parliament of Great Britain passes the Tea Act, designed to save the British East India Company by granting it a monopoly on the North American tea trade.
1774 – Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette become King and Queen of France.
1801 – First Barbary War: The Barbary pirates of Tripoli declare war on the United States of America.
1837 – Panic of 1837: New York City banks fail, and unemployment reaches record levels.
1849 – Astor Place Riot: A riot breaks out at the Astor Opera House in Manhattan, New York City over a dispute between actors Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready, killing at least 25 and injuring over 120.
1865 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is captured by Union troops near Irwinville, Georgia.
1869 – The First Transcontinental Railroad, linking the eastern and western United States, is completed at Promontory Summit, Utah with the golden spike.
1893 – The Supreme Court of the United States rules in Nix v. Hedden that a tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit, under the Tariff Act of 1883.
The Act required a tax to be paid on imported vegetables, but not fruit. The case was filed as an action by John Nix, John W. Nix, George W. Nix, and Frank W. Nix against Edward L. Hedden, Collector of the Port of New York, to recover back duties paid under protest. Botanically, a tomato is a fruit because it is a seed-bearing structure growing from the flowering part of a plant.
1904 – The Horch & Cir. Motorwagenwerke AG is founded. It would eventually become the Audi company.
1924 – J. Edgar Hoover is appointed first Director of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and remains so until his death in 1972.
1933 – Censorship: In Germany, the Nazis stage massive public book burnings.
1941 – World War II: Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland to try to negotiate a peace deal between the United Kingdom and Nazi Germany.
1960 – The nuclear submarine USS Triton completes Operation Sandblast, the first underwater circumnavigation of the earth.
1975 – Sony introduces the Betamax videocassette recorder in Japan.
1994 – Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.
2002 – F.B.I. agent Robert Hanssen is sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for selling United States secrets to Moscow for $1.4 million in cash and diamonds.
2005 – A hand grenade thrown by Vladimir Arutyunian lands about 65 feet (20 meters) from U.S. President George W. Bush while he is giving a speech to a crowd in Tbilisi, Georgia, but it malfunctions and does not detonate.
2013 – One World Trade Center becomes the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
213 – Claudius Gothicus, Roman emperor (d. 270)
1838 – John Wilkes Booth, American actor, assassin of Abraham Lincoln (d. 1865)
1899 – Fred Astaire, American actor, singer, and dancer (d. 1987)
1908 – Carl Albert, 54th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (d. 2000)
1946 – Donovan, Scottish singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actor
1946 – Dave Mason, English singer-songwriter and guitarist (Traffic and Fleetwood Mac)
1957 – Sid Vicious, English singer and bass player (Sex Pistols) (d. 1979)
1960 – Bono, Irish singer-songwriter, humanitarian, and activist (U2)
884 – Ahmad ibn Tulun, ruler of Egypt and Syria (b. 835)
1290 – Rudolf II, Duke of Austria (b. 1271)
1482 – Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, Italian mathematician and astronomer (b. 1397)
1566 – Leonhart Fuchs, German physician and botanist (b. 1501)
1774 – Louis XV of France (b. 1710)
1818 – Paul Revere, American engraver and soldier (b. 1735)
1999 – Shel Silverstein, American poet, author, and illustrator (b. 1930)
2012 – Carroll Shelby, American race car driver and designer (b. 1923)
2015 – Chris Burden, American sculptor, illustrator, and academic (b. 1946)