Less Trash and Fewer People May Explain Why Downtown Avoided the Worst
Before the health crisis, Lower Manhattan experienced chronic problems with trash accumulating on local curbs, as seen here on Cliff Street, in the Financial District.
Two statistical indicators are pointing toward a demographic shift that may help explain why Lower Manhattan has been largely spared the brunt of pandemic coronavirus, which has exacted a much heavier toll in other communities throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
The first of these is 2.89 million fewer pounds of household garbage being produced during the month of April, compared to the same period a year earlier. In an analysis researched and reported by The City (an online, independent, nonprofit news outlet), Community District 1 — a collection of neighborhoods encompassing 1.5 square miles, bounded roughly by Canal, Baxter, and Pearl Streets and the Brooklyn Bridge — produced 1,445 tons of household trash for pickup by the City’s Department of Sanitation in April. This amounted to a 28.6 percent drop from April 2019, when the same catchment area produced 2,025 tons.
The second is cellular phone tracking data. In a story first reported by the New York Times, multiple big data firms that parse metrics from cellular phone towers (in order to track migration patterns) were able to document that several Lower Manhattan neighborhoods that fall within Community District 1 (among them Battery Park City, Tribeca, and parts of the Financial District) have lost approximately one-third of their population during the coronavirus outbreak.
A map produced by researchers at The City (an online news journal) documents the fall-off in local trash collections, as the economic slowdown induced by the pandemic coronavirus has left its mark on a range of environmental indicators.
Notably, both the falloff in trash output and the decline in local population fall within a few percentage points of one another. These two fluctuations may be traceable to the same root cause: local demographics. A significant cohort of Lower Manhattan’s affluent residential population appears to have decamped for second homes outside of the city — resulting in temporary net declines in population and refuse production.
In turn, these trends, which essentially quantify the ability to go elsewhere, could help explain why Downtown has largely avoided the grievous toll that COVID-19 (the deadly disease caused by the coronavirus) has extracted in other communities, where most residents had no choice but to remain in their homes.
Data from the City’s Department of Health indicates that 64 residents of Lower Manhattan have died from the disease, while 756 are confirmed to have been infected. For context, Downtown’s residential headcount comprises approximately one percent of the City’s overall population. But deaths and confirmed cases in Lower Manhattan come to less than one-half of one percent of those respective tallies for the City as a whole.
More Than 60 Downtown Residents Die of Coronavirus, But Confirmed Case Numbers Continue to Drop
A total of 64 residents of Lower Manhattan have died of the pandemic coronavirus, according to data released by the City’s Department of Health (DOH), which, on May 18, disclosed mortality numbers indexed by zip code for the first time.
These statistics show that the only two zip codes (among 178 residential districts) throughout the five boroughs have registered no deaths at all from COVID-19 (the disease caused by the pandemic coronavirus), and both are located Downtown: 10280 (southern Battery Park City) and 10006 (the Greenwich South neighborhood).
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Sharing Joy and Hope
A few weeks ago, as the pandemic was raging in Manhattan, Bob Townley, executive director of Downtown Community Center, called Susan Kay, the ceramic program director and special events coordinator, to say, “let’s use our storefront windows to share some joy and hope with our community!”
They decided to offer free art materials to families. The idea was that you’d make art out of whatever you found in the Downtown Community Center bag, and then bring it back for display. About 100 families and kids showed up on two successive Saturdays to retrieve the materials, and within days returned to drop off art work that is now in the windows of the Community Center at 120 Warren Street.
Gratified by the response, Ms. Kay said, “The joy, gratitude and love with this exchange is just reaffirming of much of a community we are. We were all so happy to see each other and to remember what’s important. Through art and our children we can share that communication and hope, knowing that we will get through this and land on our feet.”
Onetime Presidential Contender and Liberal Firebrand Endorses Lower Manhattan Candidates
Progressive icon and prospective vice-presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren waded into local politics on Wednesday when she endorsed two elected officials representing Lower Manhattan in their bids for reelection.
In the U.S. Congressional race for the Tenth District, she announced her support for Jerry Nadler, saying, “his record shows that he doesn’t just know how to fight, he knows how to win. I’m honored to call Jerry a friend and someone I continue to work with on important legislation.” As chairman of the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler was one of the leaders of the effort to impeach president Donald Trump last fall.
Downtown Alliance Expands Aid to Lower Manhattan Small Businesses
The Downtown Alliance is broadening the criteria for its Small Business Rental Assistance Grant, which aims to give away $800,000 in grants to help to local shops struggling with the economic contraction triggered by the pandemic coronavirus. Originally launched in April, the Grant program is funded with contributions from Brookfield Properties, Silverstein Properties and the Howard Hughes Corporation, as well as $250,000 from the Alliance itself.
The expanded criteria for this second phase of the program include eligible businesses with gross annual revenues of up to $3 million, and which employ up to 30 employees. (The first round was capped at $1.5 million and 20 employees.) It will now also accept applications from storefronts within an expanded geographic catchment, covering everywhere south of Chambers Street. This is notable in that is exceeds the boundaries of the Business Improvement District (BID) that the Alliance oversees (roughly from City Hall to the Battery, between West Street and the East River), and to which it usually confines its initiatives.
As Downtown Businesses Ponder Reopening, Questions Arise about Getting Here
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) recently announced that it would begin partially reopening on May 26, but that it would bar from its headquarters any employees who used mass transit to get to the Exchange’s iconic building, on Broad Street. (The NYSE closed in March, when several employees were found to be infected with the pandemic coronavirus.)
Pursuant to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive orders 202.17 and 202.18, all people in New York are required to wear masks or face coverings in public, including when taking public or private transportation or riding in for-hire vehicles.
Check Your Screen to Get Screened
State Launches Online Map Showing Local Testing Facilities
On Sunday afternoon, the State Department of Health launched on online map specifying the locations of more than 700 facilities throughout New York where testing for exposure to the pandemic coronavirus is available. These testing sites can process up to 40,000 patients per day, and are currently operating well below their capacity.
The Downtown Alliance’s Downtown Connection bus is New York City’s only free circulator bus service, and it’s still running every day during the New York City pause. Serving 36 stops around the perimeter of Lower Manhattan, the Downtown Connection runs in both directions between Battery Park City and the Seaport District. The bus will return to its normal route along Warren Street when construction is completed in June.
To adhere to social distancing guidelines, all bus capacities have been reduced 50% and all passengers are required to wear face masks to board. The bus is being kept extra clean with deep cleanings at night and regular wipe-downs during the day. Downtown Connection Driver Carlisle Gibson (pictured) takes pride in helping riders take care of their needs during a difficult time. “You see a lot of folks fending for themselves,” he noted. “They appreciate us.”
If you need to get out of the house to run necessary errands, the free bus — which you can spot easily with its bright red color — is here to help. Hop on and off as often as you’d like — just remember to wear your mask. Buses run from 10a to 7:30p, with an average of 10-minute intervals on weekdays and 15-minute intervals on weekends. To see the route, click here.
Eyes to the Sky
May 18 – 31, 2020
Summer stars rise as winter stars set. Venus and Mercury meet this week
One month before summer solstice, which occurs on June 20, we find two of summer’s brightest stars rising above the east-northeast skyline as twilight deepens.
Foretelling the summer season, Vega, third brightest star in northern skies at 0.00 magnitude, rises in the northeast while less bright Deneb, 1.25 m, appears to the lower left of the blue-white beacon. (The brighter the star, the smaller the number.) Deneb is the furthest star from Earth visible with the unaided eye. About two and a half hours after sunset, Altair, 0.75 m, rises in the east, joining Vega and Deneb to complete the Summer Triangle, one of the most prominent star patterns in northern skies. To read more…
Essential Workers photo: Dorothy Lipsky
Click here to watch the new family of Falcons living high above 55 Water Street. We watched as lunch was served right around noontime
‘The Doctor Told Me My Chances Were 50-50’
A Widely Admired Community Leader Recalls Her Life-and-Death Battle with COVID-19
Daisy Paez, a Lower East side activist who has served for years as a local District Leader, is a universally revered matriarch among Downtown’s political and community family. She recently returned from more than a month of hospitalization, during which she nearly died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the pandemic coronavirus.
“It felt like somebody just snatched me from my life and threw me into this horrifying ordeal,” she recalls. “In the beginning, I remember hearing how people would get really ill, and that if you had a cough or a high fever, you needed to see a doctor. But I was fine. Then, in the last week of March, I started feeling sick. I went to the CityMD urgent care facility on Delancey Street, and they gave me a flu test, which came back negative. They also gave me a test for COVID-19, and told me the results would be available in about five days.”