Alliance Assigns Digital Anthropologist to Document Downtown’s Rebirth
Above: This photo, taken by Mr. Katz, offers a perspective on the sponsored studio space of Silver Art Projects at Four World Trade Center, where sculptors and painters are given workspace for up to ten months. Below: Downtown Alliance Explorer-in-Chief Josh Katz at work
In March, 2020, just as the corona-pocalypse was gathering momentum, the Downtown Alliance put out a nationwide call to recruit an Explorer in Chief, whose job would be to spend June, July, and August of last year documenting the experience of life in Lower Manhattan across a variety of media. This invitation drew more than 700 eager applicants from 40 states and more than 30 nations — all vying for a gig that was dubbed a “Dream Job.”
As they combed through the entries, the Alliance’s panel of judges came upon the submission from a 23-year-old street photographer and social media savant from Brooklyn. A self-styled “digital anthropologist,” Josh Katz has drawn an audience of more than half a million followers across YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, since uploading his first video at age nine. What really caught the eyes of the Alliance, however, was the work Mr. Katz did as the pandemic was beginning to transform New York. From his rooftop, he spent April of last year documenting the parapet culture that emerged in his Brooklyn neighborhood during New York’s lockdown. With the cooperation of his subjects, Mr. Katz improvised urban portraits of rooftop dinners and first dates, neighbors tending local pigeon coops, and new friends meeting for the first time.
“When we began developing this position,” Alliance president Jessica Lappin says, “COVID-19 didn’t exist. After we started accepting applications, the world changed overnight. As a result, so did the contest. This whole experience took on a new dimension as our neighborhood started down a path of recovery, and we’re confident that Josh Katz is the right adventurous soul to help the world discover Lower Manhattan anew.”
Mr. Katz’s marching orders are now to chronicle Downtown’s recovery and rebirth, while telling the stories of Lower Manhattan residents and businesses, as they come to grips with a changed world. This mission will dovetail with a larger effort by the Alliance to support local businesses that have been being adversely impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Mr. Katz took up residence in the Financial District, and began using his multimedia talents to create a portrait of Lower Manhattanʼs visitors and residents, hidden gems and local institutions, public art and private moments.
Recent expeditions have included a visit to the construction site of the new Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center (where Mr. Katz chatted with organization president Leslie Koch) and a drop-in at the sponsored studio space of Silver Art Projects at Four World Trade Center, where sculptors and painters are given workspace for up to ten months.
The Explorer-in-Chiefʼs job includes a stipend, local accommodations, and an opportunity that is likely the envy of every online storyteller — to illuminate and interpret Lower Manhattan’s latest rebirth.
City and State Prosecutors Team Up on Criminal Probe of Trump Finances at FiDi Landmark
In a story first reported by the Washington Post, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance has expanded his longstanding probe of the finances of former President Donald Trump to include possible criminal charges. The office of New York State Attorney General Leticia James is also cooperating with Mr. Vance’s criminal investigation.
One focus of this joint inquiry is the office building at 40 Wall Street, which Ms. James has been examining for evidence of whether Mr. Trump (who holds a “ground lease” on the 1930 skyscraper through the year 2059, for which he currently pays $2,315,000 per year) fraudulently inflated the property’s value in loan documents, when using the structure as collateral.
At issue is whether Mr. Trump made false claims about the value of 40 Wall Street when he refinanced a mortgage on the property several times, after buying the lease for $1 million in 1995. Court documents filed by the Attorney General’s office note that he obtained loans against 40 Wall Street in 2005, 2010, and 2015. The $160 million mortgage from 2015 is the largest single debt carried by the Trump Organization, for which Mr. Trump is personally responsible for $20 million. This interest-only loan is due to be repaid in full in 2025.
The Lower West Side of Manhattan officially has another stunning public space: On Friday morning, the Hudson River Park Trust debuted Little Island, the new park located just off the shoreline, at 13th and West Streets. The park offers more than two acres of gardens, glades, lawns, performance spaces and picnic grounds.
All of this greenery is hoisted above the water by 280 slender concrete columns, driven hundreds of feet down into the riverbed, and supporting 132 flower-shaped masonry “tulips”—pods that appear to be separate platforms from outside Little Island, but form a continuous, undulating surface when seen from the inside. Each of these structural bulbs is a different size, shape, and elevation.
As we come out of covid, it’s clear the city’s thriving cultural scene is on its way back — and Lower Manhattan’s leading the way.
In May, the Downtown Alliance teamed up with En Garde Arts and + The Tankto present Downtown Live, a multi-weekend festival stocked with live performances ranging from music to theater to spoken poetry. The revival of Downtown’s cultural scene continues into June, with the return of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival.
The festival, which runs June 10–June 27, joins the explosion of post-vaccine outdoor events and art exhibits that are set to take over the city this summer. Here are five acts you won’t want to miss, and visit lmcc.net/river-to-river-festival for the full schedule.
Opening Concert featuring Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington and Leo Genovese (June 10)
Spalding is a jazz musician who made waves when she beat out Drake and Justin Bieber to win the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011. Since then she’s won three other Grammys and has been labeled the “21st century jazz genius” by NPR.
Processions with Miguel Gutierrez, Okwui Okpokwasili and The Illustrious Blacks
(June 13, 20, 25)
Artist Okwui Okpokwasili is following up her recent piece on the High Line called “On the way, undone” with another processional performance, which means you get to participate in the art. Okpokwasili’s performance will happen at Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City on June 20, followed by processions led by choreographer Gutierrez and musical duo the Illustrious Blacks will also conduct processions on June 13 and June 25.
Kamau Ware, Land of the Blacks (June 10-27)
Black history scholar and co-found of Black Gotham Experience Kamau Ware is writing an original piece on “Land of the Blacks,” 28 Black-owned farmsteads that once covered a swath of Lower Manhattan. It will debut on the River to River website.
Womxn in Windows (June 15-27)
Womxn in Windows is a multi-part video installation installed in Windows across the Seaport District. They’ll focus on the confluence of culture and society in an exploration of the multi-faceted female identity, created by artists from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Mariana Valencia, Futurity (June 25-27)
Choreographer and performer Mariana Valencia brings a 2021 version of Futurity, a dance performance that will transmit the queer stories of elders in Greenwich Village from the 1960s to the present.
Landmarks Agency Mulls Protection for Chinatown Monument
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has agreed to consider a proposal to confer legally protected status on the Kimlau War Memorial, a granite ceremonial arch located in Chinatown, at the convergence of Chatham Square, Oliver Street, and East Broadway. If approved by the LPC, this designation would be New York’s first individual landmark to commemorate the role of Chinese-Americans in the City’s history.
The arch, which is designed to serve as a gateway to Chinatown, is named for Benjamin Ralph Kimlau, who grew up in Lower Manhattan and graduated from what is now known as the U.S. Army War College in 1937. He signed up for pilot training after the United States entered World War Two four years later.
Bias Crime at Borough of Manhattan Community College
The window outside an art exhibit honoring the military service of African-American soldiers was defaced with graffiti containing racial epithets on Sunday evening. The exhibit is housed in the Shirley Fiterman Art Center of Borough of Manhattan Community College, located at the corner of Barclay Street and West Broadway.
The work, entitled “In the Line of Fire,” is by Mildred Howard, a prolific mixed-media and installation artist, whose work consistently draws on a broad range of historical and contemporary experiences, and emphasizes her commitment to issues of social justice and community activism. The installation consists of approximately 60 life-size figures made from cut-out sheets of plywood that have been silkscreen-printed with the image of a single repeated figure in a World War One-era uniform — a young African American man in his teens, who was a distant relative of Ms. Howard. To read more…
Be advised that more dates have been made available for the vaccination program the Conrad Hotel.
Goldman Sachs, alongside American Express, has partnered with New York City and CVS Health to offer a COVID-19 vaccination program at the Conrad Hotel. All lower Manhattan residents and employees who meet the eligibility requirements are welcome to schedule appointments for the Pfizer vaccine.
In order to qualify for the COVID-19 vaccination program, individuals must be aged 12 years or over and be a resident of New York State OR work/study full-time in New York State.
Scheduling and Location Details
All who meet the eligibility requirements can schedule appointments on the New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Finder by selecting the Conrad Hotel location or use the following links.
Each week features a fantastic family music performer from our star roster leading rocking storytimes and sing-a-longs! Today, Lou Gallo & The Very Hungry Band perform. 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. Free Battery Park City Authority
Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Follow the return of six Navajo Code Talkers to the five Pacific Island sites where their unbreakable secret code, based on the unwritten Navajo language, helped U.S. forces overcome Japanese expansion in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The code was never broken. The highly personal reflections of the Navajo Code Talkers dominate the film’s storyline where they share personal accounts, memories and insights into their war experience. Interviews were conducted on Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and USMC Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, where they trained, learned and enhanced the original code. Free Saturday Sunday and Monday
South Cove is a special place in spring, and what better time than Saturday mornings to practice your art! Participants are expected to bring their own drawing and painting supplies, including drawing boards and containers of water if they are planning to paint. BPCA will supply drawing paper and watercolor paper only. 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. Free Battery Park City Authority
Multiple New Bikes Lanes Coming to Lower Manhattan, Adding to Growing Local Network
The City’s Department of Transportation will begin this month implementing a plan—first approved in the spring last year, but delayed by the onset of the pandemic coronavirus—to add more bike lanes to the Lower Manhattan’s streetscape.
Two new physically segregated bicycle thoroughfares will be constructed in the next few weeks: a southbound connection linking Varick Street to West Broadway, and a northbound route via Church Street and Sixth Avenue.
Also coming soon is a protected section of Centre Street—a stretch that will connect Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan to Tribeca and Chinatown. To read more…
City Hall Hopeful Arrested Blocking Traffic in Lower Manhattan to Mark George Floyd Anniversary
Mayoral candidate Shaun Donovan was arrested Tuesday afternoon on Canal Street, after participating in a non-violent protest, which blocked traffic at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. The demonstration was intended to commemorate the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, who was murdered by the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.
Mr. Donovan and roughly one dozen other protestors assumed kneeling positions across the ramp to the Holland Tunnel located at Canal and Hudson Streets, preventing traffic from entering for approximately eight minutes and 46 seconds—originally said to be the length of time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck, causing his death. Later, the time was corrected to nine minutes and 29 seconds. On April 20, the former officer was convicted two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in the killing of Mr. Floyd. To read more…
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.
585 BC – Solar eclipse, as predicted by Greek philosopher Thales, while Lydians under Alyattes war with the Medes under Cyaxares, leading to a truce. One of the cardinal dates from which other dates are calculated
1742 – First indoor swimming pool opens (Goodman’s Fields, London)
1774 – First Continental Congress convenes in Virginia
1830 – US Congress authorizes native Indian removal from all states to western prairie
1892 – Sierra Club forms by John Muir in San Francisco, for conservation of nature
1936 – Alan Turing submits On Computable Numbers for publication. Alan Turing, was a brilliant British mathematician, cryptanalyst, computer scientist and philosopher. And he was also gay. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concepts of “algorithm” and “computation” with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general purpose computer. During World War II, Turing worked at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking center and devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including improvements to an electromechanical machine that would find settings for the Enigma machine.
After the war,Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952, when such acts were still criminalized in the UK. He accepted treatment with estrogen injections (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death a suicide; but his mum and some others believed it was accidental. In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated.”
1937 – Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opens to vehicular traffic
1942 – 1,800 Czechs murdered by Nazis during attack on Heydrich
1959 – Monkeys Able and Baker zoom 300 miles into space on a Jupiter missile, became first animals retrieved from a space mission
1972 – White House “plumbers” break into Democratic National HQ at Watergate
1987 – Mathias Rust, age19, was a West German pilot, who flew his single-engine Cessna into Moscow’s Red Square. He called it a ‘peace mission’ from Helsinki to Moscow. He evaded Soviet Union air defenses for 500 miles before landing and though greeted by bemused and friendly onlookers, he was arrested by the KGB and later served 14 months in prison.
1738 – Joseph Ignace Guillotin, France, physician/inventor (guillotine)
1807 – Louis Agassiz, Switzerland, naturalist/geologist/teacher
1888 – James Francis ‘Jim’ Thorpe, Prague Oklahoma, versatile American athlete (Olympic gold 1912) (d. 1953)
1908 – Ian Lancaster Fleming, London England, author (James Bond)
1944 – Rudy Giuliani
1843 – Noah Webster, lexicographer (Webster’s Dictionary), dies at 84
1972 – Edward VIII, King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dies at 77
1973 – Jacques Lipchitz, Polish/French/US art critic sculptor, dies at 81