Note to the 22nd Century: PATH Used to Cost a Quarter
Port Authority Buries Time Capsule at World Trade Center
Above: The vessel is inserted into the ground. Below: The leadership of the Port Authority gathers around the commemorative marker at the location of the time capsule.
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.
“The past 100 years have established the Port Authority as a relentless, positive force in in the transportation, economic and cultural life of the New York-New Jersey region,” Mr. O’Toole said. “The future is exciting and unpredictable, but one thing is certain: This agency will continue to be a powerful engine that keeps the region, and the country, moving forward.”
The capsule contains dozens of artifacts related to the multiple missions of the Port Authority, which include building and managing the World Trade Center. Among the relics slated to be unearthed in April, 2121 are steel from the original Twin Towers (recovered during the cleanup that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001), a tourist map of the former World Trade Center complex, and a pair of tickets to the Top of the World observation deck, once housed on the roof of the south tower. A similarly poignant (but more contemporary) palimpsest consists of a COVID-era facemask, emblazoned with the Port Authority’s logo.
A sample of the artifacts contained within the capsule.
Also sealed within the airtight urn are PATH train tokens (harking back to the days when the fare was 25 cents), a segment from the George Washington Bridgeʼs suspension cables, badges, and vintage medallions commemorating the opening of other Port Authority facilities in decades past.
The PATH token might prove to be the most intriguing curio for urban archeologists in the 22nd century, for whom it may represent a kind of reverse sticker shock. When the Port Authority reluctantly took over the bankrupt Hudson and Manhattan Railroad in 1961, the fare was 25 cents. Today, a single ride costs $2.75—which comes to an annually compounded interest rate of 4.0774 percent for each of the 60 years since. Projecting forward that same rate on increase appears to mean that a ride on the PATH system is likely to cost approximately $149 in the year 2121.
It may be fitting that the Port Authority chose to bury its time capsule at the World Trade Center site, because that agency originally committed (in the mid-1960s) to building the first World Trade Center complex as a clever way of making sure it would never be again be called upon to take over an insolvent commuter rail line. (Unlike most government agencies, the Port Authority is deeply resistant to assuming responsibility for any project that will not turn a profit. Most of its other properties—such as bridges and tunnels that charge tolls, marine cargo terminals, and airports—gush money.) Pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Lower Manhattan real estate seemed like a better financial bet than gambling on an interstate subway system, and offered the added virtue of locking up the surplus that politicians from New York and New Jersey had raided to rescue what became the PATH system.
When bystanders asked Mr. O’Toole what didn’t make it into the time capsule, he said that agency staff has considered including a flash drive, but, “in 100 years, nobody will know what that was, or how to use it.”
On display nearby is a popup exhibit produced by the New York Historical Society – “100 Years of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey”—which chronicles the history of the Port Authority through the building of its facilities and the role it has played in the growth of the New York-New Jersey region for the past century.
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
Learn and practice Mandarin, while engaging with Chinese literature, poetry, history and more with fellow enthusiasts. Participants will enjoy live, interactive learning sessions with our language and cultural experts from home. Each session will start with a read-aloud in Mandarin of a carefully selected poem which represents both a touchstone to Chinese culture as well as text for practicing Mandarin language and pronunciation. Free
Surveillance2.0 is a voyeuristic experience unpacking the tension around privacy issues highlighted by pandemic life. BARE Dance Company’s completely live production brings new meaning to immersive performance, creatively using multiple feeds — and even a drone camera– in the theater at Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Cinematic in scope, with free-moving cameras wielded by the performers, Surveillance2.0 is inspired by the increased scrutiny of personal spaces during quarantine prompted by platforms like Zoom. With performances at 6pm and 7pm, each presentation will be unique due to real-time mixing of visual and audio feeds — handled by director Mike Esperanza– and streamed to YouTube Live. The 7pm live-stream will be followed by a brief Q&A with the artists. Free
Sunset Singing Circle
Battery Park City Authority at Wagner Park
Singer/songwriter Terre Roche leads this weekly singing program with the beautiful backdrop of the setting sun in NY Harbor. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned crooner, the singing circle is perfect for mellow melodies and healthy harmonizing. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: blankets, instruments, water, 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. Wagner Park. Free
Living Gallery, curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa and normally produced in the Gibney Gallery, presents live performance of storytelling, monologues, spoken word, stand-up, or creative talks. Each performance – free and open to the public – runs 30-45 minutes, traditionally scheduled within the hour before a dance concert presented in Gibney’s Theater. Due to COVID-19, Living Galleries for the fall season will happen on Zoom. Today, see Hope Boykin, educator, creator, mover, and motivator. Free
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.