We’re only halfway through 2020, but already, many of us have the sense that we will someday regale the as-yet-unborn grandkids with tales of mythic adversity amid transformational times.
Most of us are grimly confident that our nation’s current afflictions are without precedent. And most of us are dead wrong. A pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans, and may yet fell as many more? Been there. Times of bitter, seemingly irreconcilable division? Done that. Leadership that seems incapable of leading, and instead plays Americans off against one another? We have overcome that, too. All of these things we have faced down, in worse forms than confront us now, and more than once.
Most of us are sure, also, that things will never be the same. About this, we are likely correct—but not in the way that we imagine. From year to year, age to age, America has ceaselessly, restlessly reinvented herself. This is the source of our greatest anxiety, and our greatest strength. A Frenchman, a German, a British subject—all of these people know precisely what it means to be part of their respective traditions and national identities, because such things were defined for them centuries before they were born. But every generation of Americans has been called upon to come up with a new definition of what it means to be us.
Each generation that has risen to this challenge has not merely broken with tradition, but has also broken the hearts of their parents, who had wistfully hoped that their own improvised version of American ipseity would somehow become permanent. But it was never meant to be so.
Greek philosophers once asked whether a boat, captained by the mythic hero, Theseus, which had most or all of its parts replaced over a long period of time, could still be considered the same ship. The view from here is that the Greeks asked the wrong question. If the original vessel had not a single part replaced over decades and centuries, it would eventually disintegrate. But continually swapping out old pieces for new enables it to carry on being a ship. Different yes, but still essentially the same.
In the mean time, our boat remains afloat, but also periodically unmoored and adrift, navigating treacherous, uncharted waters between the Scylla and Charybdis of opposing sets of values and assumptions that view themselves as absolute, and thus have no time, patience, or respect for each other.
Lord Acton (famous for “power tends to corrupt…”) wrote that, “only a foolish conservative judges the present time with the ideas of the past [while] only a foolish liberal judges the past with the ideas of the present.”
G.K. Chesterton observed that, “the whole modern world has divided itself into conservatives and progressives. The business of progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Thus we have two great types—the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins.”
But there has always been a third way. President Eisenhower reflected that, “the middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.”
And his successor in the Oval Office had intended to say, “this is a time for courage and a time of challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. Our duty… is to the nation, and, indeed to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.” But John F. Kennedy was never got to say those words. They were part of the speech that he didn’t get to deliver at the Dallas Trade Mart, on the afternoon of November 22, 1963.
If Acton and Chesteron, Eisenhower and Kennedy were here to advise us now, their counsel might be: America is bigger and better than this. The worst moments often turn out to be an opportunity to reveal our best selves. Here’s hoping that we can, yet again, seize the moment.
(Editor’s Note: The Broadsheet Daily will observe the Fourth of July holiday by taking Friday off, and resuming publication on Monday, July 6.)
Appeals Court Considers Whether to Let Stand Decision About Two Bridges
A recent hearing before the Appellate Division court of New York’s First Judicial Department indicates that the controversial plan to erect four massive new towers in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Lower Manhattan’s East River waterfront may yet come to fruition.
Rent stabilization at Gateway Plaza expires today (Tuesday, June 30). Despite more than two years of behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and the LeFrak Organization (which operates the complex), no agreement has been announced that will extend affordability protections at Battery Park City’s largest residential complex.
Negotiations are ongoing, and may yield such an agreement soon. In a recent statement, the BPCA said that, “the Authority and the owners of the Gateway residential complex remain committed to the extension of a limitation on rent increases for the pre-June 30th, 2009 tenants who reside in the complex. The proposed agreements may not be signed until after the current June 30th, 2020 expiration, but please be assured that the shared understanding is that they be retroactive back to that date and both parties are working diligently.”
Advocacy Group and Council Member and Score Win for Street Vendors
A non-profit based in Lower Manhattan has successfully lobbied for street vendors to be removed from the jurisdiction of the NYPD, as a means of furthering social justice. The Street Vendor Project (part of the Urban Justice Center, based at 40 Rector Street) has pushed for years to take enforcement of regulations governing street vendors away from the police.
CB1’s Outgoing Chair Reflects on Decades of Service as He Passes the Torch
Anthony Notaro, a Lower Manhattan community leader for decades and chair of Community Board 1 (CB1) since 2016, concluded his tenure on June 23, when Tammy Meltzer was elected to succeed him.
If the aphorism about leadership that holds, “decisions are made by those who show up” is true, then Lower Manhattan had benefitted from the guidance of a born decision-maker, because Mr. Notaro is somebody who has always been defined by his habit of stepping forward, speaking up, and getting involved. A resident of Battery Park City since the late 1990s, Mr. Notaro joined CB1 shortly after moving to Lower Manhattan. To read more…
The Election Is Over, But the Counting Continues
The preliminary results in the contested race to represent the 65th Assembly District (which stretches from the Battery to Vesey Street on the West Side and traces a jagged line between Broadway and the East River, topping out just above Houston Street, on the East Side) in Albany favor incumbent Yuh-Line Niou over challenger Grace Lee.
Of all the ballots 7,214 ballots cast in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, according to the City’s Board of Elections, Ms. Niou garnered 4,440 (or slightly more than 61 percent of the total), while Ms. Lee took 2,741 (or 38 percent).
City Plans Black Lives Matter Street Mural for Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan will soon have new piece of street art: the Administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has commissioned a Black Lives Matter mural for Centre Street, between Worth and Reade Streets. The painting will consist of large letters emblazoned on the roadbed, and is among five such installations, with one planned for each borough.
This project was inspired by the impromptu creation of a similar mural on Fulton Street, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn a week ago. When word spread of this project, Mr. Blasio showed up at the site and helped paint it. A few days later, he announced that this section of Fulton Street was to be closed to vehicular traffic for the remainder of the summer.
Pandemic and Economic Downturn Impact Local Leasing
A new report from brokerage Douglas Elliman and appraiser Miller Samuel indicates that rents are trending downward in Lower Manhattan, while the inventory of vacant apartments is ballooning. These tidal shifts appear to be attributable to the health crisis associated with the pandemic coronavirus, and the economic slowdown it has triggered. The monthly Elliman Report for May documents that new lease signings have fallen at an unprecedented rate, while vacancies have surged to a new record.
For all of Lower Manhattan, the report finds that the median rent is now $3,895, which represents a 7.3 percent drop from one month earlier when the median rent was $4,200, but a slight increase of one-half of one percent from last May, when the median figure was $3,875.
Each day, a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. The schedule will include outstanding complete performances from the past 14 years of cinema transmissions, starring all of opera’s greatest singers.
Tribeca Community On Display
All of Us Thank All of You
Fine artist and long time Downtown resident Adele H. Rahte has spent the stay-at-home period designing and creating these fabric collages representing the people in our community as a special form of thank you to the essential workers of our community and city for keeping us safe.
On display during the month of July at the Tribeca Community Window Gallery located at 160 West Broadway.
‘A Fraudulent Scheme to Evade the Rent Stabilization Laws’
FiDi Renters Seek Recompense for Years of Rent Overcharges; U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Overturn Tenants’ Victory
More Financial District tenants are going to court to demand restitution from years of illegally high rent, on the heels of a 2019 ruling by New York State’s highest court, which found that as many as 5,000 Lower Manhattan apartments had been illegally deprived of rent stabilization benefits.
The most recent suit was filed on behalf of tenants at 90 Washington Street, a 397-unit rental building located between Rector and Joseph P. Ward Streets. This filing follows similar legal actions on behalf of tenants at 63-67 Wall Street, Ten Hanover Square, 50 Murray Street, 90 West Street, and 53 Park Place.
1843 – An alligator falls from sky during a thunderstorm in Charleston, South Carolina
1890 – Congress passes Sherman Antitrust Act
1900 – First zeppelin flight takes place on Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen, Germany.
1937 – Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappear over Pacific Ocean aboard the Electra, en route to Howland Island. Official search operations last until July 19th. The Navy and Coast Guard spent four million dollars, making this the most expensive air and sea search up to that time. The most widely accepted explanation for their disappearance is the crash and sink theory. It is believed the Electra ran out of fuel and disappeared into the ocean. Estimates have the plane at a depth of 18,000 feet, 5.5 kilometers
1951 – Leidse astronomers discover radio signal out of Milky Way system
1957 – USS Grayback, the first submarine designed to fire guided missiles, is launched
1990 – Panic in tunnel of Mecca: 1,426 pilgrims are trampled to death
2001 – AbioCor, a self contained artificial heart, is implanted for the first time.Studies as of September 2004 found the device to be safe and beneficial for those with severe heart failure and no alternative treatments.
2002 – Steve Fossett becomes the first person to circumnavigate the Earth soloand in a balloon, without stopping. Fossett was a member of the Explorers Club, and set 116 records in five different sports
1862 – William Henry Bragg, English physicist, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics with his son William Lawrence Bragg
1884 – Alfons Maria Jakob, German neurologist who contributed greatly to the understanding of multiple diseases. He was the first to identify Alper’s disease, and along with Hans Gerhard Creutzfeldt, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
1923 – Wislawa Szymborska, the poet referred to as the ‘Mozart of Poetry’, is born in Prowent, Poland
Previously Published Downtown News
CB1 Endorses Push to Expand VCF Coverage to Pandemic Illness
Community Board 1 (CB1) has signed on to a campaign that aims to expand the eligibility criteria of the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) to include illnesses related to the outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus.