Another Much Admired Downtown Small Business Says Goodbye
The Amish Market in Tribeca will close its doors before the end of September.
In another symptom of the life-and-death struggle being waged by small businesses against the economic downtown triggered by the pandemic coronavirus, the Amish Market, which has served Lower Manhattan since 1999, will be closing by the end of September.
In a story first reported by Tribeca Citizen, the owners (who are not Amish) have announced that their reduced volume of business—which has shrunk by roughly 90 percent since the health crisis began—has rendered them insolvent.
This may mark an inflection point for Lower Manhattan’s retail landscape. When the Amish Market opened in the spring of 1999 at 130 Cedar Street, on the corner of Washington Street, it was one of very few grocery stores in Lower Manhattan, and the only one specializing in high-quality, fresh produce. This represented both a gamble and a prediction that Downtown—long seen as a district of financial firms—was on the cusp of becoming a genuine residential community.
At the time, major retailers were exploring whether to establish outposts in Lower Manhattan. Macy’s was known to be considering opening a men’s store in the vaulted former banking hall at 100 Broadway (then a Border’s bookstore, now a Walgreen’s Pharmacy), while major retailers like CompUSA, Filene’s, Daffy’s, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Moe Ginsburg, Tower Records, and Sports Authority were all mulling similar moves to the stretch of Broadway south of City Hall. In the event, Macy’s decided to hold off, and all of the other chains (each of which subsequently went bankrupt) followed suit.
Ironically, it took the catalyst of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—which completely destroyed the Amish Market outpost at 130 Cedar Street, and killed one employee who was delivering food to a catered event high in the South Tower of the World Trade Center—to kick-start the transformation of Downtown into a residential enclave. In the decade that followed the destruction of the Twin Towers, Lower Manhattan’s population nearly tripled.
Above: Amish Market former co-owner Adam Arici, in 2001 before 9/11. Below: The original Amish Market, at 130 Cedar Street, which was destroyed on September 11, 2001.
Following this influx, other retailers planted their flags Downtown — such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany, and other luxury brands. Many of these (such as Saks) have now reconsidered, and those closures were announced before the onset of the pandemic coronavirus.
But the Amish Market remained a plucky holdout for almost 20 years. The small business reopened within a year of September 2001—first at the corner of Battery Place and Washington Street, then moving to much larger quarters in Tribeca, in a storefront that occupied the full block on West Broadway, between Park Place and Murray Street. During its decade-plus tenure at that location, the store seemed to hold its own against better-funded competitors, such as nearby Whole Foods (which managed to shutter another highly regarded legacy market, Bazzini’s, within a year of opening).
During those years, the Amish Market’s owners (who were actually Muslim immigrants from Turkey) cobbled together a miniature grocery empire, opening Amish Market locations elsewhere in Manhattan, and two additional Downtown storefronts as Zeytuna (their other brand name).
These ambitious plans suffered a setback in 2011, when co-owner Adem Arici was arrested for tax fraud, and charged with failing to declare more than $50 million in income. In 2013, he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Even so, the market that had survived September 11, the 2008 economic crash, and the jailing of one of its founders, will now shut down in a few days—one more casualty of an ongoing retail apocalypse that shows no sign of abating.
Alliance Distributes Masks at Lower Manhattan Schools
The Downtown Alliance has distributed 28,000 personal protective equipment masks to seven Lower Manhattan schools, for use by students, teachers and staff. The facilities included the Spruce Street School (P.S. 397), the Peck Slip School (P.S. 343), the Battery Park City School (P.S./I.S. 276), the Liberty School (P.S. 89), the Hudson River Middle School (I.S. 289), the Blue School, and the Bright Beginnings Preschool. Each school received a total of 4,000 masks.
Alliance president Jessica Lappin, who delivered the masks to the Spruce Street School, said, “we are pleased to be able to present our local schools with necessary personal protective equipment to help them kick off the academic year. It’s essential to help protect our students, hardworking teachers and support staff as they embark on a safe, productive and healthy semester.” To read more…
Bionomics Begins at Home
BPCA Launches Ten-Year Sustainability Plan
The Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has begun implementation of a landmark plan to “achieve progressive sustainability targets over the next decade, and lay the groundwork for continued sustainability action after 2030.”
Retail Developer Wins Years-Long Struggle for Control of Legendary Bank Building
When the financial upheaval unleashed by the pandemic coronavirus begins to settle, a long-neglected local landmark may resume its erstwhile status as an iconic Lower Manhattan public space.
The building, 23 Wall Street (at the corner of Broad Street), is a former tabernacle of American capitalism. To read more…
Thursday September 24
The Power of And: Responsible Business Without Trade-Offs
Museum of American Finance
Join the Museum, in partnership with the Fordham Gabelli Center for Global Security Analysis and the CFA Society New York, for a virtual lunchtime program with Ed Freeman on his latest book, The Power of And: Responsible Business Without Trade-Offs. Advance registration is required.
Thursday Afternoon Family Fun
Battery Park City Authority
Fall is a special time in BPC: along with the changes in trees and gardens, Monarch Butterflies and many species of unique birds are migrating through. Celebrate this time with art and nature activities. Participants are expected to bring their own general supplies, such as crayons, markers, colored pencils, watercolor paints (bring your own container of water), glue, and scissors. Pick up a “kit bag” with instructions for the project of the day. Program is first come, first served for up to 20 children with accompanying adults. Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Activity is self-guided. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance
A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution
Fraunces Tavern Museum
In March 1783, as negotiations to end the Revolution were well underway, an anonymous letter circulated through the Continental Army’s camp near Newburgh, New York. It called for the officers to meet–outside the chain of command–and act boldly to strong arm Congress to deliver on their long overdue pay and desperately needed pensions. But was the letter the officers’ idea alone? Or were they put up to it by politicians in Philadelphia eager to grow the power of the central government? And how far were the angry officers willing to go? Replace General Washington? March on Congress? David Head takes a fresh look at the episode–known as the Newburgh Conspiracy–and asks whether a plot was really in the works and where the danger of the moment really lay. This lecture will take place using Zoom.
Swaps & Trades
Lost and Found
College essay and
application support available.
Millennium HS English teacher with 30+ years of experience.
City Council Backs Study of Drones to Inspect Buildings
Lower Manhattan skies may soon be slightly more crowded. The City Council on Wednesday enacted legislation authorizing the Department of Buildings to study the feasibility of conducting facade inspections using the small, robotic aircraft known as drones.
City law requires such facade inspections every five years for all buildings taller than six stories. These reviews are usually performed by contractors suspended from the roof of each structure, but the danger of such overhead work requires the installation of the unsightly scaffolds commonly known as sidewalk sheds.
The impact of such a program would likely be especially significant in Lower Manhattan. To read more…
‘How Solitary the City Has Become…’
A Downtown Photographer, Forced to Pause and Reflect, Sees New York in a New Light
A Battery Park City resident has created a haunting evocation of Manhattan in the time of COVID. His new book, a compendium of photographs entitled “Quiet in NYC: Images from a Time of Quarantine,” eloquently documents the stark beauty and forlorn grace of an erstwhile-bustling streetscape, suddenly rendered desolate.
“The project was born from the inability to do just about anything else but walk around the City in the early days of the quarantine,” says Brad Fountain, who is a graphic designer in his professional life. “No sports, shopping, concerts, or museums. The stark emptiness of the streets seemed to be asking to be photographed. I could walk for hours and see only a half a dozen people, even if I visited some of the most famous sites in New York.”
1957 – President Eisenhower sends the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce desegregation.
787 – Second Council of Nicaea: The council assembles at the church of Hagia Sophia.
1789 – The United States Congress passes the Judiciary Act, creating the office of the Attorney General and federal judiciary system and ordering the composition of the Supreme Court.
1852 – The first airship powered by (a steam) engine, created by Henri Giffard, travels 17 miles (27 km) from Paris to Trappes.
1906 – President Theodore Roosevelt proclaims Devils Tower in Wyoming as the nation’s first National Monument.
1906 – Racial tensions exacerbated by rumors lead to the Atlanta Race Riot, further increasing racial segregation.
1929 – Jimmy Doolittle performs the first flight without a window, proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing is possible.
1946 – Cathay Pacific Airways is founded in Hong Kong.
1948 – The Honda Motor Company is founded.
1957 – President Eisenhower sends the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce desegregation.
1960 – USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is launched.
2019 – An impeachment inquiry is initiated by the United States House of Representatives against President Donald Trump.
1947 ~ 2016 – Buckwheat Zydeco, American accordionist and bandleader
1501 – Gerolamo Cardano, Italian mathematician, physician, and astrologer (d. 1576)
1755 – John Marshall, American Continental Army officer, jurist, and politician, 4th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (d. 1835)
1883 – Franklin Clarence Mars, American businessman, founded Mars, Incorporated (d. 1934)
1893 – Blind Lemon Jefferson, singer-songwriter and guitarist (d. 1929)
1896 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American novelist and short story writer (d. 1940)
1911 – Konstantin Chernenko, Soviet politician (d. 1985)
1923 – Fats Navarro, American trumpet player and composer (d. 1950)
768 – Pepin the Short, Frankish king (b. 714)
1572 – Túpac Amaru, last of the Incas
1991 – Dr. Seuss, American children’s book writer, poet, and illustrator (b. 1904)
2004 – Françoise Sagan, French author and screenwriter (b. 1935)
2016 – Buckwheat Zydeco, American accordionist and bandleader (b. 1947)
Credits include wikipedia and other internet sources
What’s Next for the Store of the Future?
As Century 21 Shutdown Looms, Opportunity Arises to Ponder New Uses for a Storied Temple of Commerce
With local shoppers still mourning the impending demise of Century 21, the renowned fashion discounter, the family that owns the soon-to-be-defunct retailer may be crying all the way to the bank.
Century 21 was founded in 1961, by Al Gindi and his cousin, Samuel (“Sonny”) Gindi, who set up shop in the palatial former home of the East River Savings Bank at the corner and Church and Cortlandt Streets, and took their new venture’s name from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, which styled itself the “Century 21 Exposition.” That event focused on the theme of how Americans would live come the millennium, but its predictions did not include an epochal pandemic, or the death of retail driven by online shopping.
Urban Squatters Stake a Short-Lived Claim to Empty Lot in FiDi
A Financial District lot with a turbulent history that has sat empty for nearly two decades briefly become the venue for an insurgent (although anonymous) effort to open the space for public use, while also making quixotic political point. The parcel in question is 111 Washington Street, at the corner of Carlisle Street.