Lower Manhattan Becomes Reluctant Hollywood on the Hudson with Most Film Permits in City
A film crew prepares to shoot a scene on a street in Lower Manhattan, the location of 22 percent of all production permits issued in the City.
According to statistics made available by the City’s Open Data archive, Lower Manhattan has been the site of 27,298 film and television shooting permits in the past decade. This total is weighted toward Community Board 1 (a collection of neighborhoods encompassing 1.5 square miles, bounded roughly by Canal, Baxter, and Pearl Streets and the Brooklyn Bridge) with 15,955 total permits issued by the City. Not far behind is Community Board 2 (stretching from Canal to 14th Streets, west of the Bowery and Fourth Avenue), with a further 11,343 permits. Together, these two districts represent 38 percent of all the permits issued by the City, to film anywhere in the five boroughs, since 2011. This means that somewhere within the combined pair of districts, there have been (on average) more than seven production shoots each day, year-round, for the last decade.
This issue has long been an irritant for local residents, who complain of noise, street closures, bright lights shining in their windows until dawn, unnerving sounds from staged car chases and gun fights, lost parking, and sometimes-brusque production crews.
In 2019, City Council member Margaret Chin sponsored a package of bills in the municipal legislature to clamp down on rampant film and television production in Lower Manhattan. Although the laws would have had City-wide effect, their impact was aimed to be especially significant in the square mile below Chambers Street, where roughly 1,500 movies and television shows commandeer local streets (sometimes for days at a time) each year. Many locations such as Reade Street and Staple Street in Tribeca, and the Battery Park City Esplanade, are used so frequently that residents and elected officials have begun calling for a cap on how many times a each year a permit can be issued for a specific site.
Above: Movie production trucks line Albany Street. Below: Actor Donnie Wahlberg relaxes between filming scenes of “Blue Bloods” on the steps of the New York County Supreme Court, on Centre Street. This location has been the site of dozens of climactic scenes in various police procedural dramas, in which the demands of narrative (if not justice) were satisfied by an unjustly acquitted defendant being shot in front of the courthouse. In fact, history does not record a single instance of this ever happening.
At a hearing, Ms. Chin cited the disproportionate number of production permits that the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) issues for Downtown, saying, “Lower Manhattan residents are proud when they see their neighborhoods showcased in movies and TV shows, but that does not mean my constituents need to tolerate bullying from production staffers, unsafe streets and unannounced film shoots on their narrow residential blocks.”
In one striking example, permits for shooting on Reade Street were issued 25 times in 2018, which meant that residents there could expect production-related commotion and inconvenience roughly once every two weeks.
“It is time for MOME to provide stronger oversight of the impacts of film productions and a demonstrated commitment to prioritizing sensitivity and, most importantly, respect for our neighborhoods,” Ms. Chin continued. “Without more accountability, the chronic disruptions and quality of life burdens stemming from these large-scale productions will continue to rest on the shoulders of regular New Yorkers. We need balance, and more efforts to make this a positive experience for everyone, including pedestrians and small businesses.”
Ms. Chin recalled one instance in which a member of the production crew on one shoot in Chinatown joked that he was an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer, which offended many nearby residents.
The package of legislation that Ms. Chin sponsored included measures to create a local community bill of rights for dealing with production shoots, updates to fees and notification periods for filming on City property and filing permits to film outdoors, and the establishment of a task force to study both the benefits and impacts that film and television production have on the City.
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio lobbied successfully against Ms. Chin’s proposed legislation, but responded instead by creating “hot spots” in a handful of City neighborhoods that have been beleaguered by frequent production shooting. For Lower Manhattan, this has translated into scaled-backed issuance of permits, although not the kind decrease that many community leaders have called for during recent years.
It’s For The Birds
Save a Bird
Turn Off Lights or Close Shades
New York is on the Atlantic Flyway, an avian highway in the sky. Millions of birds pass over New York City during spring and fall migration. It’s estimated that as many as 100,000 collide with buildings and die, each season.
Over the next few nights, Cornell Lab of Ornithology is predicting heavy migration through New York City and is calling for businesses, homeowners and apartment dwellers to turn off lights at night or close shades to try to reduce bird deaths. At least one local major property owner—Brookfield Properties—has asked its tenants to turn off their lights at night to mitigate bird deaths.
Fall migration will last through October. During the day, birds see sky reflected in windows and crash into them. At night, birds are attracted to bright lights shining from buildings. Check real-time bird migration forecast maps for the latest updates at https://birdcast.info.
If you find an injured bird, bring it to the Wild Bird Fund at 565 Columbus Avenue (88th Street). Try to approach it from behind, gently cup your hands around it, and put it in a paper bag for the trip uptown.
Due to habitat loss and pollution, there are many, many fewer birds in the sky. “We have lost three billion birds in the last 50 years,” said Jerome Ford from U.S. Fish and Wildlife yesterday. He was announcing that the Biden administration is reinstating laws (rolled back under Trump) that hold companies prosecutable for bird deaths.
Nutten Out of the Ordinary
Governors Island to Remain Open Throughout the Year
Since Governors Island opened to the public in 2005, the 172-acre greensward off Lower Manhattan has become Downtown’s equivalent of Central Park—with one crucial difference. The latter is open 365 days per year, while the quarter-square mile of hills and towering old-growth trees that was called Nutten Island by British settlers in the Colonial Era has, for more than a decade, been accessible to the public only in warm-weather months.
That all changed on Tuesday, when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that, effective immediately, Governors Island will remain open 12 months per year. The extended season will begin November 1, the day after the facility was slated to close for the year at the end of October.
Vacant FiDi Lot with Troubled History Bought by Developer Specializing in Below-Market Rents
A real estate development firm that specializes in building affordable housing nationwide has acquired a site in the Financial District, where it plans to erect a 50-story residential tower. Grubb Properties, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced Monday that it had paid $89.15 million for the vacant lot at the corner of Washington and Carlisle Streets. The company plans to build a structure enclosing 340,000 square feet on the 11,000-square-foot site, known both as 111 Washington Street and Eight Carlisle Street.
Grubb specializes in building what it calls “essential housing” for people earning between 60 and 140 percent of the “area median income” (AMI) in locations where it develops residential properties. These projects are made possible, in part, by tax incentives and government-backed loan guarantees that aim to encourage builders and landlords to accept lower-than-market rents, while still remaining profitable. To read more…
Ars Gratia Artis
Church Street School Designates a New Leader
A Lower Manhattan cultural mainstay has new leadership. The Church Street School for Music and Art has named Piruz Partow to be the School’s executive director, where he has succeeded co-founder and longtime executive director Dr. Lisa Ecklund-Flores, who stepped down in August, after 30 years at the helm.
The School’s board chose Mr. Partow after a four-month nationwide search. He comes to Church Street from the renowned Brooklyn Music School, where he spent eight years as executive director, following a decade as a music instructor. To read more…
The Winds of Change
Sustainable Schooner, Carrying Comestibles, Makes Port in Lower Manhattan
On Saturday, September 25, the South Street Seaport Museum welcomed the Apollonia, a traditional gaff-rigged schooner, capable of carrying 20,000 pounds of cargo.
The Hudson River’s only carbon-neutral, wind-powered merchant freighter docked at Pier 16 and offloaded a shipment of New York State cider, maple products, wool, and other sustainable goods, for sale at the Fulton Stall Market.
The Apollonia sails regularly between New York Harbor and Hudson Valley towns such as Yonkers, Kingston, Ossining, Newburgh, and Albany as part of an emerging, regional eco-friendly supply chain.
Notice is hereby given that the following virtual meeting will take place today. It will be livestreamed at: bpca.divacommunications.com/bpca-live/ and video recordings made available for post-meeting access via the Battery Park City Authority website.
An agenda will be made available in advance of the scheduled Meeting. There will be no public comment period scheduled at this meeting. The next public comment period will be scheduled during the October 2021 Meeting of the Members of the Authority. For more information visit: bpca.ny.gov/about/board-committees/
The Food for Thought series continues its pursuit of three goals – to restart, revive, and reconnect. Join the conversation on Thursday, September 30 at 5:30 PM with guest speaker and communication expert Caitlin Harper, founder of communication consultancy Commcoterie, who will discuss how to best communicate and collaborate effectively to strengthen your relationships and succeed. Free
Since the first Superman comic was published in 1938, there has been a persistent fascination with superheroes. Today, we see them everywhere: television, movies, comics, toys, and anywhere else one can think of. Jews have played an important role in superhero culture, both as characters and creators. Join the Museum for a program exploring Jewish superheroes with comic book writer Marguerite Bennett (DC Bombshells) and editor Danny Fingeroth (Marvel’s Spiderman Comics Line). They will be in conversation with journalist Abraham Riesman, author of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. $ 10
ART HOUSE CLASSICS: 7 BOXES
Battery Park City Authority VIRTUAL PROGRAM
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Paraguayan thriller 7 Boxes (2012, Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori) follows the adventures of wheelbarrow courier Víctor who receives an unusual proposal: to carry boxes of unknown content through Mercado 4 in Asunción, but things get complicated along the way. Registration required, click here.
Three indicators paint an equivocal portrait of the economic outlook for Lower Manhattan. The most upbeat of these is the so-called Pret Index, a metric created by Bloomberg News, which tracks the sales of lattes at various outposts of Pret A Manger, a chain of sandwich shops that largely serves office workers in urban business districts.
Data released by Bloomberg on Tuesday indicates that, among Pret A Manger locations in the Financial District and Tribeca, sales of cappuccino drinks, “set a new pandemic high last week,” recovering to 45 percent of sales levels from January, 2020—just before the advent of COVID-19.
More sobering is data from Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate services firm, whose Marketview report for Manhattan retail in the second quarter of this year finds that fully 25 percent of ground-floor storefront spaces in Lower Manhattan are now vacant, and awaiting tenants. To read more…
Sufficient Unto the Dey
Lottery Opens for New Affordable Apartments in Financial District Building
Lower Manhattan’s meager inventory of affordable rental apartments will soon swell by 63 units, thanks to a new development nearing completion at 185 Broadway, at the corner of Dey Street. The building, which will be known by its branding address of 7 Dey, will contain a total of 206 apartments (the remaining 143 units will be market-rate rentals), along with several floors of retail and office space. In exchange for committing to affordability protections on the 63 units, developer S.L. Green received tax incentives worth many millions of dollars, which helped to build the $300 million project. To read more…
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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.
Samascott Orchard Orchard fruit, strawberries from Columbia County, New York
Francesa’s Bakery Breads and baked goods from Middlesex County, New Jersey
Meredith’s Bakery Baked goods from Ulster County, New York
Riverine Ranch Water Buffalo meat and cheeses from Warren County, New Jersey
1857 Spirits Handcrafted potato vodka from Schoharie County, New York
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted
Silverstein Envisions Breaking Ground Within Months on New Skyscraper at Two World Trade Center
After two decades years of rebuilding, there remains one significant missing piece in the World Trade Center complex. It is marked by the placeholder “podium” of a building at the west side of Church Street, between Vesey and Fulton Streets, which houses entry points for the underground shopping and transit facilities beneath the plaza, along with some ventilation equipment.
Formally designated at 200 Greenwich Street, this site is slated to someday be the home of Two World Trade Center. But 20 years of false starts may soon give way to actual construction. In a development first reported by the Commercial Observer, builder Larry Silverstein says that his firm is close to securing a deal with a corporate anchor tenant, and may start construction soon, even if such a rent does not commit to the building.
A C-74 Globemaster plane at Gatow airfield on 19 August with more than 20 tons of flour from the United States.Germans watching supply planes at Tempelhof.
399 – Henry IV is proclaimed King of England.
1791 – The first performance of The Magic Flute, the last opera by Mozart to make its debut, took place at Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna, Austria.
1882 – Thomas Edison’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant beginsoperation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin, United States.
1888 – Jack the Ripper kills his third and fourth victims, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes.
1927 – Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 60 home runs in a season.
1938 – The League of Nations unanimously outlaws “intentional bombings of civilian populations”.
1941 – World War II: Holocaust in Kiev, Ukraine: German Einsatzgruppe C complete Babi Yar massacre.
1949 – The Berlin Airlift that began in 1948 ends. At the end of the Second World War, U.S., British, and Soviet military forces divided and occupied Germany. Also divided into occupation zones, Berlin was located far inside Soviet-controlled eastern Germany.
1954 – The U.S. Navy submarine USS Nautilus is commissioned as the world’s first nuclear reactor powered vessel.
1955 – Film star James Dean dies in a road accident aged 24.
The death of Batmobile creator George Barris has thrown a wrench into the search for another famous car connected to him. A few months after actor James Dean died in a highway accident in 1955, Barris, known as the “King of the Kustomizers,” acquired the remains of the star’s wrecked Porsche 550 Spyder.
Attorney Lee Raskin, author of “James Dean: On the Road to Salinas” and an outspoken critic of Batmobile creator George Barris’ stewardship of “Little Bastard,” says the car was originally registered in California by its engine number, rather than the chassis number. After the Porsche was written off by Dean’s insurance company, it was sold for $1,092 to Dr. William F. Eschrich, who removed the engine and other drivetrain components before Barris took possession of the rest of the car.
Since no official record of that transfer has been discovered – and since Eschrich’s family still has the original pink slip for the car, along with the engine – Raskin believes the entire vehicle belongs to the Eschriches. But the family has made no claim to the missing parts of the vehicle or commented on the recent developments.
As for the parties directly involved in the ongoing discussion, Barris’ death has slowed the process, which means an attempt to find out if James Dean’s Porsche is hidden behind a wall made take some time before being resolved.
1968 – The Boeing 747 is rolled out and shown to the public for the first time at the Boeing Everett Factory..
1982 – Cyanide-laced Tylenol kills six people in the Chicago area. Seven are killed in all.
1986 – Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed details of Israel’s covert nuclear program to British media, is kidnapped in Rome, Italy by the Israeli Mossad.
Truman Capote, American author, playwright, and screenwriter (1924 – 1984)
1861 – William Wrigley, Jr., American businessman, founded Wrigley Company (d. 1932)
1915 – Lester Maddox, American businessman and politician, 75th Governor of Georgia (d. 2003)
1917 – Buddy Rich, American drummer, bandleader, and actor (d. 1987)
1924 – Truman Capote, American author, playwright, and screenwriter (d. 1984)
954 – Louis IV of France (b. 920)
1955 – James Dean, American actor (b. 1931)
1978 – Edgar Bergen, American actor and ventriloquist (b. 1903)
1985 – Charles Francis Richter, American seismologist and physicist (b. 1900)
1989 – Virgil Thomson, American composer and critic (b. 1896)