Governors Island Reopens for Truncated Season, as Momentous Decisions Loom
Today (Wednesday, July 15), Governors Island will reopen for the summer season—a milestone originally scheduled for May 1, but delayed due to the pandemic coronavirus.
The offerings at the park—which has come to be regarded by Lower Manhattan residents as one of the crown jewels of open space in the community—have been modified and scaled back to facilitate social distancing, and thus mitigate the risk of spreading the COVID-19, the deadly illness caused by the coronavirus.
These precautions will begin at the ferry that provides access to Governors Island, which is located at Battery Maritime Building (Ten South Street). Capacity aboard these boats will be limited, to maintain space between riders. For the first time, visitors will be able to reserve tickets in advance through an online reservation system. Tickets are free for seniors, children under 12, military personnel (both active duty and veterans), residents of New York City Housing Authority apartments, members of Governors Island, and holders of the IDNYC card. For all others, round-trip ferry tickets are priced at $3 per person. (A small number of tickets will also be available for purchase in person at the ferry terminal, for each departure.) Ferries departing the Battery Maritime Building before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free to all riders. Face coverings will be required for ferry riders, and must be worn on Governors Island wherever and whenever social distancing is not possible.
On Governors Island, the offerings have been reconfigured to emphasize passive recreation activities, such as hiking, walking and running, biking and birding throughout the 172-acre landscape. Public art installations also remain on view, including Shantell Martin’s “The May Room,” a commission for the 2019 season, and Rachel Whiteread’s “Cabin,” a permanent installation on Discovery Hill. More than a dozen food vendors will also be serving up everything from ice cream and oysters to wings and waffles.
The truncated season for the park comes on the heels of a banner year for Governors Island in 2019, and in advance of momentous decisions that loom in 2020. Last year, the number of visitors surged to nearly 800,000, a new record, and the Trust for Governors Island launched its new ferry, Governors I.
In September, the Trust partnered with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) to open the LMCC Arts Center at Governors Island, a 40,000-square foot studio space and education facility, housed within a restored 1870s ammunition warehouse, a relic from the days when the Island was a military outpost. The project, which cost $12 million and was more than a decade in development, houses open-plan artist studios, two floors of galleries, performance and rehearsal spaces and the Island’s first indoor cafe.
Also in September, in a fitting coda to the 2019 season, Governors Island was named one of six Great Public Spaces on the American Planning Association’s annual list, Great Places in America. This yearly compendium recognizes streets, neighborhoods and public spaces that demonstrate exceptional character, quality and planning as attributes that enrich communities, facilitate economic growth, and inspire others around the country.
Looking ahead, the Trust for Governors Island is slated to begin making decisions soon about development that local residents will be living with for decades to come. The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to build out two sections of the Island (totaling 33 acres), with as much as 4.5 million square feet of new development, in the hope that this will generate enough revenue to fund operations of the public sections of the park. This model is based, in part, on the example of the Hudson River Park Trust, where development within the footprint of the linear park along the waterfront of Manhattan’s West Side aims to subsidize public amenities. The City’s plan for Governors Island also draws inspiration from the success of developing the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. But striking the optimal balance between private use and public benefit has become a contentious issue for all three projects.
In September, 2018, CB1 enacted a resolution voicing grave reservations about the scale of development planned for Governors Island, which noted that the Board was “very troubled by the scope and magnitude of development… and believes that it is excessive. CB1 does not endorse many aspects of [the plan] and we look forward to working with the Trust for Governors Island to modify the final scope.”
1) New York Police Department Methods – Discussion & Resolution
2) The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Affordable Housing, Rent Delay/Forgiveness, and Repurposing Vacant Commercial Buildings for Residential Use – Discussion & Resolution
3) Review of Financial District Temporary Homeless Shelter Operating Procedures – Discussion
4) Sanitation Impacts of the New Alternate Side Parking Regulations – Discussion & Possible Resolutions
Who Got What: Battery Park City
Federal Loan Program Bails Out Local Small (and Not-So-Small) Businesses
(Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series of stories detailing the impact of federal bailout funds on Lower Manhattan businesses.)
The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has disbursed more than $600 billion in roughly 4.9 million loans to business around the nation, in response to the economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic coronavirus. In Battery Park City’s three zip codes, 285 businesses and non-profit organizations received loans totaling more than $10 million, based on the possibility of saving more than 2,900 jobs, according to data recently released by the federal government’s Small Business Administration (SBA).
Astrophotographer Mihail Minkov’s Star Catcher placed first in the International Dark Sky Association’s “Connecting to the Dark” category of IDA’s first annual photography competition, “Capture the Dark”. Minkov accompanied the photograph with this statement: “I have a four-year-old daughter. She is fascinated by the planets, stars and the Milky Way. So I decided to make her part of the process and try to show her what it’s like to be out under the dark sky, and see the beauty of the night sky. I hope that one day she will remember that and this memory will make her care for the planet and the night sky.”
These starry summer nights, the picture could be of you or me or children in our care.
On a recent sojourn in the countryside, facing southeast over a meadow alight with blinking, streaming fireflies, I looked up to discover bright planet Jupiter close above the horizon. Barred owls exchanged their hooting bark “who cooks for you?” It was just before 10 o’clock. Today, the 13th, Jupiter (-2.73 magnitude) rises at 8:23pm; an hour earlier on the 26th. To Jupiter’s left, dimmer Saturn (0.12 m) rises at 8:43pm on the 13th; nearly an hour earlier on the 26th. Allow about an hour after sunset for bright celestial objects to be visible and an hour and a half to two hours after sunset for dimmer stars and constellations.
Whether stargazing from a window or setting out at nightfall, find a clear view to the southeast horizon. Or wait for the celestial show to come to you. The planets and stars are moving from east to west. Around midnight, the planets show up in the south; before dawn, southwest.
Above and to the left of the planets find the great Summer Triangle: Altair (0.75 m) appears 20 degrees above Jupiter; brighter Vega (0.00 m) a 30 degree leap above Altair and dimmer Deneb (1.25 m) a stretch to the left of Vega. Search out a bright star to the right of Vega, in the southwest, it is golden Arcturus (-0.07 m).
The star-like object the child in the photograph looks to could also be planet Venus, the third brightest object in Earth’s skies, after the Sun and moon. See Venus (-4.47 m), now the Morning Star, in the east between about 3:30am and 4:50am.
Finalists Announced in Design Competition to Improve Pedestrian Access to Brooklyn Bridge
On some weekends, as many as 15,000 pedestrians and 3,600 cyclists compete with each other and souvenir vendors for as little as 10 feet of width on the deck of the Brooklyn Bridge, creating an unpleasant and potentially unsafe bottleneck.
The City Council and the Van Alen Institute (a New York nonprofit architectural organization, dedicated to improving design in the public realm) have named the shortlist of contenders in a contest that aims incubate fresh ideas for better pedestrian access to the Brooklyn Bridge.
Local Traffic Monitoring Device is Part of City-Wide Expansion
A work crew installs a new traffic monitoring device at the corner of West and West Thames Streets.
Lower Manhattan residents may soon be slightly safer, if lighter in the pocket, thanks to a new traffic monitoring device that has been installed at the corner of West Street and West Thames Street. The camera and radar unit, mounted on a silver pole, combines red light monitoring with speed enforcement for vehicles proceeding south along Route 9A (West Street).
Open Space Advocate Wants City Hall Park Returned to Community
A local advocate for Lower Manhattan open spaces is sounding the alarm about City Hall Park, which has recently been closed and cordoned off by police, while the park’s paved plaza (near Chambers and Centre Streets) has been taken over by Occupy City Hall protestors.
Lower Manhattan resident Skip Blumberg, the founder and president of Friends of City Hall Park (FCHP), says, “our park is closed, commandeered by the NYPD inside the fences and by the occupying protestors on the Northeast Plaza. The park has suffered littering and destruction by irresponsible individuals within those groups, with trash thrown over the fence by both.”
Rent stabilization at Gateway Plaza expired 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.”
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.
1783 – The first steamboat, Pyroscaphe, was an early experimental steamship built by Marquis de Jouffroy d’Abbans. The first demonstration took place on 15 July 1783 on the river Saône in France. The machinery of the ship failed after 15 minutes. The Pyroscaphe was propelled by a double-acting steam machine and sidewheels, and was therefore a paddle steamer.
1799 – The Rosetta Stone is found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign.The Rosetta Stone is a granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts (with some minor differences among them), it provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
1815 – Napoleon surrenders to Captain Frederick Maitland of HMS Bellerophon at Rochefort after his earlier defeat at the Battle of Waterloo
1911 – 46″ of rain (begining 7/14) falls in Baguio, Philippines
1965 – “Mariner IV” sends back 1st pictures of Mars
1997 – Jerold Mackenzie awarded $26.6M (later reduced to $625,000) for being fired from Miller Brewing for sexual harassment for relaying a Seinfeld episode to a co worker
1458 – Juan Ponce de Leon, Spanish Explorer (d. 1521)
1606 – Rembrandt van Rijn, Leiden Netherlands, painter (Night Watch), (d. 1669)
Rembrandt painted the large painting The Militia Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq between 1640 and 1642. This picture was called the Nachtwacht by the Dutch and the Night Watch by Sir Joshua Reynolds because by the 18th century the picture was so dimmed and defaced by time that it was almost indistinguishable and it looked quite like a night scene. After it was cleaned, it was discovered to represent broad day—a party of musketeers stepping from a gloomy courtyard into the blinding sunlight.
1906 – Rudolf “Rudi” Uhlenhaut, German automotive engineer and test driver (Mercedes Benz) (d. 1989)
1950 – Arianna Huffington, Athens, Greek-born author, syndicated columnist and creator of The Huffington Post
1951 – Jesse “The Body” Ventura, wrestler/actor (Predator, Running Man)
1881 – Billy the Kid [William H Bonney], shot by sheriff Pat Garrett at 21
1883 – Tom Thumb, famous small person (40″), dies of a stroke at 44
1948 – John J. Pershing, [Black Jack], US general (Mexico, WW I), dies at 87
1958 – Julia Lennon, mother of Beatle John, dies in an auto accident
1997 – Gianni Versace, fashion designer, shot to death by Andrew Cunanan at 50
Swaps & Trades
Lost and Found
Stuyvesant HS graduate
available for SHSAT tutoring. $40/hr. Zoom or in-person.