Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Higher, Wider, Handsomer
City Council Announces Design Competition to Improve Pedestrian Access to Brooklyn Bridge
The City Council has partnered with the Van Alen Institute (a New York nonprofit architectural organization, dedicated to improving design in the public realm) in sponsoring a contest to incubate fresh ideas for better pedestrian access to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The contest, announced Tuesday, has been sparked by the fact that, after 13 decades, the Brooklyn Bridge may need some surgical enhancement. A report released in 2017 by the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) noted that the span’s pedestrian and cycling deck is the No. 1 tourist attraction in Brooklyn and among the top five in Manhattan. The report also documented that between 2008 and 2015, the number of pedestrians crossing the bridge each weekend almost tripled (reaching 15,000), while the tally of cyclists has more than doubled (topping out at 3,600).
This has led to a massive squeeze in which hordes of walkers and bikers compete for space as narrow as ten feet across — a 1.1-mile bottleneck made worse by the profusion of food and souvenir vendors who also set up shop on the bridge’s deck each day.
The “Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge” competition invites both professional designers and members of the general public (including high school and college students) to submit ideas, with a deadline of April 5. Entrants are welcome to work individually, or to form teams. Three finalists will be selected from the adult category, and awarded $13,000 to develop their proposals further. Three additional finalists will be selected among participants younger than 22 years old, and will be awarded $3,000 each. For more information, please browse:
This follows the DOT’s 2016 decision to hire engineering firm AECOM to develop ideas about how to ease the Brooklyn Bridge’s chronic pedestrian logjam. The consultant’s primary recommendation was that DOT consider widening the deck, by partially covering the traffic lanes beneath with additional boardwalk. But the firm also suggested that DOT wait until an upcoming inspection of the bridge’s cables (the first in three decades), originally slated for 2019, to confirm that the structure can handle the additional weight. AECOM said it was highly confident that the bridge can bear the load of the new deck structure, but less certain that it could handle the heft of the additional thousands of people likely to be drawn onto the bridge by an improved promenade.
In any event, the planned inspection never started in 2019, and is now slated for this year. That evaluation of the cables will take at least two years, which means that construction on the enlarged deck (if it is ultimately approved) could not begin before 2022, and would not be completed until at least 2024.
In the interim, DOT is considering implementing some additional proposals, but has rejected others. One option the agency deems viable is restricting the number of food and souvenir vendors allowed onto the bridge deck. A proposal it has rejected is the idea floated by biking advocates for closing one lane of vehicular traffic and giving that space to cyclists.
Also still under evaluation is a scheme to build a new ramp, entirely for cyclists, that would bypass the constricted approach path over the bridge’s anchorage. Instead, this new viaduct would let bikers ride directly from the central span of the bridge to Park Row, which has been closed to the public since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, because of its proximity to One Police Plaza. This perpendicular connection would run north and south, at a 90-degree angle to the bridge’s east-west orientation.
City Plans to Raise Esplanade in the Battery to 11 Feet Above Waterline
Among the myriad of resiliency projects that are now in the planning stages for various parts of Lower Manhattan, the City is planning to raise the level of the waterfront Esplanade in the Battery (a one-third mile stretch of shoreline between Pier A, in the north, and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, in the south) to an elevation 11 feet above the current waterline.
Retrofit and Restoration
Centuries-Old Aesthetics to Converge with Cutting-Edge Technology at Historic Seaport Warehouse
Trinity Church has purchased a historic warehouse in the South Street Seaport district, which it intends to convert into a four-family residence, while also adhering to the environmentally rigorous “passive house” standard. The building, at 245 Water Street (between Peck Slip and Beekman Street), was originally built in 1836, after a fire destroyed the previous structure on that lot. The building was put up by the firm of Hendricks & Brothers, who operated cooper mines in Newark, but had their offices in Lower Manhattan. The family, who had anglicized their names from the Henriques of their native Spain, had been in the cooper business for generations, selling to customers like Paul Revere and Robert Fulton.
The building bade farewell to its commercial and industrial legacy in 2008, when it was initially converted into a two-family residence. But Joshua Levine, the owner for several years, put the property on the market in early 2019, asking $12.82 million. Last August, Trinity Church negotiated a price of $12.3 million and took possession.
6 River Terrace
Crafternoon: Valentines Day
New York Public Library
Licensing & Permits Committee
Community Board 1 – Conference Room 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
One Country, Two Cultures: Can Hong Kong Find Its Way?
Behind The Scenes Of “Rendering Witness: Holocaust-Era Art As Testimony”
Museum of Jewish Heritage
Longtime Residents, Neither Rich Nor Poor, Face an Uncertain Future Downtown
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio has released an updated version of its Where We Live NYC affordable housing plan, which contains some striking insights about Lower Manhattan.
The report finds that between 25 and 30 percent of all local rental units are rent stabilized, while market-rate apartments comprise between 35 and 42 percent of all units. To read more…
Today in History
Wednesday February 12
881 – Pope John VIII crowns Charles the Fat, the King of Italy: Holy Roman Emperor
1502 – Vasco da Gama sets sail from Lisbon, on his second voyage to India.
1554 – A year after claiming the throne of England for nine days, Lady Jane Grey is beheaded for treason.
1832 – Ecuador annexes the Galбpagos Islands.
1909 – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP) is founded.
1912 – The Xuantong Emperor, the last Emperor of China, abdicates.
1924 – George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue received its premiere in a concert titled “An Experiment in Modern Music”, in Aeolian Hall, New York, by Paul Whiteman and his band, with Gershwin playing the piano.
1946 – World War II: Operation Deadlight ends after scuttling 121 of 154 captured U-boats.
1974 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, is exiled from the Soviet Union.
1994 – Four thieves break into the National Gallery of Norway and steal Edvard Munch’s iconic painting The Scream.
1999 – President Bill Clinton is acquitted by the United States Senate in his impeachment trial.
2001 – NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft touches down in the “saddle” region of 433 Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid.
2004 – The city of San Francisco begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in response to a directive from Mayor Gavin Newsom.
AD 41 – Britannicus, Roman son of Claudius (d. 55)
1218 – Kujo Yoritsune, Japanese shogun (d. 1256)
1606 – John Winthrop the Younger, English-American lawyer and politician, Governor of Connecticut (d. 1676)
1791 – Peter Cooper, American businessman and philanthropist, founded Cooper Union (d. 1883)
1809 – Charles Darwin, English geologist and theorist (d. 1882)
1809 – Abraham Lincoln, American lawyer and politician, 16th President of the United States (d. 1865)
1857 – Eugene Atget, French photographer (d. 1927)
1877 – Louis Renault, French engineer and businessman, co-founded Renault (d. 1944)
1904 – Ted Mack, American radio and television host (d. 1976)
1923 – Franco Zeffirelli, Italian director, producer, and politician
1938 – Judy Blume, Jewish-American author and educator
1554 – Lady Jane Grey, de facto monarch of England and Ireland for nine days (b. 1537)
1804 – Immanuel Kant, German anthropologist, philosopher, and academic (b. 1724)
1942 – Grant Wood, American painter and academic (b. 1891)
1971 – James Cash Penney, American businessman and philanthropist, founded J. C. Penney (b. 1875)
1994 – Donald Judd, American painter and sculptor (b. 1928)
2000 – Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist, created Peanuts (b. 1922)
2014 – Sid Caesar, American actor and comedian (b. 1922)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
Community Board Applications Now Being Accepted
Every Community Board has 50 seats which are filled for two-year terms by volunteers, who are selected by the Borough President and local City Council members. Half the seats are up for appointment or re-appointment every year.
Community Boards get a seat at the table in high-stakes land use, real estate, and zoning negotiations, and they work directly with city agencies to influence how government services are delivered at the neighborhood level.
If you’d like to serve as a member of your Community Board, apply online here. The deadline is February 14, 2020
Ask and You Might Receive
Community Board Prioritizes Funding Requests to City Hall for Coming Fiscal Year
Community Board 1 (CB1) has completed its annual statement of District Needs and Budget Priorities, which is submitted every 12 months to the City government, to help set the agenda for policy and spending in the next fiscal year.
CB1 chair Anthony Notaro reflects that, “one of the mandates of a Community Board is input on the City’s budget. It is the best way for citizens to have a say in how their tax dollars will be spent, to benefit all of us. For CB1 to develop our budget request, we have a public session at the start of every monthly board meeting. Getting direct input from our neighbors is the best way to validate our needs.”
Another Food Hall Coming to Lower Manhattan, Amid Signs That Community’s Appetite Is Diminishing
A new food hall is coming to a historic (and long neglected) Lower Manhattan building: the former First National City Bank branch at 415 Broadway (on the corner with Canal Street), which dates from 1927.
The building’s owner is the development firm United American Land, a company that has established a niche in Lower Manhattan real estate by acquiring and repositioning historic structures, often transforming former office buildings and warehouses into apartments or retail destinations). To read more…
Eyes to the Sky
February 4 – 16, 2020
Planet Venus dazzles, New York stargazers defy light pollution
While we were looking the other way, the dazzle of starry skies that we thought would always be there has been dimmed by a hazy scrim: when encountered, we feel as if a disease has overtaken our eyes. But the haze is accumulated wasted light from each of our trillions of outdoor lights – private and public – that are poorly designed and, in many instances, too bright for the purpose. The result is that the light scatters around and up to the sky, known as “light trespass” and “light pollution.” Excessive light is also wasted light and it is not only a wasted resource. While quick to light up our world, we have not only been oblivious to polluting our skies, but are discovering that light pollution is having deleterious affects on human health and the health of our environment. Look here.
City Environmental Review of New Ferry Service to Battery Park City Springs a Few Leaks
The City’s Economic Development Corporation has released an updated version of the “draft supplemental environmental impact statement” for its plan to bring new ferry service from Staten Island to Battery Park City.
This document is meant to gauge the effect of the plan on metrics like noise, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions that will result from implementing the NYC Ferry expansion planned by the administration of Mayer Bill de Blasio, which is slated to bring to the Battery Park City ferry terminal more than 60 new vessels each day, landing from 6:00 am to midnight, and carrying as many as 2,500 passengers per day.
One salient finding of the report may call into question the viability of the entire plan. To read more…
‘A Complete Free-for-All’
CB1 Raises Concerns about Wave of New Event and Entertainment Venues Planned for Downtown
Members of Community Board 1 are expressing reservations about multiple new party and performance spaces slated to open in Lower Manhattan this year.
At the January 28 monthly meeting of the Board, Mariama James, who co-chairs CB1’s Quality of Life & Service Delivery Committee, described a production planned for a new theater space now being created within 20 Exchange Place, near the corner of William Street.
“It’s by a group called Emursive,” noted Ms. James, “and the show is called ‘Sleep No More,'” which draw ironic laughs from members who CB1, because the title neatly evokes their concerns for the surrounding neighborhood.
A Pooling of Interests
Would Floating Filtration System That Doubles as a Swim Facility Be a Net Plus?
A decade of grassroots advocacy may be gradually bearing fruit, as community leaders prod the administration of Bill de Blasio into serious consideration of a proposal to create a floating pool in the East River.
The idea, styled as “+ Pool” (and verbalized as “Plus Pool”) began in the summer of 2010, when three friends — designers Jeffrey Franklin and Archie Coates, along with architect Dong-Ping Wong — wondered why there was no facility that would allow the public to swim in the Hudson or East Rivers.
Researching the idea, they realized that 150 years ago, New York had more than a dozen such accommodations. To read more…
Ars Gratia Communitas
Battery Park City’s Annual Art Exhibit
Battery Park City’s annual art exhibition opened on Sunday, January 26.
The art will be on view at
75 Battery Place, weekdays,
January 27 to March 27,
2PM to 4PM (no viewing on 2/17).
People visiting should check in with our security desk on the ground floor, where they will be directed to the elevators to the 4th floor. The receptionist will direct them to the show.
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The Greek Calends
After Two-Year Hiatus, Work to Resume at St. Nicholas Church
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on January 2 that a newly formed non-profit organization will raise funds and underwrite the completion of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, within the World Trade Center Complex.
The building, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava (who additionally created the nearby Oculus, also in the World Trade Center) is slated to replace the histo precious parish church that fell among the victims of September 11. To read more…
They Didn’t Get the Memo…
Much-Touted Crackdown on Placard Parking Not All It Was Cracked Up to Be
Amid much fanfare, multiple City agencies recently announced that they would take part in a crackdown on illegal parking by government employees, whose personal vehicles bear placards that allow them to leave their cars blocking bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants, bike lanes, and lanes needed for use by fire trucks and ambulances.
By Tuesday, it appeared that dozens of law enforcement personnel who work in Battery Park City hadn’t heard, or perhaps knew better.
Steven Amedee Gallery
Tapestry of Discord
A solo exhibition of oil paintings and mixed media works on paper by the South African artist Luke Baggott.
In Tapestry of Discord, Mr. Baggot uses New York City as a backdrop to challenge narrative conventions about place and community. Drawing on his experiences as a foreigner, his work highlights the fragmentation and confusion present in familiar spaces, destabilizing entrenched ideas about the City. His work examines what it is to be different and whether the process of assimilation requires us to abandon vital parts of our identity in the quest for belonging.
41 N Moore Street firstname.lastname@example.org
Soho Photo Gallery
Krappy Kamera Exhibition
The gallery is proud to present its annual Krappy Kamera Exhibition, including the winners of the 2020 International Competition. Exhibits by Soho Photo Gallery artists. The Competition originated at Soho Photo Gallery in 1998 and is one of the high points of the year. “Selecting just forty-five photographs from well over eight hundred submissions is no easy feat, especially when presented with such a rich array of diverse imagery. Nonetheless, I have endeavored to assemble an impressive group of photographic prints by a wide range of artists employing cameras outfitted with ‘lousy lenses.’ The outstanding results are an inspiration.”
— Brian Paul Clamp, Juror
15 White Street
EXHIBITION DATES: February 17 – March 7
Van Der Plas Gallery
ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE FOR ALL TO BEHOLD
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Van Der Plas Gallery presents a solo exhibition of work by Konstantin Bokov on view now through February 16th, 2020. It features Bokov’s signature found-art assemblage, sculptures, paintings, and sketches over four prolific decades.
Born in Ukraine, was groomed to pursue music at the Art Academy of Leningrad in St. Petersburg, a visceral encounter with Vincent van Gogh’s sunsets changed the trajectory of his life. From Moscow, he immigrated to New York City in 1974.
Gallerist and curator Adriaan van der Plas shares, “Bokov embodies the true spirit of an outsider with no phone or email to reach him. With a pure heart, he regards creativity as spiritual, and offers it with unbridled generosity.”
Exhibition through February16
Van Der Plas Gallery, 156 Orchard Street 212-227-8983
Recalling Five Points
Epicenter of a Notorious Slum Proposed for Commemoration
In 1831, the City government considered a petition that warned, “that the place known as “Five points” has long been notorious… as being the nursery where every species of vice is conceived and matured; that it is infested by a class of the most abandoned and desperate character.”
A decade later, Charles Dickens, visiting New York, wrote of the same Lower Manhattan neighborhood that had inspired the petition, “what place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points…. To read more…
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Friday, February 14
Inbound 9:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm; Southern Caribbean
Saturday, February 15
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 5:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm; Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Sunday, February 16
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 3:30 pm; Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to passenger and propulsion problems, tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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