Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Garden Gets Going
Ground Broken on New FiDi Park, After a Decade of Planning
A planned new public space that Lower Manhattan community leaders have been advocating for since 2009 took a significant step closer to being realized on August 23, when ground was broken for Elizabeth Berger Plaza Park, which will be bounded by Greenwich Street, Edgar Street, and Trinity Place, along with an exit ramp from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
At the ceremony, New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said, “the new park will feature a contoured lawn, raised berms, paved pathways, plantings, new seating, and open space for gatherings and programming. This project will reroute traffic and remove excess roadbed.”
City Council member Margaret Chin said, “this plaza is going to be a wonderful, iconic open space. And we’re going to have several hundred students in a couple of years at the Trinity School, who will enjoy this space, too.” This was a reference to the new public elementary school currently under construction on Trinity Place, immediately adjacent to the site of the new park. Ms. Chin allocated $2.85 million for the park, out of a total budget of $6.7 million.
The new park will be formed by combining two existing, smaller plazas, and eliminating a two-lane exit ramp from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which runs between them — thus creating a single, larger public square. One of the two spaces, Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza (which will lend its name to the larger, combined park), is located on the north side of the exit ramp, and surrounded by Edgar Street, Greenwich Street, and Trinity Place. Formerly known as Edgar Plaza, this space was renamed in December, 2013 to honor Elizabeth Berger, the former president of the Alliance, who died in 2012, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
The second space, known as Trinity Plaza and situated on the south side of the exit ramp, is a forlorn, irregularly shaped expanse of concrete that is bordered by Trinity Place on the east, but largely cut off from the surrounding community on all other sides by fencing and guard rails for the tunnel. The exit ramp that currently lies between them vents traffic from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel onto Trinity Place, but is replicated by another, nearby ramp that directs vehicles exiting the tunnel onto Greenwich street. The value of both ramps is limited by the fact that they are closed to traffic during the morning rush hour, when drivers are most likely to utilize them.
The two-lane exit ramp from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel takes up 2,500 square feet of open space. Once eliminated and absorbed into a single plaza created by combining those on either side, the resulting new park will have an area more than 29,000 square feet. The traffic that currently uses the ramp slated for removal would still be able to rejoin Trinity Place by making right turns onto either Edgar or Rector Streets.
At the August 23 ceremony, Anthony Notaro, chair of Community Board, chair of Community Board 1 (CB1), said, “Liz Berger’s impact will be here for years, in term of culture, history, and the school now being built behind us.”
Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance, which has spearheaded the push for the new park, said, “this wasn’t just what Liz did for a living. She lived and breathed this neighborhood. She was passionate about it, and spent all of her time thinking about how to make it better. She would not let any opportunity pass without advocating for something she thought was really important for this neighborhood.”
Ms. Lappin added that, “Liz had so many wonderful ideas. But it often takes a long time to bring good ideas to life. When you have a vision that involves connecting the World Trade Center through Greenwich South to the Battery, that doesn’t happen overnight.”
The Parks Department announced in 2016 that it had completed a design for the new park, featuring a shaded meadow, banks of flowering plants and shrubs, and groves of trees, including conifers, dogwoods, cedars, cypresses, and red oaks. These would be surrounded by granite and flagstone surfaces, as well as classical design elements, such as the hooped benches that the Parks Department designed for the 1939 World’s Fair. According to the Park’s Department’s website, construction on the park is scheduled to begin shortly, and is slated for completion in August, 2020.
As chief of the Downtown Alliance from 2007 through 2012, Ms. Berger, who was a tireless civic champion of Lower Manhattan, helped lead the Downtown community just as rebuilding from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 kicked into high gear. Beginning in the fall of 2012, she reprised this role by helping shepherd the neighborhood through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Along the way, she presided over the launch of innovative initiatives like Re:Construction, which turned building sites into large-scale canvases for public art. She also established programs that proved critical to Lower Manhattan businesses, such as the Back to Business grant program, which raised and distributed more than $1.5 million to 100-plus Lower Manhattan businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy. Ms. Berger also worked to enhance quality of life for people who live and work in Lower Manhattan by expanding the Alliance’s free Downtown Connection shuttle bus service, and launching free w-fi service in public spaces throughout Downtown.
Ms. Berger had deep roots and a long history of leadership in the Downtown community. A resident of the area for more than three decades, she served on Community Board 1 from 1999 through 2005. She also served on the board of directors of the Trust for Governors Island and the Municipal Arts Society.
In 2007, Ms. Berger recalled for the Broadsheet standing in front of Tribeca’s P.S. 234 on the morning of September 11, 2001 as planes struck the World Trade Center, and reflected on her position with the Downtown Alliance (where she served on the board for several years before taking over as president): “I’d spent 18 years helping to build this community. This role is an incredible way to continue the rebuilding — beyond bricks and mortar.”
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Across the Harbor
While Greta Thunberg was sailing across the Atlantic to the shores of Lower Manhattan, we ventured across the Upper Bay of New York Harbor to the Island of Staten, to visit what’s becoming an engaging destination.
A few years ago, a minor league baseball stadium was build for the Staten Island Yankees farm team near the St. George Ferry Terminal. In the recent past, a giant wheel (as in ferris) nearly got spinning before the project crashed (though there is talk of its revival to some degree).
Steps south of the ferry terminal, the National Lighthouse Museum is on the site of the United States Lighthouse Service General Depot, once the national headquarters and east coast machine shop for all things related to lighthouses. Boat tours, lectures and excellent exhibitions are the result of some very hard work by the staff of the museum.
Now add to this eclectic mix the opening of Empire Outlets, a mall that’s just steps away from the ferry terminal.
Last week, Empire Outlets executive Travis Noyes welcomed a crowd on the outdoor terrace over looking the Upper Bay with the Manhattan skyline on the horizon, when a rainbow appeared, a double, in fact.
Polling the crowd, he asked how many had traveled to Staten Island before.
A lot of hands went up.
Then, knowingly, he asked, “how long was your visit, maybe three minutes (enough time to exit and reenter the ferry for the ride back)?”
The same amount of hands shot up.
Well, now maybe that’s changing. Shopping for discounts, captivating maritime history, plazas for ship and tug watching, benches and terraces for noshing, and a free ferry are helping to shorten the distance between the island of Manhattan and the Island of Staten.
Eighteen years later, the scars on the local landscape have mostly vanished, but the internal wounds persist for those who survived the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
For this constituency, author and Lower Manhattan resident Helaina Hovitz Regal, her father, community leader Paul Hovitz, and the Howard Hughes Corporation will host “Hope & Healing We Were There on 9/11 and We’re Still Here,” on Sunday, September 8, starting at 5:00 pm, at Eight Fulton Street.
The event will include a panel discussion, followed by a question-and-answer session, and reception. The discussion will be moderated by CNBC’s Contessa Brewer, and panelist will include Manhattan Youth’s Bob Townley, the Broadsheet’s Robert Simko, and Downtown Hospital responder and Southbridge resident Steve Vince.
“This evening is meant to show how recovery is possible over time and to offer hope in a world where tragic things like this continue to happen,” says Ms. Hovitz Regal. Admission is free, but guests are asked to register in advance. R.S.V.P. by browsing: bit.ly/2NxMPXx
Federal Court Dismisses Suits Against BPCA By September 11 Cleanup Workers
United States District Court judge Alvin Hellerstein has dismissed more than 100 suits against the Battery Park City Authority, brought by rescue, recovery and cleanup workers who were made sick by exposure to toxins while laboring in the community during the weeks and months that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. To read more…
To the editor:
Re: Preserving the Rector Street Bridge
I would like to take this opportunity to report progress on saving the Rector Street Bridge to the Battery Park City Community.
Early in July, the majority of residents, workers and tourists crossing the Rector Street Bridge did not know that it was threatened with demolition. Realizing that they might lose their bridge, and few seeing the West Thames Bridge as a replacement, residents of the neighborhood rallied together to collect over 1,500 signatures to support the preservation of the Rector Street Bridge.
On August 9, Council Member Margaret Chin wrote a letter urging community engagement. “I write to join residents of Battery Park City to call on the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Battery Park City Authority and Manhattan Community Board One to reconsider the demolition of the Rector Street Bridge. …
With the West Side Highway remaining one of the most heavily utilized thoroughfares in New York City, this bridge has dramatically reduced the safety risk for pedestrians-especially the seniors and children who cross it every day to go to school or their neighborhood community center. If New York City is to achieve its Vision Zero goals, then the Rector Street Pedestrian Bridge should be preserved and renovated, not demolished. …
While I understand, that the demolition of the Rector Street Pedestrian Bridge was part of the discussion around the construction of the West Thames Bridge, I urge you to delay the demolition and join my office in starting a community engagement process that weighs all options and alternatives.”
And now, the local community is engaged — people are taking action and choosing to make a difference.
If you want to keep crossing the Rector Street Bridge, you can make you voice heard by writing to the Economic Development Corporation (email@example.com), the Battery Park City Authority (firstname.lastname@example.org), Department of Transportation (email@example.com) and Manhattan Community Board One (firstname.lastname@example.org) — Or you can stand up and take the opportunity to speak out for 2 minutes during the public session of the next Community Board Meeting at 6pm at the Southbridge Towers Community Room, 90 Beekman Street on September 24th.
To the editor:
As a former member of Tom Goodkind’s CB1 Affordable Housing Committee, I’m so saddened that he didn’t live long enough to see 90 West and 50 Murray Streets win their cases for Rent Stabilization.
But as I read 125 Greenwich Street is about to enter bankruptcy, perhaps the City can reclaim it, turn the entire horrid needle monster into affordable units and name it for Tom.
One can dream! Tom sure did. R.I. P.
To the editor:
I totally agree with Jean Grillo and in fact, brought up 125 Greenwich to the Community Board in July.
I wished that some agency in NYC could take it over and create realistic housing. My thought was to accommodate minimum wage workers who serve our city, but can’t afford to live anywhere near their jobs. They are our nannies and home health aides; they serve in our retail stores and restaurants. We rely on them, but don’t notice that many spend three hours a day commuting.
And wouldn’t a change like this help integrate our schools at the same time – another goal this city struggles to meet?
As an alternative, WTC building #5 also might be used for this purpose.
We need more affordable housing downtown!
Maryanne P. Braverman
To the editor,
The July 30 article (BroadsheetDAILY July30 “A Shore Thing HRPT Plans Beach and Historic Sculpture for Gansevoort Peninsula”) about the proposed design for the park on the Gansevoort Peninsular included the following statement: “The beach will be more for viewing the water than public bathing, owing to concerns about hygiene and safety”. In fact, the beach will have no direct contact with the water. The Hudson River Park Trust calls it an “upland beach”, which is just a fancy name for a glorified sandpit.
The arguments provided for not having a true beach are dubious, given that is there is a very popular public beach almost directly over the Hudson River in Hoboken. Thus it is unlikely that the harbor water in Hoboken is clean, while the water flowing past the Gansevoort Peninsular is not. Nor is it likely that the residents of Lower Manhattan are less safe when active on beaches than those in Hoboken.
The kayak launch proposed for the south side of the Gansevoort Peninsular is a shallow ramp, which means that persons launching or landing a boat will almost invariably have direct physical contact with the water in the Hudson River. It is unlikely that kayakers are somehow less sensitive to polluted water than the general public.
When the design for the proposed Gansevoort Peninsular Park was presented to CB2 on July 24 it was said that a beach would be hard to build on the south side of the peninsular because, absent a cove, any sand would quickly get swept away by incoming waves. It was not possible to dig into the land to create a cove because the nearby Spectra gas pipeline (coming from New Jersey and crossing the peninsular) needed to be protected by a certain amount of land.
The gas pipeline could easily have been positioned twenty feet to the north when it was installed a decade ago, but this did not happen. It is unfortunately too late to change the location now.
September Storm Passing Over Staten Island
Governor Taking a Shrine to
Battery Park City
Budget, Possible Locations, and Deadline for Designs Announced for Hurricane Maria Memorial
The administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo has narrowed down its initial list of six possible sites for a Hurricane Maria Memorial in Battery Park City to just two: The Esplanade Plaza (at the southwest corner of South Cove Marina) and the Chambers Street Overlook (at the intersection of Chambers Street and River Terrace).
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Greta Arrives, Carbon Free
On August 28, Lower Manhattan turned out to welcome 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to the U.S. after her voyage across the Atlantic fueled by solar cells, hydro-generators and the wind.
She is in town to attend the United Nation’s Climate Action Summit on September 23, and also to participate in events during Climate Week (September 23 – 29). Beloved by people of all ages for her plain-spoken commitment to address climate change, Greta has galvanized young people in particular.
In Battery Park City, many children from around the world gathered to meet her-hoisted onto their parents’ shoulders, chattering in different languages, chanting demands for social and political change.
Greta and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres are calling on world leaders to produce immediate, practical plans to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Welcome, Greta, and thank you.
This year’s outdoor Fall Film Series at 28 Liberty Street (between Nassau and William Streets) will focus on uplifting athletes every Thursday, with a screening of The Legend of Bagger Vance on September 5 and A League of Their Own on September 12. Shows begin at 7:30 pm and admission is free. And so is the popcorn.
More movies under the stars are on tap on Saturdays at Tribeca’s Washington Market Park (enter on Greenwich Street, near Duane Street), where Crazy Rich Asians will be shown on September 7 and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse will be screened on September 14. Shows begin at 7:30 pm and admission is free.
The Seaport Cinema series of rooftop films at Pier 17 continues with The Waterboy on September 16. Show begins at 6:30 pm and admission is free, but an R.S.V.P. is required. To register, please browse: www.seaportdistrict.nyc.
Finally, the Battery Park City Authority will present Moana on Wednesday, September 18 in Rockefeller Park (enter at River Terrace and Murray Street), starting at 7:00 pm. Admission is free.
Thursday September 5
Rise and shine to begin your morning with an outdoor yoga class that will help align your chakras and invigorate your day. Instructors focus on movements meant to enhance posture alignment and increase flexibility and balance. All levels welcome. Bringing your own mat is encouraged, as provided accessories are first come, first served. Free
St. Paul’s Chapel
photo: Dorothy Lipsky
Soccer Practice at the Battery Park City Ballfields
Where Figs Ply
A Fig Aficionado’s Fest
Fig Fest, an annual gathering of local fig growers and aficionados, will take place at the National Lighthouse Museum (200 The Promenade at Lighthouse Point, Staten Island), steps away from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at St. George on Sunday, September 15, starting at 4:00 pm.
A $5 donation is requested. For more information, please email
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 718-390-0040.
Today in History
1590 – Alexander Farnese’s army forces Henry IV of France to lift the siege of Paris.
1666 – Great Fire of London ends: Ten thousand buildings, including Old St Paul’s Cathedral, are destroyed, but only six people are known to have died.
1698 – In an effort to Westernize his nobility, Tsar Peter I of Russia imposes a tax on beards for all men except the clergy and peasantry.
1793 – French Revolution: The French National Convention initiates the Reign of Terror.
1839 – The United Kingdom declares war on the Qing dynasty of China.
1877 – American Indian Wars: Oglala Sioux chief Crazy Horse is bayoneted by a United States soldier after resisting confinement in a guardhouse at Fort Robinson in Nebraska.
1905 – Russo-Japanese War: In New Hampshire, United States, the Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, ends the war.
1921 – Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle party in San Francisco ends with the death of the young actress Virginia Rappe: One of the first scandals of the Hollywood community.
1945 – Iva Toguri D’Aquino, a Japanese American suspected of being wartime radio propagandist Tokyo Rose, is arrested in Yokohama.
1960 – Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) wins the gold medal in the light heavyweight boxing competition at the Olympic Games in Rome.
1970 – Jochen Rindt becomes the only driver to posthumously win the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship (in 1970), after being killed in practice for the Italian Grand Prix.
1972 – Munich massacre: The Palestinian terrorist group “Black September” attacks and takes hostage 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. Two die in the attack and nine are murdered the following day.
1975 – Sacramento, California: Lynette Fromme attempts to assassinate President Gerald Ford.
1980 – The Gotthard Road Tunnel opens in Switzerland as the world’s longest highway tunnel at 10.14 miles stretching from Güschenen to Airolo.
1984 – STS-41-D: The Space Shuttle Discovery lands after its maiden voyage.
1991 – The current international treaty defending indigenous peoples, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989, comes into force.
1996 – Hurricane Fran makes landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina as a Category 3 storm with 115 mph sustained winds. Fran caused over $3 billion in damage and killed 27 people
1187 – Louis VIII, king of France (d. 1226)
1638 – Louis XIV, king of France (d. 1715)
1818 – Edmund Kennedy, Australian explorer and surveyor (d. 1848)
1873 – Cornelius Vanderbilt III, American general and engineer (d. 1942)
1897 – Arthur Nielsen, American market analyst, founded ACNielsen (d. 1980)
1912 – John Cage, American composer and theorist (d. 1992)
1942 – Werner Herzog, German actor, director, producer, and screenwriter
1945 – Al Stewart, Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist
1946 – Freddie Mercury, singer, songwriter, record producer, and lead vocalist of Queen and known for his four octave vocal range and his dazzling stage persona. He died in 1991.
1969 – Dweezil Zappa, American actor and musician
714 – Shang, emperor of the Tang Dynasty
1548 – Catherine Parr, Sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII (b. c. 1512)
1993 – Claude Renoir, French cinematographer (b. 1914)
1999 – Allen Funt, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1914)
2016 – Phyllis Schlafly, American lawyer, writer, and activist (b. 1924)
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
EYES TO THE SKY
September 2 – 15, 2019
Seasonal change written all over the sky
As September begins, it seems abrupt that the dark of night comes early, the light of day comes late and a new chill in the air reverses embedded routines for how to respond to summer heat. All the while, when looking up to the universe of familiar stars and star patterns, sky watchers respond to the age-old markers of the passage of the year. The progress of the seasons is written all over the sky.
At nightfall the Great Square of Pegasus, harbinger of autumn, is sketched on the heavens above the eastern skyline. It is a star pattern, or asterism, shaped by four nearly equally spaced stars, three from the constellation Pegasus and one from Andromeda. The Great Square may be difficult to see with the naked eye in light polluted skies, however, the celestial lights that follow are yours to enjoy, city or countryside.
Cruise Ships in the Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Friday, September 6
Adventure of the Seas
Inbound 6:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm;
New England/Canadian Maritimes/Quebec City
Saturday, September 7
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 6:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 4:00 pm;
Sunday, September 8
Inbound 7:30 am Bayonne; 4:00 pm;
New England/Canadian Maritimes/Quebec City
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm; Maine/Canadian Maritimes
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 tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
Anthem of the Seas Spins About
The Tale of the Ticker Tape,
or How Adversity and Spontaneity
Hatched a New York Tradition
What was Planned as a Grand Affair became a Comedy of Errors
While the festivities in New York Harbor didn’t go as scripted that afternoon, the spontaneous gesture it generated from the brokerage houses lining Broadway famously lives on more than a century later.
On October 28, 1886, Liberty Enlightening the World was to be unveiled to New York City and the world as it stood atop its tall base on Bedloe’s Island. But the morning mist had turned to afternoon fog, blurring the view of the statue from revelers on the Manhattan shore and the long parade of three hundred ships on the Hudson River.
No part of this document may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher