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DOWNTOWN
POST NYC 
 
News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
 
 
Volume 1, No. 1  Dec. 16, 2013
WELCOME
Ten years ago, I moved to lower Manhattan and almost immediately started reporting on this community. I was standing in line at the post office to buy stamps - at that time, we had a post office in the Cunard building at 25 Broadway. 
 
I loved standing in line at that post office. It originally had served as the steamship company's ticketing hall, opening in 1921. Under a ceiling that soared 65 feet above my head, I stared at paintings of sailing ships, carvings of starfish, dolphins, shells and sea monsters and maps of the world. Then I learned that the post office was planning to close that location; the public would no longer be able to see one of Manhattan's great interiors. I wrote about that for a local newspaper. 

Since then, lower Manhattan has proven to be an endless source of fascination because of its history, architecture, politics, parks, museums, marine environment, restaurants, shops, diversity and interesting people. 
 
You will find reporting about all of that in Downtown Post NYC, which will be emailed to you on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you like it, please share it. If you have comments or questions, email editor@downtownpostnyc.com. - Terese Loeb Kreuzer
 
PLAZA ON EDGAR STREET RENAMED IN HONOR OF LIZ BERGER

 

Elizabeth Berger's husband, Frederick Kaufman, spoke at a ceremony on Dec. 16 during which a plaza at Edgar Street and Trinity Place was named for Berger, the former president of the Downtown Alliance. She died on Aug. 5, 2013 at the age of 53. City Councilmember Margaret Chin and New York City Deputy Mayor Patty Harris also spoke at the dedication.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

 

"No one loved lower Manhattan like she did," said New York City Deputy Mayor Patty Harris of Elizabeth Berger, the late president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. 
 
Berger chaired the Downtown Alliance from Nov. 2007 to Aug. 5, 2013 when she died at the age of 53 from pancreatic cancer.
 
On Dec. 16, her friends, associates and family gathered in lower Manhattan to rename the plaza at Edgar Street and Trinity Place near the southern end of Greenwich Street in Berger's memory. 
 
Manhattan Borough Commissioner for the Department of Parks, William Castro, announced at the ceremony that Parks would allocate $2 million to redesign the plaza. He said that it would tentatively be finished in 2015.
 
City Councilmember Margaret Chin said that City Council would continue its support of the project "to make sure the park becomes a reality."
 
Reminiscing about Berger, Robert Douglass, the founding chairman of the Downtown Alliance, said, "One of the smartest things I did was hire Liz and then clear out of her way. She saw possibilities that eluded others."

Under Berger's stewardship, many improvements in lower Manhattan came to pass. However, the restoration of the Greenwich Street corridor remains a work in progress. It was orphaned and decimated in the mid-1940s when Robert Moses built accesses to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel right through what had been a thriving neighborhood.

In 2008, Berger convened an ad hoc committee to focus on the future of Greenwich Street South, which she recognized as having vast, untapped potential to serve as the keystone of Manhattan's Lower West Side, connecting the World Trade Center redevelopment, the Battery, the Financial District and Battery Park City. Under her leadership, the committee produced a provocative and aspirational vision plan - "Five Principles for Greenwich South" - which called for, among many other things, the creation of a real park at Edgar Plaza, to serve as the focal point and meeting place of the burgeoning Greenwich South neighborhood.

"She saw Greenwich South as a bustling neighborhood, waiting to happen," said Douglass.

The Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza will remind people of the work that still needs to be done and of the remarkable woman who led the way. - Terese Loeb Kreuzer 



Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, on Nov. 19, 2012, announcing that the Alliance would award $1 million in grants to help downtown businesses damaged by Superstorm Sandy. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Downtown Arts
TRINITY WALL STREET'S 'MESSIAH' AND TWELFTH NIGHT FESTIVAL
Julian Wachner acknowledging soloist Melissa Attebury after a performance of Handel's "Messiah" at Trinity Church on Dec. 7. Wachner will conduct the Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra in "Messiah" at Alice Tully Hall on Dec. 18.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Trinity Church at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street was 73 years old when George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" was first presented there in October 1770 - the first performance in a New York church and one of the first in North America. While much else grows stale over years, much less centuries, "Messiah" does not. 

The libretto, a meditation on the life of Jesus, was written in English so as to be comprehensible to ordinary people. The chorus in "Messiah" is a stand-in for the populace from which the soloists emerge to give their testimony on what they felt and thought as suffering human beings to whom Jesus offered comfort and the hope of salvation after death. 

Handel poured his heart into this work, which he began composing on Aug. 22, 1741 and finished in rough draft a little more than three weeks later. 

This year's performance was especially poignant because of the death of Nelson Mandela. On Dec. 7, at the first of two performances at Trinity, the church's rector, Dr. James H. Cooper, called Mandela "a prophet who lived in our time." Then the Trinity Choir sang "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" ("God Bless Africa"), a hymn that was the official anthem for the African National Congress during the apartheid era, and which was subsequently incorporated into the South African national anthem. 

This was followed by a few moments of silence before Julian Wachner, Trinity's music director, raised his hands to lead the Trinity Baroque Orchestra in the stately, pensive overture to "Messiah." 

"Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people," are the first spoken words of the oratorio. Tenor Stephen Sands spun them into a gossamer cloak of hope despite the darkness and sorrow that "Messiah" also abundantly describes in words and in music that reflects and amplifies them. The oratorio is both melancholy and reassuring, and is laced with anger, passion and regret. 

The Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra will give their final "Messiah" performance of this season at Alice Tully Hall on Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. For information and tickets, go to lincolncenter.org or call (212) 721-6500. 

On Dec. 27, Trinity's Twelfth Night Festival begins at Trinity Church and St. Paul's Chapel. Through Jan. 6, 2014, Trinity Wall Street will offer 19 concerts of early music, starting with "The Play of Daniel" as performed by Gotham Early Music Scene. Some of the performances require tickets. Many are free. For information, go to www.trinitywallstreet.org//twelfthnight/ - Terese Loeb Kreuzer

DOWNTOWN IN THE NEWS


The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flying over the Hudson River near Battery Park City on Dec. 13. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Blue Angels treat New Yorkers to flight demonstration at 1 World Trade Center," NY Daily News: Despite the cold, people lined the esplanade in Battery Park City (and probably elsewhere along the Hudson River) to watch the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron fly by 1 World Trade Center on Dec. 13. Six F/A-18 Hornet aircraft flew in formation, with one taking photos. The planes made three passes over the Hudson River at a height of approximately 1,000 feet. For more photos, click here.

 

"NYPD looking for jewelry store robbers," WSJ: Two men held up the Omega Millennium jewelry store at 32 Nassau St. around 8 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 14. They tied up the owner and his 15-year-old daughter. For the story, click here.


Bits & Bytes
STUYVESANT HIGH SCHOOL COMMUNITY CENTER PROGRAMS 
The Battery Park City Authority, which runs the Stuyvesant High School Community Center at 345 Chambers St., had planned to close it on Dec. 20. Protests from the community spearheaded by Community Board 1 and New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver saved it. Now the community center is offering two-month memberships while it seeks to reorganize. 
 
A yoga class for all skill levels will be offered on eight Mondays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., starting on Jan. 6 and running through Feb. 24. It will be taught by Molly Heron, who also teaches at the Integral Yoga Institute in Greenwich Village. Fees range from $128 for members to $144 for non-members. A single class costs $20. Call (646) 210-4292 to register.
 
Classes in tai chi, kids' tennis and Zumba also begin in January. 
 
The Stuyvesant High School Community Center is open from Monday to Friday, 7 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Membership fees are modest, with additional discounts for seniors and students. For more information, call the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy at (212) 267-9700, ext. 370. 
 
Battery Park City Seniors' Potluck Supper
Celebrate another year of friendship at this free get-together with good conversation, favorite dishes and lively holiday songs led by Tom Goodkind. When: Dec. 18, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Where: the Community Room, 21 West Thames St. Reserve a place by contacting Ruth Ohman as soon as possible. Email, rohman605@gmail.com; phone, (212) 912-0678. Tell her the dish you plan to bring. 

CALENDAR: Week of Dec. 16

Dec. 18: Pipes at One. Organ recital by Stephen Fraser, director of music, Church of Christ the King, Yonkers, N.Y. St. Paul's Chapel, 209 Broadway. Time: 1 p.m. Free

Dec. 18-Dec. 20: New York Classical Theatre presents a 15-minute-long version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with Scrooge, Marley, Cratchit, Fezziwig, Tiny Tim, and all of Dickens's best-loved characters performed by just two actors! Brookfield Place, Winter Garden, 220 Vesey St. Time: 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Free.
 
Dec. 19: Holiday concert, West Point Band. Trinity Church, 79 Broadway (at Wall Street). Time: 1 p.m. Free.

Dec. 20: The U. S. debut of the Maria T. Balanescu Quartet led by Romanian virtuoso violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu. Artist website: www.balanescu.com/ Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University, 3 Spruce St. Time: 7: 30 p.m. Phone: (212) 346-1715. Tickets, $35.  
 
Dec. 21: Holidays on Wall Street. Led by Wall Street Walks, take a holiday-themed walking tour of Wall Street sponsored by the Museum of American Finance, 48 Wall St. 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Tickets, $15, include museum admission. Phone: (212) 908-4110.
Dec. 22: Compline by candlelight. Trinity Choir singing Benjamin Britten's "There is no Rose." St. Paul's Chapel, 209 Broadway. Time: 8 p.m. Free. 


COMMUNITY BOARD 1 MEETINGS: Week of Dec. 16
All meetings take place at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, and start at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

For several years, the New Amsterdam Market has been held in the parking lot in front of the New Market Building on South Street. The Howard Hughes Corporation wants to tear the building down and erect a 50-story building on this site. C.B. 1's Seaport Committee will discuss this on Dec. 17. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Dec. 16:  Quality of Life Committee 
* Construction Projects in Lower Manhattan - Update by Robin Forst, Director of Community Relations, Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center
* MillionTreesNYC - Presentation by Andrew Newman, Program Manager, MillionTreesNYC
* Downtown Alliance transition to Big Belly trash compactors - Presentation by Fred Sham, Director of Planning, Alliance for Downtown New York
* The Enforcement Gap report by Transportation Alternative - Presentation by Juan Martinez, General Counsel and Legislative Director
* New York RoadRunners Half-Marathon - Presentation by Philip Santora, Director, Volunteer & Community Strategies, Peter Ciaccia, Executive Vice President, Event Development & Broadcast Production, Technical Director, TCS New York City Marathon, Jim Heim, Vice President, Event Development and Kyle Mc Laughlin, NYCH Event Manger. (Members of other committees are encouraged to attend.)

Dec. 17:   Seaport/Civic Center Committee 
* Community Board 1 Town Hall meeting on the Howard Hughes Corporation's proposed development for the South Street Seaport Area - Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Update
* Youthmarket on Fulton Street - Update by Olivia Blanchflower, GrowNYC
* South Street Seaport/Uplands Area, application for liquor license for Supercraft Group LLC - Resolution
* 277 Water Street, application for liquor license for TBD - Resolution
* Street Activity Permit, application by Dushahra festival, Thursday, Sept. 18-Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, South, John and Beekman Streets - Resolution
* Save Our Seaport Vision for Tin and New Market Buildings - Presentation by Save Our Seaport

Dec. 19:   Community Board 1 monthly full-board meeting
Location: Southbridge Towers, 90 Beekman St. - Community Room
Time: 6 p.m.

Dec. 25:  Office closed - Christmas Day
 
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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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2013