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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 7  Dec. 30, 2013
* Poetry at the Independence Plaza North Senior Center
* Luxury condos selling like hotcakes in Tribeca
* Update on 66 John St. lawsuit
* Bits & Bytes: New Year's Eve skating canceled at Brookfield Place rink
* Inauguration street closures
* Calendar

Masthead photo: Hudson River sunset. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)



Rea Getzels reading poetry that she wrote during a workshop held at the Independence Plaza North Senior Center and sponsored by Poets House. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


The spacious room on the second floor of 310 Greenwich St. at Independence Plaza North in Tribeca was decorated for the holidays as the poets stood up, one by one on Dec. 12 to read some of what they had written in a poetry workshop at the Independence Plaza North Senior Center.  


Their audience, other members of the Senior Center, applauded appreciatively.  


Many come to the center every day for companionship, food, and activities such as crafts and art classes, chair yoga and tai chi. Occasionally there are trips to see a play, a concert or a museum. There are health and wellness programs. A social worker visits once a week.


There are modest charges for some things such as the daily, hot lunch, which costs $1.50 but most activities are free - and no one goes away unfed or is denied access because they can't pay.


"Here I sit/resting, reading/hopefully healing," read Rea Getzels, one of the nine seniors in the poetry workshop. Her poem was called "Water Towers Revised."


"Help, if requested/comes from/caring, friends and neighbors," she read. "I look at the 'landscape'/wanting to paint each/exposed water tower/a bright, dazzling color."


The two-month poetry workshop was sponsored by Poets House in Battery Park City with funds obtained through City Councilmember Margaret Chin. The participants met once a week starting in mid-October under the guidance of poet and teacher Hermine Meinhard.


 "There was a great difference in their backgrounds," said Meinhard. "They were able to draw on life experiences that were very moving to others in the workshop. Writing together in this community and sharing the work brought people together. They supported each other and made new friends." 


The Senior Center at Independence Plaza North was founded 10 years ago by The Caring Community, an organization that started in 1973 to serve the seniors of lower Manhattan.  


According to program director Nicole Brown, 45 to 50 people a day use the center. Since July 2011, it has been run by Greenwich House under the jurisdiction of the City's Department of Aging. 


"They would like to see 75 people a day at the center," said Brown. "Several times, they've threatened to close it."


If that were to happen, the regulars at the center would be devastated. Many of them face loneliness, illness, straitened financial circumstances and other difficulties with each other's help.  


Anyone 60 or over is welcome to use the center.  It is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A hot lunch is served every day between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. For more information, click here


 - Terese Loeb Kreuzer 


A poem by Marie Soffer, one of the poetry workshop participants:


The setting sun is descending

Its rays visible through the treetops

Leaving the earth in darkness.


The morning after  

We meet by the river

Watching it flow gently by,


The lighthouse beckons

He loves the earth so much

He wants to stay on terra firma

To ride his bicycle

To whereever it takes him safely. 


Some of the people who participated in a poetry workshop at the Independence Plaza North Senior Center. From left to right (back row): Nicole Brown, program director for the senior center; Regina Hyatt, Hermine Meinhard, teacher; Marie Soffer; Edith Merle; Mary Ellen Liona; Reggie Harris, poetry in the branches coordinator for Poets House; (front row) Patrice A. Harvey-Livingston; Rea Getzels and Olga Wong.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Downtown Real Estate

Duane Street in Tribeca. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


The New York Times reported in Sunday's Real Estate section that "After a four-year dry spell, a crop of new, luxury condominiums aimed at the superrich opened in Manhattan and were snapped up faster and at prices surpassing those attained before the recession."


The Times went on to say that, "In many cases, prices met or exceeded expectations, particularly in the downtown market, where about 260 deals over $7 million took place [in 2013] compared with 80 in 2012, with the majority in new developments."


According to The Times, "the most expensive sale to close this year was for $43 million: a former shoe warehouse at 144 Duane St. in TriBeCa." The building dates from 1862 and The Times says, "has 23,100 square feet of residential space including a triplex penthouse and a basement basketball court."  


But the poster child for lavish Tribeca real estate, says The Times, is 56 Leonard St., which has been on the market for 10 months and is 90 percent sold. Penthouse 60 is in contract for $47 million.   


For more, see "The Stars Inside the Building," New York Times, 12/27/13 and "In 2013, the High End Ruled," New York Times, 12/27/13.  


Mayoral Inauguration
New York City's City Hall opened in 1812. It is a National Historic Landmark.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Bill de Blasio's inauguration on Jan. 1, 2014 as the 109th mayor of New York City will entail street closures and will also affect traffic, parking and pedestrians.

Only ticket holders can attend the inauguration, which will take place at City Hall Plaza between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. De Blasio will take the oath of office at a private ceremony at midnight on New Year's Eve and at noon on New Year's Day, with former President Bill Clinton administering the oath. Hillary Clinton will be in the audience.

De Blasio served as a regional director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Clinton's administration. Subsequently, de Blasio ran Hillary Clinton's successful campaign for U.S. senator from New York State.

Vehicle and pedestrian access near City Hall will be affected by the inauguration. Chambers Street between Broadway and Centre Street will be closed to traffic and parking from 4 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2013 until 3 a.m. on Jan. 2, 2014.

On Jan. 1, 2014, there will be no parking on Park Place, Murray and Warren Streets between Broadway and Church Street; on Chambers Street between Broadway and Centre Street; on Broadway between Reade and Vesey Streets; on Park Row/Centre Street between Broadway and Reade Street and on Spruce Street between Nassau and Williams Streets.

To cross Broadway, pedestrians will be directed north of Chambers Street and south of Vesey Street.

 The following streets will be closed to traffic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 1: Broadway between Reade and Vesey Streets; Park Row between Broadway and Spruce Street/Brooklyn Bridge.

No vehicles will be allowed on closed streets, including official permit parking, and all cars parked illegally will be towed.

For more information, call 311 or go to


The City plans to move its adult Probation Dept. to 66 John St., across from a Pace University dormitory and next to a growing number of residential buildings.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
Late on Friday, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver issued a statement supporting the lawsuit that Pace University, Century 21 and some John Street residents have brought against the City of New York in an attempt to block a planned move of the adult Probation Department from 346 Broadway, its current location, to 66 John St.

"As I've stated before, the City's plan to relocate the Department of Probation to John Street is ill-advised and will have a major impact on the surrounding neighborhoods," Silver said.

He urged the City to look at other alternatives.

"We have worked hard to rebuild our community in the wake of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and Superstorm Sandy," Silver continued, "and I am proud that we have been able to create vibrant neighborhoods and a community where families and children are thriving. The decision to relocate the probation department, with no prior notice to the community, will have serious negative impacts on the quality of life in this area and the city should immediately reassess their plans for this relocation and consider alternative locations in consultation with the community."

Just up the street from 66 John St. is the oldest Methodist congregation in North America. The  John Street United Methodist Church at 44 John St. was founded in 1766. Its current building dates from 1841. Pastor Jason Radmacher was locking the front door when this reporter said hello and asked him what he thought about the 66 John St. lawsuit.

He said that he thought that the City should not have just sprung the Probation Department move on the community. "A lot of people still don't realize that this is a residential community," he said. "There are more and more people moving here every month - even every week."

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer  

Bits & Bytes

The Rink at Brookfield Place is on the plaza in front of the Winter Garden in Battery Park City. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
The late session and New Year's Eve Skate at The Rink at Brookfield Place that had been scheduled for 10 p.m. to 12:20 a.m. has been canceled due to the expected frigid weather. The Rink will close at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31 (New Year's Eve). For more information about the rink, including location, schedule and prices, click here.

CALENDAR: Week of Dec. 30

Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller at a Poets House symposium on Dec. 14, 2013 marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet Muriel Rukeyser. Poets House in Battery Park City frequently sponsors readings, lectures and symposia relating to poets and poetry. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Dec. 30: Bach at One. Music of Johann Sebastian Bach performed by the Trinity Wall Street choir and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. St. Paul's Chapel, Broadway at Fulton Street. 1 p.m. Free. (Also on Thursday, Jan. 2; Friday, Jan. 3 and Saturday, Jan. 4)

Dec. 31:
Rachmaninoff "Vespers" performed by The Clarion Choir. Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street. 5 p.m. Tickets, $25 at (Also on Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m.)
Jan. 1: Charpentier's "La Descente d'Orphée" performed by the Gotham Chamber Opera. St. Paul's Chapel, Broadway at Fulton Street. 7 p.m. Tickets, $15 to $125. For tickets, click here.
(Also on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 5 at 5 p.m.)

Jan. 2: Readings from "The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry." With works by over 100 poets, the anthology celebrates writers born after World War II  who write about Jewish themes. Poets House, 10 River Terrace. 6 p.m. Free. For more information, click here


Ongoing: The National Museum of the American Indian is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission. It offers free films, docent-led tours of its exhibitions and tours of its premises, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, designed by Cass Gilbert. The building, which was completed in 1907, is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One Bowling Green. Phone: (212) 514-3700. For the museum's calendar, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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