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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 77  June 11, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Ever since the tragic destruction of Penn Station 52 years ago, New Yorkers have been learning the value of protecting our great architectural heritage." - From "Everything Old is New Again: Conversions of Historic Properties in Lower Manhattan," published by the Alliance for Downtown New York

* Adaptive reuse preserves some Downtown architectural gems
* Pick vegetables this summer at Battery Park's urban farm
* Bits & Bytes: P.J. Clarke's sues Brookfield; Artist sued over AirBnB $$$; Silver sued over Lopez
* Community Board 1 calendar: Week of June 9
* Hidden Harbor Tour: Port Newark and Port Elizabeth
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

Norwegian Gem on the Hudson River. May 16, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

1 Wall St., built for Irving Trust, opened in 1931. It was recently sold and may be converted to residential use. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Around 130 years ago, the streets of the Financial District were full of horse-drawn carts and carriages, the sidewalks, packed with dark-suited men wearing bowler hats. That's when the first of Manhattan's skyscrapers were built. At nine or 10 stories, they loomed over the low buildings around them. The only other tall feature in the skyline was the spire of Trinity Church.

Many of those early skyscrapers were gorgeous - often clad with terra cotta, topped by pinnacles and pediments. The interiors were made of marble and decorated with stained glass, mosaics and ornamental metalwork.

Over the next 50 or so years, advances in technology enabled Downtown's buildings to reach heights of 60 stories or more. Whatever their height, the newer skyscrapers remained as lavish as their predecessors.

Fortunately, some of these buildings have survived and are being adapted for use in the 21st century.

The Alliance for Downtown New York describes nine historic buildings of architectural distinction in its recently released report, "Everything Old is New Again: Conversions of Historic Properties in Lower Manhattan."

"Ever since the tragic destruction of Penn Station 52 years ago, New Yorkers have been learning the value of protecting our great architectural heritage," says the report.

Temple Court at 5 Beekman St.
(New York Public Library)
The oldest building described by the Alliance is Temple Court and Annex at 5 Beekman St. It was erected between 1881 and 1883 by Eugene Kelly, who was born in County Tyrone, Ireland in 1806 and who emigrated to New York City at the age of 24. He detoured to California during the Gold Rush, returning to New York City with a fortune.

According to the Alliance, 5 Beekman "is considered to be the first high-rise building in New York." The building's 10-story, skylit atrium was its most dramatic feature.

For decades, the building was empty, glimpsed occasionally in haunting photographs that showed its magnificent interior crumbling to dust. But now GB Lodging and its affiliate GFI Development Company, are converting the structure into a hotel, restaurants, roof terraces and event spaces scheduled to open late in 2015.

On the other side of City Hall Park at 233 Broadway is another aspirational tower erected by a self made,  wealthy man. Frank Woolworth, the five-and-dime king, set out to construct the tallest building in the world - and he did. It opened on April 24, 1913. It was so grand that it was soon dubbed the "Cathedral of Commerce."

The lobby of the Woolworth Building.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
Woolworth spared no expense on the lobby. Visitors were no doubt awe-struck as they gazed at the golden mosaics on the ceiling and perhaps amused by the droll statuary that depicted the tycoon himself counting his money with other sculptural renditions of his architect, Cass Gilbert, his engineer, Gunvald Aus and others who contributed to the building - each with the tools of his trade.

The top 30 floors of the Woolworth Building are now being converted into 35 residential units, with sales set to open in the second quarter of 2014.

The other buildings considered by the Alliance in its report are Pier A (1884), now being converted
The Battery Maritime Building will have a boutique hotel on top. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
into restaurants, bars and a visitors' center; the Corbin Building (1889), which will have stores and serve as an entrance to the Fulton Transit hub; the Battery Maritime Building (1909), that will have a 61-room boutique hotel on top; the massive and impressive building at 195 Broadway (1916) that once served as AT&T headquarters and which now houses Internet and media companies; the Cunard Building (1921) at 25 Broadway, once a ticketing office for the Cunard Line and now being converted into a catering hall; 1 Wall St. (1931), built for Irving Trust with a lobby glowing with fiery red and gold mosaics and now likely to be converted into apartments; and the City Services Building (1932), whose Art Deco rooftop is straight out of a Superman comic book. The building was sold to American International Group (AIG) in 1976 and more recently, to Rose Associates, which is converting it into luxury rental apartments, due to go on the market in the fall of 2014.

"Since 1995, nearly 14,000 units in 110 buildings have been turned into residential spaces," says the Alliance's report on adaptive reuse of Downtown's historic buildings.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

An entrance to the Art Deco building at 70 Pine St, built for City Services and now being converted into apartments. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)



Produce from Battery Park's Urban Farm. (Courtesy: The Battery Conservancy)

At the southern end of Manhattan, where 17th-century Dutch settlers once farmed to sustain their little colony, The Battery Conservancy opened a one-acre farm on April 11, 2011. Now it is robust enough to provide vegetables, flowers and herbs for a weekly harvest.

For the first time this year, New York City residents are invited to sign up to harvest crops from the farm every Thursday, from July 3 to Oct. 31, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Quantities and guidelines for picking will await participants when they arrive at the farm.

According to the "Pick Your Own Harvest" prospectus, one week in August might include one pint of cherry tomatoes, half a pound of lettuce, four zucchini, two eggplants, one bunch of beets, one bunch of scallions and a bunch of basil.

Registration opens next Thursday, June 19, when a link to register will be posted on The Battery Conservancy website.

Harvesting produce. (Courtesy: The Battery Conservancy)
Pick Your Own Harvest is a donation-based program, with a suggested donation of $25. "We welcome 10 participants or groups picking the same allotment of produce together each week," said Nicole Brownstein, spokesperson for The Battery Conservancy.

"Since this is the first year of Pick Your Own Harvest, we aren't sure how long it will take for the spots to fill up, but we expect them to fill pretty quickly," she said. "We also anticipate that participants will only need about half an hour to harvest their veggies, but the two-hour time frame allows some flexibility in arrival time. However, we do require participants to be here no later than 5:30 to harvest."

The Battery Conservancy's Urban Farm got its start when a group of students from nearby Millennium High School wanted to create a garden at their school. That was a daunting task in the former office building at 75 Broadway where Millennium is housed, so with the help of their teacher, Joyce Kong, they approached The Battery Conservancy. The Conservancy's president, Warrie Price, immediately warmed to the idea. The Conservancy took $14,000 from its operating budget to pay for soil. The Parks Department provided gardening tools.

There were other expenses, but six months after the idea was proposed, the Urban Farm opened, much to the astonishment of the Millennium kids.

Now the Urban Farm is a beloved and highly prized part of the 25-acre park. The goals of the farm, as stated on The Battery Conservancy website, are to empower New York City children and the community to make healthier eating choices through garden education, to inspire and encourage the creation of edible gardens in communities throughout New York City and globally and to cultivate environmental stewardship and a broader awareness of sustainability through responsible waste management and gardening practices.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 


Battery Conservancy president Warrie Price and Adrian Benepe, then commissioner of the Parks Department, were joined by students from three schools to inaugurate the urban farm in Battery Park on April 11, 2011. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 


The Paris Cafe | 119 South Street | 212.240.9797 | | @theparisnyc

Bits & Bytes


P.J. Clarke's at Brookfield Place. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


"Restaurant Sues Brookfield Unit Over Renovations," Wall Street Journal, 6/10/14. "The owners of an upscale restaurant in Brookfield Place have filed a $40 million lawsuit alleging the landlord has used renovation work at the lower Manhattan complex to push it out and free up space for a higher-paying tenant," the Wall Street Journal reports. "The proprietors of P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson LLC, located in a prime waterfront spot at Brookfield Place, claim water leaks, severed telephone and Internet lines preventing credit-card transactions, falling debris and numerous power outages caused by construction have led to revenue losses of more than $6 million, according to a spokesman and the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. Despite repeated requests to improve the situation, landlord WFP Retail Co. LP, a subsidiary of Brookfield Office Properties Inc. has done almost nothing, the lawsuit claims. Brookfield Office Properties Inc. declined to comment." For the complete article, click here.  


"Tribeca artist may be evicted after allegedly posting rent-stabilized loft on Airbnb," Daily News, 6/9/14. "A flamboyant Tribeca artist may have painted herself into a corner by leasing out her rent-stabilized loft to tourists," says the New York Daily News. "Eileen Hickey-Hulme, a 67-year-old motorcycle-riding, miniskirt-wearing painter, began renting out her fourth-floor walkup at 460 Greenwich St. in September 2012, her landlord charges in a suit seeking to evict her." Carl Peluso, the landlord's attorney, accused the artist of running a hotel. "The pad, which features a large modern kitchen, antiques, Hickey-Hulme's own art work, and two bedrooms, is in 'truly the heart of one of the best neighborhoods in Manhattan,' she allegedly boasts on her Airbnb listing." For the complete article, click here.    


"Civil Rights Suit Against Silver May Proceed," New York Law Journal, 6/11/14. "A federal judge has declined to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for failing to take action against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez for repeated acts of sexual harassment against female staffers," says the New York Law Journal. "In an opinion issued Tuesday, Southern District Judge Analisa Torres denied the speaker's motion to dismiss the action brought by staffers Victoria Burhans and Chloe Rivera, who claim Silver 'created a de facto policy or custom in which sexual harassment by senior officials ... was tolerated or condoned.' Burhans and Rivera allege gender and hostile work environment in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and violations of state and federal human rights laws. They claim Silver 'personally assisted' Lopez and was 'deliberately indifferent' to the ongoing misconduct. The plaintiffs, hired in April 2012, complained about Lopez' behavior in July 2012 and ceased working for him by mid-July. Silver authorized their transfer to new jobs with other assembly members." For the complete article, click here.

"Assemblyman Kellner Ordered to Shut Offices," Wall Street Journal, 6/11/14. "New York State Assembly leaders ordered Assemblyman Micah Kellner to close both of his offices by the end of June and cut his staff to zero after finding him in violation of sanctions against him stemming from sexual-harassment charges," says the Wall Street Journal. "Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement that Mr. Kellner, a Manhattan Democrat, violated an order barring him from having interns and engaged in sexual harassment, according to an investigation by an Assembly ethics committee. The statement also said Mr. Kellner attempted to obstruct an investigation into his office culture. Mr. Kellner was sanctioned last year after an ethics investigation found that he had sexually harassed staff members." For the complete article, click here.

"Poets House Holds Annual Brooklyn Bridge Walk, Honors Naomi Shihab Nye," Wall Street Journal, 6/10/14. "Poets House, which operates a 60,000-volume poetry library in Battery Park City and holds poetry events and workshops, honored Naomi Shihab Nye on Monday night with its biennial 'Betty' award, which is named for its co-founder, Elizabeth Kray," the Wall Street Journal reported. "Some 300 readers joined Ms. Nye and the organization for its 19th annual Brooklyn Bridge walk, stopping midway for more readings from Ms. Nye, Thomas Lux and Vijay Seshadri, this year's Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry. Pink peonies, red roses and a fried-chicken dinner served family-style awaited the group in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood once they crossed the bridge. There, the poet Mark Doty upheld the long-standing tradition of reading Walt Whitman's 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.'" For the complete article, click here.



The building at 25 Broadway was constructed for the Cunard Line. On Thursday, CB1's Landmarks Committee will consider plans to convert the interior into a catering hall. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The great hall of the Cunard building. (Courtesy of the New York Public Library)
All Community Board 1 meetings take place at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, starting at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Bring photo ID to enter the building.

June 12: Landmarks Committee
* 25 Broadway, application for master plan for catering hall in Great Hall - Resolution
* 87 Leonard St., application for storefront renovation ADA entries, lowering of transoms and addition to the penthouse - Resolution
* 21 West St., application for removable flood barrier - Resolution
* 15 Jay St., application for sixth floor addition - Resolution
* 66 Leonard St., application for approval of signage - Resolution
* 233 Water St., application for facade alteration - Resolution

Downtown on the water

Some of the gantries of Port Newark. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

As viewed from Lower Manhattan, the gantries of Port Elizabeth and Port Newark look like faint, spidery apparitions on the horizon. Up close, they are enormous, capable of hefting containers weighing many tons from the freighters that steam into New York harbor from all over the world.

The Working Harbor Committee's popular Hidden Harbor Tours® shed light on New York harbor's commerce. The season's first tour on Saturday, June 14 is to Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. The tour will be narrated by Capt. John Doswell, executive director of the Working Harbor Committee and special guest speakers Billy Messina, APM terminals and Toby Pearce, Friends of Hudson River Park.

Where: Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, Pier 83, West 42nd Street and 12th Avenue. When: Boarding at 10:30 a.m.; cruising 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tickets: $40 (adults); $35 (WHC members -- enter code WHCM5 in "Promotional Code" box); $35 (seniors); $26 (children, 3 to 12). For more information or tickets, click here.

CALENDAR: Week of June 9
Life-sized figures depicting an enslaved African family preparing to bury their dead form the centerpiece of an exhibit at the African Burial Ground National Monument at Broadway and Duane Street, where "Pinkster" will be observed on Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
June 12: "Deepest Man" at 3LD Art & Technology Center, is a dark, new-age-science, multimedia theatrical production delving into the controversial and amazing properties of water. "Deepest Man" weaves a complex narrative flowing from the mind of a man teetering on the edge. Place: 80 Greenwich St. Time 8 p.m. Tickets: $20; $15 (seniors and students). From Wednesday to Saturday, June 12-June 14. For more information, click here.

June 12: Brazil 2014 World Cup concert. The event features music by Nation Beat, who fuse thunderous maracatu drumming, New Orleans rhythms, Appalachian music, funk and country-blues and the percussion ensemble Maracatu NY.  Live capoeira demonstrations by Raízes do Brasil Capoeira Brooklyn continue the festivities, which will culminate in a traditional roda - a circle of music and dance - on the Waterfront Plaza. Place: Brookfield Place, Waterfront Plaza, 220 Vesey St. Time: 12:30 p.m. Free.

June 13: The Sunset Singing Circle meets in Wagner Park, Battery Park City, to sing folk songs led by folksinger Terre Roche. Music and words provided. No experience necessary. All ages. Time: 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Free.

June 13: The Global Beat Festival at Brookfield Place presents Mélanie Pain (of Nouvelle Vague) and Mélissa Laveaux. In her first New York City solo appearance, Mélanie Pain sings quirky, confessional chansons in English and French, a mix of French pop with a dash of folky Americana. Mélissa Laveaux is a Paris-based, Haitian-Canadian singer-songwriter who combines Haitian, indie-pop, soul, and blues-infused songs with her distinct velvety voice and percussive fingerpicking guitar style. Place: Winter Garden, 220 Vesey St. in Battery Park City. Time: 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Free.

June 14: The Global Beat Festival explores music from around the world, pairing groups from different traditions. Jivan Gasparyan is an 86-year-old Armenian duduk maestro, who received worldwide critical acclaim following the release of his Brian Eno-produced album "I Will Not Be Sad in This World" in the late '80s. Gasparyan performs on the duduk, an ancient, oboe-like instrument made of apricot wood and played using a remarkable circular breathing technique. For this farewell show Jivan introduces his grandson Jivan Jr., a great talent in his own right, who will carry on this extraordinary tradition. Kayhan Kalhor is one of Iran's most beloved artists and the preeminent ambassador of Persian music. He is a master of the kamancheh, the Persian spiked fiddle. Widely known for stirring improvisations, exquisite compositions, and collaborations with artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Brooklyn Rider, Kronos Quartet, Osvaldo Golijov, Ghazal Ensemble, as well as with many orchestras around the world, Kalhor has popularized Persian music in the West and is a creative force in today's international music scene. Place: Brookfield Place, Winter Garden, 220 Vesey St. Time: 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

June 14: Pinkster at the African Burial Ground National Monument, commemorates a religious holiday that was celebrated throughout the Colonial period. Its name is derived from the Dutch word "Pinksteren," which means Pentecost or the Seventh Sunday after Easter. The Pinkster celebration at the African Burial Ground will feature libations, lectures, songs, performances, reading of proclamations and the laying of flowers on the burial mounds. Place: 290 Broadway. Time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

June 15: The Municipal Art Society presents a walking tour of "Downtown Manhattan's Lost Neighborhood," led by Joe Svehlak. From the 1840s through the 1960s, waves of Irish and German immigrants, followed by peoples from the former Ottoman Empire, and from Central and Eastern Europe, lived mostly in the old streets west of Trinity Church from Liberty Street to the Battery. Washington Street was the heart of the "Mother Colony" for the many Arab peoples living and working on the Lower West Side, and the area is considered to be the first Arab settlement in the United States. In 1917 the Guaranty News noted 27 nationalities living in this compact area. Sometimes referred to as "Little Syria", Bowling Green Village, or just Downtown, few remnants of this neighborhood still exist due to acts of eminent domain and the rampant redevelopment after 9/11. View the former St. George Syrian Melkite Church, the Downtown Community House, some Federal style townhouses, and the few remaining tenements. You'll hear stories of the diverse people who once populated the neighborhood, learn about the problems facing current residents, and the struggle to landmark the last significant remaining buildings. Location provided on ticket purchase. Time: 10:30 a.m. Tickets: $20; $15 (MAS members). For more information, click here.

Ongoing: "SKY HIGH" identifies a new form of skyscraper in New York and in the world: the super-slender, ultra-luxury residential tower. While Manhattan is the historical home to improbably slender spires, these buildings represent a new typology of trophy properties that use the city's system of transferable air rights and employ a development strategy of slenderness to stretch up 700-1300+ feet tall. The exhibition examines a dozen new examples that rise 50 to 90+ stories on tiny footprints and have slenderness ratios ranging from 1:12 to 1:23. Through June 15. Place:  39 Battery Place. Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. $5; $2.50 (students and seniors). For more information, click here.

Ongoing: "From Drills to Drums: Civil War Life on Governors Island." A program for kids, who will see first hand the lives of soldiers, civilians and prisoners on the island in the 19th century. No tickets or reservations required, but large school or day camp groups should call (212) 825-3045. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Place: Governors Island. Time: 10:20 a.m. Also at 11:20 a.m. Free.

Ongoing: Hike Through History. The most comprehensive tour of Governors Island National Monument takes in nearly every highlight in the historic district. No tickets or reservations required. Visitors should be prepared to stand for a full 90 minutes and walk a distance of about 1.5 miles. Wednesdays to Sundays. Place: Governors Island. Meet at Soissons Dock. Time: 2 p.m. For more information, click here.
Ongoing: "A Town Known as Auschwitz" is an exhibit of photographs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage tracing the history of a town called "Oswiecim" in what is now Poland, where Jews and non-Jews lived side by side for centuries. When German forces occupied the town in September 1939, they renamed it "Auschwitz" and established a concentration and death camp there. More than 1 million people died at Auschwitz, including 90 percent of the town's Jews. The museum is at 36 Battery Place. For information the exhibit, click here. For information on the museum's hours and admission fees, click here.
Ongoing: Poets House in Battery Park City presents "A Painter and His Poets," the first major retrospective show of George Schneeman's collaborative paintings, collages, prints, and books, with portraits of his poet friends, spanning 40 years. "A sort of utopia in the visual field filled with pleasure, quickness and wit" is how Schneeman himself described his collaborative work with poets. Exhibition on view through Saturday, Sept. 20, during regular Poets House hours. Place: 10 River Terrace. Free. For information about Poets House, click here.

Ongoing: The South Street Seaport Museum's lightship Ambrose and its barque Peking welcome visitors Wednesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Pier 16 (on the East River at Fulton Street). The Ambrose, launched in 1908,  once guided large ships through the Ambrose Channel into New York harbor. Peking was launched in Hamburg, Germany in 1911, one of the last commercial sailing ships ever built. She was used to carry goods from Europe to South America and to return to Europe with nitrate. The museum's Visitors Services associates explain all of the fascinating details of the ships and their relevance to the history of New York as a port city. Cost: $12 (adults); $8 (students, 12-24 and seniors); $5 (children 2-11); under 2, free. To buy tickets, click here.

Ongoing: "Defining Lines: Maps from the 1700s and early 1800s" at the Fraunces Tavern
Museum. Twenty-seven maps provide a perspective on the evolving nation's place in history. A map from 1804, never before exhibited, shows the U.S. postal routes. Place: 54 Pearl St. Time: Noon to 5 p.m., daily. Admission fees: $7; $4 (seniors, students with ID, children, 6 to 8 years old. Children, 5 and under, free. Active military with ID, 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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