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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 92  July 16, 2014

Quote of the day:
"He's a real visionary and a great leader but we all have our limits." - Roland Lewis, chairman of the New Amsterdam Market board of directors, commenting on Robert LaValva's possible reason for closing down the market. 

* New Amsterdam Market board blindsided by LaValva's decision to close the market
* A cornucopia of blues concerts in Battery Park City
* Bits & Bytes: Merchants Hospitality lawsuit; Downtown Boathouse update; Peck Slip mural
* Letters to the Editor: No more posturing and cheery public statements
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of July 14
* Governors Island: Write and draw with Poets House on Colonels' Row
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) blooming in historic Battery Park. July 12, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


South Street Seaport

Vegetables for sale at the New Amsterdam Market. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The last that anyone has heard from Robert LaValva, the founder of the New Amsterdam Market on South Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip was the email that he sent out on Monday, July 14 announcing that the market was closing.

"I don't know where he is," said Roland Lewis, chairman of the New Amsterdam Market's six-person board of directors. "He didn't discuss this with us before he did it. I haven't talked with him since then, though I've tried to contact him."

Lewis said that the board had an emergency meeting on July 15. "There's a strong inclination, if it's possible, to keep the market going in some fashion," he said. "Of course, we want to talk to Robert, and we will as soon as we can, to find out what his intentions are."

Lewis praised LaValva for fostering interest in the local food movement and for inspiring stakeholders who have worked, and are continuing to work, to preserve the historic character of the Seaport district.

Lewis said that he really didn't know why LaValva has closed the market. "He's worked very hard to do a wonderful thing for a long period of time, and this could just be exhaustion," Lewis said. "But that's just speculation on my part. He's a real visionary and a great leader but we all have our limits." 

At a meeting of Community Board 1's Seaport/Civic Center Committee on July 15, John Fratta, the chair of the committee, called the loss of the market "devastating."

Fratta said, "
We have to find a way to move forward, working with a new board of directors. Let's try to get a market in that place as soon as possible. I think that's key to the community."

"I think the community board needs to reiterate its support not only for the New Amsterdam Market but for a public market in that historic setting," said Michael Kramer, a public member of the Seaport committee and a member of the Seaport Working Group that has formulated guidelines and principles for the development of the South Street Seaport. 

Kramer expressed the hope that the Seaport Working Group would continue to meet.

"We've done about 60 percent of the work so far," Kramer said, with many issues still unresolved including what will happen to the South Street Seaport Museum, to the market, and to the Tin and New Market Buildings. 

"Of course, we're hopeful that the Howard Hughes Corporation has been listening to the [Seaport Working Group's] guidelines and principles and might present us with a whole new set of challenges in September, which we will want to discuss at some length," Kramer said. 

The Howard Hughes Corporation thus far has given no indication as to whether it's been listening. It had proposed building a 50-story, luxury apartment/hotel tower on the site of the New Market Building, which it proposed to demolish. Many people in the community opposed this idea, saying, among other objections, that it would block sight lines for the Brooklyn Bridge.

Chris Curry, executive vice president of HHC, was at the CB1 Seaport/Civic Center Committee meeting to help make a presentation about construction on Pier 17 and the final plans for the Fulton Market building, which is on Fulton Street facing 203-year-old Schermerhorn Row.

Chris Curry taking a picture of an old photo of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging on the wall of the Community Board 1 office. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 
At one point, Curry noticed a 1930 photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge hanging on the wall behind him. He looked knowingly at Howard Hughes vice president Adam Meister, who was sitting next to him, and then got out his cellphone to take a picture of the photo on the wall.

"I thought that it was curious that he took a picture of that photo in full view of the Seaport Committee," said Michael Kramer. He noted that Save Our Seaport, and other community groups, have "advocated strongly that [HHC] consider alternative locations for the hated tower."

Community Board 1 and others have asked Howard Hughes repeatedly for its proposal for a master plan for the Seaport, but it has not been forthcoming.

In the meantime, as mysterious as LaValva's disappearance is Curry's interest in an old photo of the Brooklyn Bridge. It may indicate that Howard Hughes has not been listening to the community's wishes or to the Seaport Working Group's guidelines, which say that "Buildings developed on properties adjoining the South Street Seaport Historic District should not adversely impact neighborhood scale and character" and that "Alternatives to the proposed 50-story tower should be sought and any building on the New Market site should be contextual with the buildings within the South Street Seaport Historic District."

Perhaps Chris Curry's interest in an old view of the Brooklyn Bridge indicates that Howard Hughes still has its sights on building a tower in that vicinity and that Curry saw something in that photo that HHC could use to further its plans.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Downtown music
Sharon Jones performing at the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival on July 16.
(Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

There will probably be an intense, orange sunset over the Hudson River on July 17, but in Battery Park City, it will be blue, blue, blue, with two simultaneous blues concerts.

It will be the second night (and the fourth year) for Arts Brookfield's Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival, staged on the waterfront plaza at North Cove Marina. The Robert Cray Band, with five Grammy Awards, 15 nominations and millions of record sales worldwide is headlining. John Hiatt & The Combo and the James Carter Organ Trio are also on the program, which runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In Wagner Park, the Wiyos, who opened for Bob Dylan on his stadium summer tour in 2009, will be holding forth as part of the five-week River & Blues festival produced by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. The Wiyos' sound combines blues, folk and swing played on washboard, harmonica, kazoo, steel and acoustic guitars, banjo, ukulele and upright bass accompanied by vocals. The performance starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.

River & Blues concerts have been going on in one form or other and with different names since the late 1990s. The present name was conferred 14 years ago.

"The reason for the name is that we want everyone who hears the series' name to picture enjoying live music next to a river, whether it's the Hudson River - a part of this community's heart and soul - or the Mississippi River, home and inspiration to so much great American roots music," said Abby Ehrlich, director of programming for the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, and the organizer of the River & Blues concerts. "It seems meaningful to present really American music in view of the Statue of Liberty," she added.

Both River & Blues and the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival are free, but the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival has proven so popular that a ticket is required for admittance. Two tickets are distributed per person starting at 3 p.m., first come, first served. The house opens at 5 p.m.

Christian Scott talking to the audience at last week's
River & Blues concert.
For the River & Blues concerts, the audience sits on the grass, no tickets required. Kids wander around. Sometimes people get up and dance. At last week's concert, which opened this year's River & Blues season, Christian Scott, the Grammy-nominated trumpeter and leader of the band, came down from the stage to talk to the audience about his heritage as a Black Indian from New Orleans and to lead the audience in call-and-response singing.

The Lowdown Hudson Blues musicians play on a large, elevated stage with multicolored spotlights. The performances on this year's opening night were choreographed and polished. But if there were some barriers created by the formality and size
Audience for Lowdown Hudson Blues.
of the setting, Sharon Jones, the headliner with her band, the Dap-Kings, broke them down. She asked some members of the audience to join her on stage and then went on to exude so much energy that it washed over the large crowd and pulled them in. She was a volcanic force, alternately playful, exuberant, fierce, coquettish and determined.

She held nothing back.

A year ago, she was diagnosed with cancer and went through months of surgery and chemotherapy. But now, "I'm cancer-free," she said, "and I'm not going to stop until they lay me down."

Perhaps it takes a lifetime of experience and courage to come to the place where she is now at the age of 58. Given what she did last night, it would be hard to imagine anything laying her down any time soon. She was an inspiration.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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

Bits & Bytes
A farmers' market sponsored by the Downtown Alliance and GrowNYC returns to Coenties Slip from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 17. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
"Merchants files another complaint against GEMS - for $200M," The Real Deal, 7/15/14. Merchants Hospitality, headed by Battery Park City resident Abraham Merchant, is probably better known locally for its restaurants than for its hotel and office properties. In Lower Manhattan, Merchants owns or is partners in Merchants River House, Clinton Hall, Ambrose Hall, Watermark Bar, The Black Hound, Southwest NY, and Pound & Pence. But Merchants is in the news this week not because of the restaurants but because of a development deal that went sour. "Days after being rebuffed by two New York State courts, Merchants Hospitality has filed a new $200 million complaint against Dubai-based GEMS Education, alleging the firm backed out of a deal to develop a private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan," says The Real Deal. "The complaint, filed July 11 in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges GEMS committed fraud and breach of contract when it allegedly backed out of an agreement to build a 213,000-square-foot school on Second Avenue and 93rd Street under a 40-year triple-net-lease." For the complete article, click here.

"A Guide to 10 NYC Murals You Should Check Out Right Now,", 7/15/14. Some cities, Philadelphia and Belfast among them, are so famous for their outdoor murals that they have become tourist attractions. New York City isn't quite in that category, though NYC has its share of outdoor art. Staff members of picked 10 murals that they describe as "their favorites." A mural on Peck Slip in the South Street Seaport is among them. It was commissioned by Con Edison in 1978 to conceal an unsightly substation. For the complete article, click here.

Downtown Boathouse update:
The volunteer-run Downtown Boathouse, which offers free kayaking, has only been open on Pier 26 at North Moore Street since July 4, but people are already beating a path to its door. Last Saturday, 600 people went kayaking, according to Downtown Boathouse president Graeme Birchall. In addition to weekends, the boathouse is open on weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., weather permitting, with the last boat going out at 6:30 p.m. "We do try to post status updates on our website, but we sometimes miss things," said Birchall. Eventually, when the boathouse volunteers have fully settled into their new quarters, they will offer public trips on the Hudson River and kayaking classes. All activities are free. For more information, click here

Brookfield leases 117,000 square feet at 250 Vesey St.:
Brookfield Property Partners announced on July 15 that it has signed a 10-year lease for 117,000 square feet to Jane Street at 250 Vesey St., one of the five office towers of the Brookfield Place complex in downtown Manhattan. Jane Street is a quantitative trading firm that focuses on technology and collaborative problem solving. Jane Street will join a new roster of tenants at Brookfield Place that include Time Inc., the College Board and the Institute of Culinary Education. Brookfield has signed over 2.7 million square feet of office, retail and restaurant leases in Brookfield Place during the last twelve months.

Downtown Alliance and GrowNYC host farmers' market on Coenties Slip: 
On Thursday, July 17 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Downtown Alliance will host the season's second summer night market on Coenties Slip between Pearl and Water Streets. The market was developed in partnership with GrowNYC. It will feature local growers and restaurateurs as well as live music by Latin jazz artist Ray Mantilla. Participants in the market include Bluestone Lane, Financier Patisserie, Zigolini's Beer Garden, Francesca's Bakery, Migliorelli Farm, Toigo Orchards, Bad Seed Hard Cider, King Ferry Winery and Apple State Hilltop Family Farm & Apiary.

Letters to the editor
Picnic tables and fake grass on Fulton Street in the South Street Seaport, with 203-year-old Schermerhorn Row in the background. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the editor: 
(Re: Letter to the editor, "'Horrified that New Amsterdam Market is closing," DPNYC, 7/14/14.) I, too, was horrified to get the news of the Market closing. Councilwoman Chin's response puts all the blame on the founder. Clearly, it's all his fault and our elected officials, Chin included, are all for the Market - which, nevertheless, is closing. And in spite of their clearly heartfelt support of the Museum, it remains closed, too, its future still unsettled. And a recent notice from the Museum's president indicated that some of its ships, including the same Peking that was such a stirring backdrop to Macy's national broadcast of the July 4th fireworks, would have to go, no matter what.

Schermerhorn Row, too, sits there, forlorn, almost unseen amid the fake grass and trucks and "temporary" shipping containers.

And of course, there remains the specter of the skyscraper Hughes wishes to build right in the sightline of the Brooklyn Bridge.

And all of this despite the supposedly heartfelt support of all our local officials - who are either totally powerless to do anything about it, even as much as talking to our mayor, who seems not to care one way or the other, or are perhaps not completely sincere in their opposition.

The time for posturing and cheery public statements and powerless working group meetings is now over.

Let those of us who truly want a market and a skyscraper-less historic district and a vibrant commercial life that respects the past as well as the present do something to make it happen.

Rona Kluger
community resident

To the editor:
Why do the EDC [New York City Economic Development Corporation] and The Howard Hughes Corp. not see that the New Amsterdam Market, the South Street Seaport Museum and her ships and the small restaurants of the area make the Seaport special and need to be supported, not vanquished?

The restaurants that struggled after Hurricane Sandy and came back fighting now have to watch their businesses flock to the food trucks that don't pay for the spaces.

Once the Seaport becomes another Times Square or Broadway, the mobs will come and spend, which is what the EDC wants.

But the EDC is killing the businesses that are neighborhood folk. This is New York Harbor. The Seaport is Manhattan's last hold on our maritime heritage.

Do not give See/Change a penny. Do not buy from any of the trucks brought in. Support the restaurants that survived Sandy and came back. Support the South Street Seaport Museum.

We need more of the New Amsterdam Market. I hope they come back somewhere. However, I'm afraid they were wise to cast off, for all indications show the weather in the Seaport - in the long run - will be foul and rank.

Christina Sun

From the editor:

We welcome letters to the editor. We reserve the right to edit them for clarity and length. Email them to


Community Board 1 meetings take place at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, starting at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. All are welcome to attend. Bring photo ID to enter the building.

July 17: Quality of Life Committee
* Construction update by New York City DOT
* Bellevue Hospital Center - Presentation by the Lower East Side Power Partnership Resolution
* Food and General Vendor Regulations - Presentation by DOHMH and DCA (TENTATIVE)
* NYC Coalition to Stop Credit Checks in Employment - Resolution
* Drone operation regulations - Possible resolution

Governors Island
Colonels' Row on Governors Island. (Photo courtesy of Trust for Governors Island)

Starting this Saturday, July 19, and for the next three weekends, visitors to Governors Island can settle into one of the historic houses on Colonels' Row and make drawings and write poetry, filling in the outline of a gigantic mural cityscape created by artist Felipe Galindo.

The idea is to make a city of poems. There will be writing prompts for those who want them, including a Haiku station where visitors can play with the ancient form via social media applications. Drawings will also be welcome as contributions to the cityscape.

Poets House, a 60,000-volume free poetry library and literary hub in Battery Park City, is behind this adventure in creativity.

Visitors to 406A Colonels' Row, where the workshops will be held, may be inspired by "Ode to New York City," an exhibition of art and poetry created by downtown elementary school students, and murals from the Community Word Project, which will be on exhibit in the building. Both were done under the guidance of Poets House.

The art and poetry featured in "Ode to New York City" was created in classroom workshops sponsored by Goldman Sachs this past April. Students at PS 1, PS 89, and PS 276 worked with staff from Poets House and guest artists to reflect, write, and make art about their most treasured New York City landmarks, in conjunction with Landmarks50, a city-wide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Law. Their poetry was collected in an anthology and celebrated with readings at Poets House.

The Poets House summer outpost on Governors Island complements these and other ongoing educational activities at 10 River Terrace, Poets House's home base. "We want to invite students, teachers and families to find us, have fun with poetry and then return to 'the Mother ship' during the school year on free school trips," says Mike Romanos, Poets House Children's Room and Educational Coordinator.

But the Poets House workshops on Governors Island are not just for kids. Everyone is invited to participate.

Poets House Executive Director Lee Briccetti said, "Governors Island has become New York City's Burning Man for families: A place to not only escape the city's frenetic pace, but to channel energy into creativity and play."

When: Saturdays and Sundays, July 19 and 20; July 26 and 27 and August 2 and 3; Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Where: 406A Colonels' Row, Governors Island; How to get there: Ferries go to Governors Island from South Street in Manhattan and from Brooklyn. Ferries are free on weekend mornings. For the ferry schedule and fare information, click here.

CALENDAR: Week of July 14
"Tugboats: Workhorses of New York Harbor," photographs by John Skelson, are on exhibit aboard the Lilac, a historic lighthouse tender docked at Pier 25,
through July 31. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer
July 17: Second night of the two-night Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival on the Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City. The second night of the festival brings together Grammy-winning powerhouse The Robert Cray Band, with the genre bending stylings of John Hiatt & The Combo, and jazz saxophone harmonies of the James Carter Organ Trio. Time: 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Tickets: Free tickets for seating will be distributed two per person, starting at 3 p.m. on day of show on the Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place. The house will open at  5 p.m. A ticket must be presented for admission to the seating section; standing room is not ticketed, but space is limited. Only one person admitted per ticket. Ticket holders must be in their seats at 5:45 p.m.; any unclaimed seats will be released at start of show. For more information, click here.

July 17: The River & Blues concert series in Battery Park City's Wagner Park continues with the Wiyos, whose repertoire is a blend of early swing jazz, rural folk, old-time blues and Appalachian music. Time: 7 p.m. Free.

July 18: Calvin Love, "a Canadian bedroom punk out of Edmonton," who "delivers suave and demented tunes" and las Rosas, a trio from Brooklyn, will play at the Seaport Music Festival, produced and partially sponsored by The Howard Hughes Corp. Place: Fulton Street at Water Street. Time: 7 p.m. Free. Part of an ongoing Seaport Music Festival on Friday nights through Aug. 29. For more information, click here.    

: Every Friday through Aug. 22, join a master drummer in Battery Park City's Wagner Park for Sunset Jams on the Hudson. Improvise on African, Caribbean and Latin rhythms. Drums provided, or bring your own. Place: Wagner Park. Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.


Ongoing: "Tugboats: Workhorses of New York Harbor," photographs by John Skelson, are on exhibit aboard the Lilac, a historic lighthouse tender docked at Pier 25, through July 31. Skelson's photographs document the powerful and colorful array of tugs that keep our harbor working. The Lilac is open 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information about the Lilac, click here.

Ongoing: An exhibit in the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's arts center on Governors Island examines a pivotal time in Trisha Brown's early career as an artist and choreographer, as well as a particularly fertile moment for artistic production in New York City. With videos, photographs and installations, "Trisha Brown: Embodied Practice and Site-Specificity" highlights Brown's community of performers and artists, and the Lower Manhattan in which they lived and created. The exhibit shows Brown's investigation of simple movements such as walking or dressing, and the built environment, specifically through performances that took place on buildings inside and out, museum walls, parks, cobblestone streets, and other non-traditional performance spaces. 
The exhibition also bridges the transition in Brown's practice from site- and gallery-based work to proscenium stage work, for which she became well-known throughout the 1980s and beyond. Through Sept. 28. Times: Fridays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

Ongoing: Poets House presents its 22nd annual showcase, a free exhibit featuring all of the new poetry books and poetry-related texts published in the United States in a single year from over 650 commercial, university, and independent presses. Through Aug. 16. Place: 10 River Terrace. Free. 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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