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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 105  Aug. 15, 2014

Quote of the day:
"You are my north star as I am sometimes your north star."- Jean Preece to John Doswell when they got legally married on July 25 after a 40-year relationship.
* Pier A is coming along but has a way to go
* Sewage overflow at Pier 25 forces temporary closures
* Bits & Bytes: Trinity's restrooms; Naked man rescued; Pedestrian safety at 50 West St.
* Wedding on the water: Doswell and Preece
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

Stained glass in Pier A, the only surviving 19th century pier in Manhattan. Aug. 14, 2014.  
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Pier A as it looked on Aug. 14, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The restaurants, bars and visitors' center in Pier A at the southern end of Battery Park City were supposed to open by Memorial Day or maybe by July 4. Now, "We're hoping to open to the public in late September," Drew Spitler, director of development for the Dermot Company, a partner in the pier, told members of the Lower Manhattan Marketing Association (LOMA) on Aug. 14. But even that isn't certain. Construction isn't finished, and when it is, there will have to be City inspections and a Certificate of Occupancy issued before Pier A Harbor House, as it is now called, can open.
The entrance corridor.

The only surviving 19th century pier in Manhattan, Pier A is on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated New York City landmark. It was built between 1884 and 1886 to serve the New York City Department of Docks and Harbor Police. In 1919, it acquired a clock tower as the first memorial in the country to the dead of World War I.

Not much is left of the original interior - just a doorway on the second floor, some paneling on a corridor, the stairs to the clock tower and the teak-paneled Commodore's Room overlooking the harbor, but the refit of the interior has been done with great attention to detail. The Battery Park City Authority restored the core and shell of the building and is laying down a plaza in front of it. The Dermot Company and HPH, a restaurant and development company led by restaurateur Peter Poulakakos and his business partner, Paul Lamas, are spending around $20 million to construct the interior. 

Even unfinished, it's handsome and classy with paneling, moldings, wallpaper and lighting characteristic of the Gilded Age when Pier A was built.
An original doorway.
Few members of the public have been able to see the interior because of the need for unimpeded construction. The LOMA meeting was a rare opportunity to glimpse what's there now and what's in store - a casual dining area and oyster bar on the first floor, more formal, sit-down dining and two bars on the second floor and a special events space on the third floor.

The first floor will also house a visitors' center that Spitler said would probably be operated by the Alliance for Downtown New York.

According to Spitler, staffing for Pier A will create around 200 jobs. He said that Barcelona-born Jordi Vallès, who was recently named the executive chef for another Poulakakos undertaking, the restaurants and market of Le District at Brookfield Place, would be in charge of Pier A's kitchens. However, Peter Poulakakos said that Vallès would be primarily at Le District and that a dedicated head chef for Pier A had not yet been publicly announced.

By the time Pier A Harbor House opens, it will have been at least a year since the Dermot/Poulakakos group began their work on the interior. They started in September 2013. With much still to be done, Spitler expects that the building will open in stages.
The Commodore's Room in Pier A has its original teak paneling and a marble fireplace. It will be an aperitif bar. 

Its liquor license allows it to be open until 4 a.m., however, Spitler and Poulakakos said that the actual opening hours will depend on traffic. A promenade around the periphery of the building affords terrific views of the Hudson River. It will be outfitted with tables and chairs and will remain open until 11 p.m. at the latest.

Spitler said that Pier A will be able comfortably to accommodate 1,000 people on its three floors. That sounds like a lot, but maybe not. Given the interest in this building and the long wait to get inside, there are likely to be a flood of people wanting to see what the fuss is all about.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

The Harrison Room, a bar.

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

Pier 25 in Hudson River Park. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

Something stinks in Hudson River Park.
"There are waterfalls of sewage pouring out from beneath Pier 25," said Mary Habstritt, museum director and president of the Lilac Preservation Project. The Lilac, a steam-powered lighthouse tender on the National Register of Historic Places, is berthed at Pier 25. It is usually open to the public on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but on Thursday, Aug. 14, Habstritt said she would have to close the ship because of the sewage problem.

"It's been going on since September 2013 and it's worse now than it's ever been," she said. "I can't ask our volunteers to work under those circumstances. The stench is really incredible."

Habstritt said that she had brought the sewage overflow to the attention of her landlord, Hudson River Park Trust, "repeatedly."


"They have said they would have contractors coming out to address the problem, and there have been contractors coming out, but it's still not repaired," she said.  

Habstritt said that she didn't know where the sewage was coming from, but it certainly wasn't coming from the Lilac.

I've shut off our toilets," she said. "We're only open three afternoons a week and we only have two toilets." In any event, refuse from the Lilac is pumped into a holding tank before it's discarded. 

Though Habstritt got no direct response from Hudson River Park Trust when she notified them that she would have to close the Lilac, an HRPT spokesperson did respond to an inquiry from Downtown Post NYC.

"One of several sewage ejector pits on Pier 25 has malfunctioned due to electrical problems," he said. "To our knowledge, the cause of the problem does not relate to any misuse by tenants.  Hudson River Park Trust has had several contractors on site trying to determine the cause and fix the problem including throughout this week. Staff has been pumping the ejector pit in the meantime. Earlier today [Aug. 15], HRPT notified tenants on Pier 25 to close their restroom facilities while staff and contractors try again to address the problem. The restrooms will remain closed until the ejector pit is functioning properly again. In the meantime, HRPT has ordered portable toilets for the pier. The public restroom facility east of the pier is open and unaffected.  HRPT has been in touch with regulatory agencies to notify them of the discharge as required.  As always, public safety and protecting the environment remain paramount."  


On Thursday, Habstritt decided to close the Lilac for the weekend because of the sewage issue, however, after HRPT responded to the problem, she decided to reopen on Sunday, Aug. 17. The Lilac's hours are normally Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information about the Lilac, click here.  


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 

The wheelhouse on the Lilac. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Bits & Bytes
St. Paul's Chapel on Broadway at Fulton Street is visited by millions of people a year. Many come to use the restrooms. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Bathrooms at 2 Lower Manhattan Churches: Packed by Tourists,"
New York Times, 8/14/14. "Tourist numbers are exploding downtown - 11.5 million tourists visited in 2012 alone - but public facilities have not kept pace," The New York Times observes. "The memorial plaza at the trade center site, for example, has no public restrooms. So Trinity Episcopal Church, at the foot of Wall Street, and its nearby satellite chapel, St. Paul's, have found themselves de facto rest stops for many of the three million to four million guests they welcome through their doors each year." According to The Times, it's costing Trinity around $169,000 a year for bathroom supplies and maintenance but Trinity parish, apparently, can afford the outlay. "It is among the richest in Christendom," says The Times, "with real estate holdings estimated to be worth about $3 billion, the remaining legacy of a 215-acre land grant from Queen Anne of England in 1705. Income from those holdings and other investments was $193 million in 2013, church documents state." For the complete article, click here.

"Naked man rescued from Hudson River buoy,"
New York Post, 8/14/14. "A buck-naked man was found sitting atop a buoy off Governors Island Thursday after he went for a dip near his Queens home and got swept eight miles down the East River," according to the New York Post. "Claudio Colome, 35, of Astoria, went for a swim off Rainey Park at around 4 a.m. but couldn't get back ashore in the strong current, he told NYPD Harbor cops. Nearly three hours later, the aspiring writer was found bobbing in his birthday suit." The Post reported that, "A crew member on the Staten Island Ferryboat Guy V. Molinari was the first to spot Colome on the buoy 200 feet off the northwest tip of Governors Island." For the complete article, click here.

"J&R to open boutique shop inside Century 21," The Real Deal, 8/15/14. "J&R Music and Computer World is back in business," says The Real Deal. "The electronics retailer, which closed its location at 15 Park Row after 43 years in business, is opening a 'J&R Express' boutique inside Century 21's flagship store. The downtown location is about a block away from J&R's old address. The shop inside Century 21 will be 1,500 square feet." For the complete article, click here.

"Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Aeolian Ride," Wall Street Journal, 8/14/14. A decade ago, costumed bicyclists rode through Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge in "the first instance of the Aeolian Ride, so named for Aeolus, who is the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology," says the Wall Street Journal. "Since then, the artist and creator Jessica Findley has organized rides in Brooklyn, Rockaway Beach and Governors Island, as well as in 18 other cities."
On Sunday, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the event, "bicyclists will don the inflatable costumes on the streets of New York. The sold-out ride for adults will start in Brooklyn and end with an open-to-the-public party on Governors Island. There, children can get in on the act with a smaller Aeolian Ride." For the complete article, click here.

Stop work order at 50 West St.: Two weeks ago, published a video showing the 63-story tower at 50 West St. rising like magic from a hole in the ground. Time Equities' retail and residential condominium is scheduled for completion in 2016, but it hit a momentary snag on Aug. 14 when the NYC Department of Buildings slapped a partial stop work order on it. The complaint said that the construction site was "unsafe for pedestrians" with construction occurring on the road that borders the site "and the pump connected to it on the sidewalk dropping cement/concrete" on the passageway used by pedestrians. "No protection for pedestrians," said the complaint, just to be perfectly clear. The issue has since been resolved.

"On the Market in New York City," New York Times, 8/15/14. A penthouse at 110 Duane St. in Tribeca is among three properties featured in this article. It's a furnished three-bedroom, two-bath duplex with a landscaped terrace and a hot tub. The asking price is $5.495 million. For the article with photos, click here.


Downtown wedding
Jean Preece and John Doswell before their wedding ceremony on July 25.
(Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The bride wore blue - a blue veil, a spangly blue skirt with fish tails, turquoise blue and abalone jewelery and a spandex top decorated with seashells. The bridegroom sported a nautical cap and one gold earring, a turquoise pendant, a silver brooch depicting a sailing ship chained to a star and a belt with a scrimshaw buckle.

It seemed completely right that this pair - Jean Preece and John Doswell - should be married dressed as mermaid and captain and that their wedding on July 25 should be theatrical. Theater and boats have been omnipresent in their lives. Preece, 73, had a career as a Broadway dancer. Doswell, 71, founded a company that produced industrial shows and currently produces waterfront events. He has sailed boats and he has owned boats. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard Master's License for the operation of vessels of up to 100 tons under sail or power. He is the executive director of the Working Harbor Committee, a consultant for waterfront development in New York City and was one of the founders of the Friends of Hudson River Park. He is part owner of the retired New York City fireboat, John J. Harvey.
Doswell and Preece on the John J. Harvey.

The day of the wedding was glorious - sunny, with a sky painted with puffy clouds. Aboard the John J. Harvey, the wedding party came down the Hudson River from Pier 83 in midtown Manhattan to Pier 25 in Hudson River Park, where their guests were assembled aboard the historic lighthouse tender, Lilac.

As it processed down the river, the John J. Harvey, decorated with garlands of flowers, spewed arcs of water into the air. The crowd aboard the Lilac cheered. Preece and Doswell smiled and waved. Doswell said that's when it hit home - "the reality of it. It was amazing."

Preece and Doswell have been together for decades and have a daughter, Jhoneen, 37. "We think we've been married for 40 years," said Doswell.

When they were expecting Jhoneen, they made their own vows to each other. "We didn't go to the government," Doswell said. "We were committed anyway."

About the wedding, he said, "All we did was sign a license. It was for financial reasons: Social Security, pensions, legal stuff. The whole idea was that we were going to go down to City Hall, get married, not make a big deal, and maybe a month later, we might have a little party or something on Pier 66. Maybe. But Huntley Gill [an architectural preservation specialist] got wind of this and he is the one who made it the event that it was. He said, 'Doswell, don't do anything. Don't lift a finger. Just let us know some people and everything's going to be taken care of. And every time I tried to ask him, he said, 'Doswell, it's not your business. It's just your wedding. It's not your business.'"

Capt. Jonathan Boulware, interim president of the South Street Seaport Museum and a Universal Life minister for the occasion, officiated. "You are my north star as I am sometimes your north star," said Preece to Doswell. "I believe in you and I love you."
John, Jean and Jhoneen.

The couple swore to care for each other and take care of each other. "I can, I have and I will," they both swore. Then Doswell embraced his wife and his daughter and the crowd tossed Pepperidge Farm goldfish at them. Preece responded by tossing twizzlers at the guests, in lieu of a bouquet.

Drinks were passed around (blue Tai the Knots made of rum, pineapple juice, sour apple and blue Curaçao), food appeared and a bluegrass band, the NYCity Slickers began to play. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer arrived in time to participate in reading a proclamation addressed to Doswell and Preece for their work on behalf of Hudson River Park and other parts of the waterfront.
Wedding cake.

A spectacular cake from Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken was brought out. It had blue icing and was decorated with fishes and other sea creatures. On top, a Doswellian figure in a rowboat held a fishing pole whose hook dangled seductively in front of a mermaid on the bottom layer who looked remarkably like Jean Preece.

The couple ate some cake and danced as the sun went down.

"Jhoneen loves it that we're married," said Doswell, a few weeks after the wedding. "We're very close," he said. "We see her all the time. I asked her, just casually around two weeks before the wedding, 'Jhoneen, when are you going to get married?' 'When I'm 70,' she said."


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


An account of the wedding appeared in the Vows section of The New York Times. For that article, click here.  


Guests at the Doswell-Preece wedding.




CALENDAR: Week of Aug. 11
An exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City depicts life in the Polish town Oswiecim, which the Germans called "Auschwitz." The town once had a thriving Jewish community. Today, 40,000 people live in the town, none of them, Jews.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Aug. 16: 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.  Place: 10 River Terrace. Free. For more information, click here.

Aug. 17: The Battery Dance Company presents the 33rd annual Downtown Dance Festival, with five evenings of programming in Battery Park City's Wagner Park. Through Aug. 21. The Vanaver Caravan opens on Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. Free. For the complete program, click here.    

Aug. 17: Board the South Street Seaport Museum's 1885 schooner, Pioneer, for an "art sail." Passengers will be invited to sketch a number of possible subjects: live models, the harbor, the shoreline, other boats, and the Pioneer and her crew. "Bring your own materials," say the instructions, "bearing in mind that there will be no place for easels." Extra water, paper towels, a place to keep work till ashore and fixative for those who wish to use it, will be provided.  The event is being offered in collaboration with Draw-Mania! and the Art Students League of New York. Place: Leaving from Pier 16 in the South Street Seaport. Time: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Fee: $38 (adults); $32 (students and seniors); $28 (museum members). To buy tickets, click here.    

Aug. 17
: Aboard a New York Water Taxi, Gabriel Willow, a naturalist with the New York City Audubon Society, will lead an ecocruise to Jamaica Bay. The cruise is three hours long (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.).  Jamaica Bay, an 18,000-acre body of water that lies between Brooklyn and Queens, teems with wildlife. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.  

Ongoing: The Seaport Music Festival, produced and partially sponsored by The Howard Hughes Corp., continues on Friday nights through Aug. 29. Place: Fulton Street at Water Street. Time: 7 p.m. Free. 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: 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: "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.

Upcoming on Sunday, Aug. 31: For the last 22 years, Labor Day Weekend has included the Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition in which some of the harbor's mightiest and smallest tugs and everything in between race each other down the Hudson River. The day's events also include a nose to nose competition (like arm wrestling except done with tugboats), a spinach-eating contest, a line toss competition and awards for such things as best mascot and best tattoo. A spectator boat accompanies the tugs as they parade up the river and then race back down to Pier 84 at West 84th Street. The spectator boat boards at 9 a.m. and leaves from Pier 83 at 9:30 a.m. Tickets: $25 (adults); $12 (kids). For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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