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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 112  Sept. 1, 2014
Quote of the day:
"This is something that we have all grown together without government grants or boards of directors. I tell my young children (who came this year) that this shows that people can make things happen." - Jerry Roberts, founder of the Great North River Tugboat Race, now in its 22nd year.
* Tugboats celebrate Labor Day weekend on the North River 
* Bits & Bytes: Denny's aficionado; Tribeca Greenmarket dust-up; Downtown Boathouse news
* Downtown Bulletin Board: Trinity Youth Chorus auditions this week; Fire Safety Forum
* New York State tenant laws expiring soon; on CB1's Battery Park City Committee agenda
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of Sept. 1
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

Peppers at the Tribeca Greenmarket. Aug. 30, 2014 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 

The Great North River Tugboat Race, Aug. 31, 2014. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

An article in a magazine sparked an idea. The idea grew into a reality. That was 22 years ago.

The Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition started in 1993 because of the efforts of a man named Jerry Roberts, who was then senior curator of the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum.

"I read in a 1954 National Geographic of tug races in New York," he recalled, "and wondered why we did not still have them."

Tugboats work New York harbor 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, but the Sunday before Labor Day has become a time for some of the crews to play, showing off their boats and their skills.

In 1993, Roberts persuaded the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum to back the race but there were significant obstacles. "I called every tug company in the harbor and most said no," he said. "Bob Moore at McAllister [Towing] said he would try and help. With that others began to join in. McAllister sent five tugs for that first race. I think we had about 12 tugs that year."

The Bronx, 25 feet long, won the "Little Toot" award.
This year, 17 tugs showed up for the race. They ranged in size from a tug called "Lt.  Michael P. Murphy," (180 HP) to a mammoth, 5,100 HP tug called the "Anthony Wayne," owned by the U. S. Army. It is usually berthed in Baltimore, Md., but was in New York for a training exercise.

Accompanied by bass whistles from the larger tugs and tweets from the smaller ones, the day's events began with a parade up the North River (the Dutch name for the Hudson) from Pier 84 at 44th Street to the 79th Street boat basin. There the tugs turned around and raced back to their starting point - a distance of one nautical mile.

Robert E. McAllister had the best overall time.
A tugboat "race" is almost an oxymoron. Tugs are built for power, not speed, but they can still look like they mean business as they churn the water with smoke spewing from their engines and flags and pennants flapping in the wind. It takes a little more than five minutes for the fastest tugs to cross the finish line.

Every year, the race is followed by a nose-to-nose competition in which tugs of approximately equal size face off against each other to see which can push the other out of the way. Then there is a display of line-tossing skills with each tug approaching the pier as quickly as it dares while a linesman tries to toss a heavy rope around a bollard.

Dockside, there is a spinach-eating contest for adults and kids and then the awards ceremony, which includes trophies for best mascot and best tattoo.

It's fun, but it's also serious. It's a chance for members of the public who watch the race from a Circle Line spectator boat to learn about the different kinds of tugs and what they do. They learn that there were once numerous railroad lines on the New Jersey side of the harbor, and that goods
John Doswell and Pamela Hepburn.
were off-loaded from the railroad cars onto barges that the tugs pushed and pulled across the Hudson River.

This year, they could actually see a boat from that era in the race - the Pegasus built in 1907 for Standard Oil of New Jersey.  Owned and operated by Pamela Hepburn, Pegasus won a trophy as the "best vintage tug." Roberts congratulated Hepburn for "doing a great job of keeping our maritime heritage alive on the river."

The tattoo competition is also serious in that it underscores the hazards of this business, which entails being outside in all kinds of weather and sea conditions. European sailors began getting tattoos around 300 years ago when Capt. James Cook and his crew encountered the tattooed Maori of the South Pacific.
Jerry Roberts (left) applauds the winning tattoo.

Since then traditions and meanings have grown up around nautical tattoos. They recall loved ones left at home, the perils of the ocean, the loyalty to shipmates, milestones such as crossing the equator, the voyages completed and the talismans against shipwreck and drowning.

Rob Canter, who serves on the Army's "Anthony Wayne," won the tattoo competition this year with a tattoo that covers his entire back and depicts a sailing ship during a lightning storm in roiling seas. A white horse with the tail of a fish is being pulled beneath the waves by a malignant-looking octopus.

As Roberts thinks back over the last 22 years, he says that he is "very proud" that something he started because he saw a photo in a magazine has become a New York City maritime institution.

"It was hard work in the beginning," he says. "It still is, but now there are a lot of hard-working folks involved. I am thrilled that the tugboat community has embraced this and now it means a lot to the crews and their families. It has become their celebration of Labor Day, it is their event now."

In 2004, Roberts left the Intrepid staff and moved to Connecticut but kept the tugboat event going with the help of John Doswell and the Working Harbor Committee, the National Lighthouse Museum and a small steering committee.

Roberts says that he is grateful to Doswell. "I am so pleased that I can remain part of this quirky and very cool New York City historic boat community," he says. "I am most pleased when crew men and captains and company owners come up and thank me each year. I see them once a year but they are very appreciative that their contributions are now celebrated.

"This is something that we have all grown together without government grants or boards of directors. I tell my young children (who came this year) that this shows that people can make things happen. I'm am very proud and very humbled by the community we are part of."

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Bits & Bytes
The Tribeca Greenmarket on Greenwich Street northof Chambers Street is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Denny's is now open in NYC and that's amazing," New York Post, 8/29/14. "As a transplant who grew up in the small central California town of Seaside, for me, Denny's is more than just another megachain," says Jozen Cummings in the New York Post. He calls Denny's "nostalgia, pure and simple. Denny's was where my dad and I went to have man-to-man talks over cheeseburgers and fries, where one of my aunts worked dinner shifts as a waitress, where my friends and I would meet up after school dances. So when I heard Denny's would be opening its first Manhattan outpost on Friday, I was more than happy to make the 4:30 a.m. trek to Tribeca from my uptown apartment, bright-eyed with nary a sip of coffee, ready to be one of the first customers to walk through the doors when they opened at 5 a.m." Cummings was initially put off because the Manhattan Denny's doesn't resemble the Denny's of his youth. It has a liquor license, a craft cocktail menu and a $300 breakfast on the menu that comes with a bottle of Dom Perignon.
"Even the decor is stuffy," Cummings complained. "Faux-wood tiles replace the homely carpet I'm used to. Instead of homey wallpaper, black-and-white photos of old New York adorn the exposed brick walls. But once I settled into one of the large, comfortable booths and perused the chain's giant menu, all the reasons why I love Denny's came flooding back." For the complete article, click here.

"Shvo closes on 125 Greenwich condo project valued at $240M," The Real Deal, 8/29/14. "Developer Michael Shvo partnered with an array of local and global investors to arrange $240 million of equity and debt for the acquisition and development of a site at 125 Greenwich Street where he plans to build a soaring condominium tower," says The Real Deal.  "A partnership of Fisher Brothers and the Witkoff Group sold the site to Shvo for $185 million, slightly higher than the price previously reported." The Real Deal goes on to say that, "Where Fisher and Witkoff planned to build a 956-foot tall rental tower with 359,130 square feet, Shvo is planning to take that same building size but stretch it taller, sources told TRD. One insider explained that as a condo tower, the ceiling heights would be taller, thus increasing the overall height on the site that has no height restriction. The site is at the corner of Greenwich and Thames streets." For the complete article, click here.

Tribeca Greenmarket news: Tribeca Greenmarket manager Jay Ledoux keeps us up to date on what's happening at the market. "After a small break Holy Schmitt's is back at the market on Saturdays with several varieties of delicious horseradish (consider pairing it with duck rillette sausage)," he writes. "Organic green, purple, wax and Romano beans made it to market last week and should continue to be available. Lastly, on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. we'll have a children's story time with Lauren Younger from Battery Park Library and Greenmarket snacks provided all for free."

Ledoux didn't mention a dust-up that occurred at the market this past Saturday. In a posting called "Revenge of the Farmers," Tribeca Citizen fills us in (Tribeca Citizen, 9/1/14). "Saturday morning's Tribeca Greenmarket got a little tense when the farmers arrived to find a car with a federal parking permit of some kind on Greenwich Street, right where one of the vendors is supposed to put her van. Consequently, the other farmers took their revenge by throwing tomatoes at the car and leaving a fish in the door handle." For more on this, including photos, click here.

Downtown Boathouse news: Two weeks ago - on Aug. 17 to be exact - a dead body floated into the Pier 26 embayment at North Moore Street as the Downtown Boathouse volunteers were preparing to open their free kayaking program for the day. They called 911 and closed the program. It took several hours for the NYPD to remove the body, according to Downtown Boathouse president Graeme Birchall. "We reopened after they went and we had cleaned the dock," he said.

Birchall said that this was not the first time that this sort of thing had occurred. "There were three bodies fished out of the Hudson River in a very short period recently," he said. "None of them were related and at least one may have been a murder, but they prompted a big response from NYC Parks. They evidently plastered all of their kayak launch locations in the City with 'No swimming' signs." Birchall thought that this was a superfluous enjoinder. Most kayakers don't intend to go swimming.

On a more cheerful note, the Downtown Boathouse's weekday evening free public kayaking program is now closed for the season. The weekend daytime program will continue through mid-October. In addition, there are free public classes on Wednesday evenings.

"We hope to arrange some free public evening paddling on the next full moon (i.e. in about six days) but we are still working out the logistics," said Birchall. "September is the only time of year when one can do this as it needs to get dark early, but still be warm.  We are very much at the mercy of the weather gods as we need clear skies."

For more information about the Downtown Boathouse, click here.


Downtown bulletin board
Melissa Attebury, conductor of the Trinity Youth Chorus, leading the singers down the aisle of Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street during a performance of Benjamin Britten's "A Ceremony of Carols" on Dec. 26, 2013. Auditions for the Youth Chorus are this week. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Trinity Youth Chorus auditions: The Trinity Youth Chorus will hold one-on-one auditions for children ages 10-18 beginning Tuesday, Sept. 2 through Friday, Sept. 5. Performance opportunities include five annual concerts, Wednesday Choral Evensong, occasional Sunday services, and special events such as holiday caroling and recordings. This culturally diverse choir offers children and teens the opportunity to be part of the acclaimed choral program of Trinity Wall Street, led by experienced, dedicated professional musicians who teach vocal technique, sight singing, music theory, and history. The program also fosters the formation of character and engaged citizenship. No prior musical training or religious affiliation is required. Rehearsals are once a week on Wednesdays. The Trinity Youth Chorus can be heard in the movie Doubt and has been featured on Public Radio International, the CBS Early Show, at the Tribeca Family Festival, and at the Philadelphia Italian Market Festival. Auditions by appointment. Contact Melissa Attebury at or call (212) 602-0798 to schedule. For an application form, click here.

Fire Safety Forum for highrise buildings
: In the aftermath of several news-making fires in high-rise apartment buildings in the last few months, Community Board 1 is hosting a fire safety forum on Thursday, Sept. 18. One of the recent fires took place on Aug. 11 at Independence Plaza North. Eight people were injured in that fire. The fire safety forum is being presented in partnership with the Independence Plaza North Tenants Association, the New York City Fire Department and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Place: Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St., Richard Harris Terrace. Time: 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Free and open to the public but space is limited. RSVP to

Battery Park City apartment buildings and offices. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
With New York State's rent and eviction-protection laws expiring in less than a year, Community Board 1's Tom Goodkind is ringing the alarm bell. On Sept. 2, he plans to bring a resolution to CB1's Battery Park City Committee asking that the Community Board lobby the State legislature to amend and strengthen rent protection laws.

The resolution points out that on June 15, 2015, the State rent and eviction-protection laws expire unless they are renewed by the legislature in Albany.  "Just as owner/developer lobbying groups such as the Real Estate Board of New York are seeking to weaken the laws, local residential advocacy groups such as Community Boards should start now in asking our elected officials to insure that the tenancy of our community remains sustainable, allowing for a less transient and more rooted community," the draft resolution says.

It points out that "in recent years and months, our area has lost hundreds of affordable housing units, specifically at Independence Plaza, with many more threatened due to expiration of tax benefits given to developers. Our community has also seen long-term market renters evicted to make way for condominiums as at the 342-unit 22 River Terrace."

The problems discussed in this resolution apply to most New York City neighborhoods, but Goodkind's resolution specifically names buildings in Battery Park City. "In what appears to be a growing trend, condo conversions of stabilized towers such as the 443-unit TriBeCa Park at 400 Chambers Street and the 340-unit TriBeCa Point at 41 River Terrace have been reported with news of possible sales of both buildings," he writes.

To read the entire draft resolution, click here.

Community Board 1's Battery Park City Committee meets at the Battery Park City library, 175 North End Ave., at 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend the meeting.

On Wednesday, Sept. 3, CB1's Financial District Committee will get a report on the progress of Broadway construction.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 
All Community Board 1 meetings take place at 49-51 Chambers St., Room 709, unless otherwise noted, and start at 6 p.m. All are welcome to attend. Bring photo ID to enter the building.

Sept. 1: Office Closed - Labor Day

Sept. 2: Battery Park City Committee
             Location: Battery Park City Library, 175 North End Ave.; 6 p.m.
* Safety of intersection of Liberty and West Streets - Discussion with NYS and NYC DOT*
* Sidewalk café regulations - Presentation by Michael Levine, CB1 Planning Consultant
* Ferry horns and other quality of life impacts - Discussion with ferry operators
* Discussion of Rent Protection Laws and proposed resolution

Sept. 3: Financial District Committee
* The Battery Conservancy - Update by Warrie Price, President and Hope Cohen, Chief Administration & Finance Officer
* Broadway Phase 1 Project Update by Rajput Dushyant, Engineer-In-Charge, P.E., Resident Engineer, Eirik Rundhovde. P.E., Norberto Acevedo, Deputy Director, Liz Baptiste, CCL
* 92 Fulton St., application for an appeal pursuant General City Law and zoning waiver to construct a building as-of-right within the bed of a mapped but unbuilt street - Resolution
* Building 301, Governors Island, application for approval of Artist Studio for Spaceworks - Resolution
* 106 Liberty St., application for a beer license for Powell Foods of 2445, LLC d/b/a Burger King - Resolution
* 99 Washington St., application for a liquor license for Golden Seahorse LLC & Amazon Restaurant & Bar Inc. as manager and Crescent Hotels Resorts LLC as manager - Resolution
* 41 John St., application for a wine and beer license for Chopping Block - Resolution
* 15 William St., application for a wine and beer license for Open Kitchen LLC - Resolution
* 94˝ Greenwich St., application for a wine and beer license for AJ'S Eatery Corp., d/b/a Café De Novo - Resolution
* 108 John St., application for a liquor license for Thai Sliders - Resolution
* Street Activity Permit for St. Paul's Chapel New Service on 9-28-2014, Vesey Street between Broadway and Church Street - Resolution
* Street Activity Permit for Coenties Slip Greenmarket from 9/11 to 11/20, 2014, Coenties Slip between Water Street and Pearl Street - Resolution
* Street Activity Permit for Chabad of Wall Street on 10/26/2014, Fulton Street, between Broadway and Nassau Street - Resolution
* 14 Wall St., application for Board of Standards and Appeals Special Permit for a physical culture establishment - Resolution (POSTPONED UNTIL OCTOBER)

The following notices have been received for renewal, upgrade, or transfer of wine and beer or liquor licenses or sidewalk cafe permits:
* 85 West St., renewal application for Marriott Hotel Services, INC & CCMH FIN Center, LLC
* 85 Pearl St., renewal liquor license application for Venture LTD
* 129 Front St., renewal liquor license application for Front Property Hotel Corp, d/b/a Exchange Hotel


CALENDAR: Week of Sept. 1
Self-portrait of George Schneeman (1978) flanked by photographs of Schneeman painting and of the artist with family and friends in an exhibit at Poets House through Nov. 15, 2014. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Sept. 5: "Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance" is presented by the Indo-American Arts Council in collaboration with Pace University. Pre-concert wine reception: 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Concert: 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Place: Michael Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 3 Spruce St. Tickets: $35; $30 (IACC members). For more information and to buy tickets, click here.  

: 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, Nov. 15, 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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