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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 129  Oct. 10, 2014
Quote of the day:
"A lot of people felt that he would be more particular about accuracy than about profits or getting the job done quickly." - Hector Rivera, Map Room manager for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, on why, in 1807, 20-year-old John Randel Jr. was selected to survey Manhattan Island in order to create maps for the street grid that we have today.

* Borough President's map collection and more during Open House New York
* Letters to the editor: Mourning for Zelda 
* Bits & Bytes: Beaver condo ads now G rated; NYPD officers remembered; Ellis Island tours
* Downtown Bulletin Board: Poll workers needed; Public hearing for CB1's capital budget
* Community Board 1 meetings: Week of Oct. 13
* Calendar

DEADLINE, OCT. 12: If you were diagnosed with a 9/11-related eligible cancer before Oct. 12, 2012, you may be entitled to compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Registration preserves your right to file a claim in the future (before the VCF ends on Oct. 3, 2016). Registration is not the same as filing a claim and you are not required to file a claim even if you have registered. Register online at by Oct. 12, 2014. For more information click here or call VCF's toll-free helpline at (855)-885-1555 (or 855-885-1558 for the hearing impaired).

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Dahlias and asters blooming in Battery Park City's Wagner Park. Oct. 8, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 


Hector Rivera, manager of the Map Room in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, showing visitors to the Borough President's office some maps of Manhattan created by John Randel Jr. in the early 19th century. They were on display as part of Open House New York weekend. (Photos: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The archives of the Manhattan Borough President contain a multitude of treasures, not least of which are more than 5,000 maps that record the history and development of Manhattan Island over the last 200 years.

As part of the 12th annual Open House New York weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 11, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer placed 14 of these precious maps on display.

In 1807, Simeon De Witt, the New York City Surveyor, hired 20-year-old John Randel Jr. to survey Manhattan north of what is now called Houston Street. At the time, the area was mostly hills, marsh, forest, estates and farmland but New York's City Council wanted to plan for future development.

Knowing that the project would meet with some opposition from landowners, City Council enlisted the help of the New York State legislature, which appointed a three-member commission to supervise the work. It was made up of Gouverneur Morris, the lawyer John Rutherfurd and De Witt. Their mandate was to establish a street plan for Manhattan.

Randel was selected for the surveying job because "a lot of people felt that he would be more particular about accuracy than about profits or getting the job done quickly," said Map Room manager, Hector Rivera, who was on hand during Open House New York to talk about the maps.

"I'm surprised by the accuracy that he was able to achieve 200 years ago," said Rivera. "He developed and invented tools to survey the land and the distance from one point to another as well as the elevation above sea level, which is quite amazing. You could see how much leveling had to be done to create predominantly flat streets throughout the city."

When the plan was finally implemented, millions of cubic yards of earth and rock had to be moved to create flat lots for purchase. Around 40 percent of the existing structures in the area that Randel mapped had to be razed or moved.

Randel completed his survey in 1810, but it took many more years to create detailed maps based on the information that he had collected. In the meantime, in 1811, the Commissioners issued what is formally called the "Commissioners' Map and Survey of Manhattan Island" showing the grid plan that exists today.

"The city map of the Borough of Manhattan is not just one document. It's the 1811 Commissioners' plan plus all the legally adopted alterations," said Rivera. 


There were nine sheets of the Randel Farm maps in the Open House New York exhibit along with a copy of the Commissioners' plan and the Collect Pond survey from 1801. The Blackwell map showing the island north of 155th Street was also on display. Most of northern Manhattan belonged to the Dyckman family at the time. Next to that map were field notes showing the land as it looked in the 1860s. 


Rivera said that he selected the nine sheets of the Randel Farm map because they have recognizable landmarks on them such as the original layout of Bellevue Hospital and the holdings of the original property owners in neighborhoods that continue to bear their names.


The maps are beautifully drawn and colored, each one bearing a different date ranging from 1817 to 1820.  


The Map Room does own some maps of Lower Manhattan, but, said Rivera, "a lot of those streets were already mapped before 1811 and a lot of those early maps, I was told, are in the Oxford University library in Great Britain."


The Borough President's Map Room is not just of historical interest. People consult it if they are trying to trace the ownership of a property or for other practical reasons .  


"We furnish maps to the public as well as to the other city agencies," Rivera said.


Rivera, 37, has been working in the Manhattan Borough President's office for more than half his life. He came there as an intern when he was 16 years old and was assigned to the scheduling department. He subsequently worked for Borough President Virginia Fields and for Scott Stringer, who put him into the Map Room to upgrade it and digitize it. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of what's there. 

Those who missed the Open House New York exhibit can still arrange to see the maps. The Map Room is open to the public Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Fridays by appointment. To see the historic maps, make an appointment with Rivera by emailing For more information about the Map Room, click here.


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer



With some of John Randel Jr.'s maps spread out before them, visitors to the Open House New York exhibit of historic maps from the Manhattan Borough President's collection talked about New York City history.



Letters to the editor
Zelda in Battery Park. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer) 


To the editor:
(Re: "Battery Park's wild turkey, Zelda, dies in automobile accident," DPNYC, 10/8/14): Your story about Zelda just about broke my heart. For many of us who lived through 9/11, and remain in Battery Park City, Zelda was a great symbol of hope and perseverance. I shall miss her.

Maria Smith

To the editor:
Thank you for the beautiful eulogy for Zelda. Isn't it amazing how close we can feel to our animal neighbors? I could do without, however, mention of JLo's foray into the area. ("Jennifer Lopez eyes $13.99M apartment in TriBeCa," cited in DPNYC, 10/8/14) Celebrities are just the opposite of what we can create with our animal neighbors.  They are monsters of our own creation.

Dolores D'Agostino

To the editor:
What a lovely tribute to the beloved Zelda.  Thank you.

John Dellaportas

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



Bits & Bytes
The abandoned hospital buildings on Ellis Island are now open for tours.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Building Removes Sex From Its Sales Appeal,"
Wall Street Journal, 10/9/14. "William Beaver, a hard-partying rodent used to market a downtown condo tower, has been run out of town," says the Wall Street Journal. "The cartoon figure shown rakishly hoisting a martini glass was the logo of a 47-story building just off Wall Street. It was part of a marketing effort intended to portray the tower as a sexy destination for young single men who toiled downtown. Now the beaver and intimations of assignations are no more. The last images of the animal logo have been removed from the building over the past few months as its owners reposition it for a G-rated audience, taking advantage of the emergence of lower Manhattan as a family-friendly area with new schools, restaurants and shopping." For the complete article, click here.

"Fulton Street Parking Garage to Be Replaced With 'Exhibit',"
Commercial Observer, 10/10/14. "A 10-story parking garage at 56 Fulton Street was permanently closed after Labor Day and the owner is seeking a demolition permit to tear it down," says the Commercial Observer. "Steven Brauser, who filed for the permit application with the Department of Buildings, has partnered with Socius Development Group to erect an 130,000-square-foot rental building at 56 Fulton Street, at the corner of Cliff Street. The 23-story, 120-unit building will be called Exhibit, Scott L. Aaron, a principal at Socius, told Commercial Observer. Mr. Aaron is hoping to begin demolition at the site at the beginning of next month and complete the project by the end of 2016." The building will be 80 percent market rate and 20 percent inclusionary housing, ranging in size from 450-square-foot studios to 1,250-square-foot two-bedrooms.  For the complete article, click here.

"Fallen NYPD Officers Remembered at Memorial Wall,", 10/10/14. "The names of 12 police officers who died from September 11th-related illnesses were added Friday to the Police Memorial Wall in Battery Park City," says "The memorial wall now carries the names of nearly 800 fallen officers. Police Commissioner William Bratton says the work officers did after 9/11 is costing more and more of their lives." For the complete article, click here.

"Visit The Abandoned Ellis Island Hospital While You Can!" Scouting New York, 10/7/14. Nick Carr, a New York City movie location scout, writes about one of his "all-time, hands-down, most favorite places to explore in New York City...the abandoned hospital complex on Ellis Island. Normally off-limits to the public, tours are suddenly being offered for the first time in 60 years, and I highly, highly suggest you go while the opportunity exists." He says that he never gets tired of "walking through the eerily silent hallways and rooms of the abandoned 29-building complex. Tours are small (just 10 in a group - hard hats provided!) and will take visitors on a tour of several buildings, as well as the grounds." For the complete article, with photos, click here.


Downtown bulletin board

Poll workers needed: The New York City Board of Elections is recruiting people to serve as poll workers on Election Day, Nov. 4. Depending on their registration status and availability, applicants may be assigned to work as an Inspector, Poll Clerk, Information Clerk or Door Clerk. Interpreters and Door Clerks earn a salary of $200 for working an Election Day plus $25 for attending class and passing an exam. Inspectors, Poll Clerks and Information Clerks earn a salary of $200 for working on Election Day plus $100 for attending a six-hour training class and passing an exam. Any worker who does not attend training class will not be assigned to work an Election Day. Poll workers can be assigned to any poll within the borough in which they live. The work day begins at 5 a.m. and ends when all votes have been tallied at the assigned polling place. For more information and to apply, click here.

Public hearing for Community Board 1's capital and expense budget priorities for FY2016:
A public hearing on Oct. 28 provides an opportunity for members of the Lower Manhattan community to let Community Board 1 know what their budget priorities are for the district. The board will finalize its priorities during the business session of the meeting following the hearing. Anyone in the community may attend and speak. This is a link to the budget priorities for FY 2015. For more information call (212) 442-5050 or email Place: National Museum of the American Indian, 1 Bowling Green, Diker Pavilion, 1st floor. Time: 6 p.m.

Free senior swim:
Seniors can swim for free at the Downtown Community Center, 120 Warren St. from Monday through Thursday, 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. The Community Center offers aerobic water classes for seniors on Mondays and Thursdays at 12:45 p.m. To register, click here or call Lily at (212) 766-1104, ext. 221.

Asphalt Green Battery Park City expanding Pilates program: Due to overwhelming demand, Asphalt Green Battery Park City is launching a major expansion of its Pilates program, including eight dedicated Pilates Reformer classes each week starting October 27, with plans to grow the number of classes to over 15 per week in the coming months, adding a second room dedicated to Pilates. New equipment is also being added that will allow Asphalt Green to offer a wide array of classes and help accommodate various populations ranging from teens to the elderly. The programs will be geared to athletes, pre- and post-natal moms and populations with injuries as well as to casual fitness enthusiasts. For members, the new Pilates Reformer classes cost $45 for one class or $400 for a 10-session package. For non-members, the cost is $55 for one class or $500 for a 10-session package. For more information, click here.



Passengers on the South Street Seaport Museum's schooner Pioneer touching a spider crab. Margaret Flanagan, Museum Educator, will appear before CB1's Youth & Education Committee on Oct. 14 to talk about the museum's education programs.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

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

Oct. 13: Office Closed - Columbus Day
Oct. 14: Youth & Education Committee
* Field time allocated at Murry Bergtraum Lower East Side field - Update by Andrew Zelter, Downtown Little League
* South Street Seaport Museum Education Programs - Update by Margaret Flanagan, Museum Educator
* Peck Slip, Tweed classroom divisions - Report
* The Proposed Re-siting of The Peck Slip School - Resolution
* Fall 2014 school registers - Report
Oct. 15: Executive Committee
* Capital and Expense Budget Requests for FY 2016 - Resolution
*  Review of January-June 2015 calendars dates
* Overview of total district population by neighborhood - Presentation by Diana Switaj, Director of Planning and Land Use & Jeff Sun, Community Planning Fellow
* City Council hearing, Oct 23, 2014 RE: Int. 378, A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to reducing greenhouse gases by 80 percent by 2050  - Discussion & possible resolution
* Committee reports
Oct. 16: Quality of Life Committee
* Construction Update - NYC Department of Transportation, Office of the Lower Manhattan Commissioner
* Holland Tunnel-area traffic noise - Discussion
* Tour busses in Lower Manhattan - Resolution
* Drones in Lower Manhattan - Resolution
* Reducing the use of carryout bags - Resolution

CALENDAR: Week of Oct. 6
Elisa Decker with an exhibit of her photographs in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, where they will be on display and for sale through Oct. 31. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Oct. 12: Open House New York has arranged access to more than 300 venues in the five boroughs that are usually closed to the public or open on a limited basis. For the complete listing, click here.  

Oct. 12
Compline by Candlelight featuring Byrd's Cantiones Sacrae performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. A meditative musical service in historic St. Paul's Chapel (built in 1766) on Broadway at Fulton Street. Time: 8 p.m. Free.

Oct. 13: Walking tour, "Secrets of Jewish New York City," with Oscar Israelowitz, a licensed New York City tour guide who holds degrees in architecture and geology and who is also a professional photographer whose work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum and elsewhere. Also, Oct. 14. Meet at 17 State St. Time: Noon. Fee: $20. For reservations, call (718) 951-7072. For more information, click here.
Through Oct. 19: Sail New York harbor on the South Street Seaport Museum's landmarked 1885 schooner, Pioneer. Varying times. Place: Pier 16 in the South Street Seaport. Tickets: $38; $28 (museum members); $32 (students and seniors); $20 (children); $5 (children under 2). For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Through Oct. 25:
"Artist as Witness: 9/11 Responders Watercolors" by Aggie Kenny at the New York City Police Museum. This will be the Police Museum's last exhibit at its current location. The museum will close on Oct. 25. Place: 45 Wall St. Open Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Cost: $5; children, free. For more information, click here.

Through Oct. 31: Artist and photographer Elisa Decker has an exhibit of photographs entitled "Hudson River Park from My Perch" in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Decker took the photographs from her Westbeth apartment, recording the transformation of the landscape through weather and seasonal changes. Place: 1 Centre St., 19th floor (bring photo ID to enter the building). Time: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

Weekends through Nov. 2: Art in the Park at Tompkinsville Park on Staten Island is a free ferry ride across New York harbor from Lower Manhattan, and a short walk from the ferry. Food, music and local artists. Oct. 12, Oct. 18, Oct. 19, Oct. 25, Oct. 26, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Tompkinsville Park, 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.

Ongoing: "Give Me Liberty," a solo exhibition of new works by Brooklyn-based artist Sylvanus Shaw, is at the Fraunces Tavern Museum. In this site-specific exhibition, Shaw utilizes images from the Museum's permanent collection, invoking imagery of early American statehood in media ranging from oil on panel to collaged holograms, security envelopes, and other mediums.
Through March 16, 2015. Place: Fraunces Tavern Museum, 54 Pearl St. Museum hours: Mon.-Sat., noon to 5 p.m. Admission: $7; $4 (seniors, students, children 6-8); free (children under 5 and active duty military). For more information, click here

Mark your calendar: On Oct. 14, Julia Wolfe's folk-infused "Steel Hammer" returns to the Winter Garden in Battery Park City, part of New Sounds Live from Brookfield Place. The Bang on a Can All-Stars will team up with vocalists Katie Geissinger, Emily Eagan, and Molly Quinn for this free CD release celebration. Inspired by Wolfe's love for the legends and music of Appalachia, "Steel Hammer" culls from both the music and oral traditions of the region. The text is taken from over 200 versions of the John Henry ballad - based on hearsay, recollection, and tall tales - and explores the subject of human vs. machine in this quintessential American legend. Steel Hammer stretches the standard instrumentation of Bang on a Can All-Stars with wooden bones, mountain dulcimer, banjo, clogging, whistling and more. 7:30 p.m. Free. For more information, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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