Black History Month to End Soon
PBS has been Airing Some Excellent Documentaries about African Americans Role in Our Nation's History
Weather. There will be a small bit of rain today between 11 am - 4 pm. Thereafter the rest of the week should be dry. The temperature highs will be in the 40's all week and the temperature lows will be in the 30's. The winds will be 5 - 10 mph except on Wednesday, when it will be a drafty 13 mph. Humidity will be in the 70% range today, dropping into the 60% range on Tuesday & Wednesday, then down into the 50% range on Thursday and Friday.
All tolled, it looks like a pretty fair week.
PBS - Finding Your Roots - Histories
Last night I came upon one of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Finding Your Roots documentaries on PBS. For more info about this series see - https://www.pbs.org/weta/finding-your-roots/
As I watched, I recollected how in my youth, I had considered Black hisotry to be a superfluous extension of American history. That perspective was, of course, born of youthful ignorance. Since then, I have come to appreciate the importance of Black Studies in providing a more comprehensive view of American history over the centuries. In part, I have PBS to thank, because they have aired and I have watched, quite a number of documentaries - some or all of which they funded or produced - particularly since the CoVid pandemic began.
In the program I viewed last night, one of the people on Gates' Finding Your Roots series was being informed about her family's history. It struck me when Gates referenced her great, great, great, great grandfather on a bill of sale by Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Over the past decade or so, I've become more interested in my own family's history. We knew a fair amount about those ancestors within temporal reach, going back to our great grandfathers, but little beyond. That was until a couple of summers ago when I found that one of the members of our extended family had a collection of scribbled notes and diagrams that recorded our lineage - some of which appears to date back to colonial times and the Revolutionary War. Up until this discovery, I had thought we had become Americans in the latter half of the 18th century.
But it occurred to me, based on Gates' reference to the great, great, great, great grandfather mentioned above, most African Americans' family histories date back at least a couple of centuries. Gates' documentary series delves into the histories of oftentimes, somewhat famous, African Americans who were descendants of slaves, or famous white Christian or Jewish Americans who are descendants of families that owned slaves.
Gates' geneological and genetic explorations also find interesting tidbits, like the fact that comedian Larry David and Senator Bernie Sanders are distantly related. PBS Producer Ken Burns is a descendant of a slave owner, but also related to Abraham Lincoln. And Brian Gumbel discovered he had some previously unknown Jewish ancestry.
Out of Gates' explorations into the past, we learn many things, not the least of which is that African Americans worked the fields, growing cotton and food that fed and clothed the nation, and provided their 'owners' with a tidy profit. It's worth noting that in the early 1800's about 75% of the nation worked in occupations related to agriculture [today it's about 10 - 11%]. But following the Civil War, African Americans' contribution to the nation went far beyond that, including serving our nation in two world wars, providing needed labor for the auto industry and significantly contributing to our culture and history.
Census Deadline Thursday Night, October 15th
Each Person Counted in the Census Represents $30,000 - $40,000 of Federal Funds over the Coming Decade
The judicial wrangling in the courts about the census deadline is over. The FINAL date with which you can fill out the Census is THURSDAY NIGHT 10/15.
I wouldn't wait - if you haven't already filled out the census - CLICKING THE PHOTO AT RIGHT.
It takes 10 minutes literally, asks for information you should generally know about yourself, and is worth between $30,000 and $40,000 in government spending per person over the next ten years.
If you don't fill it out, we - the city and state - lose that funding, as well as representation in Washington, D.C.
You do not have to be a citizen to fill out the census and your personal information - by law - does not become accessible for a generation.
Census: It's Time for NYC & NYS to Step Up
Current Census Participation Rate is 53% & 56% for NYC & NYS Respectively - Will New Yorkers Give Up $347 Billion Instead of Ten Minutes of Their Time?
In the midst of all the chaos, the census must go on. The census deadline was pushed back to October 31st, before it was pulled forward to September 30th.
That leaves New York City and New York State only 51 days to complete the census.
What's at stake? Mostly money and representation in government, as federal program funding is allocated to the states based on the census - and this lasts ten years. So we're talking a possible loss of billions in funding annually for the city and state if we collectively don't step up and fill out the census.
The census is designed to count every person LIVING in the city and state - NOT JUST CITIZENS.
By law this information cannot be shared, on an individual basis, with any other government agency for over 70 years. The aggregate information is shared so that decisions, like allocating funding, can be made using the best information available.
I'll have plenty more detail later today, including statistics that indicate that $1.3 trillion in federal funding is allocated annually based on the census data. That's likely over $13 trillion in the course of the next ten years. There are 330 million people in the U.S. so that translates to $40,000 per person over the next ten years. The share of this money that NYS should receive is $788 billion if everyone filled out the census [assumes a population of 20 million for NYS]. At the current census participation rate New Yorkers are giving up $347 BILLION in federal funding.
Please click here to fill out the census now. It literally takes less than ten minutes.
Isaias Rips thru NYC Leaving 210,000 Powerless
About Half of Outages have Already been Restored
The Tropical Storm Isaias ripped through the five boroughs of NYC with winds ranging from 40 mph in Manhattan and Brooklyn to high winds topping 70 mph in Jackson Heights in Queens and topping 60 mph on Staten Island according to a National Weather Service report posted today.
Bronx wasn't mentioned in the report, but winds topped 60 mph in nearby Westchester, so that's likely a good benchmark.
The visit by Tropical Storm Isaias to NYC was a fairly quick and brief one, arriving enmasse around 11 am and well on its way out of here by 4 pm. Perhaps Isaias had heard prior to its visit, that there's a pandemic raging in the U.S., and thus decided to cut its stay short? There was concern prior to the arrival of Isaias that heavy rain would accompany the storm, and flooding would ensue. But as of this report there appears to have been relatively light rainfall for a tropical storm and little real flooding in the NYC area.
Mayor de Blasio said that the Tropical Storm Isaias was primarly about high winds. The winds appear to have wreaked havoc with Con Edison's power network, as at its peark 210,000 were without power in the five boroughs of NYC. Around the time of this writing about 130,000 people were still without power. Manhattan was relatively unscathed, while nearly 100,000 residents in Staten Island and Queens were left without power, and about half that in Bronx and Brooklyn.
Because this storm was not accompanied by a lot of water I'm going to take an educated guess that power will be restored in less time than usual, following a big storm like this, even though Con Edison informs us that this is the second highest number of people left without power in NYC in its history.
The NYC Parks Department lost no time in rolling out its clean up of the fallen trees, as within hours many of the fallen branches and trees had been identified and cut through to enable the smooth flow of traffic and pedestrians, awaiting pick up sometime later this week.
I found little difficulty in finding a number of fallen trees, and so included a couple photos of them which accompany this report.
The Corona Virus in NYC, NYS & the U.S.
Exclusive Coverage the Corona Virus Pandemic in New York City, NY State
Updated January 22, 2021 from 3/30/20 / Special Section CoVid Pandemic / Gotham Buzz NYC.
CLICK to view this special section is dedicated to informing the public about the Corona Virus in NYC and NYS.
NYC March For Our Lives in Manhattan
Tens of Thousands Protest the NRA & Gun Violence
The March For Our Lives protest started at 11 am on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at 72nd Street and Central Park West. Not coincidentally, this was just steps away from the Strawberry Fields Memorial in Central Park honoring musician / poet John Lennon of the Beatles, who was murdered by a lunatic with a gun.
The March For Our Lives protests were organized and led by students around the nation, with support from a wide range of people in all other age segments of the population. Frequently the Columbine shooting in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999 is cited as the first of these sorts of mass shootings in schools, although a check into mass shootings in Wikipedia, shows that America has a 200 year history of mass shootings, including some of which took place in schools before Columbine.
Fox Fake News Appears to try Discrediting Protesters with False Narrative
If you watch Rupert Murdoch's Fox News you might come away with the impression that the students are trying to revoke the Second Amendment. But based on conversations with some of the marchers and in reviewing other media accounts, this seems to be another Murdoch Mouthpiece Fox Fake News narrative.
But while the students and the March For Our Lives protest wasn't about repealing the Second Amendment, some members of the left, such as Bret Stephens of the NY Times did make a call for Second Amendment repeal in two editorials - one dated October 5, 2017 and the other dated February 16, 2018. Murdoch's Fox Fake News mouthpieces torch the possibility of a national conversation by misinforming their ill-informed audience that the NY Times and Op Ed writer Bret Stephens speak for everyone. What they don't realize is that the America that gets their information outside of the Murdoch Fake News FoxHole is intelligent enough, and adult enough, to have a real conversation about gun ownership and the Second Amendment.
Is the NRA Lobby Out of Control & In Control?
From what I could gather the students seem to have identified and coalesced around tangible changes to reigning in what appears to be an out-of-control gun lobby - the NRA. The firearms industry used bump stock technology to circumvent the unlawful possession of machine guns by providing stocks. And the gun lobby as recently as a few months ago, was pushing to 'deregulate' silencers on guns. Both of these laws - regulating machine guns and silencers - began with the National Firearms Act of 1934. At that time criminal violence by mobster gangs was the order of the day. And it appears that it's just as true today as it was back then - that if you allow guns to be put guns in the hands of lunatics, then murders and criminal violence is what you get.
A mid 2017 poll by Gallup showed that 60% of Americans were in favor of making gun control laws more strict, 33% were in favor of keeping them about the same and 5% wanted to make them less strict. The trend toward favoring more gun control has been going on since 2011 [see chart]. Apparently the politicians we send to Washington do not represent the majority so much as the NRA, and sending a swamp monster to clean up the swamp, is at best delusional. President Trump after opining that more gun control would be good, backtracked, appearing to have caved to the very powerful NRA lobby in Washington.
- CLICK here to read the rest of our report about the 2nd Amendment and the March For Our Lives 2018 in Manhattan NYC.
NYC Crime Continues To Drop, Breaking Records
Mayor de Blasio & NYPD Discuss City Safety & Ongoing Improvements
February 7, 2017 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Government / Gotham Buzz NYC.
This just came in on the heels of our coverage of the Public Safety discussion below. Mayor de Blasio and NY Police Commissioner O'Neill spoke in the Bronx regarding ongoing efforts and results in improving safety in the city. The following are some of the crime statistics noted in their meeting taken directly out of a press release sent by them.
Chief of Crime Control Strategies Dermot Shea, NYPD: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good afternoon, everyone. As you've heard, we have begun a strong start to 2017 in terms of overall crime reduction. Strategies that have been put in place to address repeat offenders, illegal gun possession and gangs are having the desired effect. We're building on the momentum of the last few years.
- So, some of the highlights for crime statistics from this January - overall index crime is down 0.2 percent for the month of January. When you carry it over to this morning, we are now down 2.7 percent in overall index crime in New York City.
- To note - with the overall index crime, January marks the tenth consecutive month of reduced index crime. That's the momentum we've been talking about. Currently, four out of five boroughs in New York City - all but Queens - are down to start the year.
- Homicides - we recorded 20 homicides in January. That's down two from 22. That 20, as the Mayor alluded to, is the lowest January that we have ever recorded going back a minimum into the 1960s.
- Shooting incidents - down 1.7 percent in January. Last January we hit the modern mark with 59 shooting incidents. We came in with 58 this January.
- Talking about momentum again - nine of the last 13 months we've had a reduction in shooting incidents. Nine of the last 13.
- Three months in a row we've had a reduction in shooting incidents in New York City. We have now, when you look at New York City as a whole, we now have 24-hour periods where we do not record a shooting incident in New York City. That kind of thinking was impossible in the not too distant past.
- This is the new normal. We want to build on it and we feel that we will build on it but there's still plenty of work to do.
- Stabbings and slashings for January - down 7.2 percent.
- Robberies - down 7.5 percent. Lowest January robbery number we've seen.
- Felony assaults in New York City - down 5.4 percent.
- Burglaries tied the lowest mark set last year.
- Transit crime - down 1.4 percent.
- And housing crime - not to be outdone - down 1.9 percent.
- Clearly, a wide breath of crime across New York City - property and violent crime, down.
But there is, I alluded to, there is still work to do - three categories we saw increases in January.
- Rape was up 8.9 percent.
- Grand larceny, specifically, credit card related skimming and forging of checks - those two drove grand larcenies. And grand larceny was up for the month of January 4.7 percent.
- And lastly, rounding out the crime totals - stolen vehicles which we have seen drop to unprecedented lows saw an increase of ten cars for January. So, that's 480 versus 470 - a two percent increase.
Commissioner O'Neill: Okay, thanks, Dermot. We'll take your questions.
Question: Do you think it's possible, really to keep driving crime down further at this point? And how could you achieve that?
O'Neill's response was yes, with some added context.
Hundreds of Thousands March in NYC
Women's March Appears to Approach 21st Century NYC Protest Record
I headed into Manhattan around noon on Saturday. The #7 subway line was packed, even more than during rush hour on a weekday morning. There were protesters wearing pussy hats, bearing protest signs and placards, and generally in pretty good cheer as they headed into Manhattan for the Women's March in NYC.
I got off the subway at Grand Central Station along with the crowds of protesters, and made my way up to the 42nd Street exit. Out on the street there was a moving mass of marchers making their way down to Fifth Avenue where they would turn north to march up to Trump Tower along Fifth Avenue at 57th Street.
I have to admit I was surprised by the massive turnout. One person told me that over 50,000 people had signed up for the event on Eventbrite. But it would become obvious to me as the day wore on that the crowd had easily exceeded that number.
The event was planned to begin at 11 am in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at Second Avenue and 47th Street. There would be a few speeches, followed by a march down Second Avenue to 42nd Street, then west to Fifth Avenue and then north up Fifth Avenue ending at Trump Tower at 57th Street. It was scheduled to end at 4 pm and waves of protesters had been choreographed to leave Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in 15 minute intervals.
I had listened to Donald Trump's Inauguration speech the day before [Friday] and there didn't seem to be anything in there that struck me as very objectionable if one didn't read anything into it. So I kind of thought the march might be a bit premature given he'd just assumed office and hadn't really done anything yet.
I asked one woman if I had missed anything in Trump's speech, that she / others found objectionable. She told me no, he hadn't said anything objectionable, but she went on to say that she didn't believe anything he said. I asked another woman why she'd come out to protest today. She told me that she wanted to stand with other women in making a statement to Trump that they weren't going to passively stand by and allow him or the Republican Party to roll back their hard fought equal rights.
There was a festive mood throughout the day. I occasionally asked policemen keeping the peace how things were going. Many smiled and said it was going well and that they hoped it would continue that way.
I'll have more on this, including some details of how the protest morphed throughout the day, as well as a photo slide show and some video, sometime in the next week.
NYC Museums: The Frick Collection
A Gilded Age Mansion Turned Art Museum In NYC
A year ago I had the opportunity to attend the opening presentation of a new arrival at The Frick Collection on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was a beautiful May day as I walked north along the east side of Central Park. I noticed banners hanging from the street lights on Fifth Avenue announcing the opening of the new art exhibit at The Frick Collection.
The museum was once the home of Henry Clay Frick. Henry Frick grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania in the middle of the 19th century. By the time Frick was thirty he and his cousins had cornered the lion's share of the coke business in the state of Pennsylvania. Coke was made by burning off the unstable elements in coal, thus making it a reliable high-intensity fuel that was relatively abundant and inexpensive to produce. In the 19th century coke was used to fuel the blast furnaces of the steel mills, a practice which continues to this day in many steel plants around the world.
The Frick Collection: History Of Henry Clay Frick
In the early 1880's Henry Clay Frick's coke company joined Andrew Carnegie's steel company. The merged companies became a vertically integrated enterprise which subsequently provided Frick's coke company with a steady buyer of its product, and provided Carnegie's steel company with a steady source of fuel. Together these enterprises grew rapidly, and in the process made Frick and Carnegie, two of the wealthiest men in America.
Both the coke and steel industries had employment issues related to working conditions, fair pay and health hazards. The unions attempted to organize their labor forces and were beaten back by the joint enterprise of the Frick Coke Company and the Carnegie Steel Company, lead by Henry Clay Frick. Frick oversaw the effort to thwart them, meeting force with force. Several men died in the clash and henceforth Frick has been vilified as one of the 19th century, industrialist robber barons. But Frick is not alone as one of the robber barons, as the likes of his cohort Andrew Carnegie [steel], J.P. Morgan [banking], John D. Rockefeller [oil] and Jay Gould [banking] are just a few of those who are included in this category.
In 1911, J.P. Morgan finessed a deal that merged together the Carnegie Steel Company, with several other enterprises, into what became U.S. Steel. U.S. Steel was, in the early 20th century, one of the largest corporations in America, and at its peak controlled nearly two thirds of American steel production. It's important to add that this was at a time when steel was growing as one of the essential building materials of its time, as it was being used to build trains, railroads, ships, electrical generators and beginning to be used in new inventions like automobiles, elevators, high rise construction [Flatiron Building], appliances [telephones] and as shipping containers [cans] for consumer products.
Upper East Side: Once Home To Robber Barons
Many of the robber barons lived in Manhattan along Fifth Avenue in what is today called the Midtown and the Upper East Side neighborhoods. The robber barons gave some portion of their considerable wealth back to the communities in the form of art [Frick], education [John D. Rockefeller bankrolled the University of Chicago], art & history [J.P. Morgan to the Metropolitan Museum and his home is the Morgan Library & Museum] and libraries [Andrew Carnegie gifts helped start about half the public libraries in the U.S.].
Carnegie is the most notable philanthropist, as he gave nearly all of his $300 million wealth away [equivalent of tens of billions and likely more today] before he died. And Jay Gould is most notable in the other extreme, as he's reputed to not have given a dime back to the community. But that said, it's worth noting that one of Jay Gould's heirs subsequently donated Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown to the National Historic Trust. But I digress.
Frick had a taste for art and objets d'art. From the beginning of his economic ascendance he began collecting. And as his wealth grew, he began acquiring many of the world's artistic and aesthetic treasures. Before he died, he bequeathed some of his wealth to the communities of western Pennsylvania in the form of the mansions he built and / or lived in, along with many of the fine art, furniture and objets d'art he had purchased during his lifetime. Western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh are home to much of what Frisk left the public.
Click here to read the rest of our report about The Frick Collection / Frick Museum / Frick Mansion - Robber Baron Mansions on the Upper East Side NYC.
4th of July Fireworks 2016 Manhattan
Best Viewing Places / Locations to Watch Fireworks in Manhattan NYC
July 1, 2016 / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
The Macy's 4th of July fireworks will be shown along the East River this year. They were shown along the East River in 2014 for the first time since 2008. Mayor de Blasio had lobbied the change, which now spans three years.
Weather. Highs will be in the mid 80's during the dayand in the high 60's at night. As no rain is forecast it should be a near perfect night.
The Grucci Brothers will be doing the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC. They have been doing fireworks for many years and the Macy's July 4th fireworks in Manhattan for decades.
But for those looking for fireworks on 4th of July 2016, you'll have ample opportunity to view the fireworks as the pyrotechnic performance expansion is being continued this year.
Click here for a report about where to watch the 4th of July Fireworks 2016 Manhattan NYC & surrounding areas, including times and locations for the Macy's 4th of July fireworks in NYC and at Jones Beach on Long Island.
Manhattan Swimming Pools - Public Pools in NYC
June / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
Manhattan offers easy access to a wide range of recreational swimming pools. The following is our first attempt to provide you with a view of the range of public swimming pools available in the parks of Manhattan. We encourage you to make use of these facilities because they provide healthy, fun, and frequently free or inexpensive entertainment for both individuals and families with children.
Click here to view a listing of Manhattan swimming pools including UES Upper East Side, UWS Upper West Side, Midtown, East Village, West Village, SoHo and Tribeca swimming pools.
Steinway & Sons Piano Company History & Legacy
Exclusive Coverage Of The Steinways, Factory, Mansion, History & Legacy
Updated April 2017 / Steinway & Sons Piano Mansion Factory Steinway Hall Special Section / Gotham Buzz NYC.
To date we've published nearly a dozen stories and short reports on the Steinway Mansion in Astoria Queens. The Steinway Mansion is one of the last remaining 'country estates' of 19th century Queens. It was also the home of the Steinways of Steinway & Sons Piano fame for nearly a half century.
I felt like I'd stepped through a time warp, back into the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The visit connected me to one of the legendary centerpieces of Queens history - the Steinway family and the mansion they occupied during their golden years ... but the mansion's history neither starts nor ends there.
Join us on this fascinating voyage into the past and contact members of City Hall, the NYS Legislature and historical societies to help fight to preserve the mansion which now stands at a crossroads of possibly being lost forever or being acquired by the city and converted into a museum and cultural center - as it should be.
Click here to read our reports and view our photos of the Steinway Mansion in Astoria Queens.
Clinton Defeats Sanders, Trump Defeats Rivals
Clinton 58% vs Sanders 42%; Trump 60% vs Kasich 24% & Cruz 15%
April 20, 2016 /NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
Bernie Sanders has been campaigning in New York the past week, drawing large crowds ranging from thousands to tens of thousands, as if he were a rock star. But on Tuesday, the voters weighed in and handed Hillary Clinton a convincing victory, helping her widen her delegate lead, and likely put her on the path to the Democratic Party nomination.
Democratic Delegate Count
To win the Democratic Party nomination, a candidate needs 2383 delegates of 4763 total. Within that total there are 712 super delegates, who can align themselves / vote for whomever they want but there's pressure to vote in favor of the direction that the state voted. The remaining 4051 delegates are won via the voting process and are called pledged delegates.
According to the Associated Press estimate, following the NY State win Hillary Clinton now has 1428 pledged delegates and 469 super delegates, while Bernie Sanders has 1151 pledged delegates and 31 super delegates. There are 1472 pledged delegates remaining, so to win a majority of pledged delegates, Hillary has to win 598 or 41% of the remaining pledged delegates, while Bernie has to win 874 or 59% of them. Clinton has already received commitments from more than half of the 'super delegates'.
Given Sanders is generally still behind in the polls in some of the larger remaining states [behind 16% in Pennsylvania and behind 8% in California], that seems a tall order. While the polls were dead wrong in Michigan, they were spot on in New York. The Sanders campaign told a news outlet Tuesday evening that they will see how they do in the contests this coming week and then evaluate their chances going forward. The Democratic Convention has been scheduled from July 25 - 28, 2016 in Philadelphia.
Republican Delegate Count
Meanwhile on the Republican side there wasn't much news. Trump won handily defeating Kasich and Cruz. The Republicans have 2473 total delegates and 1237 are needed to win. According to the Associated Press estimate, following the NY State win, Trump has 845 delegates, while Cruz has 559 and Kasich has 147.
Trump needs 392 more delegates [about 40%] to go uncontested to the Republican Convention. There are 992 delegates remaining, but according to CBS only 674 delegates are available in the remaining voting contests prior to the Convention. So Trump may have to win 60% of the remaining unpledged delegates to go to the Convention uncontested. The Republican Convention is scheduled for July 18 - 21, 2016 in Cleveland.
The voting contests next week include Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware.
The fat lady hasn't yet sung, but it is beginning to look like a Clinton / Trump race to the White House.
Tribeca: Crane Falls Kills One
Mayor de Blasio Responds with Increase in Oversight
February 15 , 2016 / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
On Friday February 5th at around 8 am, crane operators began lowering a very long extended steel arm [565 feet according to the Mayor's Office], to reduce its exposure to high winds. Instead of a controlled descent, the crane arm fell to the ground, killing one and injuring three others. This occurred on Worth Street between Hudson Street and Church Street in Tribeca.
The crane was located between Hudson and West Broadway and the winds were estimated to be in the neighborhood of 20 - 25 mph at the time of the crash. This is a mobile crane, and various cranes have different specifications for being secured at certain wind speeds. The last time there was a crane accident in New York City was in 2008, when there were two building crane accidents.
The crane was put in place only a week earlier, on January 30th, and a few days earlier had been inspected by the NYC Department of Buildings. The crane was authorized or designed to go to the 565 feet to which it had recently been extended. The crane was owned by Bay Crane Company and it was being operated by Galasso Trucking and Rigging.
I went down to the site on the Saturday after occurrence to take photos and while there talked to a few bystanders. You could see that the stationary crane, which was based on the street level, had toppled the length of Worth Street. The crane was put in place to install generators and air conditioning units atop the building at 60 Hudson Street which was the former Western Union Building.
It appeared that the crane just fell and in its wake crashed upon a few cars and pedestrians who fled. The one who was killed was an Upper West Sider. The area was secured in the aftermath, but Con Ed reported that their infrastructure appeared to be ok. One of the subway lines (#1) skipped a couple stops in the vicinity over the weekend and pedestrian and street traffic around Worth Street between Church and Hudson was blocked off. Overall the scene appeared relatively peaceful, although there were police tapes up and rerouted traffic as the police and the Department of Buildings conducted their investigations and follow up.
On Sunday, February 7th, the Mayor made a statement announcing several new policies. The first is with respect to mandates for the securing of mobile cranes, which is to be whenever winds are forecast to be 20 mph or above and for gusts of 30 mph or above. Secondly the Mayor said that there will be stricter guidelines for enforcing and ensuring pedestrian compliance and safety while cranes are being secured, and there may be some additional assistance / oversight from the NY City police [NYPD], NY City Fire Department [FDNY], the NY City Department of Transportation [NYCDOT], NY City Department of Buildings [NYCDOB]. Now when a crane is being secured or to be secured, the operators will be required to notify the community in advance. And lastly, a task force is being assembled to see what can be learned from this accident so that best practices may be learned and put in place so that this doesn't happen again.
De Blasio's State of the City Address 2016
Progress Moving NYC from 'Tale of Two Cities' to 'One New York'?
I attended Mayor de Blasio’s second State of the City Address delivered at the Performing Arts Center at Lehman College in the Kingsbridge Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. In spite of its northern, non-central location, the speech was well attended. About three dozen protesters also made their way north of Manhattan into the Central west Bronx, wielding placards asking the Mayor to stop gentrification and something about fair labor practices.
I took my place among the press corps where we were seated right in the middle of the auditorium. After settling in, I started photographing the slides whizzing by on the main stage, showing the accomplishments of the de Blasio Administation during its first two years. I have included a slide show a bit later in this report, which contains some of the slides that I photographed.
Unlike last year, when the Mayor and the Police Commissioner were having difficulties adjusting to each other, this year the mood seemed buoyant. In front of me was a group of students from the Laboratory School of Finance & Technology - MS 223 - at 360 East 145th Street in the Mott Haven neighborhood in the Bronx. The school is connected with Bronx Prep and hence handles grades 6 through 12.
Click here to read our report of Mayor de Blasio's State of the City Address 2016. The report includes video excerpts of the Mayor's speech, as well as two other short video pieces including the harmony singing of the National Anthem by a talented Bronx choral group, and a few exchanges with the teachers and students of MS 223 in the Bronx.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker
Columbia School of Journalism Dean Coll Moderates Conversation with Authors Gay Talese & Thomas Kunkel
January 18, 2016 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Manhattan History / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.
I received an invitation to attend a conversation at the Columbia School of Journalism about a new book covering the professional life of one of the most prominent writers of The New Yorker magazine. The Columbia University School of Journalism is easily one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation; and Columbia also hosts the judging for the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered one of the highest awards a journalist or author can receive.
It was a fairly warm October evening as I made my way north on the subway along the Upper West Side. I got off at 116th Street and walked east through the main campus to the Faculty House. The Faculty House sits atop the Morningside Heights ridge overlooking Harlem, the Upper West Side and the rest of Manhattan.
The entrance into the Faculty House was from an interior courtyard where Columbia University students were hanging around in casual conversations. Once inside, I was directed to an upper floor where the event was being held.
Seated at the head of the room was Gay Talese, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of numerous books including The Kingdom & The Power. He was in the company of the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author having penned several tomes about issues in Asia, most notably the Middle East. And of course, there was the guest author of the evening, Thomas Kunkel, who is the President of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and who had penned the book being discussed this evening entitled Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker.
NYC Snowstorm Emergency
January 22, 2016 / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
Mayor issues Travel Ban as of 2.30 pm Saturday. Asks theaters and restaurants to close as revised forecast could bring 20 - 25 inches of snow. The MTA announced that they will be shutting down above ground rail and subway and buses by 4 pm - click to NYC MTA Storm Update at - https://alert.mta.info - for details.
NYC Winter Emergency Declaration. Mayor de Blasio made a statement putting the government apparatus on notice to manage the implications of the storm.
Temperatures aren't dropping that low [20's / teens], and the estimated snowfall [about a foot] in and of itself doesn't appear to be anything we haven't handled in the past.
But the high winds [gusts of up to 50 mph] could stir up snowdrifts and some measure of trouble, particularly for pedestrians and motorists.
Oftentimes these things become much ado about nothing, but I reckon better safe than sorry.
Weekend Weather 1/22 - 1/24. The temperature highs will be around 30 on Friday & Saturday, climbing to the mid 30's on Sunday. The lows will be in the low 20's throughout the weekend. It will be clear on Friday, with a huge snowstorm expected Saturday.
The Snowstorm will start early, dropping about 6 - 9 inches by about midafternoon, and finishing the day with a few more inches. It's expected to be generally clear on Sunday. On Saturday it will be windy, with gusts of up to 50 mph.
Click MTA Link for Snowstorm Service Changes. Click here for details on the MTA Weekender - http://web.mta.info/weekender.html.
NYC Marathon: A Brief History
A Closer Look At The NYC Marathon Course & Runners
November 2, 2015 /NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
Every year about 50,000 runners converge on New York City on the first weekend of November to run in the New York Marathon. The race begins at 8.30 am with the wheelchair division, is followed at 8.52 am by the athletes with disabilities and handcyclers. And then from 8.55 am until 11 am a horde of 50,000 runners passes the starting line on their 26 mile journey ending in Central Park.
The course has changed since the first NYC Marathon and now runs through all five boroughs, starting in Staten Island, coming up through western Brookyn, cutting through Long Island City between the Pulaski and Queensboro Bridges and then looping up along the Upper East Side before circling back around just north of the Harlem River in the Bronx and heading back south into Manhattan and terminating in Central Park.
The race lasts about eleven hours, as the official end time is 7.30 pm, but the reality is that it's mostly over by about 5 pm. The NYC Marathon began in 1970 and the first one was held entirely in Central Park by having the runners circle around the park on various roadways multiple times. And, of course, it was a much smaller group of runners.
NYC Marathon Runner Demographics by the NYT
The NYT published a report about the NYC Marathon demographics. In it they noted that about three quarters of the runners make it over the finish line, and that about 40% of the runners are now women, which is up significantly from none in the first NYC Marathon in 1970.
This year only 48% of the runners are Americans, while another 4.5% come from Canada and Mexico, France and Italy represent 14% of the runners [split about evenly], and Britain, Germany and the Netherlands are another 15% (contributing in descending order], other parts of Europe, Latin America, Japan & China, Austrailia and South Africa.
Age-wise the largest group is between 30 and 40, the 2nd largest between 40 and 50, and a good measure from the 20 to 30 and the 50 to 60 demographics. Apparently many reaching their 40th and 50th birthdays like to 'prove that they still have it'. You can find the full report on www.nytimes.com, including some fun graphs.
NYC Marathon Winners Past & Present
The last time an American won the Marathon was in 2009 [Meb Keflezighi - a 2004 Olympic silver medalist born in Eritrea], and the last American winner born in the United States was Bill Rodgers in 1979. This year Meb was the first place finisher among all Americans and he broke the record for Masters Runners.
This year the winner for men was Stanley Biwott of Kenya who ran the NYC Marathon in 2:10:34, the winner for women was Mary Keitany, also from Kenya, who ran the course in 2:24:25, making this her second win in as many years. In the Wheelchair division, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa beat Josh George of USA by one second coming in at 1:30:54. In the women's wheelchair division, Tatyana McFadden a Russian-born American, broke the NYC Marathon course record by seven minutes. It's been quite a year for her as she also won the marathon in Boston, Chicago and London this year.
Men's & Women's Marathon Times
As you can see by the times above, the best marathoners generally make the trip in a bit more than two hours, which means they ran at a pretty good clip of almost 13 miles per hour for over two hours. And it's worth mentioning that the gap between male and female NYC Marathon runners has been closing and at present is about 15 minutes.
Organizers & Sponsors of the NYC Marathon
New York Road Runners or NYRR is the organizer of the NYC Marathon and this year Tata Consultancy Services or TCS is the premier sponsor. TCS is an Indian software and IT services company based in Mumbai [formerly Bombay].
Century Bike Ride Manhattan
September 14, 2015 / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
The Sunday forecast included a high probability of scattered thunderstorms, but fortunately for the Century bike riders the weather appeared to favor them.
The Century Bike Ride is organized by Transportation Alternatives, an environmentally-friendly group that promotes non-carbon and low carbon 'transportation alternatives' to NYC residents. This is the bike ride they sponsor and the receipts go toward their efforts to ensure the various levels of government do what they can to help promote a safe and regenerative urban transportation environment.
The Century Bike Ride offers four biking alternatives that individuals and / or groups can pursue on their own during the most-of-the-day event. The first start time was at 5.30 am in Central Park [Manhattan] and at 6 am for a Prospect Park [Brooklyn] start and the last rest stops at the two parks closed at 6 pm.
The four bike routes included a 35 mile, 55 mile, 75 mile and 100 mile [hence the name century] loop.The 35 mile loop is called the East River Ride, which runs along the East River primarily in Brooklyn and Queens. The ride started at 7.30 am and was expected to last between 3.5 and 7.5 hours. The 55 mile loop is called the Waterfront Ride which includes the East River loop, but also the Verrazzanno Bridge, Coney Island and part of the Brooklyn Greenway. This ride started at 7 am / 7.30 am and was expected to take about 3.5 to 8.5 hours. The 75 mile loop is called the Rockaways Ride and it excludes the north / south run along the East River in Brooklyn / Queens in exchange for a haul out to the Fort Tilden Beach in the Rockaways then north through a number of Queens Greenways [parks] before turning westward back toward Manhattan. The Century Bike Ride, the 100 miler, starts at 6 am / 6.30 am and is expected to take between six and twelve hours.
The Century Bike Ride started in 1989 and is celebrating its 26th year.
Greek Independence Day Parade NYC
Greeks Celebrate Independence From Ottoman Empire
March 31, 2015 /NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
In 1821 a Greek Bishop tore down the flag of the reigning Ottomans and erected the Greek flag atop his church. This action and this moment is considered by many historians to be the official beginning of the Greek fight for independence from the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans had ruled Greece for about four centuries.
Fast forward to the 21st century in New York City and the Greeks are on the march once again. The Evzones Presidential Guard marched near the front of the parade. They were preceded by a cadre of government officials including the Governor (who I missed) and the Mayor, as well as government officials from the Greek neighborhood of Astoria in Queens.
The parade was organized by the Federation of Hellenic Societies which is an inclusive group of a good number of different Greek cultural and civic groups in the tri-state area. The photo above right shows a group from the University of Thessaloniki in Greece marching along the east side of Central Park on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
It was a beautiful day as I made my way toward Central Park ... more to come later including a photo slide show.
MTA: Subway Fare Increases March 22
February 13, 2015 / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
The Board approved increasing the base fare for the subway, bus, and MTA Staten Island Railway by 25 cents to $2.75, while also more than doubling the bonus amount added to MetroCard® purchases of at least one round-trip.
The combination of the increased fare and the increased bonus creates an effective fare increase of 4.1%, or 10 cents, for the Bonus MetroCard, which is used for 43% of trips. The 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 29% of trips, will increase 4% to $116.50. The 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard, which is used for 21% of trips, will increase 3.3% to $31. The remaining 7% of trips are made using non-bonus MetroCards, cash on buses or Single Ride Tickets, which are largely purchased near major tourist destinations.
Vision Zero Appears To Be Helping
Mayor de Blasio's Effort to Reduce Traffic Fatalities Appears To Have Some Success
December 22, 2014 /NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC _ D.
As of October 1, 2014 there were somewhere between 86 and 97 pedestrians killed by motorists in NYC, and 17 cyclists. In all of 2013 there were 177 pedestrians killed by motorists and 12 cyclists.
If the monthly average of deaths continues through to year end, then some progress will have been made in reducing motorist fatalities in NYC.
Communities have banded together to begin addressing the issue of traffic fatalities on New York City streets. Solutions included reducing the speed limit to 25 mph, continuing the effort to provide separate lanes for cyclists, and rearranging traffic patterns in order to protect pedestrians from death and motorists from ending up in jail.
To be sure, much more needs to be done to make our streets safe, but there was some small measure of encouragement in the 9 month fatality scorecard.
People's Climate March Photos
Over 300,000 People March / Interesting Signage / Creative Costumes / Jazzy Music / Important Message / By The People & For The People / We Are One World / We Are One People / We Must Learn To Live In Harmony With Each Other & With Our Ecosystem
September 22, 2014 / Midtown Neighborhood / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
I came up the subway stairs at Times Square Sunday, September 21, 2014 shortly before 1 pm. I had hoped to cover the People's Climate March story beginning at 11.30 am at Columbus Circle which was when the parade was to start; but I was detained and rushed to cover what I had thought might be the END of the parade. Boy, was I wrong. I ran head on into the BEGINNING of the parade, although I had missed the very front of it.
It truly was a People's Parade as there were few government officials were in attendance. According to one report I read after the parade, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the head of the parade around 12.45 pm, which wasabout the time I had arrived, so I missed them.
There were also a few NY City Council Members who marched, versus an NYT report that indicated a third or more planned to march. I recognized three of about five NY City Councilmembers that were there: NY City Council Speaker Viverito, UWS CCM Rosenthal and Astoria Queens CCM Costa Constantinides.
Green Companies Missed Big Marketing Opportunity To Reach Their Passionate Audience
Click here later today to read our full report of the People's Climate March including hundreds of photos, and a number of parade marchers' views of what's really going on, as well as what can practically be done by regular folks about it.
Click here to read our report and view photos of the UN organized People's Climate March in NYC. Story and photos by Michael Wood.
Sunnyside History: The Story Behind The Name Of The Lou Lodati Playground At 43rd Street & Skillman Ave
Renovated Torsney / Lou Lodati Playground Re-opens
On June 22nd the Queens Park Commissioner, Dorothy Lewandowski and Sunnyside NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer announced the re-opening of what most of us know as the Lou Lodati Playground in Torsney Park in Sunnyside. Over the past two years, a number of renovations have been made to renovate the park facilities, and a dog run was added to accommodate a growing dog population in the Sunnyside neighborhood.
This story includes a brief description of some of the changes made to the park, including a few before and after renovation photos. But this story primarily delves into the story of the man after whom the playground was named in 1999 - Sunnysider & one of the Lowerys Wine & Liquor founders: Lou Lodati. The Lodati story is about early 20th century immigration to America, about the evolution of the wine business in the borough and nation, and about an evolving Sunnyside community.
The photo to your right was taken circa 1937 when Lowerys Wine & Liquor store opened to the public. In the photo from left to right are Alfred & Louis Lodati, Albert Garbarino [Maria Lodati's husband], Valentino Simone [Philomena Lodati's husband] and Anthony Lodati.
Click here for a snapshot of NYC neighborhood history of Italians in NYC.
Battle for the Heart of a Park ... and the Soul of a Borough
PART II - NYC Stadiums: Battle of the Titans
The NYC World's Fair: 1964 - 1965 in Flushing Queens
Click here for Part I of our report series on Developments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park where we journeyed back to the Corona Ash Dump, immortalized in the Great Gatsby, and later transformed into a World's Fair utopia by Robert Moses, Fiorello LaGuardia and the 1939 World's Fair committee.
The 1939 World's Fair attracted over 40 million people, but lost over $100 million, as it opened the year Nazi Germany beganinvading its European neighbors, and while Japan was busy invading China. Nonetheless, in spite of a financial failure for the 1939 World's Fair bondholders, the fair had enabled NYC and Robert Moses to complete phase one of his vision to transform the Corona Ash Dump into NYC's premier city park, and build a whole new network of highways around it.
Ebbets Field in Brooklyn & The Brooklyn Dodgers
We resume our story, after WWII, as a young lawyer in Brooklyn began working for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers played at Ebbets Field just east of Prospect Park in what is the now Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. The year is 1943 as a 40 year-old lawyer, Walter O'Malley, leaves the Brooklyn Trust Company where he had oversight responsibilities for troubled companies, including the Brooklyn Dodgers.
You can click here to read Part II of our report on proposed developments in Flushing Meadows Corona Park entitled NYC Stadiums: Battle of the Titans.
Or click this link in the meantime to view Part I of our report series entitled - Out of the Ashes Rises the Phoenix - about the beginnings of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the 1939 World's Fair.
|F Scott Fitzgerald Great Gatsby Pile of Aches 1939 Worlds Fair|
Battle for the Heart of a Park ... and the Soul of a Borough
The NYC World's Fair: 1939 - 1940 in Flushing Queens
PART ONE - Out of the Ashes Rises the Phoenix
Over the past six months we've been watching with interest as events have been unfolding regarding the building of a 25,000 seat soccer stadium right in the heart of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. There are also a number of other proposals working their way through the political process / local government, which calls for the cessation of public lands to build private enterprises on various sections of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Currently four separate proposals are in process for planned developments in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. They include: 1) a chain store shopping mall / complex in the southwest corner of the Citifield parking lot [pink], 2) a housing / condominium / hotel complex on the lands the city acquired in its use of eminent domain to develop Willets Point [blue], 3) the expansion of the USTA facilities in the northwest section of the USTA franchise in the park [orange] and 4) the erection of a thirteen plus acre stadium / sports complex in the middle of Flushing Meadows Corona Park [yellowish green].
The graphic above was provided by one of the community groups opposed to the Flushing Meadow Corona Park developments. It's worth noting that most of the colored areas already have pavement or structures covering the land. The exception is that of the proposed Stadium & Concert venue [yellowish green], which would be a completely new development, replacing water vessels which were created for the Worlds Fair. See the map in the header of this series [top of page] where the dark red square represents the approximate acreage and location of the proposed stadium / concert venue.
Queens Buzz has put together a series of reports, which we will run in the coming days about the proposed developments in Flushing Meadow Corona Park. This report starts with a bit of the history of the park, which began around the turn of the last century when Flushing Meadows Corona Park was just an ashpile.
The focus of this report is the 1939 NYC World's Fair which was held in Flushing Meadow Park as it was then called.
Offer Made For Steinway & Sons Piano
Kohlberg & Co Bids For Steinway Musical Instruments
Kohlberg & Company offerred $438 million for the Steinway Musical Instruments Company, owner of Steinway & Sons Piano in Astoria. The 160 year old company, Steinway & Sons Piano, was founded in Manhattan in 1853.
Kohlberg & Co Offer
The Steinway & Piano Company has changed hands a couple of times over the past 160 years, once being acquired by CBS Television, and later being acquired by Selmer Musical Instruments.
The Kohlberg & Co tender offer includes a provision allowing other companies to bid for the Steinway shares by mid August, but to date we have not heard of any other competitive suitor. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.
The business of making Steinway Pianos by hand, is not without its challenges. But inspite of the marketplace realities - some of which we detail below - Kohlberg & Co told the NYT that they will continue to build artesanal musical instruments. Since many of the artesanal Steinway Pianos are made right here in the Astoria section of Queens; we can only hope that Kohlberg & Company will live up to their statement.
Steinway & Sons Piano Company History
The sale of the company follows on the heels of the sale of the 88 year old Steinway Hall in June of this year. In 1925 Steinway Hall was built across from Carnegie Hall on 57th Street in Manhattan - replacing a prior version of itself further south on 14th Street.
The hand made Steinway Pianos have been made for about a century and a half in the U.S. in Astoria, Queens; and in Germany near the founders' home town. As mentioned above, Steinway & Sons Piano still make the hand crafted Steinway Pianos in a factory near the northern end of Steinway Street in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens. Click this link to view a story about the making of a Steinway Piano in Astoria.
The Steinway Musical Instruments Company had merged Steinway Pianos in with a portfolio of other brand name musical instruments. The company portfolio of products includes brand name saxaphones, trumpets, French horns, clarinets, trombones and drums.
Click here for the rest of our report about the proposed sale of the Steinway & Sons Piano Company.
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