August 3rd - August 9th, 2013
After Lengthy Repairs, Small Businesses Return to Seaport
August 4 - Some South Street Seaport businesses that were displaced by superstorm Sandy are finally returning to their Front Street properties eight months later, reports the Wall Street Journal. The area of Front Street between Peck Slip and Beekman Street was hit hard during Sandy, with eight feet of ocean water flooding the cobblestone streets. The block is home to the Historic Front Street development, which has 94 residential apartments and 13 retail spaces. The 11 restored 18th-century buildings and three modern buildings have now been completely renovated, with keys handed back to residents and retailers on July 1. It has been an extended effort to restore the Front Street buildings after the August storm. A study by the Downtown Alliance, a neighborhood service and advocacy group, found that downtown Manhattan had largely recovered by four months after Sandy, with 90 percent of retailers south of Chambers Street back in business at that point.
NYPD Beefs Up Security Amid Online Terror Chatter
August 5 - Police in New York City have beefed up security at iconic locations like the Empire State Building and World Trade Center amid online "chatter" about terror threats, reported CBS News. The NYPD is also increasing security at houses of worship and increasing counterterrorism staffing. Summer tourists are flocking to the Empire State Building as usual and noticing the additional police presence. The NYPD has boosted its security presence at city landmarks, transit hubs and houses of worship in response to the terror alert. The police department said the extra security is not an indication of a new threat, but out of an abundance of caution. The State Department says U.S. diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the Muslim world will be closed for the end of the week. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates shuttered is a sign of an "abundance of caution" and is "not an indication of a new threat." Lawmakers said the intercepted chatter suggested that a major terrorist attack was in the planning stages. One lawmaker said the chatter was specific as to certain dates and the scope of the operation.
Restricted Space in Century-Old Skyscraper Reopens to Limited Tours
August 5 - For years, enjoyment of the detailed mosaic ceilings and intricately sculpted figures of the Woolworth Building's lobby has been restricted to its office workers and their guests. But now, 100 years after it opened, the public can view the lobby once again in small tour groups organized by the great-granddaughter of the building's architect, Cass Gilbert. According to the Wall Street Journal, Helen Post Curry, the owner of a Connecticut design-and-event management firm called Look, helped organize events to celebrate the actual centennial of the building in April. The tour groups she arranged were such a success that the building's management company, Witkoff Group, agreed to allow them to continue on a trial basis. Gilbert designed the building for Frank Winfield Woolworth, founder of the discount-store empire who desired a luxurious headquarters for F. W. Woolworth & Co. From 1913 until 1930, it was the highest skyscraper in the world, with an equally impressive lobby that carried through motifs from its Gothic-style exterior. The lobby has technically been closed to the public since the World War II, according to Roy Suskin, vice president of development at Witkoff. But enforcement of the policy became much stricter after 9-11. Since then, the lobby has had a large "no tourists" sign, and groups were only permitted into the space on rare occasions. Bookings for 15-, 45- or 90-minute tours are available for between $10 and $40 a person through the website, woolworthtours.com. The size of the lobby groups is limited, with preregistration required.
Elizabeth Berger, President of Alliance for Downtown, Dies at 53
August 6 - Elizabeth Berger, president and CEO of the Alliance for Downtown New York and president of the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, has died at 53 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, reported the Commercial Observer and other news sources. Berger helped shape the reimagining and rebuilding of Lower Manhattan after the 9-11 attacks and recently led a multifaceted effort to assist Lower Manhattan businesses and residents following Superstorm Sandy. The Alliance remembered Ms. Berger for her "indefatigable energy and exacting intellect" in a statement regarding her passing, "driven by a vision of Lower Manhattan as a place teeming with vitality and potential and a proving ground for municipal innovation." Berger became president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, which promotes lower Manhattan through a variety of services, in November 2007, having previously served on its board for several years. During her tenure, the Alliance and Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association successfully advocated for full funding and timely completion of the Fulton Street Transit Center; the reconstruction of Fiterman Hall; and the enactment of post-9-11 commercial leasing incentives. The Alliance also turned construction sites into large-scale canvases for public art and was an early provider of free wi-fi service throughout the square mile of lower Manhattan below Chambers Street. It expanded its bus service, the Downtown Connection; established the Hive at 55, a co-working facility for freelancers and entrepreneurs; and undertook comprehensive planning studies of Lower Manhattan.
At the World Trade Center Site, a Space Begins to Open Up
August 7 - Something remarkable is happening where Greenwich Street used to run through the World Trade Center site. It is becoming Greenwich Street again, according to the New York Times. For the first time since reconstruction of the WTC began, a New York City streetscape is taking form. There are sidewalks and curbs, oak trees and honey locusts, street lamps and pigeons. And, as on any street near high-risk targets, there are also ranks of heavily reinforced posts, or bollards. But even with the bollards, the scene is appealingly open. Only security guards prevent visitors to the National September 11 Memorial from simply walking across Greenwich Street and up to the lobby of 4 World Trade Center, now under construction. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is constructing the new section of Greenwich Street, which it expects to complete by the end of 2014. Some time around then, or early in 2015, the authority will move its headquarters into 4 World Trade Center. Four World Trade Center is a deliberately understated building that cuts the lowest profile of any in the complex (if a 977-foot tower can be said to cut a low profile). As designed by Fumihiko Maki, it also contributes a great deal to the streetscape. Unlike the rest of the tower, which is skinned in reflective glass, the building's 47-foot-high lobby is clad in clear glass. It almost seems to embrace the street, a gesture made even stronger by an 80-foot-wide space between columns. The closeness of the lobby to the memorial imposed a special obligation on Mr. Maki and his client, Silverstein Properties, to create a space that was respectful without being sepulchral. Last week, their intentions for the lobby became clear with the installation of "Sky Memory," a delicate, 98-foot-diameter titanium arc by the sculptor Kozo Nishino, of Kyoto, Japan. This is his first commission in the United States.
South Street Seaport an Archaeological Site Covering Centuries
August 8 - New York City has become an archaeological site, with thousands of artifacts such as an 18th-century bone toothbrush and champagne bottles corked centuries ago unearthed to prove it, according to NBC News. Other items uncovered in Lower Manhattan include a copper half-penny and a pair of children's shoes. They're remnants of early New York life workers discovered steps from Wall Street while digging to install new utilities for the growing residential and business South Street Seaport area. Last week, 100 liquor bottles from the 18th century popped up. Some are still intact and corked. Alyssa Loorya is an archaeologist whose Brooklyn firm is overseeing the excavation. She said Wednesday "you never know what you'll find right underneath your feet" in New York City.