New York Times Op-Docs


by Mexican Filmmakers 

Join us for a screening of six short films with outsize impact — all in Spanish, by Mexican filmmakers, and part of The Times’s Op-Docs series of documentaries. The program, moderated by Times reporter Eduardo Porter, includes a discussion with the films’ creators, who are flying in from Mexico for this event. 

The films to be screened: “Ciudad herida”/“Ruptured City” by Santiago Arau Pontones and Diego Rabasa, chronicling the 2017 central Mexico earthquake; “Niños en la narcozona”/“Children of the Narco Zone” by Everardo González, following a school teacher and a former gang member; “Un prisionero en la familia”/“A Prisoner in the Family” by Indra Villaseñor Amador, about a woman desperate enough to lock up her own child; “El buzo”/“The Diver” by Esteban Arrangoiz, portraying Mexico’s happiest sewer denizen; “La palabra justa”/“Justice in Translation” by Sergio Blanco, on the language gap in the Mexican justice system for indigenous people accused of a crime; and “Unsilenced” by Betzabé García, on an activist murdered on-air while hosting his radio show.


Tuesday, March 5   

Program: 7 p.m.
Talkback to follow
Exclusive reception for All Access Plus and Home Delivery subscribers, in addition to museum members.   

El Museo del Barrio   

1230 Fifth Avenue
New York City   

$18 general entry
All Access Plus and Home Delivery subscribers save $6 per ticket.

Become an All Access Plus subscriber to The New York Times to save on this event and receive special access to our live and digital programs, along with discounts and bonus subscriptions. 

Trader Joe’s Is Ending Delivery


Grocery mecca Trader Joe’s has been posting signs in its Manhattan stores to let shoppers know it will end delivery service as of March 1, the New York Post reports. The quirky discount chain store known for its unique grocery items and clever crowd-control strategies cites escalating service costs as the reason for what a West Side Rag reader called an “unspeakable tragedy.” To be fair, the California-based chain is known for encouraging thrifty shoppers to buy in bulk, making the need for schlepping assistance a real concern.


Business Insider points out that the announcement comes at a time when more and more grocery stores–including Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods–are expanding their grocery delivery offerings. According to a Trader Joe’s representative, delivery comes at too high a cost to the company: “Instead of passing along unsustainable cost increases to our customers, removing delivery will allow us to continue offering outstanding values.”

Trader Joe’s has been delivering groceries to Manhattanites for 10 years. Delivery was never offered in Brooklyn, Queens or Staten Island stores.

Live From Lincoln Center


Live From Lincoln Center is proud to present Lincoln Center Theater’s critically acclaimed staging of Dominique Morisseau's Pipeline, available for broadcast on PBS February 8 and streaming on BroadwayHD


In this riveting production, Nya Joseph (Karen Pittman) is a dedicated, inner-city public high school teacher who is committed to her students’ achievement, while she sends her only son, Omari (Namir Smallwood), to a private boarding school. When Omari is involved in a controversial incident which threatens him with expulsion from his school, Nya is forced to reconcile Omari’s rage, her own parental decisions, and the public and private school systems, as she rallies to save her son.

“Emotionally harrowing, ethically ambiguous … raises barbed questions about class, race, parental duty, and the state of American education.”

– Variety

Pipeline confirms Dominique Morisseau's reputation as a playwright of piercing eloquence. Directed by the gifted Lileana Blain-Cruz, this passionate play about a family struggling to outrun social prophecy is potent and intensely acted.”

– New York Times

Pipeline showcases an American playwright in full blaze.”

– Huffington Post on Dominique Morisseau

What Congestion Pricing Might Mean For Real Estate In NYC


By Michelle Sinclair Colman

Future New York

Congestion pricing is dead in the water again. But New York City's traffic and subway problems continue to get worse while the population and Cuomo and De Blasio's battles continue to grow. Something has to give. With that in mind, the question remains, if congestion pricing ever happens, what is the relationship between congestion pricing and NYC real estate?

In October 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo assembled a group of community leaders for his “Fix NYC Advisory Panel” to advise him on congestion pricing. At the time, he declared it “an idea whose time has come.” 

Friday’s release of the governor’s budget makes it clear that Cuomo has decided its time had not come. Since the 1970s, New Yorkers have heard talk of implementing congestion pricing rise and fall. Despite seeming like it had a real chance this time around, it has been shelved again. 

According to Mark Chin, CEO of Keller Williams Tribeca, congestion pricing must happen. “It is the only way out of our subway problems. It has got to happen, there is no other way around it.” 

Perhaps this is just a thought experiment with the most recent quashing of the congestion plan but assuming congestion pricing does happen someday, what would it mean for New York City real estate? 

Other major world cities have implemented congestion pricing, therefore, we have some idea what it has meant for other cities. But, as always the case, New York City is a beast of its own, so there are some trends it would most likely follow and others for which it would forge a new path.



Our traffic problem

New York City is ranked third worst traffic city in the world after Moscow and Los Angeles. New York’s average car speed in midtown, from 59th Street to 35th Street, from Ninth Avenue to the East River, averages 4.7 mph, “slightly faster than walking speed.” 

Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel’s report addressed the city’s traffic congestion problems. The panel’s first recommendation tasked the MTA to fix the public transportation issues in order to provide reliable alternatives to setting dynamic tolls for driving below 60th street. 

The highlights of Fix NYC’s recommendations were: an $11.52 toll on all private cars entering the central business district (defined as Manhattan below 60th Street), $25 for trucks and a surcharge of $2 to $5 for for-hire vehicles which would result in $1.8 billion a year toward public transportation. They estimated this would lead to a 20% increase in traffic speeds and a huge reduction in the amount of time New Yorkers would spend getting to their destinations.

According to the study Necessity or Choice: Why People Drive into Manhattan, Manhattan's Central Business District (CBD), "is the largest and densest CBD in the United States. It is far better served by public transportation than any other location in the country.” On a daily basis, 830,000 vehicles enter the CBD, of which approximately 60% of vehicle traffic were personal cars. That means only 40% were trucks, buses, commercial vehicles or taxis. 

The most significant finding of that study was 90% of people driving in Manhattan choose to drive even though they have public transportation options available to them. 

"For most commuters who work in the Manhattan CBD, driving is a matter of choice, not a necessity.” 

Another big part of our traffic problem is that almost 40% of cars traveling into the CBD are only using NYC as a conduit to get somewhere else. Amazingly, many car commuters find the routes across Manhattan faster and cheaper than alternate routes. 

And a final big issue is the rampant abuse of parking placards. While Bloomberg tried to cut down on parking placards, Bill De Blasio has issued more, adding to the increase of traffic and lack of parking. According to a New York Times article on the abuse of placards, “city-issued parking placards entitle the bearers to park in designated zones. The city says that there are about 160,500 total in circulation.” Placards entitle owners to free parking in specially designated spots. The demand for placards is so high there is even a black market for them. Adding tolls to drive into the CBD would definitely make people think twice about driving in for free parking. 

Therefore, congestion pricing would not only reduce traffic and environmental issues, it would also cut down on parking placard abuses and take New York out of the running as one of the worst traffic cities in the world.

Congestion pricing around the world

“The Stockholm charges went from the most expensive way ever devised to commit political suicide to something that the initially hostile media declared to be a success story.” 

– Jonas Eliasson, Director, Stockholm City Transportation Administration

At this point, our politicians are not willing to take the risk but Singapore, London, Stockholm, and Madrid have. All of those cities have seen huge reductions in traffic due to the added congestion tolls. The report says Singapore saw a 24% reduction and London had a 25% reduction with a 20% drop in carbon dioxide emissions. Despite the fact that Stockholm’s efforts were met with huge opposition, they saw immediate improvements with a 25% drop in traffic. Milan’s “Ecopass,” program charged vehicles based on their emissions class, banned the worst polluting vehicles and has also seen great success.


So what does congestion pricing mean for real estate?

In 1998, Singapore implemented an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system with a network of tolls to tax vehicles entering designated areas in the city center during peak hours. A 2015 Journal of Economics’ studyfound, “The results show that the November 2010 congestion toll rate increases cause a 19% drop in retail real estate prices within the cordon ERP areas relative to retail real estate prices outside the cordon ERP areas. However, the toll rate hike has no significant impact private office and residential real estate within cordoned ERP areas.” 

In 2007, when the Bloomberg administration was seemingly moving forward with congestion pricing, the Real Deal reported, “Some brokers felt a congestion pricing scheme would also not have an adverse impact on commercial real estate. ‘It probably won’t affect commercial rent values or commercial investment sales values that much, and I think companies that need to be in Midtown or Wall Street will still be there,’ said Eric Anton, senior managing director at commercial brokerage firm Eastern Consolidated.”


Congestion pricing’s impact on residential real estate

Mark Chin, CEO of Keller Williams Tribeca, has thought a lot about congestion pricing and what it would mean for New York City. “The effects are pretty simple. There would be a distinct line drawn at 60th street. If you cross, you pay a fee. People who live just north of the line will see a lot of people trying to park who don’t want to cross over. I expect that effect will be for about a 15 block radius. On the good side, inside the CBD, it will be much more pleasant and people will prefer to live where there is less traffic.” 

Amy McDonald, a broker with Triplemint, says she lives on a large boulevard and would love to see and hear less traffic out her window. “I face 6th Avenue, which is a major uptown route, and I would love to have less cars.” Most of McDonald’s clients live on the Upper West Side and own cars but she does not see a CBD toll as an issue for them on a daily basis as they tend to use their cars to get out of the city and therefore would not cross through the CBD. 

Chin believes that any outer boroughs with good access to public transportation will see a positive effect on residential values. Those boroughs without good access will see a dip. “You would see a depressive effect on those places that have a subway hole.” 

If and when congestion pricing ever moves beyond politician's banter, Chin thinks the most important issue is educating consumers about what is going on in the city. Charging a toll to drive into certain parts of the city will directly affect the value of buildings in and around the CBD. Consumers should be mindful of that. 

An additional consideration is weighing the benefits of the toll proceeds that would funnel into the MTA to improve the public transportation against the disproportional affect congestion pricing has on the upper and lower income population from the start. Unlike some other taxes, every car is charged the same, no matter the income level of the driver. 

This is no doubt a complicated issue but with the city’s population increasing every day and new buildings rising at a rapid rate, something has to be done. Considering the possibilities when making a longterm investment, like housing, might make you want to take an alternate route.

Under proposed congestion plan, driving a car into Manhattan will cost $11.52


Drivers entering the busiest areas of Manhattan might soon be required to pay $11.52 per trip under a congestion pricing plan expected to be released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday.  According to the New York Times, the proposal comes from an advisory panel “Fix NYC,” a group assembled by the governor to explore ways to reduce congestion and also fund the city’s strapped-for-cash transit system. Under the proposal, trucks would pay $25.34 and taxis would see a surcharge of $2 to $5 per ride if entering the “pricing zone,” which would run south of 60th Street. Cuomo first introduced the idea of a congestion pricing plan to fund the MTA‘s transit repairs in August, after declaring the subway in a state of emergency earlier that summer.

According to the report from Fix NYC, the pricing plan could take up to two years to fully implement, but it has to be approved by the state legislature first. The group estimated that the plan could raise up to $1.5 billion every year, with that money being directed to mass transit. However, the panel’s draft of the report says no fees will be charged until transit repairs are made: “Before asking commuters to abandon their cars, we must first improve transit capacity and reliability.”

Cuomo said the plan will not extend to the East River Bridges. However, it will not reduce the cost of tolls at other crossings as some transit groups pushed for as a way to make the plan more equitable and more likely for lawmakers outside of the borough to support it.

The congestion fee would also not be in effect 24 hours a day, with tolling on private cars expected to occur at a minimum between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. On the weekend, there might be a charge between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. for private vehicles and trucks.

Sam Schwartz, who worked on the panel’s report, told the New York Post: “It’s going to accomplish a good deal to reduce congestion and raise revenue to improve transit. The fees for the for-hire vehicles will happen this year.”

Cuomo’s plan is roughly based on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed attempt in 2008. The former mayor’s idea served as a major part of his environmental agenda, which he claimed would have raised $500 million annually to fix the subway’s infrastructure. The plan failed because elected officials from Brooklyn, Queens and suburban areas outside of the city felt it benefited Manhattan at the expense of their own constituents.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has criticized the Cuomo’s idea and called it a “regressive tax.” Instead, he has floated the idea of a “millionaires tax” to fund subway repairs, increasing the tax rate of the city’s wealthiest residents to 4.4 percent from roughly 3.9 percent for married couples with incomes over $1 million and for individuals who make more than $500,000 per year.

The 15 best places in NYC to ring in the Lunar New Year


One of New York City’s most spirited events kicks off next Tuesday: the Lunar New Year. With multiple Chinatowns and Asian communities across the five boroughs, there is no shortage of events to celebrate the nearly two-week long holiday, which is said to have originated more than 4,000 years ago. While the most well-known festivity is the colorful parade in Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown, other Lunar New Year events in Flushing, Sunset Park, and Staten Island should not be overlooked. Embrace the Year of the Pig, the 12th zodiac animal said to signal good fortune, with lantern decorating events, dumpling and noodle-making classes, traditional dance and song, and sparkling firecracker ceremonies.


Lunar New Year Parade
Feb. 17, 1 p.m.

New York City’s annual free Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown continues to be one of the most celebrated events in the city. Run by Better Chinatown USA, the parade route runs from Mott & Canal to Chatham Square to East Broadway towards Manhattan Bridge and ending at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Expect Year of the Pig-inspired festivities and food starting at 1 p.m. and wrapping up at 4:30 p.m.

New Year Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival
Feb. 5, 11 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
Sara D. Roosevelt Park

The Lunar New Year starts with a sparkle at the annual firecracker ceremony. There, enjoy live performances, crafts, and food vendors at Sara D. Roosevelt Park at Grand Street. The free event includes a colorful firework presentation, which is said to ward off evil spirits.

New York Philharmonic: Lunar New Year Concert and Gala
Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Upper West Side

The New York Philharmonic observes the New Year with Fire Ritual, a new violin concerto by Oscar winner Tan Dun. Tickets for the performance at David Geffen Hall range in price from $35-$115.

Flushing Lunar New Year Parade
Feb. 9, 9:30 a.m.- 10:30 a.m.
Flushing, Queens

Ring in the New Year at the first Chinatown neighborhood in Queens. The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. at Union Street and 37th Street in Flushing, where you’ll see large crowds enjoy brightly decorated costumes and floats. According to the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, the reception includes raffle and prizes, a fencing demonstration by Queens Fencing Club, and a K-pop medley and Zumba set. Coffee and refreshments will be offered before the parade at St. George’s Church before the parade.

Chinese New Year Temple Bazaar
Feb. 17, 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Flushing, Queens

An ode to the Chinese tradition of celebrating the New Year at temple fairs, Flushing Town Hall is hosting their own spin-off of the classic. For $5, guests can enjoy live performances, lantern making, and yummy bites. There are two timed sessions, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Feb. 17.

Korean Lunar New Year
Feb. 2, 1 p.m.- 4 p.m.
Staten Island Museum at Snug Harbor

A Korean Lunar New Year celebration is being held at the Staten Island Museum, with tickets just $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $2 for children under age 12. The event includes face painting, ancient papermaking Hanji Art, Korean fan dance, and plenty of beloved Korean food favorites, like Tteok (rice cakes) and Mandu (dumplings).

Queens Botanical Garden
Feb. 9, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Flushing, Queens

The Queens Botanical Garden is celebrating the Year of the Pig with themed crafts, workshops, performances, and more. Plus, the garden is hosting a special “lucky” plant sale, with jade plants and peace lilies offered.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Feb. 5, 1 p.m.- 2 p.m.
Crown Heights, Brooklyn

The garden is providing a tour of the Steinhardt Conservatory as a way to explore Asian fruits and plants that are typically associated with the Lunar New Year. During the hour-long event, tour-goers will see citrus, bamboo, and ginger.

Tibetan New Year at The Rubin 
Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.

Perhaps a lesser known event in the U.S., Losar, or the Tibetan New Year, is celebrated across the Himalayas. The Rubin Museum of Art on West 17th Street is hosting a Year of the Earth Pig, as it’s described in the Tibetan calendar. Co-presented with the YindaYin Coaching Center, the event will have a demonstration of how Losar is celebrated in Tibet through traditional dances and costumes.

Lunar New Year at Brookfield Place
Feb. 9, 2 p.m.- 3:15 p.m.
Lower Manhattan

Brookfield Place is hosting an event on the afternoon of Feb. 9,  in a partnership with the New York Chinese Cultural Center. The Lunar New Year event kicks off with a festive Lion Dance that brings revelers into the Winter Garden for a performance of traditional Chinese dance and music. The event is free, but seating is first-come, first served.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Lunar New Year Festival
Feb. 9, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Upper East Side

There’s an event for all tastes at the Met this Lunar New Year. The museum is hosting an all-day celebration, offering festivities like a parade through the Great Hall and art projects, to a bubble tea gathering and hand-pulled noodle demonstration. The festival is free with museum admission.

Chinese New Year Spectacular at Carnegie Hall
Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.

Carnegie Hall is hosting a performance that fuses Chinese and American cultures. Chinese pianist Jie Chen and Shanghai soprano Quan Chen join returning performers tenor Dr. William Weimin Cai and violinist Deni Bonet. Tickets cost between $28 and $100, with special discounts available to students and seniors.

Lunar New Year at Eldrige Street and Think!Chinatown
Feb. 17, 2 p.m.- 4 p.m.
Lower East Side

A Chinatown landmark, the 1887-built Eldridge Street Synagogue, is participating in the neighborhood celebration with a day of Lunar New Year crafts. The team at Think!Chinatownwill lead a free lantern decorating class, teaching participants how to stencil designs using paint and ink, stamps, or brushwork. The beautifully-designed lanterns will be on display in the bamboo garden at 5 Essex Street.

Brooklyn Public Library
Feb. 9, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Public Library’s central location wants you to wear something red and celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Pig. The library is hosting acclaimed Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company for an afternoon of colorful costumes, an ancient cultural dance, and traditional Chinese music. The free event will be hosted in the Dweck Center, with seating first come, first served.

Queens Library
Various events
Jamaica, Queens

The Queens Library means business this holiday season. From the start of the New Year with the parade in Flushing to the last day of festivities, branches around the borough are hosting Lunar New Year events. Some highlights of the Lunar line-up include lantern crafts, floral arranging classes, history lessons, origami, red envelope crafts, and Chinese and Korean food classes. See the full list of events here.

Manhattan's first public beach at Hudson River Park


The Hudson River Park Trust has unanimously approved a proposal by James Corner Field Operations—the same firm that brought us the High Line and Brooklyn’s Domino Park—to design a 5.5-acre public park on the Gansevoort Peninsula, located at the western end of Little West 12th Street and the only remnant of 13th Avenue. It will be the largest single green space in the four-mile-long Hudson River Park. The design will incorporate recreational areas and provide direct waterfront access for the public with a beachfront on the southern edge that will double as a protective barrier to combat flooding and storm surge. The beach might be best for sunbathers, though, as swimming in Manhattan’s murky west side waters is unlikely to be viable.


“Along Hudson River Park’s four miles, we’ve been able to showcase some of the best landscape architects in the field,” said Madelyn Wils, President and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust in a press release. “I’m pleased that the exceptional design firm James Corner Field Operations will join the ranks of the talented teams that have helped make Hudson River Park one of the great waterfront parks in the country.”


The beach will also include “Day’s End,” an installation by New York artist David Hammons, coordinated by the nearby Whitney Museum of American Art. The work will reconstruct an outline of the original Pier 52 shed and will become one of the largest public art installations in the country. According to the museum’s website, the ghostly structure would “appear evanescent and ethereal, seeming to shimmer and almost disappear, changing with the light of day and atmospheric conditions.”

Hudson River Park Trust and James Corner Field Operations will begin soliciting feeback from the community and local elected officials before signing off on a final design. Construction is expected to begin in 2020, with the park opening slated for 2022.

The announcement comes soon after Governor Cuomo’s State of the State speech on January 19th, which included a $23 million pledge for the completion of Hudson River Park. The city is expected to match the state’s contribution, a request that the mayor’s office said it would consider.

The park has $900 million worth of capital projects underway, including privately-funded initiatives like Barry Diller’s Pier 55 and a commercial pier to be developed by RXR Realty and Youngwoo & Associates at Pier 57 which will include more than three acres of public open space, including a rooftop park and perimeter esplanade.

Decorative Painter, Spends Her Sundays Out Of Harlem

Ms. Spannan at Storm King Art Center.

Ms. Spannan at Storm King Art Center.

By Tammy La Gorce

  • New York Times


Sandra Spannan is an architectural fine artist, gilder and art restorer; she bundles those occupations together at See. Painting, the company she founded after moving to New York from Germany in 1993. Ms. Spannan, 47, has done private interiors for Anderson Cooper and Tom Hanks and gilding work for Balthazar and the Ace Hotel. Most of the week Ms. Spannan lives in Harlem with her daughters, Fiona Jarvis, 14, and Kaya Jarvis, 12, and their cat, Panda. On weekends, while the weather is good, she piles the girls, their friends and Panda into an army-green Jeep and heads to her house in Monroe, N.Y. She bought the house, named “the green house” for its paint job, in 2015, a year after she was diagnosed with the colon cancer for which she is still being treated. “The only negative thing about buying that house is that I didn’t do it 20 years ago,” she said.

“The only negative thing about buying that house is that I didn’t do it 20 years ago,” Ms. Spannan said of her weekend home in Monroe, N.Y.

“The only negative thing about buying that house is that I didn’t do it 20 years ago,” Ms. Spannan said of her weekend home in Monroe, N.Y.

COZY I try to be that person you read about in Sunday Routines who goes running or does yoga first thing, but I’m really not. I love to be in my PJs forever. I’ll get the paper and get back in bed with my English breakfast tea. The kids are teenagers now so they can sleep like newborns. I let them.

“I’ll hear the girls at 8 in the morning, bouncing. Trampolines are quite ugly but we love it.

“I’ll hear the girls at 8 in the morning, bouncing. Trampolines are quite ugly but we love it.

LET’S BOUNCE We don’t have the luxury of having a balcony or a garden in New York, so it’s nice to walk outside in the morning. I bought a 16-foot-wide trampoline. I’ll hear the girls at 8 in the morning, bouncing. Trampolines are quite ugly but we love it. If we have a party the kids will lay on it in a circle listening to music.

Ms. Spannan, right, and her daughter, Kaya Jarvis, at Blooming Hill Farm.

Ms. Spannan, right, and her daughter, Kaya Jarvis, at Blooming Hill Farm.

PIXELATED REUNION My family is in Germany and my brother is in Japan so we try to Skype as a group. I have three siblings and my parents have several grandchildren so there’s always some family drama going on, somebody who needs to talk. I try to do that before the kids are awake.

“Basically I trick them into hiking.”

“Basically I trick them into hiking.”

ALL-ORGANIC One thing we always do when we’re in the green house — it’s basically a must when we’re up there — is we go to Blooming Hill Farm, which is nearby, for brunch. It’s not in a hipster neighborhood, it’s in an area where there’s straightforward diners and stuff. They have this all-organic brunch there, and I also do all my vegetable shopping at their farmer’s market. On the menu they have breakfast pizza. They also have sweet stuff like French toast-style bread pudding for the kids. Eating organic is important to me because I’m fighting cancer. I try to eat mostly fruits and vegetables.

LET’S DANCE After brunch I try to force my kids to do a little hiking trip with me. What they love to do is to go to Dia:Beacon, the museum, or to Storm King Art Center. Both kids are modern dancers. They’re both in a group called Young Dance Collective that does pretty professional shows. So if we go to Storm King they’ll do these time-lapse kind of videos where they’re dancing with the sculptures. Basically I trick them into hiking.

Just a couple of New Yorkers getting their grass time in.

Just a couple of New Yorkers getting their grass time in.

PROJECTS AND TEA Sometimes we do an art project, like buy pumpkins and gold leaf them. Or we might do yard sales. The kids are both into second-hand clothing. I also do a lot of leaf-raking this time of year, or a house project. The house is from the 1930s so there’s always a project. In fall we have the wood-burning stove going at all times and there’s always a water kettle on it, so hot water is always ready for a cup of tea.

From left: Fiona, Kaya and Ms. Spannan at Black Forest Mill in Highland Mills, N.Y.

From left: Fiona, Kaya and Ms. Spannan at Black Forest Mill in Highland Mills, N.Y.

CULINARY ROOTS I just discovered a German restaurant 10 minutes from my house, the Black Forest Mill. We’ll go there for dinner and it brings me back to my roots. A lot of the time in New York you don’t get the real deal. This is the real deal. They have käsespätzle, which is a cheese spaetzle. And for dessert there’s a chocolate tort called schwartzwälder kirschtorte.

GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING If the kids are doing homework or something I love going on a sunset ride on the bike. It’s an old-timer, a Honda CB77 Super Hawk from 1964. One interesting thing about that bike is it’s the same as the one from “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” The fall is the best time to ride because it’s not so hot and bikes don’t overheat.

“It’s an old-timer, a Honda CB77 Super Hawk from 1964. One interesting thing about that bike is it’s the same as the one from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’”

“It’s an old-timer, a Honda CB77 Super Hawk from 1964. One interesting thing about that bike is it’s the same as the one from ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’”

HEAD OUT ON THE HIGHWAY Usually we load the car and head back to the city after dinner. First we have to collect the cat. When he gets upstate, he sets out for hours and sometimes we can’t find him. He has friends up there.

Friends of Morningside Park


Mission and Purpose

An all volunteer organization founded in 1981. Our mission and purpose is to be a catalyst for the rehabilitation and maintenance of Morningside Park in accordance with the ideals of its original designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and its well deserved status as a Scenic Landmark of New York City.

We work with the New York City Dept. of Parks to promote responsible use of the park. In 2000 we commissioned a Master Plan for Morningside Park which was based on extensive community input. We continue to work to raise private funds and advocate for public funds to implement capital improvements called for in the plan.

We promote the enjoyment and responsible use of the park through an extensive set of programs which over the years have included arts and cultural festivals, a farmers market, film screenings, public art displays, musical and theatrical performances, sports tournaments, community picnics, park cleanups and plantings, tree lightings and holiday events.


Our History

In 1981 Tom Kiel a Columbia University undergraduate saw the deteriorating condition of our historic park. He began organizing meetings and park cleanups. At the time, the Parks Dept. was getting ready to implement large scale changes to the park which would have obliterated much of the remaining Olmsted design. Along with several other Columbia students, Tom formed the Friends of Morningside Park with an aim to halt these changes and fight for park restoration in keeping with Olmsted's design priniciples. Incorporated in 1982, the core mission of the Friends of Morningside Park has not changed to this day.

Although the world lost Tom Kiel in 1996, his work continues and we are proud and very fortunate to have members of his family, members of our original board, and volunteers from our early years still working with us.

We maintain an archive of articles about Tom and the early work of our organization. 



 Friends of Morningside Park mentioned that an outdoor cafe proposal is currently under review by the Parks Department for the overlook area at West 112th Street on Manhattan Avenue.  Many of the major parks in the city have dining establishments that soak in the local view so this totally makes sense for the green space on the southern border of Central Harlem.  There will also be room for two optional food units which would help the location become a casual dining destination if all proceed accordingly.  For more on the review process and details of the proposal, check out the Friends of Morningside Park website: LINK

Exciting News!

Our Advocacy Has Been Successful Again

We are thrilled that the Parks Dept. has listened to our desire that an RFP (Request for Proposals) be reissued for a cafe at the overlook at 112th and Manhattan Ave. We think this is a great opportunity for the right concessionaire and hope the RFP will generate lots of interest from the Harlem business community. The RFP is available for download through February 22, 2019, on Parks' website. You may also download the RFP from our server

We are providing this download to facilitate dissemination of the document only.

All questions related to the RFP should be directed to the Park project manager listed on page 2 of the document. If you are going to submit a bid you should also register with Parks to be kept up-to-date on any changes or announcements related to the project by visiting clicking on the "Concessions Opportunities at Parks” link.



Chef Southern Southern Style Bakery at 122 Hamilton Place between 143rd and 144th is one of the oldest artisan businesses in Harlem and makes a great addition for any holiday feast.  Chocolate Pecan, Sweet Bean Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Key Lime Pie, Three Berry Crunch Pie and many more including Harlem's best Sweet Potato Pie can be purchased at the storefront or made to order for pickup.  There is an industrial baking kitchen at the back of the charming storefront so everything is made on site and the Sweet Chef even packs it up for customers out front.  Call 914-258-4418 for a pickup order or more details.



In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson exhibit at Museum of the City of New York, 104th Street and Fifth Avenue, Opens January 31st.  In 1947 Jackie Robinson made history when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African American in major league baseball. In honor of the centennial of Robinson’s birth, In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson features some 30 images of Robinson and the Dodgers taken for Look magazine. Along with these stunning black-and-white images from the Museum's collection, many never before seen, the exhibition features memorabilia and rare footage of the Robinson family, as well as the published magazines, which provide a window into the media's portrayal of this groundbreaking figure through the lens of the day’s popular picture press. More details can be found at the MCNY site: LINK



February Brunch Special, Saturdays & Sundays, from 11:00AM to 4:00PM at Harlem Food Bar, 2131 Frederick Douglass Boulevard by 114th Street.  Harlem Food Bar has a February brunch special worth lining up for in Central Harlem.  The FDB eatery will be serving up the first mimosa for FREE with each individual brunch order of the day.  Doors open at 11:00AM in the morning and brunch will be served until 4:00PM in the afternoon. This special only last for the month and runs all weekends.  More details can be found on the official Harlem Food Bar Instagram account: LINK



Locals were lining up just before 11:00AM today to be the first ones to check out the menu at the new Shake Shack on 125th Street by Fifth Avenue.  An uptown location by 116th Street in Morningside Heights hadopened last year which was the furthest uptown Shake Shack had ventured until now.  For the Central Harlem debut, a gospel choir sang in the background as diners streamed in to try out one of the most famous burgers in New York which was started up by fine dining restauranteur Danny Meyers who actually dropped by for the festivities.  




Harlem Bespoke: The Morningside Park Farmers Market has started up for the first time during the Winter which is a pretty big deal. This outdoor market on 110th and Manhattan Avenue runs every Saturday from 9:00AM to 3:00 PM and has been growing nicely over the years in its vendor offerings.  Check out the Down to Earth Markets site for more information and see the full list of vendors: LINK 2019

Moving To New York City



Moving to New York City is a big deal, no matter who you are or how cool you were back in Cleveland. New York is a deeply egalitarian metropolis in the sense that no one’s concerned about what you did before you arrived—it’s what you do with yourself here that matters.

Knowing this can be intimidating. But that’s okay! You’re moving to the greatest city in the world, in the eyes of those of us who live here. (Rule number one: Do not argue with a New Yorker on New York's preeminence.) That said, there are a host of ways to make the transition as smooth as possible.

And if all this sounds like too much, well, just know that you’ll have plenty more things to worry about once you’re here.

 There's a lot more to a neighborhood than meets the eye

Let’s face it, your biggest struggle—aside from reckoning with the existential terror of living in a city of 8.5 million people—will be finding a place to live. There are some broad themes to consider at the outset. How well do you know the city? If the answer is “I’ve visited once,” or “Brooklyn is a neighborhood, right?” you should definitely engage in some on-the-ground research.

Grab yourself a short-term rental and do some recon. This will allow you to learn things about a neighborhood that you just can’t fully grasp from internet research, like how long the walk to the subway really is, the quality of the produce selection at your closest supermarket, and how the area feels at night. Sure, there’s a lot you can learn online, but never underestimate the importance of intangibles. If that’s not possible, at least take a virtual stroll around the area using Google Street View.

Once you think you’ve landed on a neighborhood, learn more about it. Visit Address Report, which generates maps with information on whatever address you enter, such as commute times, nearby parks, and number of noise complaints. You can also enter a building's address into to learn about current and future construction, views, shadows, road safety, and much more. Local blogs are also a good way to get a sense of what’s happening in a particular area (here's our list of the best ones around). You can also get insider information through our Neighborhood Secrets series.

Some questions to ask yourself (and any broker you're working with) include:

  • How convenient is the area when it comes to subways? If you're more than a 5- or 10-minute walk from the train, do you have an alternative means of getting around, like a bus or Citi Bike? Keep in mind that even neighborhoods with access to subway lines can see major delays and detours on weekends, so if you work on weekends or plan to go out a lot, you’ll want to check for details on planned maintenance work and construction. If you’re thinking of moving to a neighborhood off the L train, know that in 2019 it is going shut down for more than a year. This might be a deal-breaker, or it might work in your favor, as rents and asking prices should take a hit during that time.

  • What are your food options? Maybe you’re an amazing chef, but it’s unlikely you’ll have time to cook each and every day. Head over to the food blogs Eater and Grub Street to get a sense what’s out there, as well as what’s opening up. Food delivery services like SeamlessCaviarUberEatsPostmates, and will do the hard work for you, and FreshDirectInstacartGoogle Shopping Express and Amazon Prime Now grocery delivery services will also help you avoid leaving your house to eat. You can also just call your favorite local takeout place to put in a delivery order the old-fashioned way, and many conventional grocery stores and bodegas deliver as well. (Note: If you have a doorman, don't assume he will accept grocery deliveries for you when you're not home. The soaring popularity of these options has so overwhelmed some buildings that they now refuse delivery. Be sure to ask what the policy is if this matters to you.)

  • What's the nightlife like? New York City has party neighborhoods, quiet family neighborhoods, and everything in between. In Manhattan, major party hubs include the East Village, Murray Hill, and the Lower East Side. In Brooklyn and Queens, that means Williamsburg, Bushwick, Greenpoint and Ridgewood. These neighborhoods tend to get pretty loud on weekends, and might not be ideal if you’re not planning to take advantage of the city’s wilder offerings. Ask around and see if there are a few too many bars in a given area for your liking, and return in the 10 p.m.-2 a.m. timeframe on a Friday or Saturday night to get a sense of the vibe.

  • What evacuation zone are you in? Superstorm Sandy taught us that severe weather can affect the city in a big way, and climate experts say we are likely to see more intense weather in the future. Parts of the city at greatest risk for flooding are evacuated first (see the zones here). It's something to consider, as there'll be a temporary disruption even if your building isn't damaged, and a far bigger upheaval if it is. Plus, if you're buying, living in a flood zone might mean shelling out for high-priced flood insurance and having to pick up the pieces when the next big storm hits.

  • How safe is the neighborhood? You can always check the official NYPD website for crime statistics, but the best way to get a sense of how comfortable you'll feel in the neighborhood is to ask someone who lives there, and to check it out yourself, especially  at night. The vibe at 9 p.m. might be very different than at the 3 p.m. open house you attended.

  • How easy is it to find a parking spot? Wherever you move in New York City, the answer to this question is probably going to be "not very." But if you have a car, you can ask residents, brokers, and doormen about this. That is, if you plan to keep the car, which, again, you probably don't need. If you are going to keep the ride, get familiar with alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations. In Brooklyn, you'll wind up having to move your car less frequently than in Manhattan if you park on the street. If you decide to park your car in a garage, be sure to factor monthly fees into your budget. In Manhattan, $400-$500 a month is not unusual for garage parking. Some garages in prime locations charge as much as $800 to 900 a month. Renting a car is always an option, too. A Zipcar membership allows you to rent cars by the hour (most cost about $15 per hour, gas included). Car2Go offers tiny Smart cars for a similar hourly rate, but rather than an annual membership fee, there's a $35 sign-up fee. The service is currently only available in Brooklyn and Queens. On the plus side, you can leave the cars on the street where you please, as opposed to having to return them to their original spots, as you do with Zipcar.

Tips and storage ideas for living in small apartments


When New York City couples move in together, it often means searching for, or being absorbed into, a modest one-bedroom apartment. For many, taking this plunge will be both exciting (think of all that saved rent!) and excruciating, as sharing a space will mean compromises, fights over housework, and the paring down of personal items so everyone’s stuff can fit.

So for those about to take the plunge—and those who could benefit from a bit more squabble-proofing at home—we’ve culled a list of our favorite self-preservation and storage tips for shacking up in small apartments.


For self-preservation…

1. Use visual dividers to create “rooms” ↑
Dividers are a great way to fake extra space for an office or reading nook, or to create a private escape in a shared space. As Kate Stone, an artist living in a 400-square-foot Bushwick apartment with her husband, tells 6sqft, “Part of our studio is our ‘office.’ We have a ‘living room,’ ‘dining room,’ etc., even though they’re all the same space. It’s good to designate specific areas for specific functions.”

The conveniently cubic Kallax shelves are a common go-to for many folks thanks to the added bonus of extra storage space, but wood crates can provide the same effect for much less. Using shelving for dividers also gives partners more opportunity to express their individuality in a space. Foldable partitions, on the other hand, are easy to stow when guests are over.


2. Keep separate closets ↑
“Separate closets are a must,” says Yuka Yoneda, an NYC editor living in a two-bedroom LIC apartment with her husband and a newborn, “even if one person has to use the front entrance wardrobe as their own. It’s the best way to eliminate quarrels caused by one person trying to unwedge a pair of their pants out from between the other’s polo shirts.”

If closets are limited, consider using room partitions or hanging curtains around a garment rack or wardrobe to create a makeshift walk-in closet. (Bonus tip: Slim or muti-tier hangerswill also help maximize available space.)

3. Think beyond the walls of your apartment 
If you have the opportunity to start anew together, search for an apartment building with common space, or seek out a neighborhood that’s well served by cafes or other spots that can be used year round. Inclement weather and unexpected fallouts will make a small apartment feel even more strained and claustrophobic.


To maximize storage…

4. Use Hooks ↑
If closet space is scarce, add hooks to the interior of closet doors or on the sides of dressers where you can fit them. If you’ve got great stuff you can show off, hang your belongings gallery wall-style using strategically placed hooks.


6. Consider above head storage ↑
Look up for storage solutions. Space above cabinets can easily be used to stow books, pots, pans, or anything you don’t use regularly. The area above your bathroom door is also an oft forgotten space where additional shelving can be installed to discretely store cleaning supplies, toilet paper, towels and the like.


7. Use baskets ↑
Baskets are a surprisingly chic, affordable and simple way to hide items around the house. Opt to store things you need quick access to, small items or even clutter. Baskets with lids will help make sure you don’t go overboard making a mess.


8. Create a radiator shelf ↑
Whether or not they’re pumping out heat, you can use the space above your radiators as shelves—a top tip in the bathroom where couples often quarrel over limited space. Simply measure the area above the radiator and have your local hardware store cut a sheet of wood to suit. Use the thickest wood you can to avoid warping, or if you can get your hands on it, use a piece of marble for a more upscale look. Avoid particle board or anything with a cheap veneer finish, as it will peel.

Learn to live with what you’ve got…

9. Purge your home 1-2 times a year
If you are hoarders, you’ll need to learn to let go and live with less, and the wardrobe is a great place to start. Most of us only wear a fraction of what’s in our closets, so do some good by donating or selling what you don’t need. If you need help paring down, here are a few great questions to ask yourself from The Every Girl:

  1. Does this fit?

  2. Have I worn this in the last 12 months?

  3. Is it likely I will ever wear this again?

  4. Is this currently in style, and/or does this still accurately represent my style?

  5. If this is damaged in any way (e.g., piling, rips, stains, missing buttons, broken zippers, fading, etc.), will I actually make the effort to get this repaired in the near future?

  6. If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?

  7. Do I feel confident when I wear this?

If you answered “no” to any of those, you should get rid of the item.

A similar evaluation should be applied to beauty products, tools, magazines… and all those hobbies that never quite panned out. If you don’t see yourself using something, then away it goes. Any redundant items owned by you and your partner should also be donated or sold—e.g. two blenders are not necessary.

“Living in a small space is all about editing,” advises Dustin O’Neal, a creative director with his own teensy 275-square-foot apartment. “You have to remove to grow.”

Ready to ‘tidy up’ your apartment? Meet NYC’s master KonMari consultant


Between her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” and new Netflix show, “Tidying Up,” over the past five years, Marie Kondo—a diminutive Japanese organizing guru—has changed how people around the world think about decluttering their homes. But Kondo isn’t just another interior designer offering tips on storage. She believes that one’s home has a direct impact on their lives and even their personal relationships. This is why she approaches tidying from the heart and not simply the mind. As she says on her website, “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.”

With so many of us living in homes that are almost as tiny as those in Tokyo where Kondo is based and developed her method, it’s no surprise that New Yorkers have been eagerly embracing Kondo’s advice. It is also likely no coincidence that one of the only certified Master KonMari consultants in North America, Karin Socci, happens to serve the New York City area. 6sqft recently reached out to Socci, founder of The Serene Home, to learn more about the KonMari method and how she helps New Yorkers put it into practice.


Karin Socci: KonMari is a lifestyle method or organizing that asks you to evaluate the things you have in your home on the basis of whether you find them to be especially useful or especially beautiful/meaningful. Those are the things that we say Spark Joy! Things are divided into five categories (clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, and sentimental) and sorted by category instead of location (bedroom, kitchen etc.) so that you get a full sense of what you have. Once items have been sorted, they are organized so that they are easy to see, easy to get to, and easy to put away. Most people find that by doing this method from top to bottom, things stay organized for the most part. Once your things are organized, the idea is that day to day life is a little calmer and a little more relaxed.


How does one become a certified KonMari consultant? 

KS: There’s a process that includes demonstrating that you have KonMari’ed your home, attending an intensive seminar, submitting reports on at least 10 practice clients and then passing an exam. All along the way, KMI is providing feedback and suggestions.

Have you actually met Maria Kondo?

KS: Yes! I have met Marie several times! Not only at the seminars, but I have been involved in media events with her. She’s just like the series shows her: very serene and a little shy, but very open and compassionate.

What are some of the specific challenges that New Yorkers face when it comes to organizing their homes?

KS: Great question! Space is obviously the main thing. Every square inch of an NYC apartment is super valuable. You are paying a lot for it in rent, mortgage, maintenance, insurance, heating, cooling, and so on. So, it’s even more important that you are certain that each item has “earned” its space by being beautiful, useful or meaningful. Do you really want to devote a foot of counter top to the waffle maker you use once a year? If you love shoes, how much space are you okay with devoting to them? Those are questions that people with suburban homes don’t have to answer as brutally. I have clients all the time who say, “I love all these things, but I will narrow it down because I also want to be able to function in my apartment.” All space used for storage cannot be used for activities.

Hypothetically, let’s say a client comes to you for help—a family of four living in a converted one bedroom in Manhattan—about 750 square feet for four people including two children. If they are going to invest in three or four storage solutions, which ones would you recommend?

KS: In KonMari, this is a question that can only be answered once things are sorted. We avoid deciding about organizational items until we know exactly what is needed in the space for day to day activities. The first thing I say when people ask me this is beware the big container stores! Bed Bath & Beyond and the Container Store are Disneylands for cramped quarters. They have a very tempting solution for every problem, but shoving unneeded things into pretty bins is not the solution.

Now, having said that, there is a place for good storage equipment, and in this case, I would advise the family to have a dedicated basket or bin for each person. This should become the go-to drop off for bags, books, papers that will be leaving the house in the morning as each person starts their day. These can be stacking or not, but each basket should be a respected space. Each person should sort their basket each week to remove things no longer needed. This will prevent some morning chaos.

Also, think vertically! Use every foot of space up high. Put up shelves and use high spaces for things not needed as often and then invest in folding footstools. Use all space easily reachable for things needed most often. This is your prime real estate and only things that are needed most often should be within reach.

Finally, use boxes or little bins inside of drawers to separate items. I see underwear, socks, and tee shirts jumbled up in the same drawer so often. Not only is it hard to find things, but it’s not a very pleasant sight when you are getting ready for the day.

Are there any benefits to living in a smaller but more orderly home? Are New Yorkers actually gaining something by being forced to live in smaller spaces, even with children?

KS: I think everyone would answer this question differently, but in KonMari, we always return to the vision of striving to live your ideal life. Do the benefits of living in NYC outweigh the possible benefits of begin able to own more stuff? If you honestly ask yourself how many things you really need or use each day, you would probably acknowledge that most of the things you own fall into the category of “maybe someday I will need this” or “I need this only once in a great while”. So, I think that the decision about whether living in NYC is an overall benefit depends on whether you are living the life you want to live here or not. I work with lots of families who live in very large homes outside of the city, and they also find themselves swimming in stuff and feeling cramped. Space is a vacuum and easy to fill. But there is enormous satisfaction in the feeling that you are sharing your home with just the right number of things.

How and when did you start your business and what services do you offer?

KS: The Serene Home opened in 2016 after I found my calling. I started my professional life in psychotherapy and healthcare finance but wanted to get out from behind a desk and work with people in a more personal way. I discovered KonMari, went through the certification process and began working with people and families throughout the NYC area. My services are primarily in the home, hands-on, KonMari organizing, although I also provide practical interior design. I do offer virtual organizing for some clients, especially if they are far away, and I also teach classes in Westchester each season and do presentations and workshops.

Harlem exhibit shows an intimate side of MLK on the civil rights hero’s 90th birthday

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta being greeted by Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (left) and labor leader A. Philip Randolph (right) at the Pan American World Airways terminal, in New York City: Image: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. (1950 – 1959).

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife Coretta being greeted by Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (left) and labor leader A. Philip Randolph (right) at the Pan American World Airways terminal, in New York City: Image: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. (1950 – 1959).

Open as of January 15, a new photography exhibit titled, “Crusader: Martin Luther King Jr.” at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center considers Reverend King as man, traveler and friend. The show offers an intimate travelogue of the civil rights leader’s visits to India, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance in Oslo, Norway, and work as a crusader for non-violent civil rights action, captured by noted photographers of the day.

The images on display, chosen from the Schomburg Center’s Photographs and Prints Division, show a side King in his life, in travel, at rest and in celebration–a contrast to most popular iconic photography of the leader in his leadership role.

The show’s title was taken from 1959 biography of King, “Crusader Without Violence,” published by Dr. L.D. Reddick. Reddick was curator of the Schomburg Center collection after Arturo Schomburg and a friend of Reverend King’s. The exhibit will be displayed through April 6 in the Schomburg Center’s Latimer/Edison Gallery at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard.