Flood-Proof Manhattan

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Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled on Thursday a $10 billion plan to extend the coastline of Lower Manhattan as much as 500 feet to protect from future floods. The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project is the result of a study that looked at ways to build resilience in low-lying neighborhoods like the Financial District and South Street Seaport. The study found the only feasible measure for these areas would be extending the shoreline about two city blocks into the East River by adding a new piece of land at or above 20 feet from current sea level.

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According to the study, led by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and the city’s Economic Development Corporation, by the 2050s, 37 percent of properties in Lower Manhattan will be at risk from storm surge. By 2100, nearly 50 percent of properties would be at risk, as the sea level is projected to rise by six feet. In a press release, the mayor said Hurricane Sandy, which damaged about 17,000 homes in 2012, revealed just how at risk parts of Lower Manhattan are to climate change.

“That’s why we not only have to reduce emissions to prevent the most cataclysmic potential effects of global warming, we have to prepare for the ones that are already inevitable,” de Blasio said. “Our actions will protect Lower Manhattan into the next century.”

The study found that extending the shoreline of FiDi and the Seaport District, instead of building flood protection on land, is necessary because the area lacks the space, with dense infrastructure both above and underground. According to the city, the new shoreline will serve as a flood barrier during storms.

A master plan will be completed by the city over the next two years that will establish a “new public-benefit corporation” to finance, manage, and construct the project. The city said it will immediately procure a team of engineers and designers through a Request for Qualification later this month.

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And de Blasio also announced that the city will invest $500 million in capital projects for overall climate resilience, as well as in planning for the Lower Manhattan project. That investment will be spent expanding temporary flood-proof measures for the 2019 hurricane season, reconstructing the Battery Park City esplanade starting in 2020, elevating The Battery’s wharf and adding a berm at the back of the park in 2021, and designing a flood protection system for the Two Bridges neighborhood in the next two years.

A community outreach process is set to begin this spring, which will help determine the extent of the shoreline expansion and identify the project’s first phase.

“Impacts of climate change pose an existential threat to our quality of life and economic stability,” James Patchett, EDC President said. “A comprehensive strategy to protect Lower Manhattan against climate risks is critically necessary in order to safeguard our communities and secure our collective future.”

In a New York Magazine op-ed published on Wednesday, de Blasio said the project would need to be “backed by big federal dollars.” He also voiced support for the Green New Deal, an economic program proposed by Democrats that would address climate change.

“The national emergency is already here,” the mayor wrote. “We have to meet it head-on. And we need Washington behind us.”







Spring

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Central Park Celebrates Spring


Date: March 20, 2019

Central Park Celebrates Spring with special events on March 20, the first day of the season! Start your morning off in the dirt, or settle in by the Meer for catch-and-release fishing — it’s all happening right here in Central Park.

All events are free!

SCHEDULE

9:00 AM — Volunteer Drive 
Help our amazing volunteers prepare the Park for spring! Groups will take part in a weeding project in Central Park’s north end. Can’t make it for this project? Stop by any visitor centeror information kiosk to learn about other ways to get involved throughout the year. Weather permitting, advance registration required. Register now >

10:00 AM — Birding Basics: The Ramble 
Central Park welcomes more than 270 migrating bird species each year. Prepare for peak migration season with a free tour of the Ramble and learn the basics of bird identification along the way. Advance registration recommended. Walk-ups welcome. First-come, first-served. Register now >

11:00 AM — Fishing at the Harlem Meer 
Join us at the Dana Discovery Center for catch-and-release fishing on the Harlem Meer. Fishing poles, bait, and instructions will be provided. Weather permitting, no registration required. Learn more >

2:00 PM — Stroll to Strawberry Fields — Dogs Welcome! 
Bring your furry friends for an exploration of Central Park’s southwest corner. From a planned military parade ground to the site commemorating John Lennon, some of the most-visited spots in the Park have secrets to share with even seasoned Park-goers. Advance registration recommended. Walk-ups welcome. First-come, first-served. Register now >

3:00 PM — Chess Strategies and Tips 
Join us for a free chess talk and open play at Chess & Checkers House. Chess expert Ed Feldman will share tips and techniques, and then stick around to answer questions and give advice during open play. No registration required. Learn more >

All-day events


Hudson Yards

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The $20 billion, 28-acre Hudson Yards megaproject has been in the news recently as its official March 15 grand opening approaches. The New York Times reports that the nation’s largest residential development has gotten more than a little financial help from the city government to get there. In fact, public records–and a recent study by the New School–reveal that the development has received nearly $6 billion in the form of tax breaks and additional government assistance, twice the controversial $3 billion in incentives held out to Amazon to entice the retail tech giant to bring its second headquarters to Queens.

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Where did $6 billion in taxpayer dollars go? Included in that tally were the $2.4 billion spent by the city to bring the 7 subway line to Hudson Yards; $1.2 billion was set aside for four acres of green space within Hudson Yards. The City Council kicked in $359 million to shore up interest payments on bonds when the development fell short of its revenue projections.

The point to be made is that the world’s most successful real estate developers–In this case Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group–are among the biggest beneficiaries of generous government tax breaks, meant to encourage development.

Of the incentives given to the Hudson Yards project, defenders say they’ll reap an enormous benefit to the city in the form of thousands of new jobs created. The subway extension is definitely a boon, and who can argue with parks and improvements at what was for years a jumble of old factories, tenements and a stretch of rail yards once known as “Death Avenue.”

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But the city was lacking a subway stop on the far west side before the wealthy developers made it happen, and the counter-argument in both the case of Amazon and Hudson Yards is that big businesses with big profits at stake should pay their own way rather than getting government incentives–particularly tax breaks–sorely needed elsewhere.

The New School’s recent analysis, headed by Bridget Fisher and Flávia Leite, focuses on a particularly fortuitous property tax break that developers within the Hudson Yards area benefitted from which has cost the city more than $1 billion so far. This incentive can mean as much as a 40 percent discount for future developers in the area for as long as 20 years.

Additional incentives could be forthcoming for companies like mega-money manager BlackRock, with $5.98 trillion under management, who can get $25 million in state tax credits in exchange for adding 700 jobs at Hudson Yards. L’Oreal USA is in the running for $5.5 million of the same tax credit, and WarnerMedia could get $14 million.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been a supporter of the Hudson Yards project–and of the Amazon deal–but appears to be rethinking the necessity of property tax breaks for big corporations since the recent Amazon debacle. He said in a statement that though Hudson Yards will benefit the city, “We’ve moved away from providing discretionary incentives like the prior administration. I believe state and local economic development programs need to be re-evaluated and updated.”

The city may approach the subject differently in a post-Amazon New York. Council Member Brad Lander of Brooklyn, a Democrat and founder of the Council’s Progressive Caucus and an opponent of the Amazon deal said he understands the benefits of subway expansion and new parks but, “We’re giving away tax breaks without paying close attention to what’s a good deal or not a good deal.”

James Parrott, director of economic and fiscal policies at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, expressed a similar sentiment: “We are still giving tax breaks to a development that enriches billionaire developers and high-rise commercial and residential development that is not benefiting ordinary people in New York.”

Hudson Yards will ‘officially’ open on March 15

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Though it seems hardly a week can go by without a flurry of news from Manhattan’s newest instant neighborhood, Hudson Yards, the west side mega-project–the largest private development in the nation’s history–developed by Related Companies and Oxford Propertied Group now has announced that Friday, March 15th will be its official opening date. In addition to a grand opening celebration, the Public Square and Gardens and the neighborhood’s centerpiece, Thomas Heatherwick’s “Vessel,” are set to open on that date; more importantly, The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards will be officially open.

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Tenants will be moving into the towers at 55 Hudson Yards and 30 Hudson Yards in phases over the next few months according to a press release, and residents will soon be moving in at 15 Hudson Yards. The flurry of firsts from the 28-acre complex in recent months has included the topping out and interior renderings from the development’s tallest residential tower (35 Hudson Yards), progress on NYC’s highest outdoor observation deck (30 Hudson Yards) and the growing tenant roster at the Norman Foster-designed 50 Hudson Yards, the city’s most expensive office building.

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Most recently The Shed, the new arts center at Hudson Yards announced an opening date(April 5, 2019) and additional opening season commissions. In addition to The Shed’s cultural contributions, 25 restaurant and food concepts are setting up shop at Hudson Yards, with chefs like David Chang, Michael Lomonaco, Thomas Keller and Costas Spiliadis weighing in. Retail and food offerings include a Neiman Marcus store which will anchor the Shops and Restaurants and bar, restaurant, and event space on the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards–one floor above the tower’s observation deck.

Opening day events include an invitation-only celebration at The Shops and Restaurants on the night of Thursday, March 14th and an Official Grand Opening Celebration and first walk on Vessel on the morning of March 15th. Expect more information and many, many more announcements in the months to come.

Chrysler Building sells for $150M

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Real estate mogul Aby Rosen has picked up another New York City landmark. Rosen’s RFR Holding LLC, which controls the Seagram Building and Lever House, bought the Chrysler Building for $150 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The sale represents a major loss for majority owner Abu Dhabi Investment Council, who paid $800 million in 2008 for a 90 percent stake in the 77-story Art Deco tower.

As 6sqft reported, the skyscraper first hit the market in January after owners Tishman Speyer Properties, which owns a 10 percent stake, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Council hired real estate firm CBRE Group to sell the property.

While the Chrysler Building serves as an iconic part of the city’s skyline, the pre-war building comes with some major baggage, which is in part why RFR was able to buy it at such a discounted price.

Major upgrades would be required for the 90-year-old tower, a challenge for any 1930 building but particularly for one that is protected by landmark laws. Real estate experts told the WSJ that the tower’s nearly 400,000 square feet of vacant space could require a nearly $200 million investment to attract new tenants.

And leasing fees for the land beneath the building have risen significantly. Owned by the Cooper Union school, the land cost the Chrysler Building owners $7.75 million in rent in 2017. In 2018, the annual rent jumped to $32.5 million and is expected to grow to $41 million by 2028.

Tishman Speyer purchased the building and two next-door properties in 1997 for $220 million, selling its majority stake to the Abu Dhabi government a decade later for quadruple the price. The firm still owns 10 percent of the building but it selling that stake to new buyers, according to the WSJ.

Grand Central’s Clock

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Did you know Grand Central’s clock is worth $20M? 

For more than a century, millions of New Yorkers have been meeting “under the clock,” that great rendezvous point – and focal point – of Grand Central Terminal. The clock, which has presided over Grand Central’s Main Concourse since the Terminal opened in 1913, has stood out amidst the swirl of commuters and the flow of time, witnessing reunions of friends and lovers, beginning countless adventures, and playing a priceless role in the life of the city. Or, nearly-priceless. It turns out that appraisers from Sotheby’s and Christie’s have valued the four-sided brass masterpiece at between $10 and 20 million!

The brass beauty might be one of the most iconic timepieces in Manhattan, but it was made in Brooklyn, by the Self Winding Clock Company, at 205 Willoughby Avenue. Accordingly, the clock stands as a graceful and gorgeous reminder that Brooklyn was once the industrial center of the five boroughs, and “the grocery and hardware store” of the nation.

That provenance and fine workmanship contribute to the clock’s monetary value, but from an appraiser’s point of view, the clock benefits markedly from having a pretty face. Or four. Each of the 24-inch wide clock faces is made out of rare opal glass that certainly adds up.


MoMA PS1 this summer

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An interactive ‘junglescape’ is coming to the courtyard of MoMA PS1 this summer

Serving as the light at the end of winter’s tunnel, MoMA PS1 unveiled this week the winning design for its popular summer outdoor music series Warm Up. The installation “Hórama Rama” by Pedro & Juana (a Mexico City-based studio founded by Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo and Mecky Reuss) will bring an immersive “junglescape” with a cyclorama that sits on top of the concrete courtyard walls. “Hórama Rama” will feature a 40-foot-tall, 90-foot-wide structure that floats over the courtyard space, with hammocks and a functioning, two-story waterfall contributing to the wilderness vibe. The temporary exhibit accompanies the outdoor music series that runs from June to September.

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In its 20th year, the Young Architects Program challenges architects to design a sustainable outdoor installation that provides shade, seating, and water while remaining environmentally sensitive.

Hórama Rama was selected from among five finalists, including Low Design Office, Oana Stănescu and Akane Moriyama, Matter Design, and TO. An exhibition of the five finalists’ proposals will be on view at MoMA PS1 throughout the summer.

“Pedro & Juana’s world-within-a-world, Hórama Rama, is a manifold of views in which to see and be seen, to find and lose oneself in a radically different environment,” Sean Anderson, the associate curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design, said.”The installation constructs a collection of scenes into which visitors may escape, even if for a moment, whether in a hammock or by the waterfall.”

In addition to the water fixture, the exterior structure features protruding wood “bristles” to create a sense of movement.

Fair Fares

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After facing criticism for the delayed and limited roll-out of Fair Fares, Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Johnson have announced plans to expand the program. Starting this fall, eligible New Yorkers in NYCHA, enrolled students at CUNY, and military veterans below the poverty line will have access to the program, which provides half-priced MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers. By January 2020, open enrollment will expand to all New Yorkers at or below the federal poverty line (a household income of $25,750 for a family of four). The program has also been criticized for its reversal on reduced fares for single trips, but Monday’s announcement came with the good news that a pay-per-ride option will be available by mid-March.

“The steps being taken today demonstrate the shared commitment by the Mayor, the Speaker, the City Council, and advocates to fulfill the program’s vision of making the turnstile the gateway to economic opportunity for all New Yorkers who are struggling to get ahead,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of CSS, the anti-poverty organization that first proposed half-priced fares.

The program was met with confusion and criticism when it launched four days late on January 4th, with a roll-out that was far more restricted than expected. It was originally thought that the program would apply to the 800,000 low-income New Yorkers living at or below the federal poverty level, but that was narrowed down to just 30,000 residents receiving cash assistance from the Department of Social Services. In April, a second phase of the plan was to include the 130,000 New Yorkers who receive food stamps.

“I understand that reporters or anybody else might say, ‘Why can’t things be more instantaneous?’ But you would also say, if something went wrong, ‘Why did something go wrong?'” Mayor de Blasio said during a news conference. “We’re trying to use the first 30,000 to make sure the whole system will work.”

The city will be launching a three-month advertising campaign to raise awareness of the “Fair Fares” program in the top 25 New York City zip codes where there are large numbers of eligible individuals for the program.



Harriet Tubman $20 bill?

By Donna Borak, CNN

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Washington (CNN)It's been more than a year since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last publicly answered questions about the Harriet Tubman $20 bill.

"We haven't made any decisions as to whether we'll change the bill, or won't change the bill," he said during a January 2018 onstage interview at the Economic Club of Washington when asked whether he'd follow through on an Obama administration plan to honor the Underground Railroad hero. 

A Treasury spokesperson told CNN that the secretary's position "remains the same," adding that "the primary focus is on developing new security features to prevent counterfeiting" of the bill.

The Trump administration inherited the 2016 decision by Mnuchin's Democratic predecessor Jack Lew to swap out President Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder often lionized by President Donald Trump, for Tubman, a onetime slave known for her work freeing her fellow African-Americans from bondage. At the time of the announcement, the redesign of Tubman on the $20 bill was expected to be unveiled in 2020. 

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The overhaul of the $20 note would mark the first time a black woman would grace US currency. Tubman would also be the first woman in more than 100 years on a paper note.

Trump and Jackson

As a candidate, Trump routinely made appeals to African-American voters, challenging them to abandon the Democratic Party, and since taking office he has frequently boasted about the falling unemployment rate of black Americans. He has also repeatedly been accused of bigotry, most recently by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who testified before Congress last week that his ex-boss was a "cheat" and a "racist."

Trump has also expressed admiration for Jackson, visiting his grave early in his administration and subsequently tweeting, "We honor your memory. We build on your legacy."

Trump has repeatedly spoken out publicly against removing the seventh American president, who was elected in 1828, from the $20 bill. As a candidate, Trump described the Tubman announcement as "pure political correctness," suggesting he would "love to see another denomination" for Tubman like the $2 bill. 

Trump's former White House adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman wrote last year in her tell-all book, "Unhinged," that the President balked at the idea of putting Tubman on the $20 bill, reportedly telling her, "You want me to put that face on the $20 bill?" 

A White House spokesman did not respond to a CNN request for comment.

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Progress on redesign

It usually takes more than a decade to update paper currency. A redesigned $20 note is expected to be released into circulation sometime in 2030, although that could change if there are fresh counterfeiting threats. The $20 bill is the third in line to be overhauled, preceded by the $10 bill and $50 bill.

Lydia Washington, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is overseen by the Treasury Department, said none of the details of the currency redesign -- all of which will require approval by Mnuchin -- have been finalized yet. 

She said the redesign is on schedule but is still in the "development stage" with security features being prioritized. "The primary reason for currency redesign is security against counterfeiting, not aesthetics," Washington said in an email to CNN. 

The Obama administration, however, made a priority of using the redesign as an opportunity to add well-known American women and people of color to the US currency.

The fight to put a woman on the $20

Tubman was initially supposed to be on the $10 bill, the next denomination in line for a security update. That bill features former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who is enjoying a moment thanks to the hit Broadway musical about him, and the emergence of a viral campaign by a group called Women on 20s meant Hamilton ended up keeping the $10 bill all to himself. 

The campaign -- specifically directed at removing Jackson -- went viral with 600,000 voters nominating the country's most famous abolitionist to be honored on the $20 note by 2020, which also marks the 100th anniversary of the women's suffrage movement. 

So Treasury came up with a different plan to redesign three notes to incorporate women.

It would keep Hamilton on the front of the $10 bill, but the back would feature a montage of women involved in the American suffrage movement, including Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul. The recognition follows the issuance of Susan B. Anthony dollar coins that circulated from 1979 through 1981 and then again in 1999. 




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The $20 bill would replace Jackson with Tubman, a move that elicited cheers from advocates who wanted Jackson, who owned slaves and signed the law that drove Native Americans from their land in the Southeast, off the bill. 

And the $5 bill would keep President Abraham Lincoln on the front, while it would showcase the Lincoln Memorial on the back along with portraits of people involved in historic events that took place there, including Marian Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt.

New York City Whiskey Fest

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New York City Whiskey Fest features over 100 styles of whiskey and spirits. Ticket holders are able to try their favorites as well as new spirits. All while getting to know more about the whiskeys from experts that will take them on the ultimate tour of whiskey.

Special offer for readers:
Save $25 on tickets with promo code THESKINT
Get tickets now!

New York City Whiskey and Spirits Fest
Saturday, March 9
Session 1: 2-5pm
Session 2: 6:30-9:30pm
The Tunnel NYC
entrance at 269 11th Ave between 27th-28th Sts

21+ Only

https://www.newyorkcitywhiskeyfest.com



Farm-to-table in NYC

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 Local restaurants respond to growing demand for fresh food

Since the early 2000s, a host of new health-conscious establishments have transformed the restaurant scene nationwide. While some of these establishments focus on serving exclusively organic or vegan fare, others have a mandate to deliver local and farm-to-table products. In the beginning, most of these restaurants were on the pricier side, but increasingly, even fast-food or quick-service restaurants are focusing on local and farm-to-table products. But this raises a question: In New York City, what exactly does local or farm-to-table mean? 6sqft investigated to find out how these concepts are being defined and what types of local products are most likely to end up on plates and bowls in our city’s restaurants.

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NY farms produce much of NYC’s food

New York may be better known for its urban than rural areas but, in fact, New York State is home to over 35,000 farms that cover over seven million acres. The state’s top crops are milk, corn (for feed), hay, cattle, apples, floriculture, cabbage, sweet corn, potatoes, and tomatoes. While there are some things one just can’t grow or raise in New York State (for example, lemons, pineapples, and avocados), when one drills down into the data, it soon becomes apparent that the state is an agriculturally rich region with a lot to offer.

  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, as of January 2018, there were over 625,000 milk cows in New York State (to put that into perspective, there are only about 100,000 people living in the state capital of Albany).

  • In 2017, New York State produced 760,000 gallons of maple syrup, 8,000,000 pounds of tart cherries, and 3,178,000 tons of alfalfa.

  • New York State is home to over 5000 acres of pumpkins and 14,000 acres of potatoes.

760,000 gallons of maple syrup or eight million pounds of tart cherries may seem like a lot but not when you consider how much food people in New York City and the surrounding region consume. After all, in addition to feeding NYC’s 8.5 million residents, the city hosts over 60 million tourists each year.

Getting fresh food to the city’s 20,000 restaurants and 13,000 food retailers each day is a complex operation and one that can be easily disrupted. Since most of New York City’s food is now stored in warehouses located approximately 100 miles away and brought in on demand, even minor storms often have a major impact on the city’s complicated food-supply chain.

What is farm-to-table?

Farm-to-table may be a popular catchphrase in the culinary world these days, but this doesn’t mean it has a single meaning. In most cases, farm-to-table refers to food that has been sourced directly from a farm and not purchased through a food distributor, which is where most food found in supermarkets and restaurants is sourced. But even when food is classified as farm-to-table, the label can denote many different types of relationships with producers.

While some farm-to-table restaurants have their own farms, others have dedicated relationships with one or more producers and still others simply buy directly from an ever-changing network of farmers. For restaurants with dedicated relationships to farmers, the relationships in question can also take different forms. In some cases, restaurants offer their farm partner a guarantee that they will buy a certain percentage of their crop each season. Other restaurants offer their farm partners shares in their business venture.

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Defining local

Like farm-to-table, local has many meanings. While some establishments are completely transparent about what “local” designates, others use the term without any clear definition at all. To illustrate, we examined how just three popular local establishments in the quick service market define local.

Dig Inn, which bills itself as a farm-to-table establishment, defines “local” as any farm located within a 300-mile radius of their restaurants. In addition, Dig Inn leases a 12-acre farm in Orange County, New York, which happens to be in New York’s “Black Dirt” region (black dirt is especially good for growing root vegetables and greens). In 2017, Dig Inn pulled 21,000 pounds of produce from their black dirt farm and managed to get most of this produce on plates and in blows at their New York City restaurants within 48 hours of harvest. More recently, they have set up a greenhouse to help ensure they have local produce year round.

Sweetgreen, a popular salad restaurant that started in D.C. but now has multiple restaurants in New York City, also claims to use local produce, but unlike Dig Inn, it doesn’t define what this means. As stated on its website, “We source from partners and growers we know and trust, letting their farming dictate our menu. We go to great lengths to work with farmers who are doing the right thing, and we source locally where possible.” Whether this means the produce was grown or raised within a 100-mile or 1000-mile radius of their stores is unclear.

Founded in New York City in 2006, Just Salad now has multiple locations across the city. While they use a variety of ingredients, they strive to only use non-GMO, organic, and locally sourced food. As they say on their website, “Our produce arrives fresh daily. We serve it raw, roasted, baked, or steamed. Never canned. No fake sh*t.” Until recently, it wasn’t entirely clear what “local” meant at Just Salads, but in November 2018, the local company announced plans to partner with Gotham Greens, a leading greenhouse grower to supply local, greenhouse-grown romaine at select stores.

While both “farm-to-table” and “local” may mean different things to different people, there is clearly a growing desire to close the gap between the field and table in New York City and make farm-fresh food accessible to all New Yorkers, even those who can’t afford to dine at four-star establishments.

Cycling in the City: A 200 Year History

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With 100+ miles of protected bike lanes, a flotilla of Citi Bikes, and the robust Five Boro Bike Tour, New York City ranks as one of the top 10 cycling cities in the country. In fact, the nation’s very first bike lane was designated on Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway in 1894, and the city’s cycling history reaches back two centuries. Beginning March 14th, the Museum of the City of New York will celebrate and explore that history in the new exhibit, “Cycling in the City: A 200 Year History.”

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The exhibit–which features more than 150 objects, including 14 bicycles–will be organized into three sections: Cycling Cultures, Cycling Machines and Cycling Landscapes.

In Cycling Cultures, you’ll meet the “wheelmen” of 19th century Brooklyn, and the “New Women,” of the suffrage movement who took to cycling as a means of self reliance and liberation. Alongside them, newer cycling subcultures, such as ethnic cycling clubs, racing clubs, or delivery associations take their place in the city’s diverse cycling history.

Cycling Machines will explore the technological evolution of the bicycle. Turns out New York’s cycle craze began in 1819, when the very first human-powered two wheel machine, known as the “velocipede,” a contraption without pedals, allowed riders to coast down hills by pushing off the ground. By the 1860s, “pedal machines” hit the scene, and New York became the center of the nation’s bicycle industry. Bikes as we know them date to the 1890s, but the exhibit will also focus on transformative models from the 20th and 21st centuries, such as fixed-gear bikes, folding bikes, pedi-cabs, ride-shares, and even the “bespoke” bikes of today’s Brooklyn.

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Finally, Cycling Landscapes will consider the bicycle’s role in the city’s complex web of concerns including street safety, environmentalism, and mobility.




Cuomo pleads with Amazon to reconsider Long Island City deal

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Update 3/1/19, 1:10pm: According to Crain’s, Governor Cuomo said today on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, “They have given no indication that they would reconsider. I have no reason to believe that Amazon is reconsidering. Would I like them to? Certainly. But I have no reason to believe that.”

Amazon’s Valentine’s Day breakup with New York City has been rough on Governor Andrew Cuomo; the New York Times reports that Cuomo has continued to beseech the retail giant to build one of its two new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, as it had announced plans to do last November. According to the Times, Cuomo has privately assured Amazon officials that he would ease the company’s path to any needed approvals and is “working intensely behind the scenes”–including a personal pitch to founder Jeff Bezos–to get Amazon to reconsider.

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Being left at the altar hasn’t sat well with the man who at one point joked that he would rename the polluted Newtown Creek the Amazon River as a way to lure the tech company to Queens. Cuomo, whose original proposal–accompanied by nearly $3 billion in grants and incentives–got a yes from the world’s most valuable company, who announced plans to create one of its new headquarters within the five boroughs, then later reconsidered the betrothal after protests from a number of community groups and unions who objected to the sweetheart deal and its massive tax incentives. In addition, an offer to create a general project plan to rezone the chosen site, a process that does not require approval from the City Council, didn’t sit well with elected officials. Amazon’s anti-union policies also raised objections from many of the city’s labor advocates.

The recent conversation between Cuomo and Bezos was apparently the first between the two that addressed Amazon’s plans for Queens or the company’s abrupt about-face. Since the latter was announced, Cuomo has been adamant about his conviction that support for the project was broader than it may have appeared. He said in a radio interview Tuesday that “It was a vocal minority opposition. Seventy percent of the people support Amazon.”

Dramatic public pleading joined private promises: A full page ad, to appear in Friday’s Times, implores Bezos to give NYC another chance and build a Queens campus. The letter, signed by over 70 unions who support the Amazon deal, local businesses and business leaders, community groups and elected officials, assures that Cuomo will “take personal responsibility for the project’s state approval,” and that Mayor Bill de Blasio “will work together with the governor to manage the community development process.”

Another open letter, this one from New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica and presumably aimed at the public-at-large, admits that while “in retrospect, the State and the City could have done more to communicate the facts of the project,” opposing the Amazon deal “was not even good politics.” The letter calls the missed connection a “blow to our reputation of being ‘open for business.'”

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Cuomo isn’t the only one taking a personal approach: As 6sqft recently reported, the owner of a Long Island City barbecue restaurant flew to Seattle on Monday in an attempt to revive the deal. Josh Bowen, who owns neighborhood joint John Brown Smokehouse, met with executives from the company for two hours. During the meeting, the businessman asked if they would reconsider their decision to pull out of the project. According to Bowen, the response was, “Never say never.”

As of yet, though, Amazon has offered no sign that it will rekindle the deal which the mega-company had promised would bring 25,000 full-time high-paying jobs to New York City by 2029 in addition to hiring 30 New Yorkers living at NYCHA housing developments for customer service positions and fund computer science classes at 130 high schools across the city. Amazon had expected to open 4 million square feet of office space with the possibility of expanding to 8 million square feet. According to the company, they could eventually create 40,000 jobs over the next 15 years.

When Amazon abandoned the deal, an exasperated Cuomo dismissed opponents’ assertion that the aforementioned $3 billion tax break might have been better spent in other ways as “ignorant,” and aligned his sentiments with President Trump, who slammed the “radical left.”

Once Amazon announced NYC as its HQ2 pick along with Arlington, Virginia, the proposal would have enabled the company to move into One Court Square beginning in 2019, occupying up to 1.5 million square feet of space. The company could then spread out across two area districts known as Anable Basin, one at its commercial core and one along the waterfront. Ferry access at the second zone would help connect to the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. Amazon would donate a new 600-seat school and 3.5 acres of public waterfront open space connecting to the existing Gantry Plaza State Park.

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It’s worth noting that the jilted city’s plan to bring a thousand residential units and a mix of industrial space to Long Island City is back on the table according to James Patchett, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Patchett said Thursday that the city will forge ahead with its original plan of bringing a mix of businesses and homes to the Queens neighborhood should Bezos refuse to budge on the bust up.

But it won’t be for lack of trying. Case in point: The State Senate’s Democratic majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who recently expressed her willingness to work with Amazon, withdrew her earlier nomination of State Sen. Michael Gianaris to the Public Authorities Control Board. The appointment would have given the Long Island City representative, who has been one of Amazon’s biggest critics, the ability to nix the HQ2 development project when it came before the board. Stewart-Cousins picked Queens representative Leroy Comrie, whose nomination is more likely to be approved by the governor, to sit on the board instead. Dani Lever, the governor’s communications director, said, “The governor will take over the process and can comfortably assure Amazon the approval will get done.”

According to Crain’s, Governor Cuomo added on the Brian Lehrer Show:

We want all businesses nationwide to know that this was an oddity. Don’t think that if you come to New York, the same thing is going to happen that happened to Amazon. That was a small, vocal minority—that was local petty politics—that governed the day. And we don’t operate that way. This was a mistake; it was a blunder. But we want business. We’re open for business.







Peter Luger

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Williamsburg

What is it? The Williamsburg steakhouse is over 130 years old, that staying power proves it is the ideal New York experience for any meat-eater. 

Why go? As Christina from Hell’s Kitchen says, it’s your opportunity to, “go to an eatery in the 100 Club.” Every self-respecting, meat-eating New Yorker should make the trek to Peter Luger’s for a porterhouse (or two) to celebrate their next special occasion. The digs inside, quite similar to they were over a century ago: beer hall-style with stucco walls and well-worn wooden floors. Tip: Bring a bunch of cash—the restaurant doesn’t accept credit cards.

Don’t miss: Obviously you aren’t here for the chicken, but before your steak we suggest ordering “Sliced Tomatoes and Onions with Luger’s Own sauce (for 2)”—it’s something.



Sarge’s Delicatessen & Diner

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Sarge’s is generally believed to be the city’s only 24-hour Jewish delicatessen. NYPD Sergeant Abe “Sarge” Katz opened the restaurant in 1964, and the building still has the burgundy vinyl booths, Tiffany’s lamps and a wall of celebrity photos to prove it. Sarge’s offers all the classic deli sandwiches—corned beef ($15.95), pastrami ($16.95), reuben ($19.95)—plus The Monster. Billed as the city’s largest sandwich, it is indeed a towering stack of corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, turkey, salami, tomato, lettuce, cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye ($41.95). The menu is just as gargantuan as that sandwich, offering everything from shrimp salad ($17.95) to matzo ball soup ($6.95) to sliced London broil with mushroom gravy ($30.95). If you still have room, order a slice of the homemade cheesecake ($6.95) and an egg cream to wash it down ($2.95).

Ramen At MomoFuku Noodle Bar

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East Village

What is it? Ugly Delicious host David Chang’s classic ramen is the original gangster: salty, carby, spicy and damn delectable—so much so that during our first visit we may have shed a happy tear into our bowl. 

Why go? The narrow restaurant, awash in honeyed wood, is always alive with chatter and never feels obnoxious. We suggest sitting at the noodle bar so you can watch his masters in action, and get a side order of whatever looks good that night. Definitely order the pork (belly and shoulder) ramen, and since it is a proper noodle joint all your Western dining manners are thrown out so that you can “slurp noodles,” says A.J. fo Bay Ridge, “it’s the best.” 

Don’t miss: The experience no matter how long wait might. Get there at least an hour before you want to eat, leave your number and grab a beer an avenue away at HiFi Bar until your table is ready.

Manage Central Park Like A Pro

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Central Park

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What is it? The world's most famous green space. 

Why go? "Many visitors fight through the crowded streets to enter Central Park around 59th Street—where there’s not much to see—and by the time they reach the best bits, they are too winded to enjoy them," says Head of North American Content Rocky Rakovic. Instead, he suggests taking the subway to 72nd Street and Central Park West, then head east to hit up Strawberry Fields, the Sheep Meadow, Cherry Hill, Bow Bridge, the Bethesda Fountain, the Naumburg Bandshell, the Loeb Boathouse, the Hans Christian Andersen Monument, the Conservatory Water’s model boats and the Alice in Wonderland statue, all in a “New York hour.”

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Don’t miss: Head to the shore of the Lake at 72nd Street and rent a rowboat or take a gondola tour. 


Amazon will not move to Long Island City

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Amazon said on Thursday it will no longer build a new headquarters in Long Island City, the New York Times reported. The online retail giant selected the Queens neighborhood last year for its “HQ2” campus following a 14-month nationwide contest. Amazon had promised to bring 25,000 jobs to New York City in exchange for nearly $3 billion in state and city incentives. In a statement, the company said it does not plan to look for another location at this time.

Last week, the Washington Post reported that Amazon executives were reconsidering its plan to move to New York City after facing opposition from community activists, unions, and politicians. On Thursday, the company said it will not move forward with its plans for a Queens campus.

“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” Amazon spokesperson Jodi Seth told the Times.

“While polls show that 70 percent of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” the statement reads.

A poll released on Tuesday shows a majority of New Yorkers actually do support Amazon’s move to Long Island City with 56 percent approval from voters in New York, not 70 percent as Amazon claimed.

In November, Amazon released its plan to open a sprawling campus along the Queens waterfront in an area known as Anable Basin. The agreement between the city and the company included the construction of a complex on a mix of city-owned and private land in Long Island City, the latter which is owned by the plastics company Plaxall.

The announcement quickly sparked protest from local officials and advocate groups after learning that the city and state offered the company– considered the most valuable in the world–nearly $3 billion in grants and incentives.

Plus, at a recent City Council hearing, Amazon officials revealed that the company would oppose efforts by its NYC workforce to unionize.

Chelsea Connor, the director of communications for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), told 6sqft in an email: “Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers – that’s not what a responsible business would do.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris has been one of the company’s biggest critics. The Queens representative was recently nominated by the State Senate to serve on the Public Authorities Control Board, the entity which must approve the Amazon plan.

“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event,” Gianaris said in a statement Thursday. “Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way. It is time for a national dialogue about the perils of these types of corporate subsidies.”

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who touted Amazon’s arrival along with Mayor Bill de Blasio last fall, said the politicians who stop the deal will “have the people of New York to explain it to.” The governor added: “It is irresponsible to allow political opposition to overcome sound government policy.”

De Blasio, who eagerly welcomed Amazon to the city, released a statement on Thursday: “You have to be tough to make it in New York City.”

He added: “Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”

The real estate industry may feel the greatest impact from Amazon pulling out of the deal. As 6sqft reported last year, following the HQ2 announcement searches for residential apartments in Long Island City shot up 281 percent compared to the daily averages prior to the announcement.

And the pricing of units in the area was immediately influenced by the Amazon news. The Corte, a new development under construction in LIC, reportedly raised prices on its units by $30,000 after the announcement.

David Grossmann, a real estate broker with Compass, told 6sqft that the market in Long Island City will soften, but the neighborhood will still “hold its value.”

“First and foremost, the residential rental market needs to be absorbed in LIC,” Grossmann said. “At this moment, there is a surplus in supply with many more coming to the market.”



Strand Bookstore last-ditch attempt to avoid landmark status

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In a heated second hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the owner of the iconic Strand Bookstore, Nancy Bass Wyden, continued her fight to keep the famed bookseller’s building from being designated a city landmark along with seven buildings on Broadway between East 12th and 14th Streets. Instead, Wyden is offering to put in place a historic preservation easement on the storefront, Gothamist reports. The easement would be the result of an agreement between the property’s owner and a nonprofit group that would serve as a steward for the building’s preservation, ensuring that, in this case the building’s facade, would be properly preserved. At a previous LPC hearing The Strand’s owner voiced strong concerns that a historic designation would place crippling restrictions on the scrappy business and potentially threaten its future.

Wyden, whose grandfather founded the Strand in 1927, referenced the tax incentives that Amazon received to relocate to Long Island City at that previous hearing when she said, “The richest man in America, who’s a direct competitor, has just been handed $3 billion in subsidies. I’m not asking for money or a tax rebate. Just leave me alone.”

Wyden’s new proposal would mean she’d work with a nonprofit preservation organization rather than the city. But she may have a tough time convincing the commission: Sarah Carroll, who is both the chair and a commissioner of the LPC, said that the preservation easement was not seen “as a favorable substitute for designation.”

As 6sqft previously reported, the buildings under consideration are adjacent to a $250 million 21-story tech training center set to open in 2020. Since getting the green light in August, the tech hub has been praised for its mission to provide training for New York’s tech entrepreneurs and add up to 600 new jobs, but many preservationists fear that the project will lead to more large-scale development in the area of Union Square.

The Strand has been fighting to stay afloat over the years as a bookseller and retailer in New York City, and in the era of Amazon. The number of bookstores in NYC has decreased by nearly 80 percent over the past 70 years, from 369 in 1950 to only 79 in 2018. The Strand says the landmark designation would limit their ability to perform future upgrades in a timely, flexible manner.

Additional regulations would delay everything from necessary flood repairs to upgrading the awnings or changing the layout of the store, as they would have to defer to the bureaucratic processes of the LPC. In addition, The Strand argues that their building is already overbuilt and has no air rights, so there is no danger of the building becoming just another high-rise, glass building or suite of luxury apartments.

On the flip side, the Historic Districts Council urged the commission to consider the historic significance of the building, which was designed by William H. Birkmire, an architect who claimed to have conceived the structural system in the 1888 Tower Building — considered by some to be the city’s first skyscraper — and the world’s first metal skeleton building without masonry adjuncts. In a written statement, HDC executive director Simeon Bankoff emphasized that the Renaissance Revival-style building represents “an intact work by a figure pivotal in the development of steel frame construction and skyscraper design, as well as a significant contributor to Broadway’s development, and a reminder of the city’s garment-industry history of commerce and labor.”

Executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Andrew Berman, who was present at Tuesday’s hearing, said that preservation easements are used both in buildings and sites both landmarked and not landmarked throughout the city. Though he supports the Strand’s landmark designation, Berman has criticized the commission for “cherry picking” properties that have no imminent development pressure. Berman said the commission’s selection of the seven building in question resulted from a privately negotiated deal between City Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A vocal group of the store’s supporters–including prominent writers such as Art Spiegelman, Fran Lebowitz, and Gary Shteyngart–has rallied to say that the landmark status would place even more burdens on a business that is already operating with the thinnest margins. The group of about 50 people present at Tuesday’s hearing included journalist and author Naomi Wolf, who asked whether the commission had considered all of the public support for the Strand, including the fact that Wyden had submitted a petition with over 6,000 signatures.



NYHS exhibit celebrates cartoonist Mort Gerberg’s witty take on city life and social issues

Mort Gerberg, “No, not a ‘D’ – it’s a ‘B’! You know, like in Beowulf…Botticelli…Brahams…”, cartoon for the Saturday Review, 1965 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Mort Gerberg, “No, not a ‘D’ – it’s a ‘B’! You know, like in Beowulf…Botticelli…Brahams…”, cartoon for the Saturday Review, 1965 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Sometimes, the daily grind of  New York City life – from waiting for the subway, to getting hit with unidentified “New York Drip,” to sharing an apartment with God-knows-how-many people, can be overwhelming. Other times, you just have to laugh. Beloved cartoonist Mort Gerberg has been helping New Yorkers laugh about the various predicaments of city life, current events, politics, and even sports for more than 50 years. Now through May 5th, the New-York Historical Society is hosting “Mort Gerberg Cartoons: A New Yorker’s Perspective,” a retrospective of his work that offers over 120 cartoons, drawings, and pieces of sketch reportage spanning the whole of Gerberg’s career.

Mort Gerberg, “Wait, those weren’t lies. That was spin!”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 1998 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Mort Gerberg, “Wait, those weren’t lies. That was spin!”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 1998 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

The exhibit, curated by The New-York Historical Society’s Marilyn Satin Kushner, curator and head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, is presented in conjunction with the new book Mort Gerberg On the Scene: A 50-Year Cartoon Chronicle, published by Fantagraphics Underground.

Mort Gerberg, “Castaway Island,” cartoon for the New Yorker, June 4, 2012 Courtesy of the New York Historical Societ

Mort Gerberg, “Castaway Island,” cartoon for the New Yorker, June 4, 2012 Courtesy of the New York Historical Societ

Kushner points out that Gerberg’s cartoons, dealing as they do with decades of stalled subways, crooked politicians, or the ongoing struggle for women’s rights, are strikingly relevant in today’s world.“He did cartoons 30 or 40 years ago and all of a sudden they’re extremely relevant today,” she told amNY, “He really plugs into issues.”

Mort Gerberg, “The thing is, you have to really want to change.”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 2014 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Mort Gerberg, “The thing is, you have to really want to change.”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 2014 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Gerberg, 87, is also deeply plugged into the city he calls home. A native New Yorker, Gerberg grew up in Brooklyn, ping-ponging around Bensonhurst, Flatbush, and Fort Hamilton. He now lives in Manhattan with his wife, Judith. Since he often finds inspiration on the subway, his lifelong journey through New York City is one we are lucky to see in this retrospective.

“Mort Gerberg Cartoons: A New Yorker’s Perspective” is on view now through May 5th. For more information, visit the New-York Historical Society.

NYC tunnels now have GPS service

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The days of losing your GPS signal in the tunnel are over. The popular maps application Waze announced on Tuesday that it has partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to deploy “Waze Beacons” in New York City. As of this morning, users of the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and Brooklyn Battery tunnel will be able to enjoy this revolutionary technology.

“We are excited to bring this innovative technology to our tunnels as it will provide significant benefits to motorists by delivering uninterrupted real-time traffic data that enhances the customer experience,” Veronique Hakim, MTA Managing Director, said in a press release. “Together with Cashless Tolling, this further underscores our commitment to modernizing our facilities so we can better serve customers now and for many years to come.”

Waze Beacons is an open-source and affordable solution to a common problem: how to keep GPS units functioning underground or underwater. Without Beacons, drivers are left with little knowledge of what awaits them once they reach the open road. This leads many drivers to miss exits, stop short upon hitting traffic, or haphazardly cross several lanes of traffic just to make a turn.

Now, Manhattan joins 14 other cities around the world, including Paris, France, and Oslo, Norway, in making use of Waze’s technology to improve driver routing and safety. Over 700 Beacons were installed in New York, taking little more than a minute to peel back the adhesive and stick each unit to the tunnel walls. Notably, this is the first time multiple organizations have worked together to bring Waze Beacons to a city.

As explained by Waze, Beacons are, “cost-effective, battery-operated, low-energy microcontroller hardware installed on tunnel walls,” that have, “Waze-specific configurations to transmit messages directly to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth.” FCC and CE compliant, Beacons are $28.50 apiece, and roughly 42 of them are enough to cover one mile of tunnel.

The expenditure on the units was roughly $12,000. The units, which are manufactured by Bluvision, are as tenacious as New Yorkers themselves, capable of withstanding NYC’s frequent tunnel cleanings, and even adjacent car fires.

Their lifespan, depending on temperature, is between four and six years. The units are also fully insured, including the batteries. With the welcome addition of Beacons, New Yorkers should expect to hear fewer people shouting, “Hey, I’m walking here!” at oncoming traffic.