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!
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 >
Pop-up readings on Literary Walk
15% off in Central Park shops and online, with discount code SPRING
Learn more about Volunteer opportunities at any visitor center or information kiosk
Stop by the Dana Discovery Center, Chess & Checkers House, or North Meadow Recreation Center to Pitch in, Pick up, and help us keep the Park clean
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Donna Borak, CNN
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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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
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.
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.