News and events in Lower Manhattan
Volume 6, No. 38, Feb. 8, 2021

"The Moynihan Train Hall could not have come at a better time. It looks both backward into history and also points to the future. It reminds us of the mistakes we made. Tearing down the original Penn Station was a mistake...Disrespecting the past was a mistake."

    - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 25, 2021 when he accepted the Project of the Year Award for the Moynihan Train Hall from the Regional Plan Association

Letter from the Editor: Our disappearing past
Eliza Greatorex, the artist who mourned and documented old New York
Rebecca Young, New York Philharmonic violist and colleagues play 'Wellerman'
Bulletin Board: BPCA virtual art exhibition; LMCC Arts Center residencies
Calendar: National Museum of the American Indian — 'The Art of Storytelling'

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617,168 confirmed cases * 27,506 deaths * 535,460 vaccinated in NYC

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MASTHEAD PHOTO: The community room at Southbridge Towers was packed on Nov. 19, 2013 with people supporting the New Amsterdam Market, which wanted to preserve the Tin and New Market buildings in the South Street Seaport as the focal points of an East River Market District. Since then the New Market building has been torn down. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

I moved to New York City in 1966. Almost immediately, I was attracted to the South Street Seaport. It wasn't close to where I lived but I went there again and again. A few years later, I had a chance to write my first magazine article about New York City on a topic of my choosing. I chose to write about Lower Manhattan, although I didn't yet live here. I started by talking about the South Street Seaport.

"As you stand at the end of Seaport Pier with your back to the city, the urgency of urban life fades away," I wrote. "Green water, sparkling in the sun, slaps against the piles; stout, prickly ropes creak with the gentle motion of the water and seagulls wheel and cry, swooping down for a morsel of food or posing regally at the end of the dock. Seaport Pier, in the East River at the junction of Fulton and South Streets, is maintained by the South Street Seaport Museum and is part of a plan to preserve and re-create the waterfront life of 19th century New York. 'Miraculously,' as the museum says, much of this waterfront still survives."

I wrote that in 1971. In those days — 50 years ago — the Seaport still reeked of fish and of maritime enterprises. It still catered to people who worked in New York's harbor or who visited the Seaport just because they loved ships and the sea.

At the corner of Fulton and South Streets where Sarah Jessica Parker now sells $400 shoes there was a shop that sold such items as sturdy, yellow rain slickers and warm, hand-knit sweaters. Next to that shop was the unpretentious but fabulous seafood restaurant, Sloppy Louie's, and on the floor above it was the equally fabulous Sweet's where elderly waiters served simply broiled fresh fish — no enhancements needed. Further up Fulton Street was an intriguing shop called the Eagle Bag and Burlap Co. that sold curios from all over the world. On the other side of Fulton Street was a bookstore that traded exclusively in books that related to New York City's history and maritime heritage.
The old buildings on Beekman Street in the South Street Seaport still bear the names of wholesale fish mongers. Jan. 25, 2008. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
All of this fascinated me but I was also fascinated by the buildings themselves. Faded signage on many of them indicated how they were being used or had been used — as warehouses or smoke houses or offices largely supporting the Fulton Fish Market, which opened in the Seaport in 1822.

A few years after my introduction to the South Street Seaport I had a chance to spend a night at the fish market. It operated from dusk to dawn. Years ago, boats docked in the Seaport and unloaded their catch but by the time I
arrived, the fish was trucked in before being parceled out to various vendors. In the New Market Building on South Street, recently torn down, I watched a man butcher a large tuna fish with the skill and precision of a surgeon. He told me that he loved his job — that no two fish were alike.

The men had their breakfast during the night. As dawn approached, they had the arduous task of cleaning up the remnants of their night's work. The trucks and crates disappeared. By morning there was nothing left to show what had occurred the night before except lines of seagulls fighting over scraps of fish. The Fulton Fish Market had completely disappeared behind roll-down doors.

In November 2005, the market disappeared permanently from the South Street Seaport when it moved to Hunts Point in the Bronx. But the 19th century buildings remained and still have a story to tell. The story is embedded in the bricks, in the paint, in the architecture and in tools and other artifacts, many of them collected by the South Street Seaport Museum.

I mention all of this at length because the last decades have witnessed a non-stop attempt to erase the Seaport's history as of no great consequence and to replace it with cookie-cutter development. The latest salvo has to do with a parking lot at 250 Water St. in the Historic South Street Seaport District. The Howard Hughes Corporation, a real estate developer with a long-term lease on much of the Seaport, paid $180 million for the parking lot in 2018 and wants to erect two 470-foot-tall towers there even though most of the neighboring buildings are only five stories tall and the lot is zoned for structures of no more than 120 feet in height.

In January, the matter came up before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. In a hearing that lasted nine hours, the LPC heard testimony pro and con the Howard Hughes proposal. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Margaret Chin supported the plan. Their reason hinged on Howard Hughes' promise that the development of 250 Water St. on the scale it proposed would be sufficient to fund a $50 million endowment for the South Street Seaport Museum, which has struggled financially for years and has never fully recovered from being flooded by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.

Two hundred letters were presented in opposition to the Howard Hughes proposal along with a petition signed by 7,000 people. More than a hundred speakers opposed the plan. Those opposed included the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), which called the proposal "unsupportable."

Among other things, MAS said "The community benefits do not justify a development that will undermine the character of the historic district." MAS went on to say, "Approval of this project would upend the very grand purpose that the museum's founders set out to achieve...The Museum itself was a maverick. Its collection would not be made up of paintings or coins or things in cases with labels. Its treasure was to be a piece of the City: the buildings that stood within its boundaries, the ships moored at its piers...It is long overdue for the City to make good on its responsibility to secure futures of both the museum and the historic district. Instead today's proposal offers two towers that are more than five times the size of any building in the district, using City-owned air rights that could and should be deployed elsewhere and for more direct benefit of the museum."

When, on January 12, 2021, the Landmarks Preservation Commission announced its response to the issues raised in the public hearing, the commissioners concurred that the proposed towers were out of scale with the historic neighborhood. They rejected the idea that because the parking lot is on the periphery of the Historic District, it could function as a "transitional neighborhood" with skyscrapers that were similar in height to those visible on the other side of Pearl Street, the parking lot's northwestern boundary. Most of the commissioners were not opposed to all development of the parking lot but found much to question or criticize in what Howard Hughes had proposed for 250 Water St.

A Howard Hughes spokesperson politely thanked the LPC for its "thoughtful feedback" and said that Howard Hughes looks "forward to returning soon to the commission."

In its statement opposing the Howard Hughes proposal for 250 Water St., the Municipal Art Society noted that the Landmarks Preservation Commission's decision "is one that will have far-reaching implications for the evolution of historic districts and the intricate interplay of contemporary and historic architecture. We implore the Commission to consider the precedents with great care."
In an ironic coincidence, an event occurred in New York City just a few days before the LPC hearing on the disposition of 250 Water St. — an event that referenced some of the issues facing the LPC commissioners. On Jan. 1, 2021, the Moynihan Train Hall on Eighth Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets opened to the public in what had once been the James A. Farley Post Office Building.
The new train hall, with its soaring, glass-covered ceiling, utilized the monumental, classical architectural features of the former post office dating from 1913 and designed by McKim, Mead and White. The post office was across from one of the most magnificent buildings ever constructed in New York City, the old Pennsylvania Station, also a McKim, Mead and White design. It covered nearly eight acres and opened in 1910. Its multi-columned facade was faced with granite. Inside, it was built of travertine marble. Its main waiting room was modeled on the ancient Roman baths of Caracalla. Its vast main concourse was surmounted by a canopy of iron and glass, 100 feet high.

But in 1961 the Pennsylvania Railroad, owner of this architectural marvel, announced that it would be destroyed and replaced with an underground station and the Madison Square Garden that we have today. The Railroad was running a $72 million a year deficit and hoped that replacing the old station with something new would improve its bottom line. Some prominent architects protested but there was really nowhere to turn. On Oct. 28, 1963, demolition began. it took three years to complete. Public outrage was so great that it led to the formation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the first of its kind in the country.

On Jan. 25, 2021, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo accepted the Project of the Year Award for the Moynihan Train Hall from the Regional Plan Association.

"The Moynihan Train Hall could not have come at a better time," Cuomo said. It looks both backward into history and also points to the future. It reminds us of the mistakes we made. Tearing down the original Penn Station was a mistake...Disrespecting the past was a mistake."

Lesson learned?

Terese Loeb Kreuzer

A building designed in 1885 by the noted architect George B. Post stands at the corner of Front and Beekman Streets in the Seaport Historic District. Most of the buildings in the Historic District date from the 19th century. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
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(Above) The James Watson house on State Street is the last of the grand mansions that once faced the Battery. The house was built in two stages between 1793 and 1806. (Below) The North Dutch Church on Fulton Street was one of the city's oldest. Greatorex drew the church when its demolition was announced in 1866 and returned while it was being demolished in 1875. She painted a depiction of the church on a panel that she salvaged from the pulpit. From the Ronald Berg collection. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
For six weeks in the spring of 1869, a middle-aged woman with a pen, inkhorn and table had been sitting outside New York Hospital on Broadway between what are now called Duane and Worth Streets. Painstakingly she drew the hospital from different angles, its stone walls and cupola visible through a veil of trees. The artist, Eliza Pratt Greatorex, was on a mission — to document New York City churches, landmarks, and other places that were disappearing amid a building boom.

In 1875, more than a 100 of Greatorex's pen-and-ink drawings were published in a folio volume called “Old New York: From the Battery to Bloomingdale" with a text by Greatorex's sister, Matilda Pratt Despard.

"It was always a pleasant vista which opened from Broadway, when one looked through the gate up the well-kept path and under the great trees," Despard wrote of the hospital. But as Greatorex watched, workmen began to take down the "luxuriant ivy" that covered the building and to loosen the first stones. "The walls disappeared like a dream castle, the trees fell by the ignominious axe; grassy lawn and graveled walk, flowers, moss and creeping vine, vanished."

Greatorex and her sister preserved a few sprigs of the ivy. "Nothing else have we to remind us of the beautiful old walls, with their quiet and noble surroundings, blotted forever from their place by the immense white marble buildings, telling only of business, with its unceasing toils, pursuits and vexations," Despard mourned.

In fact, the whole book is an evocative elegy to buildings, places and New York City history that should have been preserved and weren't. Then as now, moneyed interests were tearing down older structures to make way for development, modern buildings and commercial enterprises.

Greatorex's passion for New York City's past was matched by her skill as an artist. She was an anomaly in her time — a woman whose work was so highly regarded that she was eventually able to support herself and her three children through sales of her art and was honored as the second woman ever to be elected to the National Academy of Design.

In fact, a new book by art historian Katherine Manthorne entitled "Restless Enterprise: The Art and Life of Eliza Pratt Greatorex" describes Greatorex as the most successful female artist of America’s post-Civil War era. Nevertheless, though Greatorex’s claims to fame were many — she exhibited at the Paris Salon before Mary Cassatt and helped found artists’ colonies in New York and Colorado — she vanished from the annals of art history — just like the old buildings she loved vanished from New York’s cityscapes.

“In Lower and Midtown Manhattan, Revolutionary era architecture was being obliterated while further north the terrain — farmlands and open spaces — was being prepared for development,” Manthorne writes. “Contemporary rhetoric touted the positive gains of progress, but Greatorex’s book hinted otherwise.”

Manthorne describes Greatorex’s depiction of the North Dutch Church on Fulton Street as “part protest and part documentation.” Dedicated in 1769, the church was among the city’s oldest. It had been occupied by the British during the Revolutionary War, stripped of pews and pulpits, and later remodeled. Greatorex initially drew the church when its demolition was announced in 1866, but she went back to the site as it was being torn down, salvaged a panel from the pulpit, painted the church on that panel, and inscribed it: “Built in 1767, demolished in 1875.” The painting was shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia; the drawing is in the Museum of the City of New York’s collection.

Greatorex also drew two of Trinity Church’s three chapels. She drew St. George's Chapel, located on what is now Beekman Street, in 1868 before it was demolished. Built before the Revolution, St. George’s had a multi-tiered steeple 172 feet high and held 2,000 worshippers, including “the city’s most distinguished families: the Schuylers, Livingstons, Beekmans, Van Renssalears and Cortlandts.” She also drew St. Paul's Chapel, where George Washington prayed on his Inauguration Day in 1789. Now a National Historic Landmark, St. Paul’s stands to this day, having survived the 9/11 attacks on the nearby Twin Towers. Trinity's third chapel, St. John’s Chapel, built in 1803 on Varick Street, was torn down in 1918 after Cornelius Vanderbilt bought St. John's park and turned it into a freight depot, destroying what had once been an elegant neighborhood.

Greatorex dedicated "Old New York: From the Battery to Bloomingdale" to two of her contemporaries, journalist, editor and poet William Cullen Bryant and industrialist, inventor and philanthropist, Peter Cooper.

Bryant wrote a brief introduction to the book. "The picturesque and quaint in this city, which at first was a copy of what the colonists left behind them in Holland, is rapidly passing away," he wrote, "and we now build stately, spacious and comparatively formal structures to serve as dwellings and warehouses...While this work is passing through the press, the originals from which the drawings have been made are disappearing." He called Greatorex's work "an act of filial piety."

— Beth Harpaz
The graveyard of St. Paul's Chapel near the World Trade Center site. When the chapel was built between 1764 and 1766, this flank of the building was the front. It faced the Hudson River. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
Gifts and Snacks from Té Company

It's never too late to give someone (or yourself?) a gift. Té Company's tearoom at 163 West 10th St. is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends for tea and snacks to go. In addition, you can order tea and cookies (plus other gifts) online, perhaps a celebratory Prosperity Snack Box to ring in the year of the Bull! Traditional Chinese New Year snacks are mostly made of nuts and are meant to give the year a fresh and auspicious start. Té Company has compiled an assortment of five nutty treats that will bring joy and prosperity to your new year. Cost: $36. For more information on the Prosperity Snack Box, click here. For more information on Té Company, click here.


(Above) New York Philharmonic violist Rebecca Young and some of her colleagues playing the sea chantey, "Wellerman." (Below) This tool, called a “flenser” would have been affixed to a long pole and used to remove blubber from whale carcasses. This flenser is in the South Street Seaport Museum’s extensive collection of tools that would have been used in trades associated with the port of New York. Although Nantucket and New Bedford, Mass. served as much larger whaling centers, the New York port was a recruiting ground for crews and a major marketing center for whale oil. (Collection of the South Street Seaport Museum)
On Dec. 27, 2020, a 26-year-old Scottish postman named Nathan Evans uploaded a video on TikTok during which he looked intently into the camera and sang a sea chantey called "Wellerman." Since then that venerable whaling song from New Zealand has wormed its way into the heads of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and Evans now has a three-album record deal.

The song, which seems to date from around 1860, has come down in various versions about the battle between a right whale and the crew of a ship called the Billy of Tea. In some versions, the harpooned whale swamps the whaling crew's four rowboats and "for forty days or even more," tugs the mothership to perdition. In others, the whalers live but are exhausted by the struggle with the whale and long for the supply man from their company — the Wellerman — to show up with "sugar and tea and rum."

Evans' rendition of "Wellerman" has spawned numerous offshoots with people adding their own voices and instruments to what Evans recorded solo and a cappella. One recent addition to the "Wellerman" collection comes from Rebecca Young, the Associate Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic. She also hosts the Philharmonic's interactive Very Young People's Concerts and has her own TikTok channel where she calls herself Viola Mom.

"Like millions of others, when I heard Nathan Evans and the people who 'duetted' him (recorded themselves singing and playing harmonies) I couldn’t get it out of my mind," she explained. "Always the music educator, I thought it would be really cool to show people how this would sound on low woodwinds, low strings and low brass. It was 'riding the wave' with my own, personal take on the chantey."

She sent each of her performers their four-bar part, which she arranged and which her son, Brian Schatz, transposed to the correct clefs.

Young says that she is constantly coming up with new projects and is hoping to have one ready to post for Valentine's Day.

Most of the musicians in her videos are from the NY Philharmonic, but not all. One is her son, Brian, who plays bass clarinet in the "Wellerman." Another in that video is the cellist with the bird on her shoulder, ("a la pirate-style," says Young), Claire Marie Solomon, who is the daughter of the Philharmonic’s harpist, Nancy Allen. The contra bassoon player in the video is from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and one of the trombone players, Jim Markey, is a former New York Philharmonic player, now bass trombone with the Boston Symphony.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the New York Philharmonic has not been able to hold in-person concerts in months, but is about to launch a streaming service with new and historic performances by the orchestra and legendary artists.

"We're finally returning to work at the Phil," says Young, "rehearsing and recording programs for later broadcast but with no audiences yet."

— Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Sing Sea Chanteys with the South Street Seaport Museum: The New York Packet was established over 30 years ago as the official maritime singing group of the South Street Seaport Museum. First singing on the clipper ship Peking, the group has tried ever since to keep chantey singing alive in Lower Manhattan. For years, the singers met in person but now, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, their sessions, which take place on the first Sunday of every month, are occurring online.

This has some drawbacks, of course, but also has some significant advantages. Now, singers from all over the country and indeed from all over the world, participate in these sessions.

Capt. Jonathan Boulware, the president and CEO of the South Street Seaport Museum, finds this to be completely appropriate. "The music is representative of the multi-national crews that existed on the sailing ships," he says. "Pick a place. These ships called there!"

The South Street Seaport Museum chantey sings take place on the first Sunday of every month from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Listen or sing along! The events are free but donations are appreciated. For more information, click here. — Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Chris Koldewey, a musician and teacher, singing a sea chantey during the South Street Seaport Museum’s monthly round-robin of shared songs featuring members of the New York Packet and their friends.
Disaster Loans & Grants
Unemployment Assistance - available for W2 and Schedule C clients
Mandated additional sick pay and associated tax credit
Paycheck Protection Program; Extended tax loss carry-backs
BPCA Virtual Art Exhibition; LMCC Arts Center Residencies; Primary Election Update; Community Board applications
Under the auspices of the LMCC, a 19th-century munitions storage facility on Governors Island in New York harbor is now an arts center that offers free arts, educational and cultural programming along with residencies for artists. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
BPCA Virtual Art Exhibition: The Battery Park City Authority's Annual Art Exhibition is online this year. A video showcases work inspired by the landscapes of Battery Park City as created in 2020 by participants in the BPCA's art programs. To watch the video, click here.

Open Call for LMCC Arts Center Residencies: The LMCC (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) offers artist residencies on Governors Island. This Open Call will provide short-term, project-based residencies to artists and creative practitioners whose work is concerned with the broader themes of equity and sustainability. These are thematic anchors that applicants may either choose to address explicitly or elaborate on how their practice and/or projects are relevant. The residencies will take place in the open plan studios at LMCC’s Arts Center on Governors Island in two sessions: Session One: May 4 – Aug. 20, 2021; Session Two: Aug. 30 – Dec. 17, 2021. Application deadline: Feb. 28, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST. For more information and to apply, click here.

Primary election update: To vote in the New York Primary Election, you must be registered to a political party. You can only vote in the primary for candidates running in the party for which you are registered. New York's primary for mayor, city council, and state-level officials is on June 22, 2021 but the deadline to confirm or change your party affiliation is Sunday, Feb. 14. Make sure that your information is up to date. For more information, click here.

Apply for Community Board membership: Community Boards are New York City's most grassroots form of government. Manhattan has 12 Community Boards, each of which is composed of 50 volunteer members plus a small paid staff. The Boards are pivotal in shaping their communities, weighing in on such issues as land use, quality of life problems, landmarking, schools and education, transportation, restaurant and liquor applications, and much more. The Community Boards work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods.

In order to be considered for appointment, a complete application must be submitted online or postmarked no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an automated email receipt from "Office of Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer," This will be your application confirmation. Following the submission deadline and an internal review process, a member of Gale Brewer's staff will contact you regarding next steps, which may include an interview. Appointments will be announced in late spring.

For more information and application forms, click here.

Open enrollment period for uninsured New Yorkers extended: Through March 31, 2021, New Yorkers without health insurance can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York's Official Health Plan Marketplace, or directly through insurers.

Extending the Open Enrollment Period will help to align New York with the federal Public Health Emergency which was recently extended to April 20, 2021. This extension allows anyone eligible for Qualified Health Plan insurance additional time to enroll for coverage in 2021 and means that enrollment remains open for all NY State of Health programs, which is especially important during the ongoing public health emergency. Coverage start dates will vary:Enroll by February 15: Coverage starts March 1; Enroll March 15: Coverage starts April 1; Enroll by March 31: Coverage starts May 1.

Anyone eligible for other NY State of Health programs such as Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus can enroll year-round. As always, New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health online at, by phone at (855) 355-5777, and by connecting with free enrollment assistance.

For additional information on NY State of Health insurance options during the COVID-19 emergency click here.

For NY Department of Financial Services information and resources during the COVID-19 emergency, click here.

Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets: There are Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets in Tribeca (at Chambers and Greenwich Streets) and at Bowling Green, City Hall, the Oculus and the Staten Island ferry. GrowNYC asks that shoppers wear a face covering inside the market space and maintain a six-foot distance between themselves, Greenmarket staff, farm stand employees and other customers. Dogs and bicycles should be left at home.

Click here for a list of the fruits and vegetables now in season.
Many of the Downtown Post NYC bulletin board listings are now on the Downtown Post NYC website. To see the bulletin board listings, click here.

Greca in Tribeca

Greca's outdoor space is fully winterized

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for brunch, lunch and dinner

To reserve a table, click here
For more information, call (917) 261-4795 or email

Spotlight: The 'Art of Storytelling'
A storyteller doll by Kathleen Wall of the Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico, for sale at the National Museum of the American Indian. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
The National Museum of the American Indian at 1 Bowling Green has been closed since the Covid-19 pandemic was diagnosed in New York City, but its programming continues online. Between Feb. 6 and Feb. 28, a series of programs will focus on the "Art of Storytelling."

In an introduction to the series, the museum says that "Native American storytellers use the oral tradition to teach life lessons, tribal histories, and the nuance of languages. Such stories are an essential tool in passing knowledge from one generation to the next."

The programs have been prerecorded and are each available for a period of several days. The featured storytellers are Robert Lewis (Cherokee) starting on Feb. 6 and running through Feb. 28; Moses Goods (Native Hawaiian) starting on Feb. 13; Gene Tagaban (Tlingit) starting on Feb. 20; and Kevin Maillard (Mekusukey Band of the Seminole Nation) starting on Feb. 27.

For more information, click here.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Contributor: Beth Harpaz

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