$137,000 MUSHROOM

Illustration by Stephanie Phelan

West View estimates the cost of just one concrete and steel mushroom pile to hold up Diller Island at $137,000. A $44 MILLION DOLLAR BOUQUET: the 300 Diller Island mushroom piles will cost $41 million to construct, and the Hudson River Park will be charged with their expensive maintenance.

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Our Homeless Neighbor: The Black Bag on Charles Street

Caption: HOMELESS OR DRIVEN: A familiar sight at the entry of the Charles Street Synagogue is a black sleeping bag that houses not only a homeless person but also a reminder of our own privilege. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

I recently caught a TV segment on the annual counting of the street homeless—we have 3,200. Hmm, it is very cold this February, so the question is why would anybody sleep in the street? I mean, it makes sense inside the subway or Grand Central station, and I’ve even discovered people sleeping in my freezing [...]

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David Carr: Epilogue

Photo by Maggie Berkvist

“We should also appreciate David Carr who did a great job of asking intelligent questions, very calm and humorous, and covering what we all wanted to know and balancing everyone.” This was the email, from the friend who had been with me, which awaited me on February 12th when I finally arrived home from the [...]

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Towering Buildings and Tiny Apartments Offered as New York’s Future

CITY OPTS FOR MICRO APARTMENTS—Over 30 builders competed in a city RFP to build this first experimental, mini apartment building on 27th Street and First Avenue. Pre-fabricated mini- and micro mini-apartments—some as small as 250 square feet—may be the wave of the future, making up the bulk of the 160,000 apartments de Blasio is planning to build

In the waning days of the Bloomberg administration, the Times announced that he had lifted the restrictions on how small you could build an apartment so that an experiment could take place to build, off site, tiny pre-fabricated apartments, then truck them into the city, and stack them in place to make a very cheap, [...]

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Remembering the Automat.

FIFTY CENTS FOR LUNCH: For decades the Automat provided New Yorkers a delicious meal for less than fifty cents and a place to hang out and meet friends over a five cent cup of coffee.

When the not-so-young man behind the counter of the Bridgehampton nursery informed me that a tiny bottle of liquid plant food would cost $11.50, and I said “I could have eaten at the Automat for a month on $11.50,” and then he said “What’s the Automat?” I knew I was old! Yes, if you are [...]

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And the Beat Goes On: Greenwich House Unveils Community Concert Series

HIGH CALIBER ARTISTS DEBUTING FIRST-TIME PERFORMANCES: Dap King Binky Griptite is one of the headlines at Uncharted, a new concert series for new music at Greenwich House Music School. Image courtesy of Greenwich House.

After the unprecedented success of 2014’s Café Au Go Go Revisited, Greenwich House Music School has unveiled its new community concert series, Uncharted, that features high-caliber artists debuting first-time performances of new work or new collaborations. “This series is designed to offer a safe place for artists to take risks,” says series curator Jennie Wasserman. [...]

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West Village Original: Salvador Peter Tomas

REMEMBERING A DIFFERENT WORLD: When Salvador Peter Tomas (above) first arrived to the West Village in 1970, “it was a rundown waterfront...a no man’s land.” Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

This month’s West Village Original is opera singer, narrator, actor, and director Salvador Peter Tomas. Born in Pass Christian, Mississippi in 1920, Tomas is an alumnus of The Juilliard School, Trinity College in London, and the Fontainebleau School in France. As an opera singer, his repertoire includes standard bass baritone roles, and as a narrator, [...]

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Look Up!

AS IF PAINTED WITH THE EXAGGERATED COLORS OF 18th CENTURY PORCELAIN: An American Kestral looking for breakfast. Photo by Keith Michael.

I’m looking down at the sidewalk, scuffing my feet along the ice. Millie is snuffling beside me taking corgi-steps so small she’s practically moving backwards. She scales the Everests and McKinleys of the snow piles to dodge the salt flats of our morning trek around the block. The Blue Jays are the first to entice [...]

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Eating on The Upholstery

“TWO OYSTERS” IN FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS: Oyster combinations included passion fruit and seaweed, cucumber and mint, to uni and caviar—four very interesting bites. Photo by David Porat.

Chef Kurt Gutenbrunner and Wallsé have been in the very west village for almost as long as I can remember—seems like going on 20 years. It enjoys a very good reputation as do other outposts including one in the Neue Galerie that attracts afternoon visitors who enjoy coffee and some of the best desserts in [...]

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Walk About New York – From Communion to Condo: Part Two

A QUIET PLACE OF WORSHIP: The façade of the Washington Square United Methodist Church is divided into three bays; four slim pilasters, capped by marble finials, define the side two. The leafy trees of Washington Square Park can be seen on the on the far right. Automobiles of 1920s vintage are parked along West Fourth Street opposite the church.

Churches are Born Again as Luxury Homes . By 1859, Washington Square’s transition from a potter’s field to military parade ground to a public park was complete. An upscale residential enclave bordering the park had been developing since the late 1820s. The merchants and bankers were about to get a new neighbor. From only one [...]

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The Greatest Evil: Early History of Tenements in New York (Part One)

Examples of tenements in the West Village of Manhattan include this pair of similar facades (on Morton Street) with more ornate cast lintels, and a raised first floor to take advantage of the “basement” as another rentable space. Note the typical four windows across, and the centralized fire escapes and main entrance. Photo by Brian J. Pape.

The 1811 Grid. “The greatest evil which ever befell New York City was the division of the blocks into 25 feet by 100 feet. So true is this that no other disaster can for a moment be compared to it. Fires, pestilence and financial troubles are nothing in comparison, for from this division has arisen [...]

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The Jefferson Market Courts—A Timeline (Part Two)

THE WOMEN’S HOUSE OF DETENTION, 1938. Photo: Courtesy of http://essential-architecture.com .

Part One noted that there were courts at what is now our branch library for 100 years, beginning in 1845. It traced the history of the criminal court (1845-1946) and the civil court (1848-1907). Part Two looks at the Women’s Court (1910-1943) and the Court of Special Sessions (1915-1946). Most of the changes described below [...]

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Meet the Breeds: Bulldogs and Poodles Popular, but Greyhounds Win Hearts

FALL IN LOVE: A retired racing greyhound is a loving family dog and great companion. Photo by Randon Rynd.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” —Josh Billings (a.k.a. Henry Wheeler Shaw; humorist and lecturer) “Meet the Breeds,” the annual four-legged love-fest sponsored by the American Kennel Club, teamed up with the Westminster Kennel Club for the first time this Valentine’s Day. On Saturday, February [...]

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Maggie B’s Photo of the Month

Photo by Maggie Berkvist

ICED COFFEE, ANYONE? Since it sat there on the snowbound bike for days, the answer, understandably, seemed to be “No, thank you.” The weather forecast implies that the first week in March may be marginally warmer; what a relief, so long as it doesn’t follow the old adage “In like a lion, out like a [...]

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How I Ended up in NYC

A NEW LIFE IN NEW YORK: Adolfas Mekas and Jonas Mekas, October 1949, in Bremenhaven, just before boarding the ship for New York. Photo courtesy of Jonas Mekas.

I grew up in a small farming village in North Lithuania. I was in the sixth grade when the Soviet tanks rolled in to “liberate” us from ourselves…. I was just given a small still camera, so I ran to the roadside to take the first photo of my life—an image of a Soviet tank [...]

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How High Is Up? New York’s Secret, Imperious Upscale Real Estate

WEST VILLAGE TOWERS OF VACANCY: Are the Richard Meier buildings a symbol and prophecy for New York’s real estate future? Photo by Suzanne Poli.

A Greenwich Village Perspective . Living in our beloved neighborhood, we like to think that the West Village IS New York. We’re very comfortable with the size and scale, social and cultural life, the day-to-day experiences, and graceful aging of our downtown neighborhood. But don’t think the uptown New York skyline doesn’t affect our lives. [...]

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Village District Leader Named Guardian for Ruth Berk!

AT THE COURTHOUSE: after Judge Kennedy appointed Arthur Schwartz the replacement guardian. A tremendous victory, but until those responsible for my mom’s year-long imprisonment are made to pay, it’s not over.

As Westview goes to press, Supreme Court Justice Tanya Kennedy, who District Leader and civil rights attorney Arthur Schwartz had sued in Federal and Appellate courts, is primed to sign an order making Schwartz the Guardian for 91-year-old Christopher Street resident Ruth Berk. Two months after promising Ruth that he would end her imprisonment in [...]

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Courageous or Crazy? Two Men Cross the Atlantic in a Rowboat

It took an arduous search with a blueprint map in hand, in the “potter’s field” section of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood cemetery. But I finally I found the place George Harbo is buried, stacked along with his wife and daughter. After brushing away the dirt that almost completely covered the 9”X9” forgotten, flat-in-the-ground gravestone, I placed my [...]

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Submissions Open: Greenwich Village Film Festival

Antonio Padovan, producer and director based in the village and judge for the Greenwich Village Film Festival. Photo by Simone Pomposi.

In 1989 in Woody Allen’s film Crimes and Misdemeanors, Cliff Stern (Allen) takes his niece Jenny to the Bleecker Street Cinema, a legendary landmark of Greenwich Village, opened in 1960. With its foreign and independent film programs, the Bleecker Street Cinema helped inspire future filmmakers and contributed to the cinematic education of film historians, critics [...]

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Governor Cuomo Is Stealing From Our Kids

It was hard not to write this month about Rudy Giuliani and his ongoing rant about President Obama not loving America, and about his attempt to be “relevant” again by appealing to the most racist elements in our country. It reminded me that we spent 8 years surviving under the Mayoralty of a bombastic buffoon—an [...]

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WestView Letter March 2015: The Little Paper That Could

The Little Paper That Could Dear Mr. Capsis, As a former West Village (Charles Street) resident, I first encountered your little newspaper on the doorsteps of my building. I picked it up and read it that evening and then realized how “Big” it really was. I began to look forward to its delivery, eager to [...]

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WestView Letter March 2015: Cuomo Lets PR Firm Speak for Him

Cuomo Lets PR Firm Speak for Him West View asked Governor Cuomo who asked him to allocate $17 million of state tax payer funds to build a bridge to Diller Island and his press office forwarded our request to a PR firm retained by the Hudson River Park Trust. They did not, of course, answer [...]

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WestView Letter March 2015: Bicycle Menace!

Bicycle Menace! Ask any neighbor and they will be happy to tell you the difficulty negotiating the Village at the peril of being run over by a delivery bicycle. I have a solution: How about the City holding businesses responsible for the reckless endangerment caused by these delivery bicycles? Perhaps owners will think twice and [...]

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WestView Letter March 2015: Size Matters

Size Matters Dear George, Have you noticed what’s been happening at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site? The new Rubin condo buildings just keep getting bigger and bigger. Much bigger and higher than the original St. Vincent’s buildings they replaced. I thought that the Rudin Organization got their special variance to build their new condos [...]

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WestView Letter March 2015: Dual Congregations at Village Presbyterian

Dual Congregations at Village Presbyterian The article on the Village Presbyterian Church, (Feb. 2015) as interesting as it might have been, has two inexcusable flaws. First, an error of fact: The church is not between 5th & 6th avenues, as you might already have heard. It is between 6th & 7th avenues. Second, and even [...]

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Briefly Noted: Westview Scoops the Times?

Arthur Schwartz reports that a noteworthy Times writer was ready to report about the life and death of former NYC Ballet member Edwina Fontaine and her struggle to survive the Dewitt Nursing Home, as well as the efforts of former opera and cabaret singer Ruth Berk to escape being “imprisoned” in Dewitt by a state [...]

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Briefly Noted – VID: Johnson Details First Year

The Village Independent Democrats held their monthly meeting on Thursday, February 12 at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street. There were reports on a variety of local and state political developments by district leaders Keen Berger and Arthur Schwartz. City Council member Cory Johnson gave a detailed account of his first year in office. [...]

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Update on the Whereabouts of Mrs. Green

Residents around Abingdon Square are no longer amused by the cheerful “Mrs. Green’s Is Coming Soon!” announcement on the hoarding around 99 Bank Street. More than a year has gone by since the construction of this temporary structure, and the deteriorating plywood covered with layers of flayed advertising posters has become a neighborhood eyesore. WestView [...]

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New Laws for New Problems

Clicking my way through the dial after discovering nothing on 13 or 21, I stumbled on a City Hall hearing about exempting builders from real estate tax for 10 or 25 years if they build 20 % affordable apartments. The collective conclusion was the law that is up for renewal June 15 should be dropped. [...]

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