downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 52 | May 11 -17, 2007

We searched our hard copy archives looking for milestone stories, development plans, and articles showing Downtown’s state of mind. Any list, even one this full, will undoubtedly leave out many interesting stories but we think this presents a taste of how Lower Manhattan has changed over the last two decades.

Prepared by Jennifer Milne with assistance from Craig Stalzer and Kristin Edwards.

All italicized dates are of the publication, not the event.

1987

“Port Authority Plan for Ferry Draws Protest” May 11, 1987
In the lead story in the first issue of Battery News, residents object to the Port Authority’s proposed site for a temporary ferry terminal. The same issue included interviews with Battery Park City’s two master planners, Alexander Cooper and Stanton Eckstut (“I had the most fun designing the esplanade,” Eckstut said.) “The Upper Room,” the first public art on the esplanade, is dedicated near Albany St.

Meyer “Sandy” Frucher, president and C.E.O. of the B.P.C. Authority, writes a message to readers explaining why the authority started the monthly Battery News: “It takes more than buildings, parks and trees to make a neighborhood into a community: it takes people. And a local newspaper is the heartbeat of a community….This is where you’ll get complete coverage of all local events and activities.”

“A Playground is Growing in North Park” June 9, 1987
Construction begins on a temporary play area near Chambers St. before the permanent North Park (later to be called Rockefeller Park) can be built.

“Liberty Bridge Joins Towers” August 3, 1987
Liberty Bridge is built connecting the World Financial Center towers.

“Winter Garden Makes its Debut” October 5, 1987
Winter Garden opens with a black tie fundraiser for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Six hundred attend.

1988

“New Local School is Constructed in Record Time” January 11, 1988
P.S. 234, which will be the first school building in Lower Manhattan in 100 years, is nearly finished, well ahead of the September 1988 opening date. The school had been in temporary “cramped” space in Independence Plaza, which today houses P.S. 150. School principal Blossom Gelertner tells Battery News the school will be able to grow from 200 to 400 students in September and will eventually have 700. Class size will go from 32 or 33 students to 25 – 27. “With smaller class size, it will just be easier to do what we are already doing,” she said.

Gelertner raves about the $15 million design by Richard Dattner. “He looked at the windows on old loft buildings and incorporated that into the building,” she said. “It will have a lovely wrought iron gate and non-slip pavement. The yard will look more like a courtyard than a school yard.” Kindergarten classes will have their own entrances and reading lofts akin to indoor treehouses.

The three-story building on Greenwich and Chambers Sts. was built as part of an agreement to build the nearby Shearson-Lehman offices. Under the agreement, the office was to open with the school, but even though it takes one year longer to build the school, community leaders are nevertheless happy that the school is built in just two years.

“Development Switch Adds $600 million for Housing” January 11, 1988
Gov. Mario Cuomo announces a B.P.C. site north of Vesey St. will be developed as offices instead of residences in order to generate more money for an affordable housing fund. The project will be a “major source” for the $600 million fund created from neighborhood revenues and will generate an extra $1 billion more than apartments will by the year 2014, said Meyer S. Frucher, Battery Park City Authority president.

Today, the site in question is home to the Irish Hunger Memorial and Riverhouse, a condo building expected to open in January.

“Fancy Eatery Proposed for Landmark Pier” January 11, 1988
City proposes to relocate a fireboat repair shop and fire department offices out of Pier A in Battery Park for an upscale restaurant, tourist visitor center fast food chains. The plan is to put out a request for developers in April and pick one in July. Today, Pier A is vacant and the plan to redevelop it is the same, yet it remains stalled.

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, not all previous owners of our paper were diligent about maintaining archives, so Jan. 11 is the only issue we have from 1988. Any pack rats who still have any 1988 Battery News issues or clippings, please email us at news@downtownexpress.com.

1989

“A Y for Battery Park City” March 13, 1989
Discussion begins to build a YMCA-type facility on the block bordered by Chambers, Murray and West Sts. and the planned North End Avenue. The neighborhood ballfields are later built on the site. Today, construction of a recreation center and residential buildings on the west end of the site is expected to begin later this year.

“Board Wants Koch Out of Library Gala” April 24, 1989
The New Amsterdam Branch is scheduled to open May 3. Community Board 1 requests that Mayor Koch be barred from the library’s opening ceremonies because of his earlier efforts to block the branch from opening.

“The DeNiro Plan” May 22, 1989
Robert DeNiro proposes a plan to change the interior of the Martinson Coffee Exchange Building in Tribeca, at Greenwich and Franklin Sts., which he owns, to a restaurant and seven-story film center.

“Landmarking Tribeca’s Missing Pieces” June 5, 1989
Tribeca Community Association argues that the historic Tribeca area be expanded.

“Rooms with a View” September 25, 1989
Property Resources Corp. is selected to develop the southwestern tip of Battery Park City with a 38-story condo. The firm agrees to donate $32 million, which is expected to allow “the much delayed construction of the Holocaust Museum” to begin and open in 1992. The museum eventually opens in 1997 and the Ritz-Carlton hotel and condo complex developed by Millennium Partners opens in 2002.

“Ferry Nice Day for Commuters” September 25, 1989
Ferry service from Hoboken to B.P.C. will begin Oct. 16.

“Milstein Plan Draws Boos” October 23, 1989
Citizens protest a Milstein proposal to build a 15-story, 185-foot structure at 250 Water St. The design is by architect Charles Platt, a former city Landmarks commissioner who had criticized previous Milstein proposals. Residents said it would tower over other buildings and is inappropriate for the historic district.

“Seaport Historic District Expanded” October 23, 1989
Historic district expanded despite post office and banks fighting the change.

“Building Owners Fight Back” November 6, 1989
Tribeca residents bring in Cambridge experts to fight back at a plan to expand historic landmarking in Tribeca.

“Tribeca’s Landmarking Mania” November 20, 1989
The Landmarks Preservation Commission angered residents with a plan to landmark 10 more buildings.

“Community Cheers Choice of Sidewalk Over Street” November 20, 1989
City nixes $250,000 plan to widen Greenwich St. in front of P.S. 234 because of long-term plans to narrow the Tribeca street. City says school may be able to plant a garden on the wider sidewalk.

1990

“Hotel Manifest Destiny Continues” May 14, 1990
Three hotels planned in Lower Manhattan and Downtown, bringing the count to 15.

“Growing Up Downtown” July 9, 1990
Downtown is not set up for children. There are no booster chairs in restaurants and no toy stores in the area.

“Glick Victory Makes History” September 17, 1990
Deborah Glick wins the Democratic Assembly primary with 43 percent of the vote, virtually ensuring she will become the state’s first openly gay legislator. Her closest rivals are Liz Shollenberger, 20 percent, and Kathryn Freed, 19 percent.

“Exchanges Stay but Park Hopes Dim” November 14, 1990
New York City convinces five businesses to stay in the city, citizens argue that it conflicts with their plans to build a park.

1991

“Waterfront Park Revived” January 16, 1991
The city hopes to make Hudson River Park the largest park since Flushing Meadows. There is controversy over the panel’s expensive plan; people argue it should be simple and grassy.

“Residents Don’t Dig Garden –But BPCA to Build South Garden Despite Community Opposition” February 13, 1991
The Battery Park City Authority unveiled its latest design for the South Garden and it’s criticized by Community Board 1, which maintains the authority is reneging on a promise to devote part of the garden for active recreation. David Emil, the authority’s president, disputes the claim and adds: “This is not designed solely for the residents. It’s designed for all of the people who come to Battery Park City.” The authority is no longer proposing the 1988 design by artist Jennifer Bartlett, which included a brick wall blocking views of the Hudson.

“Lost at Seaport” February 13, 1991
Rouse Corp., operator of the Seaport’s mall, touts an upcoming arts festival as a turning point in the 8-year-old shopping complex’s struggles.

“The Incredible Expanding Downtown” February 27, 1991
The census shows that the population downtown had grown 41 percent in a decade, from 25,638 in 1980 to 36,108 in 1990. Tribeca had increased by 39 percent, to 8,705 people total, and South Street Seaport / Financial District by 26 percent, to 6,377 total.

“Stones Cast on Historic District” March 22, 1991
Business owners on Stone St. oppose plan to create an historic district, saying it lowers building values.

“Milstein Water St. Tower Finally Floats” June 5, 1991
The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the 10-story, 125-foot tall Milstein Tower at 250 Water St. The office building was never built.

“Holocaust Museum Deal Set for BPC” August 1, 1991
After seven years the museum finally makes final plans for opening in 1994.

“Cuomo Halts South Garden” August 1, 1991
In an exclusive, Downtown Express reports Gov. Mario Cuomo orders end to plans to begin construction of Battery Park City’s South Garden after calling Anne Compoccia, Community Board 1 chairperson. The Battery Park City Authority confirms the halt, but denies it was ordered by Cuomo.

“Freed Wins! But the Fighting’s Not Over” September 16, 1991
In the Democratic primary, Kathryn Freed defeats Margaret Chin, 42 – 31 percent, giving Freed the inside track to becoming Lower Manhattan’s next council member.

“Fields of Dreams” October 14, 1991
After five years, Battery Park City cans its plan to produce a botanical garden in the south garden, which once included a wall blocking waterfront views designed by Jennifer Bartlett. The B.P.C.A. promises temporary ballfields in the neighborhood’s north section.

“Tribeca Wants to Trade COMEX to Battery Park City” November 11, 1991
Activists fight for the Commodities Exchange tower to move to Financial District.

1992

“Weathering the Downtown Downturn” March 16, 1992
Wall Street and the Financial District suffer from an economic downturn.

“Towering Dilemma” April 13, 1992
Businesses await the impact of Olympia & York’s debt on the face of downtown Manhattan. The company owns nine downtown towers, including three of the four at the World Financial Center, and will be given payback terms for a worldwide debt of about $20 billion.

“Battery Park City 2000” July 20, 1992
Battery Park City looks to the future. B.P.C.A. president David Emil acknowledges financial difficulties with the World Financial Center owner, Olympia & York, which subsequently became Brookfield. Emil hopes to make a deal for a UNICEF building near North Cove marina, the site that now houses New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Yea, Team! Stuyvesant Opens” September 14, 1992
Stuyvesant High School opens at its new Downtown location, on Chambers St. The new features of the school include a TV monitor in every classroom receiving satellite link, a 9,000-square foot library and a cafeteria with three different kitchens.

“Green Grass, Red Tape” September 28, 1992
The Hudson River Park Conservancy wants to build a 4-mile, $500 million park along the riverside, but opponents say the plan is doomed to go the way of Westway.

1993

“No bucks from Board of Ed: Dep. Chancellor offers packed P.S. 234 counsel, no cash” January 18, 1993
Board of Ed officials tell parents there is no money to relieve overcrowding problems at P.S. 234. Parents suggest 90 Trinity Pl. (which subsequently became a high school) and 25 Broad St. as school locations.

“Transforming Tribeca” February 15, 1993
Tribeca north, south and east historic districts are approved.

“Explosion Rocks Trade Center” March 1, 1993
A bomb explodes at lunchtime on Feb. 26. Downtown Express reports five dead and 600 injured. Firemen successfully evacuate 2 WTC. The official reported deaths changes to six, though some include one victim’s unborn baby, making the count seven.

“Shooting on Lispernard Street” March 1, 1993
Bonnie Bear, 42, was shot outside her Tribeca home Feb. 23 on a weekday morning as she was getting into her car. The killers were heard laughing as they ran from the scene. They are arrested later in the day. Bear subsequently dies of gunshot wounds. It is a top story for three days in daily papers until the W.T.C. is bombed.

“Gearing Up for Downtown’s Big Comeback” March 29, 1993
After the bombing, officials rally near the World Trade Center to announce a discount sales program and that Lower Manhattan is open for business. Some merchants are reporting a 50 percent drop. “Mayor Dinkins, standing just yards from ground zero in the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, alternated between solemnity and stage-presence,” the Express reports. Dinkins tells the crowd “some misinformed people believe this is an urban ghost town.”

“Downtown Ghost Town” June 21, 1993
Many businesses leave Lower Manhattan. Some say the old style buildings don’t work in modern times. Also, businesses are taking advantage of cheaper rent elsewhere. The South Street Seaport has financial problems: Ships aren’t getting a nickel and people don’t go there for the stores either.

“WTC Chief Builds for a New Future After Blast” September 27, 1993
Charles Maikish, director of the World Trade Center, talks about rebuilding and keeping the W.T.C. safe while not scaring people away.

“City Leaders Regroup After Exchange Plans Crumble” October 11, 1993
A plan to build a trading complex for the New York and American Stock Exchanges across the street from the Big Board has been scrapped, sending developers, realtors and city planners back to the drawing board.

1994

“Bombing Convictions Bring Relief” March 8, 1994
Mohammed A. Salameh, Nidal A. Ayyad, Mahmud Abouhalima and Ahmad M. Ajaj were found guilty on all counts concerning their connections to the W.T.C. bombing.

“West Side River park gets closer to reality” May 17, 1994
The reality of a Hudson River Park moves closer as three architecture firms were named by the Hudson River Park Conservancy to design the 550-acre park.

“A first look at a new B.P.C. neighborhood” July 26, 1994
Plans for Battery Park City’s North Residential Neighborhood were revealed, but opponents say the design looks more like two separate neighborhoods than one unified one.

“New York Mercantile Exchange decision means 8,100 jobs stay Downtown” August 9, 1994
The New York Mercantile Exchange and the Commodity Exchange formally merge and will move to a new headquarters in Battery Park City.

“Questions hang over Fulton Market Mall” August 30, 1994
Rumors swirl about the future of South Street Seaport’s Fulton Market Mall building after many businesses close up shop and move to Pier 17.

“Opening a door on a sacred past” October 25, 1994
The New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian opens at the U.S. Customs House at 1 Bowling Green. It will display many artifacts, including more than 1 million collected by oil heir and banker George Gustav Heye.

“Rx for Revival: Giuliani’s Program for Downtown,” “Will it work?” December 20, 1994
Mayor Giuliani announces a $294-million plan to revitalize Lower Manhattan with a series of tax and other incentives encouraging firms to move Downtown and office building owners to either modernize their older buildings or convert them to apartments.

1995

“African Burial Ground study reveals hard way of life in old New York” January 10, 1995
African bones found in 1989 when the Department of General Services broke ground for a new building downtown reveal a life full of manual labor and poor dental health. Beads found with the bodies also identify them as West African.

“Fulton Market fire: Is this really the end for the mob?” April 4, 1995
A Guiliani campaign aims to put responsibility for the Fulton Fish Market fire on the Genovese crime family and the mob, which it says operates many “phantom” businesses in the building.

“One more try on park on river” June 13, 1995
Yet another plan has been proposed for the 4.5-mile Hudson River Park from Battery Park City to 59th Street. The $294 million plan would widen the bicycle path and revamp several of the piers.

“Mr. Trump is looking to come Downtown” July 25, 1995
The Trump Organization signs a letter of intent to buy the 70-story office building at 40 Wall St.

“A Walk to Save 10 Pieces of History” August 8, 1995
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Sen. Martin Connor tour historic, decaying city-owned properties in the Seaport with residents to draw attention to the buildings’ plight.

“Free Crosstown jitney comes to Downtown” August 29, 1995
A new shuttle bus in Lower Manhattan links the east and west sides. The bus takes about 20 minutes to complete the downtown loop.

“Putting some green in Greenwich isn’t easy” August 29, 1995
A city official tells Downtown Express that most of the $9 million that was supposed to be set aside for widening the Greenwich St. sidewalk to plant trees is gone.





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