Volume 20, Number 45 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | March 23 - 29, 2011
Covering Battery Park City
BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Luciana Mattei came from Brazil to run in the Half Marathon. The finish line was in Battery Park City.
The Road Runners Half Marathon, which evoked considerable discussion at recent Community Board 1 meetings, took place on Sunday, March 20, with some street closures and parking proscriptions in Battery Park City. As planned, 10,000 runners plus support personnel descended on North Cove Marina at the close of the race, swarming over the World Financial Center plaza, where several bands provided high-decibel entertainment.
Community Board 1 had questioned whether the disruptions caused by the race were worthwhile, especially considering that before the race, it seemed as though it was more of a profit-making fitness event than a means of raising money for charity. There will be a post-mortem at Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee, with a discussion of whether the race course should be revised in the future.
However, on Sunday, one thing was abundantly clear. Whether or not the Road Runners organization itself was devoting much of the revenue to charity, many charitable organizations were using the race as a way to raise money. Runners came from around the nation and even from other parts of the world to participate. For example, Lily Matusiak, director of Run for Autism, which is based in Arlington, Va., said that 90 runners from her organization had paid their own way to come to New York City and enter the race so that they could raise money for autism research. Each of them had solicited contributions from friends and acquaintances to support the run. “They have another month to fund raise,” Matusiak said, “but when we left the office, they had raised over $125,000.”
Other organizations used the 13.1-mile race to raise money for leukemia and Parkinson’s research and to support charities such as The Hole in the Wall camps for children with serious medical conditions and Covenant House for homeless teenagers.
Battery Park City in Bloom:
Dwarf irises are among Battery Park City’s early spring blooms and none are more exotic-looking than Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’, with powder-blue petals highlighted with streaks of darker blue and markings of gold. This flower is a hybrid of Iris histrioides, native to Turkey, and Iris winogradowii, native to one mountain in the Caucasus of central Asia.
Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’ was created by an amateur English gardener and author, EB Anderson (1885-1971), who named the hybrid after the wife of Eliot Hodgkin, another plant enthusiast in his circle. Was it a mark of friendship? A token of affection for Katherine, who must have been well into middle age (if she was still alive) when Anderson created the magnificent iris in the late 1950s?
The public records describing the provenance of the iris are silent on the reasons for the name. However, Katherine and Eliot Hodgkin had a son named Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin, born in 1932, who became a painter. His biography notes that his father was related to a scientist, Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866), who gave his name to Hodgkin’s disease, to Roger Fry (1866-1934) of the Bloomsbury Group that included Virginia Woolf and to the conductor, Sir John Eliot Gardiner (1943- ). Hodgkin also said that when he was eight years old, he, his mother and older sister were evacuated from England to Long Island. He doesn’t mention his father, and there is no further mention of his mother.
Her eponymous iris is blooming on Rector Place near the esplanade.
Belgian Restaurant Week:
March 23 to March 30 is Belgian Restaurant Week in New York City, during which 36 restaurants specializing in Belgian food or with Belgian owners are offering “specials” plus a chance to enter a drawing for a trip to Belgium.
Battery Park City’s Le Pain Quotidien is among the participating restaurants, with a two-course prix fixe menu (including a choice of Belgian hot chocolate or a pot of coffee) for $15.95. Near Battery Park City, La Petite Abeille at 134 West Broadway is also participating, with a different “special” each day. In addition, Wafels & Dinges, a fleet of roving trucks purveying Belgian waffles and toppings, can sometimes be found in the neighborhood. On Wednesday, March 23, a truck will be at 60 Wall St. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The purpose of Belgian Restaurant Week is to introduce New Yorkers to Belgian food and to encourage them to visit Belgium, said Liliane Opsomer, deputy director of the Belgian Tourist Office for Flanders and Brussels. Belgium is noted for its beer, she said, with more than 600 different brews produced in a country the size of the state of Maryland. To sample a few of these (several dozen brews are on the menu) and to get an authentic soup-to-nuts taste of Belgian food, think about venturing out of the neighborhood to B. Cafe, which has two locations, one on the Upper West Side at 566 Amsterdam Ave. and the other on the Upper East Side at 240 East 75th Street. There you will find Belgian endive, of course, prepared in several different ways, as well as carbonnade flamande (beef cooked in beer), mussels with a variety of sauces served with fries and delectable Belgian mini-cheese croquettes. The dessert list includes Belgian waffles.
For more information, go to www.belgianrestaurantweeknyc.com
Art History Classes:
A series of 10 weekly art history lectures about the art of “Late Antiquity to Byzantium” will start on Monday, March 28 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Battery Park City Community Room on West Thames Street at the esplanade. The free classes will be taught by Silvia Espinoa, a Ph.D. student of art history at the Graduate Center in New York and a teacher at LaGuardia Community College. The classes have been organized by Ruth Ohman of the Battery Park City Seniors Group, but it is not necessary to be either a senior or to live in Battery Park City attend. It is necessary, however, to contact Ohman by email or phone to make a reservation. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Her phone is (212) 912-0678.
To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com
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