Volume 17 • Issue 21 | October 15 - 21, 2004

Downtown Local

Sweet Things
Councilmember Margarita Lopez, right, was one of the first customers recently at the Lower Eastside Girls Club’s new bakery, Sweet Things. Club members learn business skills working at the shop, which is in a building owned by the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Organization. The shop on Avenue C between E. Eighth and Ninth Sts. sells organic baked goods and homemade granola with rice syrup.

African Way
Elk St. between Duane and Chambers Sts. may soon share its name with the African Burial Ground underneath a swath of Lower Manhattan near City Hall. Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center committee gave a nod of support to the street co-naming request at its Oct. 12 meeting. The resolution will be voted on by the full board on Oct. 19.

The burial ground – the largest and oldest African cemetery in the United States — was discovered in 1991 during the construction of the federal building at 290 Broadway. The Colonial-era cemetery spans five city blocks near City Hall and is the final resting place for as many as 20,000 African slaves. Advocates for the commemoration of the burial ground seek to co-name a two-block span of Elk St., which is closed to vehicular traffic, African Burial Ground Way.

“This is an extraordinary moment for me and for many of us who have worked on the African Burial Ground,” said City Councilmember Bill Perkins, speaking at the Oct. 12 meeting. “These were forgotten souls and this effort will guarantee that their history will never be forgotten.”

Plans for a memorial are well underway. A final design will be selected by the end of the year and the memorial will be completed by the end of 2005. “We are trying to give the site the international recognition it deserves,” said Dr. Howard Dodson, director of the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture, the group that is steering the street co-naming effort. “We tend to think that New York was a refuge from slavery and that New York was a European enterprise. But Africans were the first employees of the city and were not given the recognition they deserve.” Slavery continued in New York City until 1827.

The committee also recommended co-naming Water St. between Fulton and John Sts. New York Naval Militia Place in honor of the Navy, Army and Coast Guard who protect New York City. Even with community board support, both requests will still need approval from the City Council.

Block party
The Battery Park City Neighbors & Parents’ Association will host the 3rd annual Battery Park City Block Party on Saturday, Oct. 16, from noon - 5 p.m. on Vesey St. Partygoers can also join the Block Party Opening Parade, which starts at 11:30 at Liberty St. and South End Ave. and arrives at Vesey St. in time for the noon opening ceremonies. Organizers encourage participants to wear an interesting hat for the parade.

New to the party this year are the Teen Table and Singles Group Table. Organized by teens Julianne Demarco and Fuschia Corbin, the Teen Table will have a fake-tattoo artist and raffle prizes. The Singles Group Table will provide information about a local singles group and its events.

Participants can also enter the party’s apple pie contest, judged by First Precinct police officers and Number 10 Firehouse firefighters. Pet owners can show off their animals at the Pet Pageant, sponsored by local businesses.

In addition to partying, organizers will present the Community Service Award to Bob Townley, Founder and Director of Manhattan Youth.

Originally scheduled for Sept. 18, the block party had been postponed until Oct. 16 due to inclement weather.

C.B. 1 meeting
Community Board 1 will hold its Full Board Meeting on Tues., Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. at Seaman’s Church Institute, 241 Water St., between Beekman St. and Peck Slip. Among the agenda items will be a report on the East River waterfront plan and a report and resolution regarding the NYU Downtown Hospital site.

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