NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe To Talk Privatization of City Parks Tuesday, August 9th at Museum of the City of New York

New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe will be a featured speaker next Tuesday, August 9th at 6:30 p.m. at a discussion “Whose Park is It? Financing and Administering New York’s New Parks” at the Museum of the City of New York.

Instead of spending city money wisely on maintenance and staff at parks, Commissioner Benepe, with the support of Mayor Bloomberg, continues to overspend, overly redesign our public spaces, and then naively act as if the city is left with no choice but to call in private entities to manage them. Clearly, this is not a model that’s working and not the model we need to ensure our parks remain public in every sense of the word.

This event is an opportunity for the Parks Commissioner to promote his platform of privatization of our public parks. Commissioner Benepe loves to help developers.

At Washington Square, the neighboring community and Community Board 2 have stated outright: “No Private Conservancy.”

EVENT: Whose Park Is It? Financing and Administering New York’s New Parks, Tuesday, August 9, 6:30 PM

In the past 20 years New York City has added over 20,000 acres of parkland to its acclaimed public park system. Recent additions, such as the Hudson River Park, the Highline, and Brooklyn Bridge Park represent a new generation of park design as well as financing and administration.

In an era of budget cuts and declining revenues, how is the city paying for its new parks? How does new park administration differ from the past? What role does private funding play in the administration of the city’s parks? What makes a successful park in today’s New York?

Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe; Alexander Garvin, professor of urban planning, Yale University; and Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of the City Parks Alliance, discuss the past, present, and future of New York’s public parks.

Co-sponsors: Central Park Conservancy, the City Parks Foundation, Civitas, Friends of the Hudson River Park, Friends of the Upper East Side, Hudson River Park and the Prospect Park Alliance.

Tickets and more information at the Museum of the City of New York web site.

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED: $12 Non-Members, $8 Seniors and Students, $6 Museum Members, A two dollar surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in participants.

Getting to Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street:
By subway: #2, 3 or 6 trains get you there — #6 Lexington Avenue train to 103rd Street; #2/3 train to Central Park North/110th Street.
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Additional background:

See WSP Blog piece on privatization and the High Line.
Also, A Walk in the Park Blog on the Brooklyn Bridge Park housing “deal” reported in the news yesterday.

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“Washington Square Dances” At the Park Next 3 Nights June 23rd-25th

Dances for a Variable Population

“Washington Square Dances” performed by dance group, Dances for a Variable Population, and directed by Naomi Goldberg Haas, premieres at Washington Square Park this week with four performances. The piece aims to celebrate the arrival of summer in NYC.

The show debuted last night, Wednesday, June 22nd. The next three performances will take place from Thursday, June 23rd through Saturday, June 25th at 6:30 p.m. on the Garibaldi Stage (Eastern end of the Park).

A special bonus preview will occur at 6 p.m. each evening in three locations within the park – the Arch, Holley Plaza, and amidst the park pathways.

For Washington Square Dances, director Naomi Goldberg Haas looked to create a piece that “celebrates community, the joy of dance, and the arrival of summer in New York City.” Her performing group, Dances for a Variable Population, is comprised of women ages 24 to 81, and “aims to erase the border between dancer and non-dancer, returning dance to its initial wellspring: joy.”

Learn more at Naomi Goldberg Haas’ web site.

Mike Myers and Mario Batali Film Atop the Washington Square Arch

Updated June 15th, 9:59 a.m.How does one get access to the top of the Washington Square Arch? A few months back, a Wall Street Journal reporter gained access. But a tv show or commercial? Yesterday, I looked up to see people atop the Arch! Not realizing at the time those people being filmed were actor Mike Myers and chef Mario Batali (they later played ping pong together on the Plaza). The filming was apparently done for some Mario Batali venture. According to Pam Levy, Batali’s publicist, it is for “a private Internet webisode project.” She added: “I can’t tell you anything more than that at this point.”

Mike Myers and Mario Batali wave (tho' no one seems to notice!)

Men Guarding Entrance to the Arch

Mike Myers Looks Pensive (Imagine the view!)

The full picture

Picture at left captures the ping pong part of Myers’ and Batali’s venture to Washington Square. Not sure how it all works together.

I wrote to Batali’s publicist and the Parks Department for additional information (Parks Dept. has not responded as of Wed. a.m.).

Questions such as: What were the arrangements and terms under which Mario Batali filmed on the Plaza and was able to enter and film within/from the Arch? If financial, what was the amount agreed to?

Has Mario Batali given money towards Washington Square Park in the past and/or pledged money in the future towards maintaining, renovating, or some other aspect of the Park? (WSP Blog Note: Batali was in photos with City officials when Phase I opening ceremony occurred.)

And, of course, how does the Parks Department determine who is allowed access to the Arch?

As Batali was walking away from the ping pong table, he said to the people gathered around: “support and give money to the Washington Square Park Foundation.” An organization, to my knowledge, that does not exist.

Batali runs a host of restaurants in the neighborhood and his “GelOtto” vending cart recently appeared in the NorthWest corner of the Park.

Photos: Cathryn.

Saturday at Washington Square: Festival of India (Updated)

Updated June 13th, 1:55 p.m.

Bhagavad Gita

Washington Square East - Food by Donation


Yesterday, a rainy Saturday, is when Festival of India took over much of Washington Square around the Arch and the Eastern side. Quite festive and well attended. Information booths, food (by donation only), exhibits, small lectures, and phrases from the Bhagavad Gita were sprinkled throughout the Park.

Photos: Cathryn.

This past weekend at the Park: Adoptapalooza, Violet & Bobby HawkWatch Fans Meet & World Science Festival Transforms

Adoptapalooza!

There was lots going on this past weekend at Washington Square. Good thing Phase II construction on the Eastern side finished in time!

First, Adoptapalooza on Saturday, June 4th featured over 100 cats and dogs for adoption. Fox News reports on the event here and Metromix New York has some great photos (including photo above). Metromix wrote:

Adoptapalooza is held regularly under the arch of Washington Square Park, celebrated with a day full of dog agility demonstrations, pet training, face-painting and photo ops.

This year over 100 adoptable dogs and cats were on hand to turn our hearts to mush and lick our faces clean off. There were mutts and pit bull mixes, papillons, beagles, puggles, chugs (chihuahua pugs, for the uninitiated), kittens and cats galore from shelters across the city. We wanted to take them all home with us! Trust us: one look at these faces and you will feel the same way!

Violet and Bobby (and Pip!) Hawk Cam followers via the New York Times met under the Arch on Sunday, June 5th at 10 a.m. The Times has the story here.

TreeHugger has a great piece on what went on at the park when the World Science Festival, a five day event (which sounds fantastic), came to the park on Sunday, its last day, utilizing the new “stage” and surrounding area.

Nice!

Photo: Gabi Porter

Upcoming Talks on Stanford White & Henry James

Hosted by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation:

When Architecture Could Fashion a Nation: A Lecture on the Architecture of McKim, Mead & White
Tuesday, January 18, 6:30 – 8:00 P.M.
Cooper Union, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square (at 7th Street)
Co-sponsored by The Cooper Union

As America matured in the mid 19th century, the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & (Stanford) White provided buildings for a changing society; from wooden houses in the country to regal social clubs in Manhattan. Many of the Village buildings we walk by and use everyday are fashionable creations of McKim, Mead & White—Washington Square Arch, Judson Memorial Church, and the Tompkins Square Library, to name a few. Learn how this firm helped shape a nation in transition and transformed Manhattan into a budding metropolis.

Talk by Professor Mosette Broderick, architectural historian and Director of the Urban Design and Architecture Studies program as well as the London-based Historical and Sustainable Architecture MA Program at NYU, recently released the book, TRIUMVIRATE: McKim, Mead & White–Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class In America’s Gilded Age.

Henry James, A Child of the Village
Thursday, February 3, 6:30 – 8:00 P.M.
Church of the Ascension, 12 West 11th Street (at 5th Avenue)
Co-sponsored by the Beaux Arts Alliance

Henry James was born in Greenwich Village in 1843, a neighborhood which always had a special place in his heart. Cultural historian David Garrard Lowe will discuss the works of James, as well as his life in New York. The Church of the Ascension set the stage for one of the most moving and mysterious passages in James’ The American Scene, a book which grew out of the author’s last visit to his home town in 1905.

(above, modified versions of GVSHP event descriptions)

Each talk is free; reservations required.
RSVP: rsvp@gvshp.org or 212-475-9585 ext. 34

* See Previous WSP Blog Posts on Henry James and Stanford White and The Washington Square Arch

Unsilent Night strolls through NYC – Washington Square to Tompkins Square – Saturday, December 18th

Huffington Post New York reports that Unsilent Night in New York City will take place this coming Saturday, December 18th beginning at 6:45 p.m. at Washington Square Park under the Arch. The event was started by artist Phil Kline 18 years ago. On the Unsilent Night site, Kline explains the event: “Every year I present Unsilent Night, which is like a Christmas caroling party except we don’t sing, but rather carry boomboxes, each playing a separate tape or CD which is part of the piece. In effect, we become a city-block-long stereo system.”

To participate, you can bring your own boom box and get music there in cassette or CD form or download the music in advance at the site and place on your own CD. A limited # of boom boxes as well as cassettes and CDs will be handed out. The group will then proceed through the city streets ending at Tompkins Square Park. Unsilent Night has expanded from its New York City beginnings to cities across the U.S. and the world. In the past few years, several hundred people have walked the stretch together between the West Village and East Village parks holding boom boxes playing the same ambient music. They look very happy! You can see video of the 2008 event here.

Get Your Wellness on At Washington Square Park Saturday

On Saturday, September 18th from 1-5 p.m. at Washington Square Park‘s Holley Plaza – Get Your Wellness On – a Suicide Prevention and Awareness Fair will take place with “activities to promote physical and mental health and the awareness of suicide prevention, including relaxation workshops, musical performances, sporting demonstrations and informational displays. Organized by Esmeralda Williamson-Noble, a writer-activist and mother of a suicide victim; with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other organizations.” (New York Times listing.)

Check out Ms. Williamson-Noble’s blog Forever Invictus:

Since starting this blog in October 2009, Esmeralda lost her beloved twenty-year old son, Andrew, aka Tigger, to suicide. A junior in East Asian Studies at NYU, in the pre dawn hours of Nov 3 2009, Andrew jumped from the 10th floor of Bobst, NYU’s library.

As well as this blog, Esmeralda writes for The Huffington Post and she is working on a memoir.

Esmeralda says:
“I intend to work in the area of suicide to bring understanding and light to this painful subject.“

The site regularly mentions the following as a place for help: If You Are Feeling Suicidal Or If Need To Talk Please Call The National Helpline 1-800-273-8255

Washington Square Park Tree Lighting 2009 Thursday, December 10th; Caroling Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th — at The Arch

CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS IN WASHINGTON SQUARE WITH THE ANNUAL TREE LIGHTING AND CAROLING

Two Events: Thursday, December 10th and Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Washington Square Park will hold its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony under the Arch on Thursday, December 10th at 6 p.m.  This will be the 83rd year the tree has been lit.  The Washington Square ceremony is older than the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting!  That tree lighting tradition began in 1931 making it now 78 years old.

On Thursday, December 10th, after the tree is lit at 6 p.m., song leader Mary Hurlbut, accompanied by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet, will sing holiday songs.  There will be a Santa Claus present. 

On Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th at 5 p.m. — celebrate the holiday with carols led by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet at the Washington Square Arch.

The Washington Square Park Christmas tree will be lit in front of the Arch at Fifth Avenue between the hours of 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. throughout the holiday season.

At both events, songbooks will be provided by the Washington Square Association which also donates the tree.  The Washington Square Association was founded in 1906 and is one of the city’s oldest community organizations.  For 83 years, it has sponsored carol singing under the arch.

* Note: 2010 Tree lighting info here.

Photo: Ken Howard

Jane Jacobs Night At Judson Memorial Church Tuesday, September 22nd, 7 p.m.

Readings and musings by those inspired by the defender of neighborhoods – MC’d by Rev. Billy Talen and Savitri D!

Tuesday, September 22nd * 7pm to 9 PM with Afterparty to follow!

Presented by Reverend Billy Talen for Mayor NYC:

Why?: After a street in the Village was named Jane Jacobs Way –and the presiding city official of the ceremony was Christine Quinn– we learned a lesson. The legacy of our heroes will be appropriated by our opponents as a matter of strategy. The letter to Saving Coney Island by Ned Jacobs, Jane’s son, urging resistance to the Bloomberg-and-Quinn backed highrises of Coney – underscores the need to hold our values in the face of sophisticated public relations spin.

What: Jane Jacobs Night. Activists and authors read excerpts from “Death and Life of Great American Cities” and correspondence that Ms. Jacobs sent in support of neighborhood-saving campaigns over the years.

Who:

With:
Michael Premo, New York Hip Hop Festival and Picture the Homeless

Cathryn Swan, Washington Square Park Blog and Save Union Square (Yes, that’s me! Come say hello.)

Christabel Gough, NYC preservationist hero

Bob Holman, Howl Festival, Bowery Poetry Club

Joy Chatel, Defender of the Duffield House Brooklyn Underground Railroad landmark

Philip Dipaolo, The People’s Firehouse and Brooklyn neighborhood activists

Carol Greitzer, City Councilwoman, Landmarking of Tammany Hall building on Union Square

Evening is hosted by Rev. Billy Talen and Savitri D

We celebrate Jane Jacobs Night to share the personal impact that she has had on our campaigns to save neighborhood diversity here in the city.

Where: Judson Memorial Church
239 Thompson Street and Washington Square South
Take the B, C, D, E, F, or V trains to West 4th Street, or the R, W trains to 8th Street/NYU station

Free. Donations encouraged for space rental.

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More on Jane Jacobs (one of my first blog entries) and Washington Square Park here.