Among Other Things, Phase II Contractor Confirms WSP Fountain is Not Aligned with the Arch After All (Part II)

Oh Dear...

Updated 3:45 p.m. — I’ve written here about the problems and certainly the delays on Washington Square Park’s redesign over the last few years. Now it has been confirmed that the stalled work on Phase II, halted for six weeks now, is due to a dispute between the city’s Parks Department and the contractor, Tucci Equipment Rental Corporation. Anthony Martucci, the head of Tucci, says that the Parks Department has not paid him a large sum he is owed and is cutting payment amounts for work for which costs were approved in advance by the city agency.

In an email to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Community Board representatives, City Council members, and select press this week, Martucci says that he agreed to a “gag order” after speaking out last fall about problems at the park (see this post from September 2010 for some details of the problems at that time). He says he came to an agreement at that time with the Parks Department and the relationship was relatively harmonious for awhile. That harmony ended at some point earlier this year.

In his email, Martucci outlines some significant pieces of information. Perhaps the one of most interest relates to the aligning of the fountain with the Arch.

A little history of WSP Blog coverage on this topic — I wrote about this possible misalignment in August 2008 and also after a reader, Steve, commented in August 2009, as follows:

Is anyone ever going to admit that the fountain is now aligned to nothing — not the center of the park as it was before, not the arch and not 5th Avenue? What was the point of moving it?!?!?! It is NOT aligned to either the arch or the avenue.

The Bloomberg Administration’s grand “vision” for Washington Square Park included moving the Fountain from its historic location to a new placement 22 feet east so it would align with the Arch at Fifth Avenue. Pretty much no one agreed with this change in location but the administration would not be deterred.

The fountain had been in its previous location – which was the actual CENTER OF THE PARK – since 1871; over 137 years, until Mayor Michael Bloomberg became in charge.

The Parks Department claimed that it would not cost any additional money to construct the fountain in a new location — a new location which involved rerouting water lines — but that is up for much debate and likely untrue – an obfuscation of the truth. Moving water lines would have to add additional costs.

In 2007, community activist Jonathan Greenberg hired a company to assess the costs of moving the Fountain and presented the findings to Council Member Alan Gerson. The company’s assessment was that it would cost at least $500,000 to move the Fountain. Gerson queried the Parks Department about this and the agency insisted there was no additional cost involved and the former Council Member took them at their word. It was one last try, after ongoing attempts to persevere by the community, to get the fountain location move stopped, as even the Landmarks Preservation Commission caved to Bloomberg’s wishes (and tactics).

From Martucci’s email:

So Tucci did some investigating, found out the center of the fountain was actually 4 ft out from the center. This threw all the designers dimensions off, and Parks knew it but didn’t tell Tucci because they didn’t want to let the public know.

When Tucci exposed this, Parks to protect them self was going to default Tucci from the project.

I have fought very hard to finish this job, Tucci hasn’t gotten paid now for 3 months, and just recently parks has cut payment 13 from $650,000 to $276,000 without explanation.

That is one reason the chess plaza was stalled last year — remember when a tree was in the way of the planned curb? It seemed at the time like a small error which the Parks Department and contractor could not come to an agreement on how to resolve. Actually it was due to a BIGGER ERROR – the mis-aligning of the Fountain. (And, as we know, other errors have caused casualties such as the repeatedly dying trees around the fountain — young trees which replaced perfectly healthy 40 year old trees in the original location.)

What else has this thrown off?

Does this just confirm that, after all, the famous Washington Square Park Fountain could have been left in its well-liked and historic original location as the “mid-point” of the park?

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Previously on WSP Blog:

* Wouldn’t it be ironic if – after everything – the Washington Square Park Fountain was still off-center to the Arch? August 7, 2008

* So … *is* the Washington Square Park Fountain aligned to the Arch? August 10, 2009

* Actually, Mr. Vellonakis, the Washington Square Fountain is already aligned. As is, Fountain is Park’s midpoint. June 2, 2008

* What’s happening with Phase II-B / Chess Plaza & SW End? August 31, 2011

* Part I: Washington Square Park Phase II: An Eerie Silence — What’s Going On? September 1, 2010

* Part II: Washington Square Park Phase II: Lack of Transparency and Oversight Continue September 7, 2010

* Part I: Community Board 2 and NY City Council Disavow Oversight of WSP Redesign Project as Phase II Construction Stalled for Five Weeks October 18, 2011

Photo: J. Bary

Occupy Washington Square — Welcome!

Live Feed Projected Onto the Arch

Updated 2:15 p.m. — All this blogger can say is “It’s about time!” Washington Square Park has been feeling a bit dead in terms of activism and protest and just overall spirit since Phase I of the Bloomberg Administration’s dramatic redesign, the Fountain Plaza, opened in May of 2009. It is, uh, refreshing to find people using it for this purpose, for the ‘greater good,’ and a way for all of us, who see the opportunity for a much different world and ways of being — certainly markedly distinct from the one offered here in NYC under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — to join in.

The Arch was again barricaded last night — a police officer told me last week, when I asked “Does the Arch need defending?,” that this was so, in a large crowd, people didn’t get “smushed” — although, a live feed was projected onto it. The fountain was not barricaded and people met within it.

What is projected on the Arch says — “Discussing a proposal to hold GA at wash sq park every day of the week. #OWS” It was voted on to hold a meeting at Washington Square every day of this week. I was told 5:30 p.m. and that this will be in addition to the GA at Zuccotti Park.

Yes, I know the Parks Department has rules about not staying in the Park after midnight – but we as people in this city are so used to honoring and obeying rules at this point; we are so used to having cameras everywhere and presenting ID everywhere we go – it wasn’t so long ago that we weren’t all so used to being so rigid and monitored.

This administration has gotten away with so much – Bloomberg’s coddling and wooing of developers, corporations, media, business improvement districts, and the Mayor’s affluent friends while paying off non-profits and arts organizations essentially buying their silence tipped the scale further in favor of the 1% in NYC. The rest of us have not had the space to fight back. But now we do. Third term blues? Couldn’t happen to a more deserving target.

Keep it coming, Occupy Washington Square!

Post-Meeting in the Fountain with the Arch

Today marks one month of Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza/Zuccotti Park and the start of events and protests that have transpired since.

Photos: Cathryn

My Visit to Zuccotti — aka “Liberty” — Park and Occupy Wall Street

The Scene

CNN

Meditation Circle

The People's Library

The Death of the American Dream

Daily Schedule

Guy Sweeping Up

Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps

NYPD

Pigeons take refuge

Where to Recycle

Free Phone Charge

A final look upon leaving

I was quite moved by the scene at Zuccotti “Liberty” Park. For everyone who has been coerced or lulled into believing that our city — as envisioned by NYC billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg — must be increasingly privatized, homogenized and sanitized, thereby crushing much of the essential character that is so intrinsic to New York; the freewheeling, gritty, and collective spirit of Occupy Wall Street/New York illustrates another alternative: what a thoughtful, colorful, and collaborative NYC looks like.

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Previous WSP Blog post: Downtown Public Park Acts as Home Base for Those Taking a Stand September 28th, 2011

A Sad Day for Inwood Hill Park: Geese Seized by USDA for Slaughter With Complicity of the Mayor (And Why This is Wrong)

Updated 5:35 p.m.

Canada Geese at Prospect Park last year, since killed

How long will Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the NYC Parks Department, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the Port Authority (which controls NYC air space) be able to put up a pretense that killing Canada Geese that reside in New York City parks is making our airspace safer? This pretense is giving them license to massacre them for the third year in a row.

When will the media start doing its own research and not just repeat back information pro forma from the Mayor and city agency press releases?

800-900 Canada Geese are scheduled to be killed throughout NYC parks in the coming weeks ; this is on top of the 1600 killed last year and 1200 in 2009. (Prospect Park’s geese, close to 400 killed last year, have been given a reprieve.)

Have they actually looked at any of the research? Animal Welfare Institute analyzed the Wildlife Strikes Database and statistics state that “approximately .013 percent of all take offs and landings struck wildlife. The government claims that only one in five (20 percent) are reported. Yet, assuming this is accurate, even if 100 percent of all strikes were reported, this would still mean that less than .068 percent of all aircraft operations struck wildlife.”

In addition, according to statistics, 45 % of all fatal accidents are due to pilot error. Comforting, eh? There is no category on this database for wildlife strikes. There is “other” which is less than 1%.

It seems it’s a lot harder to address human error and takes a lot more guts to speak out on that than it is to kill some innocent geese trying to go about living their lives.

A report on what happened in Inwood from Suzanne who lives there and wrote this last night:

Dear Inwood friends:

I was out on the peninsula this morning when a convoy of trucks pulled up carrying canoes and plastic crates.  It was the people from the Department of Agriculture who had come to capture and kill all of our geese.  There were 30 who had made their home here in our park, including the babies.

There were about a dozen geese in the barbecue area and I started to move in their direction to scare them off to try to save them when one of the men told me that if I interfered with the capture, he would have me arrested If I hadn’t had the dogs with me, I would have accepted that challenge.  It would have been worth it to save a few of the geese.  But realized that if they took me to jail, they would put Bodhi and Bindu in the pound, so I had to leave as they requested.  If my son had been here to take the dogs, I would have accepted the challenge just to publicize this barbarity.  (He’s still in Paris.)

I came back about 15 minutes later with my camera, after calling 311 to register my horror with Bloomberg’s office and the Parks Department, but they had already left with all the geese.  I also contacted NY1 tv (desk@ny1news.com.)  All of the geese were gone, except for two in the far distance.

There is an article in today’s Metro New York about the rounding up and slaughtering of city geese. Check it out at Metro.

If everyone called or emailed to complain about this, perhaps it would make a difference.  It’s too late to save them this year, but this is the third year of this policy and maybe we could prevent a repeat of this next year.  Let’s do everything we can to stop this cruelty. Please call the Mayor (#212/788-3000), Parks Department and email NY1 at the email address above.  Thanks.

A very heart broken Suzanne, Bodhi and Bindu

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UPDATE: Mayor’s office does not like getting calls and 311 is discouraging people from calling and unclear if they are taking complaints at 311 unless you ask for a supervisor. You can fax Mayor’s office at #212/312-0700.

There will be a protest outside Mayor Bloomberg’s mansion with animal and wildlife advocates and concerned New Yorkers organized by Friends of Animals:

When: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 6pm-8pm
Where: Mayor Bloomberg’s Townhouse: 17 East 79th Street, between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue

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Previous WSP Blog post: The Killing of the Prospect Park Geese

WikiCity – How Citizens Can Improve Their Cities & On Washington Square

Mexico City

Buckminster Fuller said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Following in that spirit is the WikiCity movement, which I just learned of, happening in cities across the world. At the end of this post, I address how this relates back to Washington Square Park and its redesign.

From the Sustainable Cities Collective:

When governments don’t build infrastructure, citizens usually complain, but can’t do much about it. They pressure public officials and protest against proposed projects, but that’s as far as citizen participation in city building usually goes. It’s reactive, not proactive.

However, this model of citizen participation is being rethought by citizens around the world. They are taking control over what happens in their cities. … Local groups all around the world are taking the initiative and are building the infrastructure that governments refuse or are slow to do. …

In Los Angeles, several different groups have tried to address the lack of seating in the streets. They designed the SignBench and the SignChair that can be attached to existing street furniture to provide a place to sit. Another group designed a whole set of wood benches and planters for a bus stop that lacked any kind of street furniture. …

However, what is most important about this actions is that they open a discussion that hadn’t existed previously about who owns the city and who can improve it. This actions empower citizens to think about their environment and act on it, and that is ultimately more meaningful than the mere creation of infrastructure.

And this can go beyond infrastructure, as this piece, “Welcome to the City of Voice” by Tekijä Roope Mokka illustrates:

UN estimates that by 2050 half of the world’s population will live in “self-built cities” – informal settlements, slums. I hope they’re wrong. I hope we all live in cities that we design and create ourselves. If slums can be built by people with access to almost no resources, imagine what we in the developed world could do.

There is tons of research into why some people feel happier than others. In the all the answers one thing keeps coming up: the ability to guide your own life. We are happy if we feel that we have power over our lives, if we have a voice. Our greatest urban problem is not spiraling property prices, nor the ageing population nor safety. It is not zero tolerance, queues for clubs and bars, it’s not chain restaurants nor is it ugly buildings or clone towns. These are merely symptoms.

The core issue is that cities no longer enable us to live out our dreams. We have changed, but the cities haven’t. They remain the final bastions of modernistic design where users are seen as the masses and individuals are an obstacle. Even suburbia (on the surface a tasteless, mundane, hypermarket-bound high-carbon lifestyle) offers more potential for self-expression. That is why we fleeing cities.

To lure us back we need cities that give us a voice. We need to take democracy to the next level, where it recognises our individual needs and dreams.

How this relates to Washington Square Park:

The problem with Washington Square Park’s redesign is that it’s an example of a city that had a concept that totally negated the value of park users’ and community input. There was a Parks Commissioner, as directed by the city’s Mayor, who pretended that having “listening sessions” was the same thing AS listening.

The problem with Washington Square Park Redesign Phase II isn’t that it doesn’t look nice. As commenter Angela wrote: “the park looks pretty and all but rather generic and bland.”

The problem is that everything about the previous design that the community very much liked was obliterated. It was the ultimate in a slap in the face, a statement: ‘we don’t care what you think,’ we want this park to represent the Bloomberg model, to be homogenized, and to reflect the city WE envision, not the one you want, not the one you loved.’ By their actions, city officials were blatantly saying, ‘this isn’t the ’60s or even the ’70s and we WILL prevail.’ Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. The park will always be special. It’s just a bit tainted now. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get around that fact.

I think that there will be a way, one day in the future, for people to reclaim what was lost at Washington Square or create something new within the design, as people are doing in WikiCity movements, which will provide the lost “voice” in the process. That there will be a way to somehow right what was done and build a new model of governance for the future; a future where the Bloomberg model, in which real estate, Wall Street and corporate interests reign, will be looked upon with disdain, and people will say “This is ours. Don’t mess with this.”

Central Park Bethesda Fountain Off Limits Now to Performance; Designated “Quiet Zone” Where Musicians are Issued Summonses and Risk Arrest

Central Park Bethesda Fountain

The New York Post reported May 29th on the decision to designate Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain a “Quiet Zone,” putting an end to music performances there and issuing summons to those who defy this. The organization pulling the strings behind this decision is the Central Park Conservancy, the private entity entrusted with the care of this 843 acre public park. This is what happens when a private corporation runs a public park. This clearly has also been condoned by the city’s Parks Department under Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe who was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Both Bloomberg and Benepe are big proponents of privatization. (The Mayor also lives near by). A spokesperson from the Conservancy told the Post, “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection.”

From the article at The New York Post:

City officials began blitzing street musicians with nuisance summonses and posted a “Quiet Zone” sign last week at the beloved Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, where virtuoso performers have been making beautiful music together for over a century.

On weekends, baritone John Boyd, 48, would belt out spirituals backed by a choir including six of his nine children and fellow classical buskers. But two months ago, Parks police descended on the Bethesda Terrace arcade with a message: Muzzle the music.

Last week, they posted a Quiet Zone sign banning Boyd and other serious musicians from playing in the arcade where world-class performers offer their talents for free to ordinary New Yorkers. …

After being hit with five summonses totaling $2,300, the former choir director from Detroit was arrested by Parks cops Wednesday and hauled in handcuffs to the Central Park police station.

“I have a right to free speech,” said Boyd. “When I sing, it is expressing what I believe in. I told them, ‘You are not chasing me away.’ ”

On Friday, passer-by Rhonda Liss, 63, of Yonkers, asked Boyd if she could join him in an impromptu duet.

“You have such a beautiful voice,” said Liss, a onetime Met opera singer and “Phantom of the Opera” cast member in Toronto. The pair tossed off a jazzy rendition of “My Favorite Things.”

“Is this what they want to arrest people for — singing joy to the people?” she asked incredulously.

When asked about the music crackdown, a spokesman for the Central Park Conservancy, the cash-flush nonprofit that runs the park for the city, said: “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection.”

Interesting thread of comments at the Post site. One commenter says, “Bloomberg should be hauled in front of a court for the crime of destroying the soul of New York City.”

Video from Friday’s Earth Day Action at the Park

Superb video of Friday’s Earth Day Action — nicely edited, concise, fun to watch – and all set to music!
http://vimeo.com/22769441

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The previous WSP Blog post on this action, “For Earth Day, Banner Launched Via Balloons At Washington Square Arch to Protest Use of Rainforest Wood In New Park Benches” was linked to by Forbes (under “billionaires” and tagged “Michael Bloomberg”), Tree Hugger and USA Today!

For Earth Day, Banner Launched Via Balloons At Washington Square Arch to Protest Use of Rainforest Wood In New Park Benches


Environmental activists took to Washington Square Park on Friday, Earth Day, with a flamboyant action in which large, colorful, helium-filled balloons ascended to the top of the Arch with a banner proclaiming, “Mayor Bloomberg: Why was the Amazon logged for Wash. Square Park Benches?” The new benches at Washington Square, installed as part of the Park’s “multi-million renovation,” are harvested from Ipe wood, a tropical hardwood logged from the Amazon rainforest. This usage goes against pledges made, according to organizer of the event, Rainforest Relief, over 3 years ago by the NYC Parks Department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to stop its use in city construction.

From Rainforest Relief and NY Climate Action Group:

This ongoing use of ipê contradicts the pledge that Mayor Bloomberg made to United Nations General Assembly on February 11, 2008: “Our City’s agencies will immediately reduce their use of tropical hardwoods by 20%. They will do that by specifying domestic wood, recycled plastic lumber, and other materials in the design of park benches and other construction projects.” He was following the lead of the Parks Department, which had declared an end to the use of tropical hardwoods for bench construction in late 2007.

The ipê wood can be found in new construction at the High Line Park, Union Square, Hudson River Park, & Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The organizations made a statement about the impacts of privatization of our public space:

[These parks] are also part of a larger trend occurring throughout the city: duties and responsibilities concerning public space are largely being transferred from public agencies to private entities such as business improvement districts and public benefit corporations. These entities are assemblages of private investors and stakeholders who operate without public oversight.

The Village Alliance, a business improvement district, had substantial sway concerning both the redesign of Washington Square Park as well as its maintenance.

“The privatization of NYC’s public space is allowing the city’s destruction of the Amazon to continue unchallenged,” stated Tim Doody, the New York City campaign coordinator for Rainforest Relief.

Photo of old Washington Square benches here.

Stacy Walsh Rosenstock commented at the time of that post: Isn’t the 1934 World’s Fair Bench, designed by Robert Moses and Kenneth Lynch, a New York City classic? Why would we ever choose to use some earth-hostile imitation?

As for the new benches, I hear repeatedly from people that the new benches are uncomfortable and they liked the old ones just fine. Perhaps promises could have been kept and that rainforest could have been left alone after all?

** More on the action which took place yesterday (Friday, April 22nd) around noon here. **

Photos: http://rfny.net

High Line Phase 2 to Open Late Spring; Restaurant in 2013; NYC Privatized Park Keeps Getting Grander – And More Expensive to Maintain

-Updated 4/20-

Map of the High Line Park

The High Line, a grand span which currently runs from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, just keeps getting grander. Next up: after food carts and a beer and wine “porch” appear in soon-to-open Phase 2, a restaurant/cafe is scheduled for 2013. This, according to executive director Robert Hammond, who told Community Board 2 that Phase 2 Construction of the High Line — which extends the park from 20th Street to 30th Street — is scheduled to be completed “later this spring.”

The location for the restaurant will be under the High Line at 16th Street and Hammond told me via e-mail that it “is being designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in conjunction with the design process for the new downtown location of the Whitney Museum of American Art.” At the meeting earlier this month, Hammond stated that a Requests for Proposals(RFP) for possible operators of the restaurant will be offered at the end of this year. Hammond said they are aiming for food that is “healthy for you,” “local and affordable” and “a revenue source.”

Money and Maintaining the High Line ; Its Former “Life”

It takes a lot of money to maintain the High Line. Hammond wrote that “virtually every employee you see on the High Line is employed thanks to private donations. Without this support, we would not be able to maintain and operate the park at the high level of care we all have come to expect.”

Yes, what about that “high level of care we all have come to expect?” Could we have expected a little less? After reading for years about efforts to get the High Line preserved, it all came together in 2002 after Hammond and others formed Friends of the High Line in 1999. The High Line tracks sat virtually unattended for close to 20 years. But FOHL’s vision for it was to take it so far from what it had becomepictures of that vacant time period illustrate its almost wild glory with remarkable, beautiful wild life in the form of plants and flowers that had taken over the tracks and surrounding area.

Phase 2 construction of the High Line cost $66.8 Million; $38.4 Million came from the City of New York. Phase 1 – cost $86 million – opened in June 2009, shortly after Washington Square Park Phase I opened. The park’s total construction costs are paid by a combination of city, state, federal and private sources. As Hammond stated, most of the money to keep the new park going comes from private sources.

Considering the great efforts needed to “maintain” the High Line, I’ve wondered if there ever was a proposal to do something a little … well, less grand? Keeping the park a little more “savage” as one commenter in favor of such wrote at the New York Times site in relation to a December piece about Phase 2.

I didn’t ask Hammond this so I don’t know the answer. Perhaps the group recognized Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe‘s love of “public-private partnerships” figuring this was the best way to get the project done.

“Developers love the High Line”

At one point during the CB2 meeting, Hammond stated “developers love the High Line.” Parks Commissioner Benepe told the New York Times that the High Line has “been a huge magnet for development.” In fact, because it is so expensive to maintain, there has been an effort, relatively unsuccessful thus far, to get residents in nearby buildings to contribute to its maintenance as part of living fees. This effort is considered controversial and unwelcome among those who want more public and less private.

Where the Problem lies with “Public-Private Partnerships” and City Parks

A Walk in the Park Blog wrote of the privatizing effort:

The City’s increasing reliance on these funding schemes, including so called “public/private partnerships” has resulted in a vastly inequitable distribution of services. It has quickly become “a tale of two cities.” Some of these park funding schemes directly divert funds away from the city’s general fund. Experience with these deals over the last twenty years has proven that private subsidies to individual parks has created an enormous gap between the haves and the have-nots, while ignoring the real problem – that our parks are not funded as an essential city service.

From New York Times piece, When Parks Must Rely On Private Money (Feb 5, 2011):

Two of three sections of the High Line, an abandoned elevated rail bed that was transformed into a linear park, cost about $152 million to build. Now, the private conservancy that developed the park with the city is scrambling to devise an income stream to cover the expected $3.5 million to $4.5 million annual cost of maintaining its jewel-box appeal. A proposal to assess a fee on nearby property owners foundered after business owners and residents objected to paying for what they see as a tourist destination. Officials are now looking to increase concessions and to raise money for an endowment.

According to this New York Times piece, the High Line focus on concessionsfood carts, beer & wine porch, and now a restaurant – is in part because reliable private funding from nearby developments hasn’t worked out and the city budget doesn’t have much money to offer a park with such extensive maintenance needs.

This brings up the question: Is it possible that the initial vision for the park, grand as it is, could have been not quite so large in scope, cost and maintenance, and anticipated something that would work over the long haul, not aiming to be yet another luxury product to boost real estate values in Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC?

Additional background:

* New York-based architects Axis Mundi are designing the Downtown Whitney beginning of the High Line at intersection of Gansevoort and Washington Streets.

* Another Meat Packing Plant Pushed Out of The Meat Packing District To Make Way for the Downtown Whitney from Vanishing New York

* Paying Extra to Smell the Flowers, New York Times (4/8/11)

** this is part 3 of my report back from the community board 2 meeting. there’s still a part 4. **

Triangle Factory Fire Event – Plus Mainstream Media Omits Response to the Mayor from Reports

The Street After the Event

Signs were held with names of the 146 workers who died

Original Site Greene & Washington Place

Breaking Down Event (Washington Sq Park in background)

The Triangle Factory Fire occurred on March 25, 1911 and killed 146 workers, mostly young women. As I wrote last week, this past Friday marked the 100th Anniversary of the fire. I attended the annual commemoration at the site, one block from Washington Square Park. You wouldn’t know from any of the major NYC media reports that when Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke, he was not welcomed, and was, in fact, steadily booed. (Despite really wanting to hear the Mayor’s speech to witness exactly this – what the crowd’s response to him would be – I dashed over to Think Coffee and missed him! Luckily, there is YouTube.)

It appears Agence France-Presse was the only major news agency to report it. Was the Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary event considered so prestigious that the media did not want to tarnish the Mayor’s tenuous image further? (Google “Bloomberg booed at St. Patrick’s Day Parade” and then “Bloomberg booed at Triangle Fire” to see how this works. One will reveal mainstream media reports; the other will not.) Of course, there is YouTube and many bloggers and other sites that are more than willing to write about this. Still, it’s a bit curious.

One downside to how the event was set up – NYPD set up barricades splitting the crowd between the event’s three block radius on Washington Place, leaving Mercer Street, for example, open (but not to access the event). It dissipated the synergy of the crowd and didn’t make the event safer (the “pens” make everything feel less safe).

* Previous WSP Blog post: Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary Commemoration March 25th

* Many photos of the event, including a procession from Union Square, at Staten Island Bob’s site.