All posts by Rachel

About Rachel

As a resident of Battery Park City, Rachel is always keeping her ear to the street -- if its south of Chambers. The best part of living in BPC is endless and eclectic music and events in and around the area. The sunsets too aren't so shabby!

Newt Gingrich Weighs In On Ground Zero Mosque

Newt Gingrich Opposes Ground Zero

The latest politician to take an opposing stance regarding the Park51 Mosque at Ground Zero is Newt Gingrich. Which in itself isn’t very surprising. What is the most surprising revelation from his statement is that he’s bidding for the White House in 2012.

Gingrich’s statement on the mosque released last night reads as follows:

“There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.

The proposed “Cordoba House” overlooking the World Trade Center site – where a group of jihadists killed over 3000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks – is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites.  For example, most of them don’t understand that “Cordoba House” is a deliberately insulting term.  It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.

Today, some of the Mosque’s backers insist this term is being used to “symbolize interfaith cooperation” when, in fact, every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest.  It is a sign of their contempt for Americans and their confidence in our historic ignorance that they would deliberately insult us this way.

Those Islamists and their apologists who argue for “religious toleration” are arrogantly dishonest. They ignore the fact that more than 100 mosques already exist in New York City. Meanwhile, there are no churches or synagogues in all of Saudi Arabia. In fact no Christian or Jew can even enterMecca.

And they lecture us about tolerance.

If the people behind the Cordoba House were serious about religious toleration, they would be imploring the Saudis, as fellow Muslims, to immediately open up Mecca to all and immediately announce their intention to allow non-Muslim houses of worship in the Kingdom.   They should be asked by the news media if they would be willing to lead such a campaign.

We have not been able to rebuild the World Trade Center in nine years.  Now we are being told a 13 story, $100 million megamosque will be built within a year overlooking the site of the most devastating surprise attack in American history.

Finally where is the money coming from?  The people behind the Cordoba House refuse to reveal all their funding sources.

America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could.

No mosque.

No self deception.

No surrender.

The time to take a stand is now – at this site on this issue.”

How do you feel about his statement?

Potrait of Wally

Museum of Jewish Heritage Displays Stolen Painting

Potrait of Wally
Portrait of Wally by Egon Schiele

After a decade long battle over a painting that had been seized by its original owner during WWII by Nazi troops is finally coming to a close.

In 1997, The Leopold Museum in Vienna had loaned Egon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally to the Museum of Modern Art. Once on display, US officials then seized the art piece in 1998 after the estate of original owner Lea Bondi Jaray made claims that the art work was handed over by the Nazi’s under duress, right before she fled Austria.

Lea Bondi Jaray died in 1969.

The US government has the right to seek paintings under the National Stolen Property Act, which allows for the confiscation of property over $5000 which have been known to be stolen or taken by fraud. The value of the painting at that time was estimated to be around $2 million dollars.

In a deal settled yesterday in Manhattan federal court, the Leopold Museum agreed to pay the heirs of  Lea Bondi Jaray as stipulated in a settlement documents released by the estate lawyers. The terms of the settlement are as follows:

(a) the Leopold Museum pays the Estate $19 Million;

(b) the Estate releases its claim to the Painting;

(c) the United States Government dismisses the civil forfeiture action it brought against the Leopold Museum and releases the Painting to the Leopold Museum;

(d) the Leopold Museum will permanently display signage next to the Painting at the Leopold Museum, and at all future displays of the Painting of any kind that the Leopold Museum authorizes or allows anywhere in the world, that sets forth the true provenance of the Painting, including Lea Bondi Jaray’s prior ownership of the Painting and its theft from her by a Nazi agent before she fled to London in 1939; and

(e) before it is transported to the Leopold Museum in Vienna, the Painting will be publicly exhibited at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, in New York, beginning with a ceremony commemorating the legacy of Lea Bondi Jaray and the successful resolution of the lawsuit.

And so, it is almost a decade later the saga of the stolen painting ends but is available to us to view for the next three weeks right here in Battery Park City. Representatives of the estate wanted to highlight the importance of showcasing the work at the Museum. According to the statement by Jaray’s estate:

“Representatives of the Estate expressed their appreciation at reaching this historic settlement, which reflects the true value of the Painting, and acknowledges Lea Bondi Jaray’s ownership of the Painting and her and her family’s long quest for justice. In addition, they underscored that the public display of the Painting at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York will mean that visitors will be able to view the Painting in a setting that memorializes the sufferings of so many in the Holocaust and the resilience and resolve of those who escaped and/or survived. They added that the permanent signage reflecting the Painting’s true provenance will ensure that future generations are told the real story of the Painting’s theft from Lea Bondi Jaray during the Nazi era.”

According to the family, “Finally after more than 70 years, the wrongs suffered by Lea Bondi Jaray are at least being acknowledged and, to some degree, corrected.”

Four New York Plaza

Daily News Headquarters Moves Downtown

Four New York Plaza
4 New York Plaza Quickly Becomes Hub for American Media

Crains New York is reporting that the New York Daily News has signed a lease to move into our area next year. The publication is currently located in midtown and its new offices will be located at 4 New York Plaza at the corner of Water Street and Broad.

According to owner Mort Zuckerman, “This location will provide our employees with a modern new home.”

Its related corporate entity, U.S. News & World Report Media Group which are also slated to move into the building — renting two floors at 4 New York Plaza.

American Media Inc., an unrelated publishing company has also announced that they too will be moving into the same building.

Considering that Mansueto Ventures, home of Inc and Fast Company are located at 7 World Trade Center paired with rumors that Conde Nast will be a tenant at the World Trade Center — Downtown Manhattan is slated to become a new hub for American media.

John Galt Corporation Deutsche Bank Contractor

Deutsche Bank Supervisors Claim They Are “Scapegoats”

Mitchel Alvo, Jeffrey Melofchik and Salvatore DePaola have pled not guilty to manslaughter in the fire that killed two firefighters responding to the blaze.
Former supervisors plead not guilty to manslaughter charges.

Supervisors being charged for the deadly fire at the former Deutsche Bank building in 2007 are claiming they are being “scapegoated.”

Mitchel Alvo, Jeffrey Melofchik and Salvatore DePaola have pled not guilty to manslaughter in the fire that killed two firefighters responding to the blaze.

The three men all had roles related to the safety of the site including asbestos-removal foreman to site safety manager.

According to a report from the Associated Press, prosecutors allege that “Alvo, Melofchik and DePaola knew that a vital firefighting water pipe was broken, did nothing about it and covered it up. The disabled pipe called a standpipe, cost firefighters critical time in getting water on the flames, playing a crucial role in creating the smoky inferno that ultimately killed firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffignino.”

However, the defense team claim the men did not realize the pipe was in fact a standpipe as it had never been identified by inspectors as such before the blaze. The inoperable pipe has been blamed as instrumental in the deaths of the firefighters. Their attorneys have claimed their clients are nothing short of taking the fall for other infallible organizations on the chain, including government agencies who are immune from criminal prosecutions.

“Why are they scapegoating a few defenseless people at the bottom of the line?” Edward J.M. Little, Melofchik’s attorney questioned during the hearing.

The lawyers of the defendants are calling for a dismissal of the case for a lack of evidence, while also claiming that had the standpipe been in proper working order, “The firefighters would have died anyway.”

The trial is set for January 18 and the dismissal motion will be heard on October 21.

Park51 Architecture may be influenced by Cooper Union and 7 World Trade Center

Sharif El-Gamal Sees Mosque As Empire State Building

Park51 Architecture may be influenced by Cooper Union and 7 World Trade Center
Park51 Architecture may be influenced by Cooper Union and 7 World Trade Center

The developer of the Park 51 mosque and community center, formerly known as the Cordoba Initiative — has put his ambitions on the record with the Wall Street Journal for the impending World Trade Center mosque to be a significant architectural structure in New York City.

“I want to build something that when people come to New York…that Park51 is on that red tour bus as something that they have to see because it’s one of the most significant buildings in New York City,” says El-Gamal in the Wall Street Journal.

El-Gamal’s architectural team could be a great indication of his potential success, but has not named a team just yet. However, he has noted that two buildings he considers great examples of the architectural direction of the mosque include the steely Cooper Union building in Astor place and the glass behemoth 7 World Trade Center building.

According to the same article it was noted that the design would evoke modernity and would not necessarily adopt a traditional mosque style, “It’s definitely going to be an expression of New York and of America,” Mr. El-Gamal said in an interview Friday, a few days after his project, now dubbed Park51, came under fire at a raucous Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing.”

The slated location for the Park51 mosque has already been converted into a makeshift mosque with nearly 400 Muslims who journey to the location at 45-51 Park Place for Friday prayer service.

18th Century Ship Found At World Trade Center Site

A Ship Has Come In At The World Trade Center Site

18th Century Ship Found At World Trade Center Site
18th Century Ship Found At World Trade Center Site (Courtesy: NYTimes/Fred R. Conrad)

If you dig up the past — you’re bound to find something. That’s exactly what archaeologists hired at World Trade Center site were hoping for by working alongside construction crews.

Lower Manhattan since the 18th century has been expanded through the use of landfill. In fact, Battery Park City, our lovely neighborhood, is built upon the land excavation of landfill from the original World Trade Center site in the 1960s. So when an approximately 32 foot hull of an 18th century boat was found — it wasn’t to anyones complete surprise, but the fact that the structure had been largely undisturbed for 200 years at the Liberty Street and Cedar was.

The New York Times has an amazing photographic accounting of the site is astounding and definitely check it out!

One great quote from their article is regarding how lucky they were to have rain yesterday, “Doug Mackey, the chief regional archaeologist for the New York State Historical Preservation Office, was greatful for the rainfall. “If the sun had been out,” he said, “the wood would already have started to fall apart.”

Also according to the article, “A 1797 map shows that the excavation site is close to where Lindsey’s Wharf and Lake’s Wharf once projected into the Hudson. So, no matter how many mysteries now surround the vessel, it may turn out that the ghost even has a name.”

Pretty cool. Who knows  what treasures lie under Battery Park City. Can you imagine? In the future someone is going to dig up a Volkswagon Beetle or a Pinto as they take the metal on their spaceships.

NRT PAC YouTube Video Screenshot

Controversial Ads Nixed by CBS & NBC

NRT PAC YouTube Video Screenshot
NRT PAC YouTube Video Screenshot

Network brass at CBS and NBC have declined airing ads from the National Republican Trust PAC calling for the opposition of the Ground Zero mosque, or Park51 during commercial breaks.

The ad which has been streamed on YouTube, posted almost 2 weeks ago — uses uneasy images from the attacks on 9/11 edited with the sounds of Muslim prayers and negative imagery of Muslim extremists. Comments have been suspended on this video, but have streamed almost 102K by the publishing of this article.

The video includes the following narration,
“On September 11, they declared war agains us… and to celebrate that murder of 3,000 Americans, they want to build a monstrous 13-story mosque at Ground Zero.”

According to Ben Smith at Politico, NBC Universal Ad Standards manager Jennifer Riley released the following statement,

“An ad questioning the wisdom of building a mosque at ground zero would meet our issues of public controversy advertising criteria. However, this ad which ambiguously defines ‘they’ as referenced in the spot makes it unclear as to whether the reference is to terrorists or to the Islamic religious organization that is sponsoring the building of the mosque. Consequently, the ad is not acceptable under our guidelines for broadcast.”

A similar statement was released by a counterpart at CBS.

Of course one might wonder what about ABC, Fox, CW and other major networks? We’ll have to literally stay tuned to see if these videos will make it into our living rooms.

Park 51 is the new name for the Cordoba House Mosque

Cordoba House Mosque Rebrands to Park51

Park 51 is the new name for the Cordoba House Mosque
Park 51 is the new name for the Cordoba House Mosque

In a swift marketing move, the Cordoba Initiative Mosque has a new name — Park51.

The name changed is seen as an effort to quell the controversy from the development of the mosque and Muslim community center by giving it an almost innocuous, generic name, sounding more like a new condominium construction than a mosque.

The metamorphosis comes only a day after the contentious public Landmarks Commission hearing to determine whether or not 45-47 Park Place is granted landmark status.

According to a report in the New York Daily News, “Spokesman Oz Sultan said the new name puts emphasis on the community center aspect of the project rather than religion.”

The address of the planned center is slated to take the entire block region 41-51 Park Place, which one could assume inspired the World Trade Center mosques new name.

It’s a sharp move considering that the part of the block that has been in contention is the portion of 45-47 Park Place. This may be a preemptive branding move and a statement by developers to say that regardless of the ruling, the community center will at the very least reside at 51 Park Place.

The Commission will determine the Landmark fate of 45-47 later in the summer. A ruling which is seen to determine the development of the mosque in our neighborhood.

Ground Zero Mosque

Public Hearing Today Decides Future of Mosque

Ground Zero Mosque
The planned location of the Ground Zero Mosque.

In the most contentious and controversial real estate construction plan in recent memory, today a meeting will be held to determine the fate of the Cordoba House Mosque on 45-47 Park Place.

Although most New York voters are against the building of the mosque slated for construction only 600 feet from the World Trade Center site based on a Quinnipiac poll,

Although a Quinnipiac Poll had suggested that nearly half of all New York voters are opposed to the construction of the Cordoba House — politicians in New York have been split. Gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio called upon current Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for a formal investigation into Cordoba’s funding, but yesterday Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a public response to Lazio’s investigation requests and any opponents of the mosque as being “un-American” and as going “against what the nation stands for.”

The last hurdle for mosque proponent has hinged on approval from the New York City Landmarks commission who’s hearing will be held today and is open to the public.

For those who are interested in attending, the public hearing for 45-47 Park Place application will take place at:

681 Park Avenue
Hunter College Assembly Hall
Entrance on East 69th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington
(Please bring a picture ID for entrance into the building)
The hearing will start at 2:00pm and ends at 5:00pm.

We’ll update the site when the ruling comes down from the hearing today.

Josef Von Habsburg Lothringen AKA Josef Meyers

Fugitive Josef Meyers Found Hiding in Hudson View East

Josef Von Habsburg Lothringen AKA Josef Meyers
Josef Von Habsburg Lothringen AKA Josef Meyers

In a story that is eerily reminiscent of the Clark Rockefeller saga, a Detroit fugitive was arrested after hiding out in an apartment at 300 Albany Street.

Going by the alias “Prince Josef von Habsburg-Lothringen of Austria” he was well recognized as an eccentric neighbor who often gallivanted in lederhosen and hair dryers. Authorities say that his real name was Josef Meyers — a 50-year-old deadbeat Dad from Michigan.

According to a report in the New York Post, “Meyer — a former mental patient who was once committed to a psych ward in Pontiac, Mich. — had attacked his mother at age 21 and was arrested in a 1987 drug raid, where police confiscated 2 kilos of cocaine and an automatic weapon.”

During that indiscretion, Meyer became an FBI informant. He was never formerly charged in that arrest but was later convicted in 1989 of stealing $100,000. It wasn’t until his arrest as a deadbeat dad that his life on the run came to an end.

Meyers was arrested at his 300 Albany Street apartment. According to the NY Post, “It was a small one-bedroom. We heard people inside, and we knocked, but they refused to answer,” said a source. After unhinging the door, authorities found Meyer standing inside a closet clad in a ripped T-shirt. [His wife, Michel] Trico, 35, and their three young kids were also inside the apartment, sources said.

The list of “interesting” residents in our neighborhood grows, this on the heels of finding out about Anna Chapman, our favorite neighborhood spy.