W42ST Daily 9/20/2020

I’ve learned so much about New York during the pandemic. Its history, its culture, its politics, its structure.  As a misplaced Brit, this is going to be a life-long process.

I believe that I am in the class of New Yorkers that were not born here. Brian Keyser from Casellula describes this as: “New Yorkers are born all over the world – we just need to get home. So this is my home.”

In the pandemic, I found a respect for the daily, data-driven communication of Governor Cuomo.  Those early weeks would have been unbearable without his clear leadership.

In the following months, I’ve been exasperated by Mayor de Blasio’s lack of leadership.  I read this article in The Atlantic yesterday and it resonated deeply.  

On Sundays, I’m hoping to always bring you a longer, magazine read — or maybe a photo story or, as today, a little known documentary.  I want to use this day to reflect a little.

In 1977, New York was on the brink of bankruptcy, Son of Sam was on the loose, the city had a 25-hour blackout, the city was dirty, it was experiencing an epidemic of arson, and it was covered in graffiti. As the debate continues about the future of New York, it’s worth taking a step back in time to see how New York always comes back. 

The opening sequence of this documentary — “NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell” — finishes with a quote. 

“Most people thought that New York city’s great days were over. My attitude was fuck ’em.”

Ed Koch (who said this) went on to become Mayor after his election in 1977.  “New York City went through one of the most contentious mayoral elections in 1977,” says Geraldo Rivera in the documentary. “And it came to be seen as an election for the soul of the city in the future.”

“Follow my leader” is a British children’s game in which a kid is followed by others, who copy everything the first child does.  

New York City needs to find a straight-talking leader to follow. Who is it?

When you watch the 1977 documentary, you will find that music and performance took a big part in New York’s comeback.

Yesterday, around Hell’s Kitchen you might have seen artists performing in the streets.  Holly-Anne Devlin is a local activist who has been helping to make a real difference in the neighborhood (especially with her leadership of Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Action Committee).  She’s now working on getting artists out to liven up the neighborhood (which she did yesterday on 9th Avenue) – and has been fundraising to give some small grants to artists and local businesses. Yesterday, she presented the first check to Abel Castro at Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen.

I first met Maria Lohmeyer back in May 2016 on W48th Street. Her restaurant, Mont Blanc, had been fighting off closure and eviction for 5 years. This was their last weekend, and I was dropping in magazines. I took a picture of her and some regulars (see below). It was a sad moment. Now they are closing for good, after a rescue in 2016 by a Swiss banker, and a determined effort at bringing in business during outdoor dining. Read more…

Alicia Keys reflects upon growing up in the neighborhood – and it’s not a pretty story.

As the date for sending kids back to school is delayed once more, there are lessons to be learned, says Grace Rauh — a former political reporter at NY1.

The New York Times reports on small businesses in need of rent breaks and the landlords that are in crisis too.

There’s a ‘SynaCondo’ coming to 347 W34th St – yes, you read it right! 

Here’s the story behind the amazing mosaics at 34th St/Hudson Yards subway.