Hard on the heels about the ruling on bus sightseeing tours (tour buses will have to revert to headphones rather than loudspeaker systems) comes a ruling about helicopter tours in the city.
Yesterday, the city’s Economic Development Corporation announced that helicopter tours would be cut down significantly in response to complaints about the noise generated by the choppers. The five helicopter companies that operate out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport will no longer will be allowed to fly over Brooklyn, the Empire State Building, or Central Park. In addition, tours under eight minutes, which make up about 15 to 20 percent of all flights, will also be a banned. The latter tours have represented the biggest hassle for residents in Brooklyn; they often went by the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
Helicopter operators will have to follow one of two new routes, which are designed to keep the copters flying higher over the Hudson River. The new plan would also make it easier for city residents to call 311 to complain about helicopter noise and for the calls to be tracked.
Complaints about the frequency and level of noise from helicopter routes have increased since April 1, when helicopter flights were relocated from the West Side Heliport. As a result, the number of flights–and the amount of noise–has increased exponentially.
The Economic Development Council and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council will enforce the regulations. Operators who don’t follow the new rules could have their licenses taken away and also face fines.
If you’re planning a day out in New York, you might want to consider using your own two feet.
OK, New York: Flick off those lights, turn off that faucet, pick up that litter. Yes, you should do that every day, but today is Earth Day (the 40th anniversary, no less) so it’s time to take stock of your impact on the planet.
For starters, you can head over to Grand Central Station (42nd Steeet and Park Avenue). Two days of Earth Day events start tomorrow: The Earth Fair (Friday; 12-7 pm; Saturday; 11-5 pm) celebrates with music, art, “green” vendors and more. But you don’t have to wait until then: Earth show images are being projected onto two of the north columns of the concourse, and will run 10 hours a day.
In New York’s Central Park, free Earth Day events are happening all day. Check out the Chess & Checkers House (mid-Park at 64th Street); where you can participate in eco-friendly crafts from 2-4 PM. (Call 212 794-4064.)
You can also view an exhibit called “Under the Canopy: Caring for Central Park’s Trees” at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (110th Street and Lenox Avenue); learn about the Park’s 24,000 trees. (Go to centralparknyc.org for more information on Earth Day events.)
Stores around the city are also getting involved: you can visit a green pop-up shop at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (625 8th Avenue) through May 1; or, for a larger-scale event, stop by Times Square between 11am and 2 pm for a public celebration today
FYI, Earth Day began in April, 1970 as a way to raise awareness about such environmental problems as pollution and ozone depletion.
Forty years later, everyone’s involvement is no less important.
Tomorrow: How museums and arts organizations around the city are getting involved in preserving the planet.
These are not your parents’ Muppets…or maybe they are. “Stuffed and Unstrung,” an adults-only show now playing at New York’s Union Square Theater (100 East 17th Street; 212 505-0700), presents the Muppets the way many people have never seen them. The lead puppeteer is Brian Henson, son of famed Muppets’ creator Jim Henson. And while the Muppets are most famous for their TV show, movies, and break-out characters like Fozzy Bear, Sam the Eagle and of course, Kermit and Miss Piggy, the original Muppets actually started life as a group of characters aimed at adults. (Early appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Ed Sullivan” were aimed at adults, not kids.)
The new show is totally improvisational and relies heavily on audience participation. Unlike many puppet shows (even good ones) the audience actually gets to see how the puppets work. There’s also a large screen for those in the audience who merely want to watch the sketches and not the in-between stuff.
Though billed as a kind of wild comedy/variety show for grown-ups, it’s also a chance to watch the performers working on the fly and off the cuff. The six puppeteers improvise songs and routines based on the audience’s suggestions, right then and there. The show morphed from a class for the puppeteers to work on their skills.
Caveat: Do not expect the kind of humor that permeated “Sesame Street” or the Muppet Show at Disney World. Puppets have found a fair amount of success in the New York theater world during the last few years, with such shows as “Avenue Q” making it big.
For more information, you can go to their website: stuffedandunstrung.com.
The vibrant northern Manhattan neighborhood known as Washington Heights comes to thrilling life in this rhythmic and heartfelt Broadway musical about the denizens of a changing community.
One of the most exciting Broadway musicals of the last several years, the Tony Award-winning sensation In the Heights has an original musical score by Broadway newcomer Lin-Manuel Miranda that includes Latin, hip-hop, and good old-fashioned showtune ballads. With Andy Blankenbuehler’s electric choreography and energetic performances by a diverse and talented cast, In the Heights brings the flavor of New York City’s streets to the Broadway stage.
Do you love New York? Or, rather, do you (heart) New York? The creator of the iconic New York logo, Milton Glaser, has just been awarded the National Medal of Honor by President Obama.
Glaser created the logo in 1977 pro bono for advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene. The agency had been hired by New York State’s Department of Commerce to develop a marketing strategy for New York. Glaser is quoted as saying that he thought the image would be used briefly, and then disappear. Now, the image is so familiar it can be seen pretty much everywhere in the city, everyday. It has also spawned pretty much an entire industry of other “I (heart)—” logos.
Glaser is also known for founding “New York” magazine, along with Clay Felker, in 1968, as well as creating the “DC Bullet” logo used by DC Comics for almost 30 years. He also designed the “Brooklyn Brewery” logo, a graphic black, green, white and yellow image that can be seen hanging in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; as well as a striking, near-psychedelic profile of Bob Dylan for a poster.
The “I (heart) NY” logo is set in a typeface called American Typewriter. It is still used to promote tourism in New York. Although the image was intended to promote New York State as a whole, it is now thought of largely as a tribute to New York City, and the image on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and mugs is ubiquitous. It was widely used after the September 11 attacks in 2001 to rally support for New York City.
Mamma mia, what a savings! Because of the snowy weather, which is undoubtedly sending both potential and current Broadway show ticketholders into hiding tonight, Mamma Mia is offering a great deal to entice audiences to make the trip to the show’s appropriately named Winter Garden Theatre. For tonight, the February 26 at 8pm performance, Mamma Mia is offering a snow day special. These tickets are just $31.50 a piece. To buy them, go to the box office at 1634 Broadway (between 50th and 51st streets). Even if you’re not interested in this particular show, brave Broadway fans might want to venture out to the theater district tonight and see if any other Broadway shows are offering bargains. During New York City’s last snowstorm, attendance was way down and many shows are probably anxious to fill those seats. And for those wondering if their Broadway show is canceled tonight, the answer is no. The show must go on! But continue checking www.broadwayleague.com for any updates on how the weather might be affecting Broadway shows.
Who let the dogs in?
If they’re purebred, groomed to the hilt, and strutting their stuff in front of adoring fans at New York’s Madison Square Garden, then they’re there by invitation only, thank you very much, and they’re competing in the 134th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The show began last night and finishes up tonight with the all-important Best in Show award. (Rumor has it that a Scottie named Sadie is strongly favored.)
Last night, four groups competed: Hound (Whippets, Greyhounds) Toy (Poodles, Pekinese), Non-Sporting (Bulldogs, Chinese Shar-Pei) and Herding (Pulis, Bearded Collies). Tonight we’ll see the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups, as well as Best in Show.
The event is limited to 2,500 dogs, with individual breed judging taking place between 8 am and 6 pm on both days.
Although records are fuzzy, the show has its origins possibly as early as 1876, when a group of gentlemen met regularly to talk, among other things, about their talented dogs. They form a group–and name it after their favorite hotel. A dog show is eventually held–and more than 130 years later; toy poodles with pink bows in their hair are flouncing across the floor of Madison Square Garden.
So if you couldn’t score tickets, never mind: tonight it will be televised on the USA network from 8-11 pm, and you’ll most definitely see a bump in interest in whatever breed wins.
So tear yourself away from men’s Olympic curling for one evening, and watch competitors of a furrier, cuddlier nature for just one night, pink bows and all.
Good news for those who have been enjoying the freedom to literally walk right down the middle of Broadway in the Times Square area – Mayor Bloomberg has announced that the temporary pedestrian mall will become permanent. Closing Broadway to traffic between 42nd and 47th streets began as an experiment in the summer of 2009, the idea being to relieve some traffic congestion in midtown while giving New York visitors and locals alike the opportunity to enjoy the theater district without dodging cars and taxis. Statistics showed that the street closure did not do much to improve NYC traffic, but it did reduce pedestrian injuries in the area considerably while providing tourists more space to take pictures and local office workers a nice place to have lunch outside. Although the current set-up is a bit ramshackle in places, with chairs and tables strewn about over the concrete of Broadway, the pedestrian mall will gradually be transformed into a proper plaza with a more aesthetically pleasing design.
It may be blizzarding in New York City, but a little (or a lotta) snow doesn’t faze showbiz folks who believe that the show must go on. The Broadway League announced this morning that there will be no cancellations today, and both the matinee and evening Broadway shows will play as scheduled. If you have to travel into NYC and are worried about dealing with the bad weather, you may want to contact your show’s ticketing agent to see if they will be willing to exchange your tickets for another date. Not all shows are willing to offer exchanges, but some will, so it is worth asking. So far Telecharge has announced that it will offer exchanges to people holding tickets to these Broadway shows: Billy Elliot, Chicago, Fela!, God of Carnage, Hair, Jersey Boys, A Little Night Music, Mamma Mia!, Memphis, The Phantom of the Opera, Race, South Pacific, Time Stands Still, and A View from the Bridge.
New York, you have excellent taste.
Whether you’re here for work, play, or something in between, a study released Monday confirms what the rest of us might have modestly predicated: New York is the most popular tourist destination in the country.
Although tourism was actually down slightly (45.2 million visitors last year as opposed to 47 million in 2008), the city has in fact overtaken Orlando, Florida (read: Disney World) as the most popular tourist spot in the USA. We always knew the mayhem could beat the Mouse.
The city was the top spot for visitors from overseas as well: 8.6 million international tourists stopped by, more than twice the number that visited Los Angeles. (Movie stars have nothing on Abercrombie and Fitch.)
New York took the top honors for the first time since 1990; unusual in a time of economic downturn. Mayor Bloomberg also stated that employment levels rose in the leisure and hospitality areas, even passing the pre-recession levels.
Interestingly, predictions for tourism in 2009 in New York were fairly grim, planning for a 10 percent decrease. A combination of strong promotions, perhaps coupled with the city still being a good value for foreign visitors, most probably led to the high turnout. In addition, Americans are taking the opposite approach from those foreign visitors–staying closer to home and not traveling overseas as much.
An increase in tourists is expected for next year, with a potential 46.7 million visitors alighting in our fair city.
New York is aiming to receive 50 million visitors a year by 2012.