That tax return you’d rather not look at again? Get rid of it. The receipt for the engagement ring your former boyfriend returned? Chuck it out. Your to-do list from the beginning of last year? Toss it away. Today at noon, New Yorkers have the chance to bid good riddance to paper memories they’d rather see relegated to the trash. It’s “Good Riddance Day,” on 46th Street and Broadway, in Duffy Square.
New Yorkers can shed themselves of everything they’d rather never see again with an industrial shredder and a dumpster. Got something other than paper? For harder-to-destroy items, a sledgehammer is available. (Is this safe??) Caution: It’s intended for things like electronic devices that got the better of you. (Goodbye, Palm Pilot…)
If unloading your trash isn’t enough of an incentive, the Times Square Alliance is giving out a $250 prize for the most creative memory. Participants can write down their worst memories on a piece of stationery, which will be provided. (You can also submit online, at timessquarenyc.org). Past creative entries included all the unmatched socks in someone’s drawer (winner of the creativity award); as well as good riddance to being single (this person was getting married.)
The first 100 participants will receive a special gift (their own paper shredder, perhaps?).
Organizers caution that the event is not meant to be used as a means of dumping all your trash. It’s about bad memories, people, not getting rid of the contents of your trash can.
So grab that nasty memo from your boss and go!
New York’s Randall’s Island–which contains dozens of acres of parkland off the Triborough Bridge in Manhattan–is under attack once again.
A judge ruled last week against the city’s plan to give certain private institutions in New York City near-exclusive access to most of the sports fields on the island. Twenty such institutions would have paid for almost full rights to use the fields during after-school hours, due to the use of an exclusive lease.
Randall’s Island is one of those oddly little-known spaces in New York. It holds not only sports fields, but Icahn Stadium, a modern track stadium; wetlands; and venues for concerts and Cirque du Soleil. Its sports facilities include 26 baseball and softball fields; 18 soccer fields (some of which are under construction); a golf center; a tennis center; a playground; and picnic areas, many which are free and open to the public.
A judge has ruled that the plan must go through a community and environmental review. While on the surface it seems that such a plan is blatantly unfair, it would actually bring in money from the private schools, which would, in turn, allow the fields to be renovated. Much of the money would go towards the refurbishment of 63 fields, which would eventually open the playing field, so to speak, for public schools and the public as well. Free programs are already provided for many public schools kids, and the Island hosts more than 7000,00 visitors annually, including spectators to the events.
Merry Christmas! While New Yorkers are opening presents, strolling down Fifth Avenue to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the department store windows, and generally displaying holiday-ish behavior, we’ll offer our holiday gift to you–a little insight into the minds of those trying to get you to spend money for meals out. Those savvy enough to plan ahead can think about facing the New Year and a new trend in restaurants: The menu gambit.
It is no shock that New Yorkers are eating out less frequently and spending less money when they do. In order to tweak this trend, restaurants have taken all sorts of steps, from re-pricing items to offering specials and tinkering with their service. In order to part you from your hard-earned dollars, restaurants have pulled out the big guns to entice you to order more, differently, and most important, more expensively. The most recent approach is to target the menu itself.
Take New York’s Tabla, for instance, one of restaurateur-extraordinaire Danny Meyer’s places. As reported in a recent “New York Times” article, you can see the thinking at work. No dollar signs appear next the prices, for example; you won’t see a zero as part of a price; and the name of the chef’s mother is heavily invoked beside a dish.
Diners will also notice such tricks at New York restaurants as using more descriptive language for higher-priced items or setting them off somehow. Using brand names (made with Aunt Mollie’s flour!) and nostalgic names (made with Aunt Mollie’s chocolate!) are also ploys.
(The trend also applies to national chains and restaurants in other cities as well.)
So Merry Christmas–and may your future eating out be merry, bright–and aware of the tug on your wallet strings.
Lots of bike-related news in New York lately: First came the study about bike lanes being blocked frequently (you read about it here…) and now comes a new law that mandates bike access to office buildings.
The law went into effect last Friday; it states that building managers must make bike access plans and allow bicycles in freight elevators. (The law, as makes sense, only applies to buildings with freight elevators.)
But like most New York City laws, there’s a catch: Employers don’t have to actually make a space for the bikes to be stored. So you can ride your bike to work, get it upstairs to your office–and then you’re on your own. (Perhaps it can share your cubicle?)
Another drawback: Access only has to be granted during the hours the freight elevators run, which can sometimes end as early as 6 pm. Plus, of course, there’s paperwork—bikers may need to fill out forms asking landlords to create a bike access plan, and some buildings may be exempt (for instance, a freight area may not be safe.)
Still, the law at least makes a start in allowing New Yorkers a greener (and often faster) way to get to work. In addition, it eliminates the worry of having to park a bike on the street.
And should you decide to join the cycling hordes, when all around you are gnashing their teeth waiting for the next bus or subway car, you can smile smugly and pedal on.
New Yorkers have many ways to traverse the city, from subway to cab to bus to their own two feet–but one of the newest ways is someone’s else’s–feet that is.
You’ve probably seen the person-drawn cabs hanging out at tourist sports like museums, near Central Park, even on Fifth Avenue. But until recently, many of the drivers (?) runners? pullers? were unlicensed. This past weekend was the deadline for them to apply for medallions, which indicate that the pedicabs have been inspected and have rate cards posted. In addition, the licenses mean that they’ve passed safety inspections on tail and headlights, seat belts and brakes. City laws also require pedicabs to have insurance that covers both riders and drivers.
Estimates indicate that there are thousands of pedicabs on the road; drivers had a 60-day period in which to complete the applications for licenses.
More than 150 businesses applied for close to 850 licenses; prior to last Friday, 943 pedicabs were registered. More than 300 have applied for licenses.
While the pedicab industry probably began as early as 1995 down in the East Village, it really took off in the last few years. Many pedicab drivers have actually asked for the regulations, since so many unregistered cabs have flooded the streets in recent years. A number of people view them as a nuisance, while others admire the easy-going attitude that characterizes this unorthodox form of transportation.
Our advice? If you do choose to travel under someone else’s steam, make sure they have a license—and a lot of stamina.
What with the commercials, Sidewalk Santas, holiday windows, and endless catalogues, Christmas in New York seems to be in attack mode this year, earlier than ever—we haven’t even reached Thanksgiving yet.
And the bulk of the holiday madness is yet to come.
Still, if you’d like to ease into the holidays more gradually, and remember what they’re really about, check out the UNICEF snowflake on 57th street and 5th Avenue, near the Louis Vuitton Store.
Last night Lucy Liu (“Charlie’s Angels,” etc.), a UNICEF ambassador, flipped the switch that lights up the enormous crystal snowflake that hangs high above 57th Street. (It’s hard to see during the day; try planning to be there early evening if possible.)
The snowflake weighs in at more than 3,300 pounds, contains 16,000 Baccarat crystals, and is 23 feet in diameter and 28 feet tall. It’s also billed as the largest outdoor chandelier of its kind. Yes, that gave us pause too. (Are there many more of their kind?? It makes them sound kind of like aliens, and that attack-mode comment was just a joke…)
If there seems to be a disconnect between the Baccarat crystal part, the fact that the reception was held in the Louis Vuitton store, and the relationship with UNCIEF, remember that in fact UNICEF has helped save the lives of more kids worldwide than any other humanitarian organization.
The snowflake will remain lit until January 3rd.
In the never-ending annals of the never-ending plans for New York’s vastly complicated transportation system comes some (potentially) good news: Countdown clocks will be arriving at several subway stations by the end of next month, with others to follow.
An announcement was made Monday that subway riders on the number 6 train will be the first to utilize the countdown clocks. Three stations in the Bronx will lead off, followed by the rest of the 6 line and all other lines by the end of 2010 or beginning of 2011. Nearly 150 other stations along the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 lines will be rolled out in addition to the 6 line.
Wondering about the 7 line? It was supposed to get the clocks as part of a separate project that was due to be completed in 2006. It’s now (obviously) many years overdue, and the original price tag of $170 million is now projected at closer to $200 million–just for that line.
The separate $200 million project for the other lines has encountered a number of snafus, including a serious flaw in the software that was discovered a year into the project.
At the moment, countdown clocks can be found only on the L and the 34th Street bus corridor.
Bus riders, take heart–clocks are due to be installed at the 50th Street route as well—but no launch date (surprise, surprise) has been set.
Admit it: you’ve woken up at 3:00 AM longing for a giant tub of mayonnaise. Or maybe it was the 10:00 AM craving for 20 rolls of toilet paper. Whatever the desire for the oversized; the excessive amounts; or just the proverbial low, low prices, your wishes have been fulfilled: The first Costco has opened in New York City.
The mega-deal store is the first tenant in the new East River Plaza, a “big-box” shopping center off the FDR Drive on 116th street. The store, clocking in at 110,000 square feet, will also welcome neighbors Best Buy, Marshalls, and—be still my heart–Target in the next few months.
Costco execs looked for years to round out their offerings of Costco stores in the city (the others are in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island). The same spot was deemed too pricey a few years ago–but thanks to the recession, the space is now going for 30 percent less than was originally offered.
Buyers must fork over an annual membership fee—but at the Manhattan location, offerings include wildly reduced Ugg Boots and Seven for All Mankind jeans—not to mention Cartier jewelry and Rolex watches.
Is it too far uptown for many New Yorkers? We’re willing to bet that for off-price designer goods, discounted bestsellers, coveted makeup brands and oversized boxes of pasta, New Yorkers will go just about anywhere–especially if it’s in their own backyard.
It’s heeeeere! The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has arrived.
The 76-foot-high Norway spruce, which belonged to fifth-grade teacher Maria Corti, was cut down in Easton, Conn. yesterday. It was transported to New York City on a special flatbed truck, and was hoisted into place this morning. (The tree generally travels during the night with a police escort; it usually takes 15-20 people and a 280-ton crane to handle the behemoth.)
The tree clocks in at more than 10 tons; it’s 40 feet in diameter. Minimum requirements say that the tree must be at least 65 feet tall and 35 feet wide; although between 75 and 90 feet high is favored. A Norway spruce is generally preferred (they’re not native to this country, but many were planted ornamentally), and if you were wondering, no money changes hands–it’s the pride of having your tree assume its place near the Prometheus Statue and the ice skating rink.
The tree will be covered in scaffolding as workers start adorning it–over five miles of lights are used to decorate the tree every year.
The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was erected in 1931 as workers were building the complex during the depression. First tree lighting? 1933.
The tree is located in the center of the plaza, at 50th Street and 5th Avenue. The official tree lighting is on December 2.
In the beginning, Cookie Monster smoked a pipe (only occasionally, and only in character as Alistair Cookie), the streets were dirty, and buildings were covered in graffiti. For four decades, however, generations of kids have known how to get to “Sesame Street,” which celebrates its fortieth anniversary today. Mayor Bloomberg has declared Broadway and 64th Street–you guessed it–Sesame Street, and today is officially ”Sesame Street Day” in New York City.
The show, which films in New York, has been gussied up through the years and, some may argue, is less appealing for its PC focus. (Yoga? Tofu? Really?) But as, perhaps, the best loved, most popular, and most influential children’s show ever, still known for its trademark goofiness, it deserves every accolade it’s afforded.
The special guest today is Michelle Obama; she suggests that Oscar the Grouch take a bath, and he is understandably concerned by this notion because he might get clean.
If it weren’t for “Sesame Street,” we wouldn’t have Elmo or Big Bird or the Muppets. We wouldn’t have seen a children’s show cross boundaries of race and deal with issues like the death of a character, long before other shows tackled those issues. Numerous kids wouldn’t have seen their own urban environment reflected on TV, and adults wouldn’t have known that children’s shows could be for them, too.
But most of all, we wouldn’t have had the sheet revelry and zaniness that is the show’s hallmark. Generations of kids would still have learned their ABC’s—but perhaps not with as much sheer delight as they did on Sesame Street.