Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Northside Piers: Public Access
To New Pier Coming Soon?


OK, this is pure speculation - but that's one of our favorite pastimes.

We think the folks at Northside Piers read our December post proposing that they open their East River pier asap - and provide a new, potentially profitable landing for struggling New York Water Taxi.

The Water Taxi stop may be a long way off, but judging by the new, extra-tall consumer-friendly wood fence going up along the west side of their property, it looks like Toll Brothers intends to offer at least some consumer access to the new jetty some time in the near future.

The fence separates the parcel's East River frontage from the recently-excavated phase 2 construction area, just west of the nearly-complete phase 1 tower - connecting the sales office area to the pier, by way of a safe, tidy, temporary walkway along the water's edge. If the developer didn't intend to provide consumer access in the near term, they almost certainly would not have divided the lot that way, or would have used something more utilitarian, like cyclone fencing.

Our hunch is that they'll allow access to prospective buyers only: in recent months, the developer has created a spruced-up pedestrian walkway from Kent Avenue to the sales office - complete with paving stones, trees, and flower beds - running along the south edge of the lot. Despite a generic sidewalk sign that says "Pedestrian Walkway", when we attempted to approach the sales office last weekend, we were intercepted by an elderly security guard who told us "only folks with an appointment" could enter the property.

We're guessing they'll use the pier as exclusive-access buyer-bait, keeping the riff-raff out of the way until someone realizes that a publicly-accessible waterfront promenade is part of their zoning requirement.

Edge Fence has Gone Ghetto

edge 11211

We've been hating on the Williamsburg Edge development's logo-wrapped construction fence since it first went up last spring. The two-block site fronting on Kent Avenue sports a cyclone fence swaddled in a vinyl mesh scrim that's slathered with inane (and occasionally nauseating) marketing slogans aimed at convincing prospective buyers that living in a riverfront high-rise with a 11211 zip will allow them to partake in whatever vestige of 'cool' that might remain when the development opens in 2009.

Examples of the blather we've been staring out at for the better part of a year:

Indy Bands + Stone Countertops


The Hippest Zip Code + The Coolest Dress Code


Anyway, to be fair, to-date the Edge's site has been one of the cleaner, more professionally-run construction sites in the neighborhood (trust us, that ain't sayin much).

But the winter winds, regular douchings of road salt, and general Williamsburg grime have taken their toll. The fence is caving in in several places, the scrims are tattered and dirty, signage is broken and dangling. The thing has become an eyesore that deserves to be spruced up before their sales office opens across the street in a few weeks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday Eye Candy: Misty


Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges as seen from DUMBO, Brooklyn Saturday evening.

, larger size [Flickr]

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Democrats: Don't Forget Worry
About the Delegates!

The Sound of Democracy by Joe Shlabotnick on Flickr

For all the wall-to-wall media coverage of Super Tuesday, no one bothered to mention that - at least in New York State - when you get into the voting booth, beneath the Democratic candidates' names, you'll find a row of delegates' names.Apparently you need to pull those levers - as well as the the headliner's lever - to really make your vote count.

UPDATE: A good friend called BS on this, so we dug a bit deeper into this mystery, got a little more confused, became somewhat fascinated, and realized we were at least partially mistaken. We'll leave it to commenter 'FlyOnTheWall' to explain:

The distinction between voting for delegates and for a candidate is this: Your vote for the candidate determines how many delegates they will receive, your vote for delegates determines who those delegates will be. So, for example, if Hillary were to win 3 of 5 delegates in a district, the Hillary delegate with the highest vote tally would win the first slot. Then the Hillary delegate of the opposite gender with the highest vote tally would win the second. And then the Hillary delegate of the same gender with the highest vote tally would win the third. (Each CD is allocated a certain number of delegates of each gender, to ensure overall balance.)
Sorry for the confusion. The good news is, unless you're a potential delegate, bucking for a seat at the Denver Convention, those other levers don't make a damn difference.

One other milestone on this Super Tuesday: for those of us who grew up in New York State, this is the last Primary - and the final year - that we'll get to use the gunmetal grey, stolidly mechanical, reliably solid-state voting booths we grew up with. The 1950's era booths - beloved for the confidence-inspiring 'thunk' of the candidate levers, will be retired after the general election this fall in favor of mandated (and often unreliable) electronic voting machines.

Flickr member Joe Shlabotnik (thanks for the photo) put it perfectly: "I'm especially going to miss the resounding CHHUNK sound the big red lever makes when you pull it. To me, that's the sound of democracy."

The Levers of Power [Joe Sclabotnik is my Hero]

Mystery of New York Democratic Delegates, Explained

Monday, February 04, 2008

Where are You Watching the
Super Tuesday Primary Results?

"Hope - Obama (Shepard Fairey poster)" by Steve Rhodes on Flickr

Today we were chatting about where in NYC to watch watch the Super Tuesday Primary results come in, and a quick Google of the topic revealed a relative dearth of online discussion on the topic. Late last week there were plenty of blog posts and commenter suggestions on where to watch the Super Bowl, but despite a Friday ABC News Poll suggesting that nearly as many Americans were more excited about Super Tuesday than its testosterone-fueled NFL counterpart (37% for the Primary vs. 40% for the Big Game), there's not much chatter about the best places to count delegates while swilling overpriced drinks and munching questionably-clean bar snacks.

Our thoughts on the matter mostly revolve around finding a place with plenty of hi-def, wide-screen TVs: CNN-HD clogs the extended margins of their 16:9 broadcast with confusing delegate count estimates, and with 22 states holding primaries Tuesday, they'll need all the screen real estate they can get.

Another consideration is candidate preference: do you prefer a lopsided crowd, all cheering for your guy (or girl)? Or mixed company, where opposing fans can BOO-YAH each other as the networks project winners in backwater states splitting a half-dozen delegates between close running candidates?

Please comment with where you plan on watching the results.

The candidate websites have event search engines, mostly chock-full of "visibility" events, i.e. "help us hold signs near polling places"...all very noble and wonderful, but a bit of scrolling reveals a few dedicated "come watch the results" parties as well. Here's some short cuts to the event searches centered on 11211 for your clicking pleasure. Be warned, outside of Obama's site (95 events) and three on Hillary's site, as of Monday evening there isn't much of anything listed for Tuesday in NYC on the other candidate sites...

Barack Obama events []

Hillary Clinton events []

John McCain events []

Mitt Romney events []

Mike Huckabee events
[ blog]

Ron Paul events [ NYC]

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Maptastic: Brooklyn Navy Yard

brooklyn navy yard map

For those of us long-fascinated by the mysterious Brooklyn Navy Yard, here's a little cartographic tease of what's hiding behind the walls.

Since the former US Navy base reopened as a members-only industrial park in 1971, the 300 acre tract of East River waterfront has been more or less off-limits to all but tenants, authorized guests and delivery men.

At the Yard's north end, notable tenant Steiner Studios recently announced it would expand into the historic Navy Hospital, renovating the abandoned (and presumably rotting) structure as a studio backlot.

Down at the southern extreme, controversy rages concerning the disposition of the (even more) historic Admiral's Row residences: last Fall, developers were revving up their bulldozers, preparing to demolish the remains of the 19th-century Second Empire-style residences - to be replaced by a supermarket - when a federal government panel released its surprise assessment that the formerly lavish buildings may in fact be in better shape than suspected, making them potential candidates for preservation.

Indeed, the history of the Navy Yard - both distant and recent - is a microcosm of American history. In its two-plus centuries, the Yard has launched war-changing battleships, inspired iconic heroine Rosie the Riveter, and served as an early model for public/private business development. The Navy Yard's website has a great timeline of significant events (click on About the Navy Yard > History)...its worth checking out.

The Visitor Map above fills in a few blanks for us outsiders: street names, building numbers, dry dock numbers, and parcels belonging to the NYPD Tow Pound and DEP water treatment plant are all details missing from Google Maps. In fact, this map is a great compliment to the Google Earth view of the Navy Yard.

Funny to think that publishing this map sixty years ago would have gotten us hung for treason. Now they're printed on tear pads - like fast-food tray liners - to help keep the FedEx guy from getting lost.

Navy Yard Visitor Map