Builders covet LEED certification — it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — as a way to gain tax credits, attract tenants, charge premium rents and project an image of environmental responsibility. But the gap between design and construction, which LEED certifies, and how some buildings actually perform led the program last week to announce that it would begin collecting information about energy use from all the buildings it certifies.
This is a short article from the New York Times about the student uprisings in Paris during May 1968 and their lasting effects on French culture and psychology. The title alone, “Barricades of May ’68 Still Divide the French” says a lot about the content, namely that the uprisings were not wholly supported by French society, and that there is a distinct split in between how they are remembered in French society; the Right calls them “the events”, while the Left calls it “the movement.” The article cedes that youth revolt was common throughout the West, but that France was unique in its potential to foment a political revolution, with 10 million striking workers. The article notes how the desire behind May ’68 was unfulfilled, as the right is now in power. It quickly summarizes a chronology of the events, namely that the student uprisings spread out from Nanterre University to the elite Sorbonne, and eventually to the workers of the nation. A former participant in the uprisings says, “the revolution was social not political,” and that while students spoke of revolution they never intended to carry it out. The article also lists the social transformations that French culture has undergone since 1968, and claims that the “anti-authoritarians of the time were fighting against a very different society,” in effect disabling the notion of any future social revolution.
The article provides a useful historical context for the ramifications of the uprisings in 1968, as well as a critique of, essentially, the ambiguity of Vigo’s conclusion to “Zéro de Conduite.” If Paris in May 1968 was a realization of a theory of anarchist pedagogy, its final results were disappointing, because the nation now has a conservative government. The end of Jean Vigo’s film offers an apparent victory, but no steps further than that, something that many anarchists love to do, while not realizing the damage to the credibility of their movement. Perhaps it is for this reason that the protestors of Paris spoke often of revolution in romantic, lofty terms such as the surrealist rebellion presented in Vigo’s film, but in actuality, never attempted to complete that vision because the vision itself was incomplete, a simple specter of the meme that revolution had become in the collective consciousness of French society. Regardless, the article is valuable to my thesis because it challenges the apparent victory of subversive creativity over entrenched power structures, because power always adapts, whereas visions of the revolution have remained anachronistic.
full citation: Erlanger, Steven . "Barricades of May ’68 Still Divide the French - New York Times." The New York Times. 30 Apr. 2008. 30 Nov. 2008 <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/world/europe/30france.html?_r=2&oref=slogin>.
Now you can travel comfortably between New York City and Toronto without spending your entire budget en route. Neon, a new low-fare bus service from Greyhound Canada and Adirondack Trailways, offers two daily departures from both cities for as little as $1 (there is at least one $1 seat on every bus) -- although a $25-to-$75 price range is more likely -- one way. Buses have video screens, Wi-Fi service and power outlets. Customers board in New York outside Penn Station and in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel. Walk-up tickets cost $85 (one way), and the better deals (the earlier the reservation, the lower the price) are available at www.greyhound.com.
AT the Manhattan Plaza Health Club, on West 43rd Street near 10th Avenue, members often discuss the peculiar challenges of living in a neighborhood that also happens to be the crossroads of the world. But lately, the chats on the treadmills have focused on one particular issue: the swelling ranks of private buses and vans that pick up passengers in the area — not from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, on Eighth Avenue, but from the streets nearby.
“They’re everywhere,” said Piper Smith, an illustrators’ agent who is a regular at the club. “They seem to be reproducing as we speak.”
The largely white vehicles shuttle passenger to and from New Jersey at all hours. During peak travel times, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, dozens of vehicles line up along both sides of 42nd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues while customers wait in dense clusters on the sidewalk.
It’s hard to say just how many buses congregate on these blocks, but few doubt that the number is increasing. Norberto Curitomai, the owner of Spanish Transportation Corporation of Paterson, N.J., one of four major busing companies in the area, says that his fleet of 180 vehicles has added 10 to 15 new vehicles each year since 2001.
Like most — though not all — of the companies, Mr. Curitomai’s firm is registered with the city’s Department of Transportation, which allows his vehicles to quickly load and unload passengers by a designated stretch of Eighth Avenue near 41st Street. What particularly vexes local residents, however, is what happens when the buses aren’t picking up passengers.
“These vehicles need to make three left turns to get to the tunnel,” Ms. Smith said of the Lincoln route. “When they’re not being used, they hide all over the neighborhood.”
Pollution is another concern. “When these buses are waiting for their time to pick up and stuff,” she said, “they don’t turn of the motor. It just idles.”
The Downside of Low-Cost Buses
by Graham T. Beck
18 Sep 2008
On a recent Wednesday evening, Erin Brown waited for the Fung Wah bus to Boston with a dozen or so other people on a crowded Canal Street sidewalk. "It's such a crush - the people, the vendors, the cars, narrow sidewalks, narrow streets. I don't know why they leave from here, but the price is right," she said.
Brown is not alone in her sentiment. It often feels as though every inch of Chinatown is jam-packed. Cars clogs street from the Manhattan Bridge to the Holland Tunnel. Sidewalks overflow with tourists, workers and neighborhood residents. Stalls spill out from shops, and lately it seems that every few blocks there is a line of 20 or so people queuing up for an interstate bus.
The buses are nothing new. Since 1998, companies like Fung Wah, using spaces reserved for tour buses or agreed upon spots in the neighborhood, have run curbside operations, picking up and dropping off passengers. The recent surge in travel costs, though, has made more outfits see the benefits of such a low-overhead way of doing business. This means more buses jamming city streets and curbsides and more bus queues on already crowded sidewalks.
It has reached the point, according to City Councilmember Alan Gerson, where there now are more interstate bus pick-ups and drop-offs in Chinatown each day than there are at the Port Authority. Although the competition has driven down prices for travelers, it has created some difficult situations for neighborhood residents, passing pedestrians and local businesses.
September 26, 2008
Jet Set, Meet the Bus Bunch
By TRACIE ROZHON
KENNY BASCOM stood near the steering wheel of his BoltBus, just about to leave from West 33rd Street in Manhattan, bound for Washington. He called his passengers to attention.
"Can I put a rule in?" he asked. "This bus doesn't move unless you smile. And here's another thing: You got cellphones? Use 'em."
There was a buzz of disbelief.
Use the cellphones? Plug in the laptops! Chat with your fellow passengers and laugh - guilt-free - with a friendly driver at the helm and very comfortable seats all around you.
All for $25 or less, sometimes much less, depending on when you reserve. B.Y.O.F. (bring your own food).
Starting about a dozen years ago with the so-called Chinatown buses, which were the first to offer a minimum of frills (and schedules), Route I-95 between Boston and Washington has become jammed with cheap express buses with jazzy names and the design and Web sites to match: BoltBus (online, tap a key and watch lightning strike!), Megabus (a huge, cherubic driver is emblazoned on the side of the bus), DC2NY, Washington Deluxe and others.
Capitalizing on the success of those first Chinatown buses, the big boys got into the business - BoltBus is owned by Greyhound, and Megabus by a large Scottish transportation company, Stagecoach Group, through its subsidiary Coach USA. As the companies refine their service, the cheap express bus experience just keeps changing, competing to offer amenities: BoltBus now offers plugs for electrical appliances; Washington Deluxe has just added Dupont Circle to its list of Washington stops.
Judging by a recent round trip from New York to Washington - down on BoltBus, back on Megabus - the changes are being seen and, for the most part, appreciated by the passengers, a surprisingly diverse group.
September 9, 2008, 4:19 pm
Fleet Owners Sue City on Hybrid Cab Rules
By William Neuman
A taxi industry group filed a lawsuit [pdf] in federal court on Monday seeking to block a city requirement that all new taxis meet stringent fuel efficiency standards that would make most cabs hybrid vehicles, a key part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s push to cut pollution and make city policies more sensitive to environmental concerns.
The city’s new taxi rule, which is set to go into effect on October 1, requires that all new taxis have a fuel efficiency rating of at least 25 miles per gallon for city driving, a standard that is currently met mostly by hybrid vehicles.
In the lawsuit, lawyers for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents large fleet owners, charge that the rule violates federal laws that say only the federal government can set rules on fuel efficiency and vehicle emissions. (The lawsuit was also filed on behalf of a driver and companies that own and lease cabs.)
The lawsuit also claims that hybrid taxis are unsafe, in part because they are smaller and lighter than the Ford Crown Victoria, the standard taxi cab for many years, making passengers and drivers inside the hybrids more susceptible to injury in an accident.
A spokeswoman for the city legal department declined to comment on the suit, saying that city lawyers had not yet received the legal papers. The Taxi and Limousine Commission has previously said that it is confident that the hybrid cabs are safe.
The New York City Police Department, with its 35,000 officers, has in recent years been on the front lines of the citywide decline in serious crime. It has protected visiting dignitaries like Pope Benedict XVI at events that drew thousands of people, and it has posted officers in foreign capitals to gather information on terrorism and trends that could threaten New York.
But the Police Department continues to be flummoxed by bicyclists riding together once a month.
The city took a tentative step this week toward fulfilling the dream of a certain kind of urban idealist, saying that it will explore the possibility of creating a bike-sharing program that could make hundreds or even thousands of bicycles available for public use.
“This is a really big deal,” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders. “In the realm of things you can do to boost bicycling in a city, bike-share is at the top of the list.”
The city asked companies and organizations interested in running a bike-sharing program to provide assessments of how it could work.
A similar program was started last year in Paris, using thousands of bicycles. A program with 120 bicycles was started earlier this year in Washington.
June 1, 2008
In the Region | New Jersey
A Rail Line Generates New Life
By ANTOINETTE MARTIN
HERE is what light rail has delivered to five formerly down-at-heels neighborhoods along the 20.6-mile system in northern New Jersey: more than 10,000 units of new housing, with a total property value surpassing $5 billion.
The opening and continued expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system from 2000 to 2006 have greatly affected all 23 stops on the north-south line running through seven municipalities.
According to a new study from the Voorhees Transportation Center of Rutgers University, some station sites have already been reshaped by development; others are poised for the same treatment.
The detailed study focused especially on five of the station areas - those that researchers considered to have the most potential for development. They are Port Imperial in Weehawken; Ninth Street in Hoboken; the area between the Essex Street and Jersey Avenue stations in Jersey City; the Bergenline Avenue neighborhood of Union City and West New York; and the 34th Street area in Bayonne.
Upper West Side
At Peak Times, a Hungrier Meter?
By ALEX MINDLIN
PARKING spaces on the Upper West Side are precious resources, to be hoarded like coal in wartime. The familiar street-cleaning shuffle requires paramilitary levels of vigilance and guile. So it is no surprise that the city is eyeing the neighborhood as a place to test a new program that would raise and lower the price of parking to match demand.
The system, known as performance-based pricing, was pioneered by Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at University of California, Los Angeles. Under the system, which is in use in Pasadena, Calif. and part of Washington, D.C., the price of parking fluctuates over the course of the day.
In peak periods, like the early evening, prices are kept high enough to dissuade some drivers from parking, with the goal of having two spots per block unoccupied at any time. Advocates of the system say it eases congestion and lowers emissions by sparing drivers the usual "cruise" in search of parking.
Over the last year, officials of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District have told the city they are willing to try out the new system, in return for street improvements like bike racks, benches, curb extensions and bike lanes. The city never formally agreed to such an arrangement, but Barbara Adler, executive director of the business district, said she learned a few weeks ago that performance-based pricing might be in the works for the avenue.
Nicki Bennett is an American aid worker who bounces around from one hot spot to the next, working for Oxfam. She has been deployed to Sudan, eastern Congo, Chad, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Guatemala. She is currently in Bangladesh working on post-hurricane reconstruction.
This week I’m back in Dhaka, the world’s undisputed rickshaw capital. With more than 300,000 of these brightly colored bicycle contraptions plying the city’s streets for trade, I rarely walk for more than a block before a rickshaw driver (known as “rickshaw-wallah”) pulls up next to me and urges me to hop on board.
I’ve learned it’s almost impossible to refuse a ride. This is partly because the rickshaw-wallahs are very persistent, partly because I feel I should be supporting people struggling to make a living (one in five of the city’s inhabitants depends on the rickshaw business for their income) and partly because Dhaka is now starting to get unbearably hot and humid (and I’m starting to get horrendously lazy).
Coming back from a meeting near my office this afternoon, I start chatting (well, mainly hand-gesturing) with my rickshaw-wallah and ask him where he’s from. I’ve heard lots of stories about families in the cyclone-affected coastal areas sending sons or brothers to urban centers like Dhaka to make a little bit of cash driving rickshaws (many people have not been able to return to their regular jobs as the cyclone destroyed their fishing boats and nets or washed away their crops). I’m wondering if my rickshaw-wallah is one of them.
Instead, he names a district that I’ve never heard of. We manage to establish that it’s somewhere north of Dhaka, near a river. “Floods,” he tells me. “In my village. Village underwater.” Finally the penny drops – he’s not just an economic migrant, he’s also a “climate migrant.”
Slum Visits: Tourism or Voyeurism?
MICHAEL CRONIN's job as a college admissions officer took him to India two or three times a year, so he had already seen the usual sites - temples, monuments, markets - when one day he happened across a flier advertising "slum tours."
"It just resonated with me immediately," said Mr. Cronin, who was staying at a posh Taj Hotel in Mumbai where, he noted, a bottle of Champagne cost the equivalent of two years' salary for many Indians. "But I didn't know what to expect."
Soon, Mr. Cronin, 41, found himself skirting open sewers and ducking to avoid exposed electrical wires as he toured the sprawling Dharavi slum, home to more than a million. He joined a cricket game and saw the small-scale industry, from embroidery to tannery, that quietly thrives in the slum. "Nothing is considered garbage there," he said. "Everything is used again."
Mr. Cronin was briefly shaken when a man, "obviously drunk," rifled through his pockets, but the two-and-a-half-hour tour changed his image of India. "Everybody in the slum wants to work, and everybody wants to make themselves better," he said.
Slum tourism, or "poorism," as some call it, is catching on. From the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the townships of Johannesburg to the garbage dumps of Mexico, tourists are forsaking, at least for a while, beaches and museums for crowded, dirty - and in many ways surprising - slums. When a British man named Chris Way founded Reality Tours and Travel in Mumbai two years ago, he could barely muster enough customers for one tour a day. Now, he's running two or three a day and recently expanded to rural areas.
Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these "green" fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.
The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy.
These studies for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development.
New Operation to Put Heavily Armed Officers in Subways
By AL BAKER
In the first counterterrorism strategy of its kind in the nation, roving teams of New York City police officers armed with automatic rifles and accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol the city's subway system daily, beginning next month, officials said on Friday.
Under a tactical plan called Operation Torch, the officers will board trains and patrol platforms, focusing on sites like Pennsylvania Station, Herald Square, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center and Times Square in Manhattan, and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
Officials said the operation would begin in March.
Financing for the program will be funneled to the Police Department and will come from a pool of up to $30 million taken from $153.2 million in new federal transit grants to the state.
Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, and Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced the grants at a news conference on Friday at Grand Central Terminal, where Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly outlined his plans to add a layer of security to the city's 24-hour transit system.
For Just a Few Dollars, a Big TV and Years of Debt
First thing Friday morning, before anyone showed up to rent a television for the Super Bowl, Deborah Williams walked in the door of the Rent-A-Center store under the Broadway el in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She was delivering $109 in cash, her February payment for a 27-inch television that she is buying over time.
If she does not miss any payments, she will own the television by the summer, for a total of about $900. Such televisions can be bought retail for well under $400, but that would require more money than Deborah Williams can put her hands on at one time.
This is a big week in the television rental business. Fliers were slipped under the doors at the Astoria Houses in Queens that urged people to hurry to the Rent-A-Center on Steinway Street so they could have a big new TV for the football game. Among the offers was a 40-inch Bravia, with payments of $47.51 a week. In 117 weeks, the customer would own the set outright, for $5,558.
January 20, 2008
Little Cambodia, Growing Still Littler
By DAVID SHAFTEL
Data from the 2000 census shows that the city’s Cambodian population decreased by 31 percent from 1990 to 2000. According to a census analysis by the Hmong Studies Internet Resource Center, the decline occurred as nearly all the country’s other Cambodian communities were expanding.
At the high-water mark of 1990, census figures show, 2,565 Cambodians lived in the city, primarily in the Fordham, University Heights and Bronx Park East sections of the Bronx. Most were refugees who were resettled in New York after fleeing the repressive Khmer Rouge regime, which fell in 1979 and claimed nearly two million lives. According to an analysis of 2005 numbers prepared by the Census Bureau, barely 1,000 Cambodians then remained in the city.
U.S. Approves $1.3 Billion for 2nd Avenue Subway
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
The long-dreamed-of Second Avenue subway will take another important step toward becoming a real thing of concrete and steel today, as the federal government plans to announce that it has formally approved $1.3 billion in financing for the project's first phase.
Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said in an interview that the money would be paid out over the next seven years as construction progresses on the subway's first leg, which will have stops on Second Avenue at 92nd, 86th and 72nd Streets and at 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority began preliminary work on the line after Gov. Eliot Spitzer held a ceremonial groundbreaking in April.
Ms. Peters said the federal money would pay for about one-third of the work on the first phase, which is expected to cost more than $4 billion. The first leg is scheduled to open in 2014, and it will run as an extension of the Q line.
TRAFFIC, apparently, hits a nerve.
In the wake of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to calm Manhattan traffic through a plan called congestion pricing, the City section asked its readers to offer their own solutions for easing the borough’s traffic woes.
More than a hundred responded, proposing ideas ranging from the wonky to the off-the-wall. Ban cabs. Ban private cars. Close streets. Add lanes.
Here are 20 of their suggestions, with assessments by two local experts on traffic: Jeffrey Zupan, a senior fellow for transportation at the Regional Plan Association in New York, and John Falcocchio, a professor of transportation planning at Polytechnic University in Downtown Brooklyn.
Although Mr. Zupan’s group supports the mayor’s plan, and Dr. Falcocchio argues that congestion pricing should be used only as a last resort, both experts said they were impressed over all by the suggestions. “The readers did very well,” Mr. Zupan said. “They also generated some thinking on my part.”
In Paris, Bloomberg Eyes Bike Program for Home
By DIANE CARDWELL
PARIS, Sept. 29 - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, on his first trip here since he took office, acknowledged the challenges of bringing home a popular Parisian bike rental program the administration is exploring, saying he was unsure it would translate to New York.
Noting challenges like roads damaged by seasonal changes, the lack of bike lanes, liability problems and the possibility that commuters would not want to carry helmets to work, Mr. Bloomberg said: "You try to see whether it fits, and some parts of it will, but it may very well give you an idea to do something totally different."
Under the program, which started in July, thousands of bicycles are docked along Paris streets, and customers can rent them after buying a membership ranging in time from a day (about $1.30) to a year (about $38). Members pay by the half-hour, with the first 30 minutes free. To discourage long rides, the fee rises from $1.30 for the second half-hour to $5.20 for the fourth.
Judging from the lines of empty consoles in the city center and the ubiquity of riders, even in the rain, the program has been a hit here, despite occasional technical glitches and a lack in some places of empty spots to return a bicycle. One official told Mr. Bloomberg that 100,000 people had signed up for yearly membership and that customers had taken more than 5 million rides.
Whether such a system could survive in New York, where bike theft is common, remains to be seen. Lionel Bordeaux, a press officer for City Hall here, said the fact that all fees were paid by credit card, and a roughly $200 charge for unreturned bikes, discouraged stealing.
Panel Starts Debate on Congestion Pricing
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
The commission created to come up with a plan to ease traffic in New York City met for the first time yesterday and began its debate on whether Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposal to charge motorists who drive into the busiest parts of Manhattan is the best way to proceed.
The 17 members of the group, which met at Baruch College in Lower Manhattan, include transportation officials, politicians and civic leaders. Most of them are thought to be in favor of the mayor's idea, but whatever plan they agree upon must be approved by the State Legislature and the City Council.
Off-Peak Fares Eyed for New York City Transit
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday proposed charging people less if they ride subways or buses during off-peak periods, in hopes of easing overcrowding during the commuting rushes.
Under the plan, however, most riders would be hit with steep increases, as the authority seeks to generate $580 million from fare and toll increases during the next two years.
Softening the Blow of a Fare Hike
Let's begin with the pocketbook-chafing fact that New York's bus and subway riders pay far more at the farebox than riders in any other major transit network. Their burdenwould go up again early next year under a proposal by the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The current base fare of $2 would rise 25 cents to achieve the authority's goal of boosting revenue by 6.5 percent. Another fare increase, as yet undetermined, would follow in two years.
The planned increases reflect the M.T.A.'s attempt to address projected financial woes, including huge out-year budget gaps, while also improving service and expanding the system. Its proposed solution depends on raising fares and tolls possibly as early as January. Foregoing a fare hike entirely, as the city and state comptrollers have both urged, may not be possible; there hasn't been an increase in more than three years. But every effort should be made to minimize the riders' pain.
There are ways this could be done. The M.T.A. is proposing to raise $262 million through higher fares and tolls. Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a nonprofit riders' advocate, suggests a more equitable sharing of costs. His group is calling for the city and counties to contribute $65 million, and the state to pitch in an equal amount. If they did that, riders would face only a 10-cent fare hike. It is a reasonable approach, and lawmakers should give it serious attention.
Keeping fares affordable is critical in a city where so many riders have low incomes. It also encourages people to use mass transit instead of their cars.
Cabs Are on Strike, but Are on the Street, Too
By JAMES BARRON
A strike called by a New York City taxi drivers' group over city plans for a high-tech video-and-fare system thinned the ranks of yellow cabs on the streets yesterday, producing frustrating waits on corners, long lines at the airports and angry exchanges over an ad-hoc fare system.
Union leaders and city officials differed over the effectiveness of the walkout. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which called the strike, maintained that 90 percent of drivers were idle yesterday. But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the figure was far lower.
Still, many would-be passengers spent more time with hands in the air, stuck in that eternal pose of big-city hopelessness. And at the airports, a five-minute wait for a cab stretched to half an hour at some terminals, with 25 people waiting in line, looking at their watches, wondering why they were suddenly going nowhere when the plane had been on time.
The city had introduced a zone-based fare structure during the planned two-day strike - the ride into Manhattan from Kennedy International Airport would be set at $45, for example - but according to anecdotes, at least, the plan seemed to sow more confusion than convenience. It permitted group rides, but some drivers were unaware of it and were uncertain how much to charge. That led to more than one instance of audible angry dialogue between passengers and drivers.
DRIVING a taxi in New York City can be a grueling, thankless job. It is also a unionless job. But on Wednesday, many of the city’s 44,000 licensed cabdrivers are planning to go on strike for 48 hours to protest the new global positioning systems being installed in the city’s 13,000 yellow cabs.
While the Taxi and Limousine Commission supports these devices and has mandated that they be up and running in the city’s entire fleet by January, many cabdrivers — myself included — see this new technology as one big expensive headache. Perhaps the commission should listen to cabdrivers before pushing a device that we’d be better off without.
The device has no navigational abilities. The monitor, which is set into the partition separating the driver from the passenger, cannot be seen or accessed from the front of the cab. It does not give directions or plot routes. All it does is keep track of where you are — both on- and off-duty — and this information is then stored in the commission’s databases.
Officials at the commission say the primary purpose of the devices is to track lost property and make sure cabbies aren’t taking passengers from point A to point B by way of point Z. Sadly, there are some bad cabdrivers out there who take visitors for a “ride,” but in reality, we have much more to fear from our passengers than they have to fear from us.
However, for me and many of my fellow drivers, privacy issues aside, it’s all about money. With prices ranging from around $3,250 to $4,000 to lease and install each unit, the initial costs alone are enough to drive some cabbies out of business. For private owner/operators, this could kill their year.
The costs continue to pile up after the devices are installed. The test drivers who already have the touch-screens have reported finding the monitors covered in spray paint, stickers, soda and scratches.
By JOSEPH KAHN and JIM YARDLEY
BEIJING, Aug. 25 - No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo.
But just as the speed and scale of China's rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut.
Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China's leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.
Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country's 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. Beijing is frantically searching for a magic formula, a meteorological deus ex machina, to clear its skies for the 2008 Olympics.
Environmental woes that might be considered catastrophic in some countries can seem commonplace in China: industrial cities where people rarely see the sun; children killed or sickened by lead poisoning or other types of local pollution; a coastline so swamped by algal red tides that large sections of the ocean no longer sustain marine life.
China is choking on its own success. The economy is on a historic run, posting a succession of double-digit growth rates. But the growth derives, now more than at any time in the recent past, from a staggering expansion of heavy industry and urbanization that requires colossal inputs of energy, almost all from coal, the most readily available, and dirtiest, source.
Is That Finally the Sound of a 2nd Ave. Subway?
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
The neckties are wide and the sideburns long, the pickaxes gleam in the sunlight. The governor thanks the president for providing money. The mayor jokes that "whatever is said about this project in the years to come, certainly no one can say that the city acted rashly or without due deliberation."
The governor swings his pickax, but the pavement is too hard. A jackhammer is brought in to loosen things up. Now the governor and the mayor lay to with gusto.
The Second Avenue subway is born.
Or so it seemed at the time.
The sideburns were long and the neckties wide because it was 1972. The president was Nixon. The governor was Rockefeller. The mayor was Lindsay. And nearly 35 years later, no trains have ever run under Second Avenue.
But the line has had at least three groundbreakings.
On Thursday it will get another one.
All Hail the Green Cabs
Published: May 27, 2007
By doubling mileage requirements for city taxicabs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to have locked in one piece of a potentially historic environmental legacy - not the most ambitious piece, but a significant one nonetheless. His action will transform New York's taxi fleet from the most polluting in the nation to one of the cleanest, and do so in five years, making the city a leader as municipalities compete to cut carbon emissions.
New York Underground
Take This Job and Love It
By ALEX MINDLIN
EVERY few months on Rider Diaries, an online forum for New York transit buffs, someone posts a message with a subject line like “I’VE BEEN CALLED!!!!” That particular exclamation appeared in October 2005; its writer, a skinny 20-year-old named Jason Brown, crowed that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had “finally reached my number.”
Congratulations poured in. “This is the biggest news of today!” one enthusiast wrote. Another added, “I wish I was in your seat.”
Mr. Brown had just gotten the subway fan’s equivalent of a Broadway callback. A year and a half earlier, he had taken the examination to be a conductor, and now he was being called in for a medical exam and an interview.
Had Mr. Brown scored lower, he might have waited even longer. The current list of conductor candidates, which is based on the 2004 exam, had 21,749 names on it in 2005. If previous lists are any guide, only about a third of those names will have been called by the time the list expires in 2009.
Investors Plan New Monorail Linking Soweto to Johannesburg
By MICHAEL WINES
JOHANNESBURG, May 16 - A Malaysian investor pledged on Wednesday to link central Johannesburg to its famous suburb, Soweto, via a 27-mile, $1.7 billion monorail to be built and operated entirely with private money.
The project could deliver huge economic benefits for Soweto, a once-impoverished township that has blossomed into an increasingly desirable residential area for South Africa's black middle class. It also would help with preparations for the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament, part of which will take place in Soweto.
The Malaysian consortium Newcyc plans to start construction in September and complete the light-rail system within two years, the group's chief, Jeyakumar Varathan, said in a statement. Mr. Varathan said that he and private investors, whom he declined to identify, would finance the first phase of the project.
He indicated that the consortium was also planning other investments. "Our vision is for 2020," the statement read. "We are speaking to the government on a daily basis, and we want South Africa's transportation to be 100 percent efficient by then."
Agency Might Replace Bridge and Tunnel Tollbooths With Cashless System
By KEN BELSON
The backup at the tunnel - a phrase as familiar to New York and New Jersey drivers as rubbernecking delays - will never go away. But it may be used less frequently if the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has its way.
The head of the agency, which operates six tunnels and bridges that empty more than 125 million cars, trucks and buses into New York City each year, said yesterday that in a few weeks it would consider financing a study to look at removing tollbooths and at the impact that would have on traffic and pricing.
By going cashless and asking all drivers to use an electronic E-ZPass, said Anthony E. Shorris, the executive director of the Port Authority, the agency hopes to introduce what it calls "dynamic pricing," charging higher tolls during peak periods and lower tolls when traffic is lighter.
Mr. Shorris also said that going entirely electronic would improve air quality because cars and trucks would spend less time idling at toll barriers.
Members Named for Panel Studying Traffic-Cutting Plan
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
A commission heavy with advocates of congestion pricing was named yesterday to study Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's contentious traffic-cutting proposal and present a recommendation to state and city lawmakers.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer nominated Marc V. Shaw, a former deputy mayor under Mr. Bloomberg, as head of the 17-member commission, which must make its recommendation by Jan. 31 on whether to impose an $8 daily charge on drivers entering Manhattan below 86th Street. The charge for trucks would be $21.
The commission includes two other members appointed by the governor, who has endorsed the mayor's proposal, three members appointed by Mayor Bloomberg and three appointed by City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who has also supported the plan.
It would appear from those appointments that the mayor can count on a majority of commission members to back his plan. The commission was created by a law passed during a special legislative session in July as a compromise between supporters and opponents of the congestion pricing plan.
The federal Transportation Department said last week that it would give New York $354 million if it went ahead with the mayor's congestion plan. The money would go mostly to improve bus service for drivers who switch to mass transit.
City Experiments by Adding Color to Bus Lanes
By Sewell Chan
bus lanesA new red bus lane on 57th Street. (Photo: New York City Department of Transportation)
With support from the Federal Highway Administration, New York City will be the first locality in the United States to test painted bus lanes, the city's Department of Transportation announced today.
As part of a trial period, existing bus lanes on East 57th Street, from Second to Fifth Avenues, and on Fordham Road, from University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, are being painted terra cotta, a deep red like the color of bricks. If the experiment works, officials hope that more motorists will stay out of the lanes, which are used during the morning and evening rush, on weekdays.
The coloring of bus lanes - red is the most common color, but green and yellow have also been used - has been used in London; Edinburgh; Rouen, France; Seoul, South Korea; and Melbourne, Australia.
The colors do not affect the current bus lane rules. Vehicles other than buses may not drive in any bus lanes during the hours that they are in operation, except to make the next legal right turn. On East 57th Street and Fordham Road, the bus lanes are in effect from Monday to Friday, 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
The painting on 57th Street should be complete by Sept. 1, and the Fordham Road painting will begin after that.
Two different paint treatments are being evaluated. "One option involves adding color to the entire bus lane, while the other option involves applying the color only down the center of the lane," the department said in a news release. "A five-foot wide strip down the center may be more cost effective and more durable, since the strip will experience less wear from bus tires than a full lane striping would. However, this treatment may not be as effective as the full lane striping at reducing unauthorized use." On 57th Street and Fordham Road, one treatment will be used on one side of the street, and the other treatment on the opposite side.
New York Up Close
Hue and Cry
By GREGORY BEYER
In 2001, the city's Transportation Department tested a light blue bike lane in Downtown Brooklyn and found that in terms of making the lane sufficiently visible to cyclists and drivers alike, it did the trick. But at the urging of the Federal Highway Administration, the department has forgone blue for the Brooklyn Heights bike lane and decided to experiment with green, echoing a growing national movement to make green the official bike lane color.
Other streets are getting paint jobs, too. Last week, in an experiment in making bus lanes more visible, the city laid down coats of terra-cotta-colored paint on bus lanes along part East 57th Street, and it will soon do the same for lanes on Fordham Road in the Bronx.
After the Second Avenue subway finally rolls, it also may eventually bring a new color. The Web site of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows a T - the letter tentatively chosen to denote the new line - sitting in a circle of turquoise. (According to Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman, the agency has not yet chosen a permanent color for the circle.)
The choice is of special interest to Lynne Lambert, whose New York City Subway Line is an official licensed maker of subway-themed merchandise. Whatever color is chosen will make its way onto T-shirts, hats and other items Ms. Lambert produces, and she said she would be happy to see the choice on the transportation authority's Web site become permanent.
A Bike Race With a Mission, Plus Cigarettes
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
So how do a bunch of bike messengers and their friends unwind on a weekend afternoon? With a bike man's holiday - a grueling race that substituted the claustrophobic corridors of Manhattan with the wide, steep boulevards of Staten Island.
Shortly before 3:30 p.m. Saturday, about 40 men and women on bicycles pedaled through the parking lot of the Staten Island Ferry terminal, having just received the day's orders from two long-haired men drinking from tall cans of Budweiser.
The competitors had a deadline and a mission: Get their manifests signed or stamped at various spots around the island. "Real bike racing is a rich man's sport," said Mike Dee, a messenger and an organizer of the race, called the Staten Island Invasion. "This is like the bike race for the rest of us - people who like to drink a beer in the mornings."
It was the kind of race for which Pete Lang, a 25-year-old messenger, warmed up by smoking a cigarette. There was no set course, just a starting place, a finish line and about 20 checkpoints in between.
Mixed Signals: Driving to Work as a Tax Break
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
They have made it a priority at the United States Department of Transportation: Get people out of their cars.
This week, the department announced $848 million in grants to help cities discourage people from driving, in many cases by imposing new tolls or fees.
But at the same time, another arm of the federal government seems to be sending a very different message. Congress provides a tax break to many of those same drivers to help them shoulder the costs of taking their cars to work.
Close to 400,000 commuters nationwide - about half of them in the New York City area - take advantage of a provision in the federal tax code that allows them to use up to $215 a month in pre-tax wages to pay for their parking at work, according to executives at corporate benefits firms that specialize in administering the tax break.
While some drivers use it to pay for parking at commuter rail stations or bus stops, most take advantage of it to pay for parking near their workplace, mostly in city centers, the executives said.
The tax savings can equal about $1,000 a year for some drivers. And the effect makes driving to work more desirable.
"It is perverse," said Jeffrey M. Zupan, a senior fellow for transportation at the Regional Plan Association in New York. "If you're going to institute pricing measures that are intended to reduce the amount of driving, you don't want to keep in place other measures that encourage people to drive. What you want is a set of policies that work together."
The federal government said on Tuesday that it would provide $354 million for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s broad plan to reduce traffic, but left it to the city to come up with more than $200 million needed for the most controversial part of the plan: a system to charge people who drive into Manhattan.
In addition, under the agreement outlined by the United States secretary of transportation, Mary E. Peters, the release of the funds is contingent upon the City Council’s and the State Legislature’s approving the plan, including the new fee on drivers, by next March.
The announcement was mixed news for Mr. Bloomberg, who is trying to establish the first broad-based congestion pricing program in the country, and to raise his national profile on environmental issues. While the federal support helps to advance his initiative, it is now up to the mayor to find the money — through borrowing, appropriation, or perhaps from a private corporation — for what has been seen as the centerpiece of the plan, the new charge on drivers.
In its federal application, the city estimated that it would cost $223 million to install a computerized system to monitor traffic and impose the fee on cars entering the busiest parts of Manhattan, and asked the United States to cover $179 million of that. But the Department of Transportation said it would contribute only $10 million to that initiative. Most of what the department agreed to provide on Tuesday is designated for the construction of bus depots and other mass transit improvements.
AMSTERDAM, Aug. 8 — On a recent Saturday during the confusion of this watery city’s annual Gay Pride Parade along the majestic Princes Canal, a beach umbrella was knocked into the water from the foredeck of Jackie Wijnakker’s houseboat, so she dove into the water to fetch it, unsuccessfully. It was only the second time in 17 years that she had jumped into the canal, and she cannot recall what she was trying to retrieve the first time. At any rate, she said with a laugh, “I’m too old to be diving into canals.”
She told the tale as a testament to how clean the water is, despite its murky, khaki color. “The canals are flushed regularly,” said Ron Van Heukelom, a neighbor who lives on dry land and has never ventured into the canal.
The flushing is necessary because, while most of Amsterdam’s 2,800 houseboats have running water, electricity and gas heat, few are connected to sewerage systems and continue to spill their waste into the canals.
The houseboats’ lack of toilet training is their dirty little secret, one that sits uncomfortably with a new generation of wealthier, more demanding owners who are leading a gentrification of the houseboat scene. In the process, they are displacing the less affluent boat people, many of whom are relics of the 1960s and 1970s era of flower power now struggling to pay the upkeep on their boats.
“The water is cleaner than it looks,” said Monique J. M. Jacobs, an official of the city agency responsible for water and the boats. The canals, she explained, are flushed by opening and closing locks about twice a week, and in summer more often. “Small fish are coming back, and also birds that feed off the fish,” she said. “In the old days it was awful. It stank in summer.”
In the Region | Connecticut
Now Arriving: Reverse Commuters
By LISA PREVOST
MANY companies that have opted out of the tight Midtown Manhattan market in favor of Greenwich and Stamford office space are attracting growing numbers of young city dwellers who are turning the traditional commuting pattern on its head.
So-called "reverse commuters" - workers who live in New York City and commute to Fairfield County - are one of the more subtle indicators of the robustness of the Stamford and Greenwich office markets. The trend is particularly prominent in Stamford because the central business district has developed around the city's transportation center.
UBS, the giant investment banking and wealth management firm, which now claims more than one million square feet of office space in four Stamford locations, draws "several hundred" of its 4,500 workers from New York City, according to Kristopher Kagel, a company spokesman.
Jeffrey Zupan, senior fellow for transportation at Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit organization that monitors various planning issues across Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, said, "Reverse commuting works in Stamford because the city is developing in a way that can take advantage of it."
A significant increase in reverse commuters is reflected in ridership rates on the Metro-North Railroad. The number of peak-time riders in the morning who board at a New York City station and get off in Stamford has doubled in the last decade, and has increased nearly 150 percent since 1990, according to figures provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
New York-to-Greenwich ridership has increased at roughly the same rate, though the number of reverse commuters is smaller, with about an average of 870 commuters getting off there in the morning, compared with 1,900 in Stamford.
A FEW minutes into the opening reception for an exhibit on the intersection of design and technology at the Chelsea Art Museum, one of the pieces caught fire. The installation, called “Saws,” accidentally ignited when one of the work’s three chainsaws became caught on a stripped extension cord that dangled over a metal sheet on the floor.
Propelled by smoke and dust, the crowd emptied out onto West 22nd Street, where they were met with another curious sight. An oversize tricycle was rounding the corner, weighed down with a video camera, a laptop computer, a digital projector and, attached to its frame with bungee cords, two loudspeakers playing “Doobie Ashtray” by the Houston rapper Devin the Dude.
The cyclist was a 30-year-old robotics engineer named James Powderly, who, among other projects, once helped develop a remote-controlled arm for NASA’s Mars rover program. Alongside the cycle walked Evan Roth, a 28-year-old artist whose graduate thesis at Parsons the New School for Design analyzed graffiti tags as a source of mathematical data.
In the fall of 2005, the two formed an entity called the Graffiti Research Lab, a nonprofit design studio with the mission of producing tools for urban communication. The cycle is their latest invention, and its appearance in Chelsea was its official New York debut.
As Mr. Powderly neared the museum’s entrance, he jumped off the cycle and pointed it toward a bare stretch on a garage door across the street. Mr. Roth pulled a laser pointer from his pocket, and as he moved the laser’s green dot across the wall, a line of what looked like thick, drippy paint lit up its surface, roughly following the motion of his hand.
But what seemed like an illegal tag was in fact a projection, an ephemeral splash of digital graffiti that would vanish with a flick of a switch on the cycle’s gas-powered generator.
“You want to try?” Mr. Roth asked the growing crowd behind him. He handed the laser pointer to a young woman standing nearby. She nodded, hesitant but curious.The cycle is designed to be an accessible, almost playful simulacrum of street tagging, giving passers-by a whiff of the thrill of posting a message in places they’re not supposed to. It is what its creators call a gateway graffiti experience. The idea is to put the tools for unfiltered, unsanctioned public expression in the hands of those who might otherwise shy away from grabbing a spray can or a paint marker.
By night’s end, several dozen people had used the laser to scribble personal messages, squealing with amazement each time the projected beam of light appeared on the wall.
August 10, 2007, 12:07 pm
New Bus Shelters Let You Plan Your Shopping and TV-Watching but Not Your Trip
By David W. Dunlap
In the department of missing transit information, the absence of route maps and trip tips at a few of the new bus-stop shelters being installed by Cemusa scarcely rises to the level of outrage.
But mild indignation may be in order, since the same shelters seem to have a full complement of advertising.
On the Avenue of the Americas at 56th Street, for example, riders cannot find out what lines serve the stop, where the buses go after they leave the stop or how to pay their fare, which is no small question for an out-of-towner. They can, however, learn about Verizon’s new BlackBerry 8830 World Edition for $199.99 (after rebate) or contemplate how delicious a Corona Extra or Corona Light might taste about now, just as long as they “relax responsibly.”
Twelve blocks south on the avenue, the shelter is silent on the question of whether riders can expect an M5 or an M6 or an M7 to pull up. Instead it, it lets them know that Glenn Close is starring in “Damages” on the FX network. Oh, yes, and that Verizon BlackBerry. Only $199.99. (After rebate.)
Is this another case of a corporate takeover of the public realm without the full benefit that was promised to the public? Not quite. Cemusa, the Spanish company that won a citywide street-furniture franchise last year, is not to blame.
The day after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush declared the strikes by Al Qaeda “more than acts of terror. They were acts of war.” Bush’s “war on terror” was “not a figure of speech,” he said. Rather, it was a defining framework. The war, Bush announced, would begin with Al Qaeda, but would “not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” The global war on terror, he said, was the “inescapable calling of our generation.”
The phrase and the agenda that grew out of it caught on, and from 9/11 onward, the administration used its pulpit to propagate several new premises. First, with the threat of Islamic radical terrorism, new rules, new tools and new mind-sets had to be devised to meet the novelty of the menace. As Vice President Dick Cheney put it, “old doctrines of security do not apply.” The criminal justice approach of trying terrorists would have to be scrapped, supplanted by a military approach. Second, we were told, the states that sponsored terrorism or offered lodging to terrorists had to be treated the same way as those nonstate actors who carried out the threats. Even more dramatically, America’s friends had to prove their loyalty by taking concrete steps in our global war. As Bush put it, the “duties” of peace-loving people “involve more than sympathy or words. No nation can be neutral.” By requiring governments to step up, we would be able to root out the unreliable and distribute sanctions and favors accordingly.
For Athletes, an Invisible Traffic Hazard
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
SUSAN JAMES, a 50-year-old probation officer in Bakersfield, Calif., has been a competitive runner for almost three decades. "I've spent a lot of hours running through this city," she said.
Which is beginning to worry her.
"Twenty years ago, I didn't have asthma or allergies," she said. Today, she has both, probably due to the same improbable cause. "My doctor told me I'm allergic to Bakersfield air," she said. "I'm actually allergic to it."
In May, the American Lung Association called Bakersfield the third-sootiest city in the country, behind Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.
The news didn't surprise Ms. James. "Sometimes my chest aches" midrun, she said. To combat the pollution, she may soon join a gym for the first time. "I've got a lot of years to run still, and I'm not sure if I can do it outside," she said.
Air pollution is on the minds of many athletes this summer, especially those who, in a reverse of Ms. James's plan, have moved their workouts outside.
Fitness chat rooms resound with worried postings about air quality. As one cyclist wrote on SoCalCycling .com, "During the summer months, I have to ride in the morning and be home no later than 11, otherwise I will feel miserable and cough all day long."
For Parking Space, the Price Is Right at $225,000
By VIVIAN S. TOY
In Houston, $225,000 will buy a three-bedroom house with a game room, den, in-ground pool and hot tub.
In Manhattan, it will buy a parking space. No windows, no view. No walls.
While real estate in much of the country languishes, property in Manhattan continues to escalate in price, and that includes parking spaces. Some buyers do not even own cars, but grab the spaces as investments, renting them out to cover their costs.
Spaces are in such demand that there are waiting lists of buyers. Eight people are hoping for the chance to buy one of five private parking spaces for $225,000 in the basement of 246 West 17th Street, a 34-unit condo development scheduled for completion next January. The developer, meanwhile, is seeking city approval to add four more spots.
Parking in new developments is selling for twice what it was five years ago, said Jonathan Miller, an appraiser and president of Miller Samuel.
Although spaces in prime sections of Manhattan are the most expensive, even those in open lots and in garages in Brooklyn, Queens, Riverdale and Harlem are close to $50,000, although at least one new Brooklyn development is asking $125,000.
Global Warming and Your Wallet
At long last, Congress is showing a willingness to confront global warming. The Senate's recent approval of higher fuel economy standards is a constructive step and key lawmakers are promising comprehensive legislation this year that will, for the first time, limit the emission of greenhouse gases.
But for all the talk about warming, leading politicians have yet to educate their constituents (and their colleagues) about an unpleasant and inescapable truth: any serious effort to fight warming will require everyone to pay more for energy. According to most scientists, the long-term costs of doing nothing - flooding, famine, drought - would be even higher than the costs of acting now. But unless Americans understand and accept the trade-off - higher prices today to avoid calamity later - the requisite public support for real change is unlikely to build.
Energy is currently underpriced in part because its cost does not reflect the damage inflicted by fossil fuels. Underpricing leads to overconsumption. Worse, it leads to underinvestment in alternatives. As long as today's energy is relatively cheap, there is little incentive for private firms to develop new fuels and technologies.
Clear Up the Congestion-Pricing Gridlock
By KEN LIVINGSTONE
THE New York State Assembly ended its session on June 22 without reaching a consensus on Manhattan's congestion pricing proposal - a delay that may cost New York City some $500 million in federal transportation money. Assembly members have voiced concerns about the economic impact of the program, the effect on traffic outside Manhattan and even the effectiveness of the idea itself.
Four years ago, London was engaged in a very similar debate. We now have the luxury of hindsight. While the two cities' situations are not identical, they certainly have analogies and therefore, perhaps, the success of London's program can shed light on the current debate in New York.
At that time, London's business district was undergoing rapid growth, but it was at capacity in terms of traffic. Efforts to channel more cars into the city center simply led to ever lower traffic speeds, which in turn led to business losses and a decrease in quality of life. Simultaneously, carbon emissions were mounting because of the inefficiency of engine use.
In 2003, London put in place a £5 (about $9) a day congestion charge for all cars that entered the center city (the charge is now £8). This led to an immediate drop of 70,000 cars a day in the affected zone. Traffic congestion fell by almost 20 percent. Emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide were cut by more than 15 percent.
A Pretend Preacher, a Real Arrest and a Debate About Free Speech
By ETHAN WILENSKY-LANFORD
A satirist dressed as a preacher and protesting what he called the Disneyfication of New York City was arrested Friday for harassing police in Union Square before the start of a monthly bicycle rally that the Bloomberg administration has been trying to rein in.
Bill Talen, who performs under the name Reverend Billy, said that he was arrested after trying to defend the cyclists' rights by reading the First Amendment to the police - through a bullhorn. The authorities said that he was arrested after repeatedly being told to stop.
Mr. Talen was charged with two counts of second-degree harassment. He was released without bail pending a court date in August.
"We were full of the holy spirit of the First Amendment," said Mr. Talen, who is in his mid-50s and was dressed like a big-tent evangelist, with a white suit and a dyed-blond pompadour. He sometimes spreads his message with the help of the Church of Stop-Shopping Gospel Choir.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Talen defended his performance art. "New York City won't exist if we won't let creativity happen in public space," he said.
Mr. Talen said he was at Union Square to support the cyclists taking part in Critical Mass, a monthly ride aimed at promoting nonpolluting forms of transportation. Critical Mass riders gather the last Friday of every month at Union Square.
Manhattanites Face Driving Fee on the Way Out
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
In promoting his sweeping traffic reduction plan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his aides have stressed one provision: drivers who enter Manhattan below 86th Street would be charged an $8 fee.
But what has not been widely mentioned is a measure that could startle some Manhattanites: those who live within the zone would have to pay $8 to drive out.
The congestion pricing program was devised to cut traffic, chiefly by persuading people from the other boroughs and beyond to leave their cars behind and take public transit into Manhattan. But planners say that those who live inside the congestion pricing zone also contribute to traffic when they drive out, and should pay their share, too.
That means a man from Greenwich Village who drives to visit his grandmother in Queens would pay the fee. So would a C.E.O. who has a reverse commute, driving from the East Side to Stamford, Conn., each morning, and an Upper Eastsider who likes to drive to the Fairway supermarket in Harlem.
It might seem that anyone taking a car out of the congestion zone ought to be rewarded instead of penalized, but officials disagreed.
"We're not trying to get people to leave the zone in their cars," said Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff, who played a leading role in fashioning the plan. "Overall what we're trying to do is get people to use their cars less."
It weighs 20 tons empty — 45 tons when full — smells a bit racy and has become known as the Yonkers Chomper. Lumbering down a street in southern Yonkers on Monday, it made quick work of the mountain of garbage piled in front of an apartment building and still had room to polish off a few piles down the street.
Children seemed delighted by its saw-toothed jaw and polka-dotted body. Adults tended to warm to it after learning that the whimsical bit of street theater they were watching had not cost taxpayers a thing.
Some cities commission murals to bring art to the masses. Others design sculpture parks. But Yonkers took a different tack last month when it outfitted 6 of its 45 garbage trucks to give residents something less drab to look at each morning. The experiment has been such a success that residents asked to have the truck routes alternated to let the artworks tour the town.
“We’re going to rotate them so more neighborhoods can see them,” said John A. Liszewski, the commissioner of the Public Works Department for this city of about 200,000. He would like to see the rest of his fleet undergo makeovers if his staff can attract more private sponsors.
“I’m becoming the city’s arts commissioner,” Mr. Liszewski joked.
Some Subways Found Packed Past Capacity
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
They are just lines on a graph, but for many subway riders they will provide unique insight into one of the great aggravations of life underground: why trains on some lines are so often both crowded and late, while on other lines the trains seem to cruise along on schedule with almost no one on board.
In an unusually candid effort at self-examination for a habitually insular agency, New York City Transit yesterday presented what could be called an index of straphanger frustration. It made an analysis of each subway line that shows at a glance how often trains run late, how crowded they are and whether more trains could be added to ease the problems.
What is revealed is both predictable and eye-opening. Many subway lines are simply maxed out, meaning there is no room on the tracks they use to add trains that could carry the swelling numbers of riders. And that has implications that range from day-to-day decisions about how trains travel through the system to long-term planning on how to best move people around a growing city.
"From my point of view, this is scary," said Howard H. Roberts Jr., the president of New York City Transit, who presented the data to members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's board. "This is scary in the sense that right now, on a lot of these lines, we're several years and a big capital construction project away from being able to provide what I consider adequate service. We're constrained."
Not Buying It
By STEVEN KURUTZ
ON a Friday evening last month, the day after New York University’s class of 2007 graduated, about 15 men and women assembled in front of Third Avenue North, an N.Y.U. dormitory on Third Avenue and 12th Street. They had come to take advantage of the university’s end-of-the-year move-out, when students’ discarded items are loaded into big green trash bins by the curb.
New York has several colleges and universities, of course, but according to Janet Kalish, a Queens resident who was there that night, N.Y.U.’s affluent student body makes for unusually profitable Dumpster diving. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the gathering at the Third Avenue North trash bin quickly took on a giddy shopping-spree air, as members of the group came up with one first-class find after another.
Ben Ibershoff, a dapper man in his 20s wearing two bowler hats, dug deep and unearthed a Sharp television. Autumn Brewster, 29, found a painting of a Mediterranean harbor, which she studied and handed down to another member of the crowd.
Are You Ready to Pay to Park on Your Street?
By Danny Hakim
New York City could start charging residents to park in their own neighborhoods under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan. The mayor's proposal, which was introduced in the State Senate this month, would charge most drivers $8 to enter Manhattan below 86th Street on weekdays. To mollify people just outside the zone who feared their streets would turn into parking lots, the Senate bill would allow the city to issue permits so that most parking spots would be restricted to neighborhood residents.
But the bill says there would be unspecified fees that residents would have to pay to get those permits. The money would go to the city's general fund.
John Gallagher, a spokesman for the mayor, said "discussion of a fee structure for residential permit parking is very premature." Among other details of the plan, visitors coming into the city could deduct the cost of bridge and tunnel tolls from an $8 fee to enter Manhattan, but only if they use E-ZPass. And the state's environmental review process would be waived to speed up the plan.
We took a dive into the fine print of the mayor's proposal. As one might expect with such a voluminous piece of legislation, a number of notable items emerge from the fine print.
It's not spelled out how visitors driving into New York City would be made aware that they had to pay $8 within 48 hours or face a $115 fine. The mayor and his administration have said most people would likely have heard about the congestion fee, though some lawmakers say many might not. The mayor's staff says there would also be adequate signage. Lawmakers have wondered how this would actually work: The signs, presumably, would have to explain how and where to pay, requiring a lot more words than "toll ahead."
By PETE HAMILL
Taxi drivers are the most enduring oppressed minority in New York City history. Race, ethnicity and religion are not sources of the oppression. It lies entirely in the nature of the work. Trapped for about 12 hours each day in the worst traffic in the United States, taxi drivers must suffer the savage frustrations of jammed streets, double-parked cars, immense trucks, drivers from New Jersey - and they can't succumb to the explosive therapy of road rage. Their living depends on self-control.
At the same time, they face many other hazards: drunks behind them in the cab, fare beaters, stickup men, Knicks fans filled with biblical despair, out-of-town conventioneers who think the drivers are mobile pimps. Some seal themselves off from the back seat with the radio, an iPod or a cellphone. All pray that the next passenger doesn't want to go from Midtown to the far reaches of Brooklyn or Queens. They hope for a decent tip. They hope to stay alive until the next fare waves from under a midnight streetlamp.
In this informative, solid history, Graham Russell Gao Hodges traces the story of the cabdrivers from 1907, when the first metered taxis appeared on New York streets, to the present. He writes with obvious sympathy, having driven a hack himself before moving on to academic labors as a historian at Peking University and Colgate. Loneliness is a running theme in "Taxi!": if the title were not already taken, Hodges could have called his compact history "One Hundred Years of Solitude.
City's White Elephant Now Looks Like a Transit Workhorse
By SEAN D. HAMILL
MORGANTOWN, W.Va., June 4 - During its troubled years of construction and testing in the early 1970s, the Personal Rapid Transit system that snakes through this hilly college town was derided as a fiasco and a waste of money that perhaps should be dynamited rather than finished.
But now, 32 years after it began operating, the P.R.T. - as most people here call it - is lauded as probably the best answer to the traffic that has found its way to these increasingly popular Appalachian hills.
"I would hate to see Morgantown without the P.R.T. system," said Mayor Ronald Justice. "We're a small town with big traffic issues, and the P.R.T. could be the reason we're able to continue our growth."
Originally built to shuttle students and employees between West Virginia University's two campuses, which sit two miles apart, Morgantown now sees it as more than just a way to get students to class on time. With commuting times increasing in the region, the university, which operates the system, is considering expanding it.
A Crash in Pennsylvania, and a Cloud Over Mott Street
By FIONA NG
Whenever huge calamities strike abroad - the tsunami in Asia in 2004, say - New Yorkers know that in their ethnically mixed city there is probably an enclave directly linked to the tragedy. This pattern applies to smaller events, too, like a recent bus crash in Pennsylvania that echoed loudly throughout Chinatown.
At 3:30 a.m. May 20, a bus carrying 36 passengers from Chicago to New York went out of control on Interstate 80 in Clearfield County, Pa. The bus zigzagged across the highway and ended up on its side on the road's embankment, leaving 2 people dead and 32 others injured. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
City Traffic Pricing Wins U.S. and Spitzer's Favor
By DANNY HAKIM and RAY RIVERA
ALBANY, June 7 - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plan to reduce traffic by charging people who drive into the busiest parts of Manhattan received significant support on Thursday as Gov. Eliot Spitzer endorsed the idea and the Bush administration indicated that New York stood to gain hundreds of millions of dollars if the plan were enacted.
If the measure is approved by the Legislature, New York will become the first city in the United States to impose a broad system of congestion pricing, which was introduced in London in 2003 and has been credited with reducing traffic there.
Governor Spitzer said he would work to ensure passage of the plan, which is a major part of the mayor's blueprint for improving air quality and traffic flow for the next several decades. The Bloomberg administration has estimated that it could put the program into effect within 18 months of legislative approval.
"This is a necessary investment for the future of New York City, which is to a great extent the economic engine of New York State," the governor said. "And so this is not really a question of whether, it's a question of how, it's a question of making sure that we do it properly."
Mr. Spitzer appeared alongside the United States transportation secretary, Mary E. Peters, who announced that New York City was one of nine finalists for a share of $1.1 billion in federal aid to fight urban traffic. Ms. Peters warned, however, that the city's potential share could be endangered if the mayor's plan did not have state approval by August.
In Camden, Campbell Co. Says It May Go if Sears Building Stays
By KAREEM FAHIM
CAMDEN, N.J. - For decades after it was built in 1927, shoppers drove to the Sears, Roebuck & Company store on Admiral Wilson Boulevard just beyond the center of town. A colonnaded temple to both commerce and the automobile, the store, in the classical revival style, had a lot with parking spaces for about 600 cars.
But in 1971, as the middle class fled the city, the store closed, and reopened at a mall in nearby Moorestown. In the years afterward, most of the drivers who stopped by this despondent stretch of freeway were visiting seedy strip joints. And the old Sears building went on to become a car dealership, then an office. Today it is vacant, vandalized and in need of repair.
Now, amid an effort to revive a city mired in a crippling cycle of crime and unemployment, the Campbell Soup Company, Camden's longtime and most prominent corporate resident, has proposed expanding its presence and transforming the area where the empty store sits into an office park.
The soup company is prepared to spend $72 million to improve its headquarters, and has also promised to help lure developers to an adjacent office park with the help of $26 million in state funds. But the company's pledge comes with one nagging caveat: The Sears building, which is listed on state and national historic registries, must come down. If not, Campbell Soup, which has been an enormous presence in the city since 1869, may abandon Camden and go elsewhere.
Bagels, Bialys and Raspberries
By EMILY BRADY
It seemed like a harmless enough name, but when Ravi Aggarwal decided to call his new shop Arena Bagels and Bialys, he learned otherwise.
Mr. Aggarwal's two teenage children had suggested the name after reading online about the planned new home of the New Jersey Nets. He thought it was a smart idea; the shop is in Park Slope, a few blocks from the site of the proposed Barclays Center arena, part of the Atlantic Yards development.
So, in mid-April, workers installed the name in red letters above the new store on Fifth Avenue near Bergen Street. Soon, however, workers in the space began noticing negative reactions from passers-by.
"Four out of five people that walked by just stood and stared at the sign," said Rich Kahn III, who helped his father install the bagel oven and water kettle. His father added that one sarcastic passer-by remarked, " ‘Oh, yeah, he's going to do good business with that name.' "
By ALEX MINDLIN
IT was 5 in the afternoon, and the scratched-up green Dodge pickup was stopped at a light at Foster and Remsen Avenues in Canarsie, Brooklyn. A teetering bureau and a load of wooden slats were in back.
"Bobby, they're dumping!" Officer Fontana shouted. "Go down there!"
A man in a plaid work shirt was tossing planks and slats onto the road. As the Jeep rolled up, he began to tip over the bureau. When it hit the ground, Lieutenant DeRossi said: "O.K. Let's get him."
Lieutenant DeRossi and Officer Fontana are members of the Sanitation Department's Illegal Dumping Task Force, a unit of 35 armed plainclothes officers, former sanitation workers all. And this is their busy season. Construction work and spring cleaning pick up in April and May, generating large amounts of debris; some 21 dumpers' vehicles were impounded in May of last year, a number exceeded only in August.
No Place to Park, but Plenty of Blame
By JENNIFER BLEYER
Published: May 27, 2007
Parking, that most coveted urban commodity, has turned a typically serene corner of the Bronx into a battleground.
It started after a bus depot opened in 2005 on Stillwell Avenue for the Logan Bus Company of Ozone Park, Queens. The company, which has a contract with the city's Department of Education to transport schoolchildren, operates more than 100 buses from the Bronx location.
In India, Grandma Cooks, They Deliver
By SARITHA RAI
MUMBAI, India - Gaurav Bamania, a hedge fund analyst who works in one of the many downtown office towers that now dominate the skyline of India's financial capital, could easily eat lunch at one of the city's better restaurants. Instead, Mr. Bamania, 26, follows a practice dating back over a century to the early years of British rule: he has a hot meal, lovingly cooked at home by his grandmother, and delivered to his desk every workday.
In India, where many traditions are being rapidly overturned as a result of globalization, the practice of eating a home-cooked meal for lunch lives on.
To achieve that in this sprawling urban amalgamation of an estimated 25 million people, where long commutes by train and bus are routine, Mumbai residents rely on an intricately organized, labor-intensive operation that puts some automated high-tech systems to shame. It manages to deliver tens of thousands of meals to workplaces all over the city with near-clockwork precision.
At the heart of this unusual network is a chain of delivery men called dabbawallas.
From Africa to Queens Waterfront, a Modernist Gem for Sale to the Highest Bidder
By WILLIAM L. HAMILTON
For anyone still looking for a house for the summer, something very exclusive is about to come up in Queens.
Tomorrow, the Maison Tropicale, a small aluminum-paneled house built in 1951 by Jean Prouvé, a French designer and the current court favorite of well-heeled contemporary art and design collectors internationally, is being opened to the public for preview in Long Island City. Christie's, the auction house, will offer it for sale on June 5. The presale estimate is $4 million to $6 million.
Caught in the Headlights
By GREGORY BEYER
AS the Upper East Side braces for the commotion and transformation that will undoubtedly mark the first phase of construction of the Second Avenue subway, a very few of the neighborhood's residents face a more dramatic change. To make room for subway stations and other components of the system, some buildings and the people who live in them will have to go.
Manhattan Up Close
The Charming Gadfly Who Saved the High Line
By JOHN FREEMAN GILL
FOR all the giddiness surrounding the transformation of the High Line, the city's favorite elevated railway, into a linear park running from the meatpacking district to Hell's Kitchen, nearly one-third of it remains in danger of being torn down. The stretch between 30th and 34th Streets, where the High Line loops gracefully around parts of the railyards between 10th and 12th Avenues, is shaping up as the last battleground for the innovative project.
For Mr. Obletz, the railyards west of Penn Station were not a hotly contested development opportunity, but literally his backyard. Beginning in the late 1970s, when the western fringe of Hell's Kitchen was such a forbidding wasteland after dark that cabbies would not take riders there, Mr. Obletz lived in the railyards in a formerly derelict concrete-block railroad building near 30th Street and 11th Avenue. Next door, on a spur of track, he kept two elegantly appointed antique rail cars he had obsessively restored.
A train buff's train buff, Mr. Obletz worked as a real estate consultant for the transit authority and gave elaborate dinner parties in his gleaming, 68-ton Pullman dining car. Places were set with New York Central Railroad china and flatware, with the host sometimes attired in a blue velvet smoking jacket and saddle shoes.
"He was an absolute charmer," said the playwright Paul Rudnick, who along with other creative types like the choreographer Tommy Tune was a guest. "It was such a treat to visit him because you felt you were leaving New York, and in a sense planet Earth. You'd entered Train Land."
Mr. Obletz's rail cars sat a stone's throw from a long, rusting overhead structure. One day he climbed a metal staircase and stepped with astonishment onto what he later learned was the defunct 1934 freight railway known as the High Line.
"It was a terra incognita up there," Mr. Obletz told a New York Times reporter for a 1984 article. "Unrestricted space. Unimaginable tranquillity."
Washington is poised to offer a helping hand, as well as significant money, to assist Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his efforts to solve New York's traffic gridlock. But there is one bump in the road - Albany, which must approve the city's proposed remedy before any money can begin to flow. And some legislators are balking.
The federal Department of Transportation plans to make available $1.2 billion in grants, loans and other financing to metropolitan areas across the country to help them test strategies to relieve traffic congestion.
The Mayor's Ode to Earth Day
Published: April 23, 2007
Mayor Michael Bloomberg likes to talk about the big picture, even if it might not be pretty. Yesterday, he warned New Yorkers how their city could suffer by 2030 without his plans for the future. With a million new people coming into town, housing needs would soar. The sky could be as gray and toxic as London in the '50s. Every road into Manhattan would be above capacity - a gridlock nightmare that would make today's traffic jams look tame.
April 22, 2007
Mayor Proposes a Fee for Driving Into Manhattan
By MARIA NEWMAN
Saying that he would not spend his final term in office "pretending that all is fine," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made a series of Earth Day proposals this afternoon to improve the environment of New York City, including charging a new congestion fee to drivers who come into parts of Manhattan during peak hours during weekdays.
The $8 congestion fee was one of 127 initiatives included in a sweeping plan by the mayor to help the city of currently 8.2 million people cope with an expected surge in population that he said is sure to put a strain on its transportation, housing and energy systems.
"Let's face up to the fact that our population growth is putting our city on a collision course with the environment, which itself is growing more unstable and uncertain," the mayor said.
A key objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, by which time the population is projected to grow by at least a million people, he said.
The proposal that is sure to attract the most attention, and possibly objections, is one to impose the $8 fee on car drivers, and $21 for truck operators, to drive in Manhattan south of 86th Street.
Bloomberg: ‘It's Called Capitalism'
By Ray Rivera
On his weekly radio appearance on WABC this morning [listen], Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spoke hypothetically about the congestion pricing proposal he is all but assured to announce on Sunday. One plan under consideration would charge drivers $8 to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan during the workweek as a way to reduce traffic and air pollution.
Mr. Bloomberg said he expected a fight in Albany to impose the plan. "I've always thought, it's a difficult political lift," he said, "but it's getting to the point of, what do you want? You can't have it both ways."
The mayor also said the charge would not be onerous, considering the costly price of parking in Manhattan, and that most, though not all, people who commute by car tend to be "people who can afford it." Asked if it was a new tax, he described it as a reasonable cost for a service the city provides. He compared the cost to the $12 people pay to attend a movie. Of course, few go to the movies daily.
Bloomberg to Unveil Long-Term Vision for City
By DIANE CARDWELL and CHARLES V. BAGLI
With New York's population expected to grow by one million in two decades, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will call on Sunday for a raft of ambitious and sometimes contentious proposals that are intended to ease traffic congestion, reduce air pollution, build housing, improve mass transit and develop abandoned industrial land.
The speech, which mayoral aides have described as the centerpiece of his final 32 months in office, will outline his vision for the city over the next quarter century, setting priorities for refurbishing the city's aging bridges, water mains, transit system, power plants and building codes. And in the talk on Sunday - Earth Day - the mayor will propose doing so in a way that reduces the strain on natural resources like water, clean air and land.
Toward that end, Mr. Bloomberg is expected to advocate more than 100 proposals, including charging drivers to enter the busiest sections of Manhattan, and using zoning and tax incentives to encourage the construction of 250,000 homes.
April 15, 2007
Casino-Bound, Complaints in Their Wake
By CASSI FELDMAN
Around 8:30 p.m., a fat gray bus bound for Atlantic City pulls up on Division Street in Chinatown. Its doors wheeze open, and a line of riders shuffle into formation, clutching pink tickets and plastic shopping bags, and sucking a few final drags from their cigarettes before flicking them away.
The ritual takes no more than 15 minutes, but it happens dozens of times a day as buses headed to Trump Plaza, Foxwoods or other casinos load and unload passengers in the V formed by the Bowery and Division Street.
Now, citing pollution and noise, neighbors say they want the buses to find a new home.
"You can feel a toxic film in our yard," said Justin Yu, vice president of the co-op board at Confucius Plaza, a 44-story complex that overlooks the site. "It's very unhealthy."
While numerous bus companies operate out of Chinatown, Mr. Yu and his neighbors are particularly concerned about casino buses because their informal hub is a block shared by hundreds of senior citizens, an elementary school, a kindergarten and a day care center.
No Highway to Heaven
Published: March 25, 2007
The recent rejection of a proposed bill to build the "Super 7" highway between Norwalk and Danbury is a blow to advocates fighting for the expressway and to commuters who have the misfortune to crawl along in the traffic jams that plague the current Route 7.
The State Legislature's transportation committee tabled the bill despite passionate testimony from both sides. People have been fighting over this multi-lane expressway for 57 years; it has never gotten off the drawing boards. Opponents, including environmentalists, have had good reason to block it.
New Winds at an Island Outpost
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
STANDING behind the cramped counter of Los Guarinos, his bodega in Washington Heights, Joel Olivo deals not in big money but in small change. Jolly Ranchers candies, at a nickel apiece, are among his biggest sellers. Los Guarinos also sells cold beer and cigarettes, but on most days it is sweetness that prevails there. Neighborhood children ask for chocolate bars, and an arcade game in the corner fills the bodega with an electronic lullaby.
In Mr. Olivo's establishment, in a modest storefront on Amsterdam Avenue near 161st Street, gambling is discouraged. Yet there is a running bet in the store that is a sign of changing times in this neighborhood: How many years will it take for Dominicans, who have dominated Washington Heights for decades, to become the minority there, and for whites to become the new majority?
Some of Mr. Olivo's customers and friends say five years. Others predict seven. "I say 10 years," Mr. Olivo said.
This is not your ordinary gentrification story. Washington Heights, the densely developed square mile that extends from 155th Street to roughly Dyckman Street, and from river to river, is to Dominicans what Harlem has been to blacks: a cultural capital with deep symbolic meaning. But over the past few years, this neighborhood of five- and six-story prewar apartment buildings has grown wealthier, hipper and better educated.
Defacer With Mystery Agenda Is Attacking Street Art
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
Someone out there has a problem with art. Or at least a certain kind of art and artist.
The evidence is the bright green and purple splashes of paint that began appearing on walls in Brooklyn and Manhattan more than a month ago. The carefully aimed blobs obscured or disfigured dozens of pieces of street art created by people who may not be household names, but who have achieved the esteem of peers and some recognition from the mainstream art world. The targets of the paint attacks have included posters, paper cutouts pasted on walls, and images stenciled on the sides of buildings.
Many of the paint splatters were accompanied by messages printed on plain white sheets of paper and pasted near the splatters. Those communiqués appeared to condemn the commodification of art, but it is difficult to be sure what the messages really mean. One reads, in part, "Destroy the museums, in the streets and everywhere." The author has kept his or her identity a secret.
Word of the covert actions spread quickly through the street art community. Web logs began documenting the splatters. Soon the unknown protagonist was named the Splasher.
February 11, 2007
What's the Toll? It Depends on the Time of Day
By DANIEL GROSS
FOR the small group of economists and policy wonks interested in applying supply-and-demand theories to the thorny problems of gridlock and ever-longer commutes, the $2.9 trillion fiscal 2008 budget released by President Bush on Monday contained some excellent news: $130 million in grants to finance construction of so-called congestion pricing systems.
Congestion pricing - the concept of charging higher fees to consumers for a good or a service at times of heavy use - is well established in businesses like hotels, long-distance phone service and air travel. And while London and Stockholm have successfully enacted plans that levy fees on drivers who want to enter traffic-clogged city streets, the United States has been slow to apply the concept on the roads. When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed last year that New York look into congestion pricing as a means of unclogging the city's famously clogged roadways, he was roundly criticized.
Actually, congestion pricing was born and bred in New York City. William Vickrey, the longtime Columbia University economist and 1996 Nobel laureate, is viewed as the father of the concept. In 1959, long before E-ZPass was a twinkle in a planner's eye, Mr. Vickrey proposed that cities could reduce traffic by using electronic systems to charge drivers for the privilege of nosing their sedans into urban grids.
A Town Revived, a Villain Redeemed
By PHILLIP LOPATE
ERICH VON STROHEIM was billed in his acting days as "The man you love to hate." For the last 30 years, Robert Moses has been cast in that same role, as the villain responsible for everything that went wrong with New York. Even those newly arrived to the city knew enough to boo when his name came up at dinner parties. Moses (1888-1981) lived a long time, and his impact on the physical character of New York City was greater than that of any other individual in its history.
This imperious master builder has seemed to many the embodiment of all of modernism's mistakes, gutting cherished working-class neighborhoods with highways, and more interested in big projects and superblocks than in preserving the past with fine-grained restorations. When, in my 2004 book, "Waterfront," I argued that Moses had done far more good for the city than bad - taking into consideration his many parks, beaches, bridges and other necessary transportation projects - and ought to be honored as one of its greatest citizens, a friend castigated me with a note: "Who next, Stalin?"
Street Level | Little Neck
All the Aches of Old Age, and Now One More
By JEFF VANDAM
AT 10:30 Thursday morning, with the temperature in Little Neck, Queens, hovering at freezing, the only person to be seen on Northern Boulevard was Joan Sullivan, age 83.
Sporting a pink felt bucket hat, beige gloves and a matching parka studded with United States Olympic team buttons, Ms. Sullivan was heading out to do errands. With a small shopping cart in tow, she gazed across the street at an empty storefront that has everyone in the neighborhood talking - at least everyone beyond retirement age.
Until early last month, the storefront was home to an Eckerd Pharmacy, the neighborhood's only remaining drugstore. But unlike residents of many Queens neighborhoods who are trying to get rid of chain stores, residents of Little Neck wanted Eckerd to stay. Now, prescriptions must be shuttled over to the CVS in Douglaston, about a half-mile away, and a big red banner bearing the words "Coming Soon: Staples - That was easy" has been draped over the spot where Eckerd's logo was.
On the Town, Sized Down, Jazzed Up
By COREY KILGANNON
There is a spot in New York City where you can watch the dawn blush over Jamaica Bay in Queens and slip swiftly down the shore to Coney Island in Brooklyn, then hop across New York Harbor to suburban stretches of Staten Island.
As the Bronx begins to bustle and Manhattan jolts to life, the chirping of birds gives way to the snort of street sounds and taxi horns. And then a smooth voice-over reminds you that the city is "the center of civilization."
This virtual New York City sunrise comes courtesy of the Queens Museum of Art, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and can be experienced once an hour from any vantage point on the balcony walkways around the perimeter of its New York City Panorama, which has been closed since October for renovation and reopens Sunday with a newly installed audiovisual accompaniment presentation.
The panorama reopens with the museum's new exhibition on Robert Moses, who had the panorama built for the 1964 World's Fair. It became a permanent exhibit in the Queens Museum when the museum opened in 1972 in the fair's old New York Pavilion building.
Option to Rent: Great New Jersey Views, Many Lanes, Tollbooths Included
By KEN BELSON
TRENTON, Jan. 24 - The New Jersey Turnpike has long been the subject of song and an object of scorn. And now Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who earned a reputation as a shrewd negotiator on Wall Street, is thinking seriously about leasing it out, banking on the hope that it and two other toll roads could fetch as much as $30 billion and hold the key to solving some of the state's nagging fiscal difficulties.
Mr. Corzine's need to secure a fiscal Hail Mary pass is evident: budget talks are looming, and other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania, are interested in leasing their own toll roads, which could create stiff competition for investors' dollars in this emerging market. He is also mindful that any deal will have to be sold to wary voters.
Following recent leases of toll roads in Chicago and in Indiana, New Jersey is among two dozen states that have either formed partnerships with private groups or passed legislation paving the way for such agreements. But as lawmakers from California to Virginia have discovered, efforts to take toll roads, prisons, lotteries and other state assets private can quickly become mired in political quicksand.
Polls show that voters in New Jersey oppose the idea, and powerful lobbying groups, from commuters and trucking companies to environmentalists and public employee unions, are also skeptical.
By DIANE CARDWELL
Published: January 30, 2007
New York City's transportation commissioner, Iris Weinshall, is leaving her post to become a vice chancellor of the City University of New York, officials said yesterday.
The City That Never Walks
By ROBERT SULLIVAN
FOR the past two decades, New York has been an inspiration to other American cities looking to revive themselves. Yes, New York had a lot of crime, but somehow it also still had neighborhoods, and a core that had never been completely abandoned to the car. Lately, though, as far as pedestrian issues go, New York is acting more like the rest of America, and the rest of America is acting more like the once-inspiring New York.
As a New Yorker who has spent two years researching roads and transportation across the United States, I am saddened to see our city falling behind places like downtown Albuquerque, where one-way streets have become more pedestrian-friendly two-way streets, and car lanes are replaced by bike lanes, with bike racks everywhere.
Then there is Grand Rapids, Mich., which has a walkable downtown with purposely limited parking and is home to a new bus plaza that is part of a mass transit renaissance in Michigan. The state is investing in high-speed trains, and it is even talking about a mass transit system for the nation's auto-capital, Detroit, where a new pedestrian plaza anchors downtown. In Indianapolis, an urban walking and biking trail will soon link inner-city neighborhoods - something New York certainly hasn't tried.
We have lost our golden pedestrian touch in New York mostly because we still think about traffic as though it were 1950, and we needed Robert Moses to plow a few giant freeways through town to get the cars moving again. But the fact is that more roads equal more traffic.
Atlantic City Casinos Reap Anti-Blight Funds
By SERGE F. KOVALESKI
Seven years after New Jersey legalized gambling in 1977, state lawmakers created an agency called the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to redirect some casino revenue to blighted areas in Atlantic City and across the state.
But the agency, contending that the gambling industry's success is a critical component of the state's economic health, has handed about $400 million back to the casinos themselves, a sum that accounts for more than 20 percent of the money it has committed since its inception.
That approach began in 1994 and continued as gambling competition from other states intensified, Atlantic City's chief legislative proponent expanded his political power, and the state eliminated the Department of the Public Advocate, which had criticized the agency's move to distribute money to the casinos.
Urban Studies | Parking
By BEN GIBBERD
AT 8:30 on a recent morning, a line of cars snaked into the J & L Parking lot on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. There to greet them, as always, was the lot's manager, John Trombino, a substantial figure with a jet-black mane.
Like many lots, J & L accommodates "dailies" - commuters who arrive and depart at rush hour - and "monthlies," locals who generally use their cars only in the evenings or on weekends. The dailies occupy the inner two rows of the lot, firmly blocking in the two outer rows of monthlies.
In an ideal world these two tribes would coexist without intervention, but this being New York, emergencies arise: monthlies need to leave in the middle of the day; dailies stay later than planned. Further complicating matters, Mr. Trombino heads off for the day at 10 a.m. to help his father in another lot nearby. Fortunately, this is where the gift of his automotive choreography comes into play.
4th Major Hub for Air Traffic Moves Ahead
By PATRICK McGEEHAN
The plan to create a fourth major airport that could relieve crowding and delays in the metropolitan region will take a leap forward today, officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said yesterday.
The Port Authority plans to acquire a 93-year lease on Stewart International Airport, a sleepy and underused airport 60 miles north of New York City, for $78.5 million and begin expanding it starting in the fall, said Anthony R. Coscia, the agency's chairman.
With the expected approval of the agency's board today, the acquisition could help solve a problem that has bedeviled aviation officials for almost 50 years: where to send some of the travelers and cargo that are starting to overwhelm Kennedy International, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International Airports.
Rehabilitating Robert Moses
By ROBIN POGREBIN
FOR three decades his image has been frozen in time. The bulldozing bully who callously displaced thousands of New Yorkers in the name of urban renewal. The public-works kingpin who championed highways as he starved mass transit. And yes, the visionary idealist who gave New York Lincoln Center and Jones Beach, along with parks, roads, playgrounds and public pools.
This is the Robert Moses most of us know today, courtesy of Robert A. Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography from 1974, "The Power Broker," which charts Moses' long reign as city parks commissioner (1934-60) and chairman of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (1946-68). A 1,286-page book that reads like a novel, it won a Pulitzer Prize and virtually redefined the biographical genre by raising the bar for contemporary research. Today it remains the premier text on the evolution of 20th-century New York, a portrait of a man who used his power without regard for the human toll.
As East Harlem Develops, Its Accent Starts to Change
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and TANZINA VEGA
Inside a wooden shack set in a garden on East 117th Street, a group of Puerto Rican men, many of them in their 70s and 80s, are playing a spirited game of dominoes on a rainy winter afternoon. A painting of a woman wearing a burgundy shawl over a flamenco-style dress hangs on a wall, and in the garden, tomatoes, peppers, corn and culantro, an herb used in Caribbean cooking, grow in the summer.
But outside their little retreat, a thick dust, the pounding of hammers and the shouts of construction workers inundate the block, signaling the transformation of East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem or El Barrio (the neighborhood). Many see it changing from the Puerto Rican enclave it has been for decades to a more heterogeneous neighborhood with a significant middle-class presence, luxury condominiums and a Home Depot.
It is a familiar story of gentrification in New York City, but this one comes with a twist: the many newcomers who are middle-class professionals from other parts of the city are joining a growing number of working-class Mexicans and Dominicans.
Justices Decline to Take Up New Eminent Domain Case
By LINDA GREENHOUSE
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 - The Supreme Court on Tuesday bypassed an opportunity to revisit or limit its much-disputed 2005 ruling that upheld governmental power to use eminent domain to foster economic development.
Without comment, the justices declined to hear a case from Port Chester in Westchester County, N.Y., that challenged the village's use of eminent domain in a dispute between a property owner and a private company designated as the developer of a run-down 27-acre urban renewal area.
The redevelopment plan, adopted by Port Chester in 1999, envisioned a retail area that would include a drugstore. In 2002, the developer, G & S Port Chester LLC, announced that a Walgreens store would be part of the project. But Bart Didden, the owner of the parcel where the store was to sit, had by that time separately entered into a lease with a competing drugstore chain, CVS.
San Franciscans Hurl Their Rage at Parking Patrol
By JESSE McKINLEY
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 5 - It bears the hallmarks of a classic urban scourge: back-channel sales, assaults on enforcement officials and even death.
It is the price of parking in San Francisco.
Burdened with one of the densest downtowns in the country and a Californian love for moving vehicles, San Franciscans have been shocked in recent months by crimes related to finding places to park, including an attack in September in which a young man was killed trying to defend a spot he had found.
More recently, the victims have been parking control officers - do not call them meter maids - who suffered four attacks in late November, and two officers went to a hospital.
Over all, 2006 was a dangerous year for those hardy souls handing out tickets here, with 28 attacks, up from 17 in 2005.
January 5, 2007
High-Tech Gadgets in Taxis Will Cut Profits, Cabbies Say
By RAY RIVERA
A plan to provide high-tech enhancements to New York taxicabs — including touch-screen monitors that will allow passengers to watch television, get game scores and track their ride on a global positioning system — drew angry reactions from cabdrivers yesterday who say they will have to foot the bill.
More than a dozen drivers squeezed into a cramped City Council hearing room yesterday to protest the high-tech amenities they will soon be required to install in their vehicles under new city guidelines. The Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates city cabdrivers, says the cost of installing and operating the equipment will range from $2,900 to $7,200 per taxi over a three-year period.
The plan also requires drivers to accept credit and debit cards. Drivers say the 3.5 percent transaction fee that they would pay would eat into their profits, and that if the card system is down, they could get stuck with the cab fare if the passenger is without cash.
“We’re independent contractors, we’re like entrepreneurs, and we’re forced to take credit cards,” said William Lindauer, 63, who said he had driven a cab in the city for 30 years. “You can’t force a restaurant to take credit cards. And entertainment, we’re forced to provide entertainment?”
Brick Houses, Winding Paths and Unexpected Sharp Elbows
Photographs by Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
By JEFF VANDAM
Published: December 31, 2006
The 16-block enclave of Sunnyside Gardens in western Queens, a co-operative garden community built in the mid-1920s and home to about 8,000 people, has always had a close-knit feel.
That closeness was built into its master plan, which called for modest, two-story brick houses and the occasional apartment building separated by shaded, intimate walkways. Among those who strolled along these paths was the pioneering urban historian Lewis Mumford, one of the original co-operators.
Yet in recent weeks, some of the talk in Sunnyside Gardens has turned sour over the subject of whether the community should be designated a historic district, a move that would protect it from future changes.
Community leaders have been working for four years to win the designation, and their efforts finally seem ready to pay off. The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission is poised to schedule an initial hearing on the subject. In response, however, some residents have begun to argue against the change, on the ground that it would spur unwanted gentrification and thus force out the very people who give Sunnyside Gardens its special character. These opponents say they are getting considerable flak from their neighbors.
Seductively Easy, Payday Loans Often Snowball
By ERIK ECKHOLM
GALLUP, N.M., Dec. 20 - Earl Milford put up an artificial Christmas tree in the wooden house on the Navajo reservation near here that he shares with a son and daughter-in-law and their two little girls.
But money is scarce and so are presents. "It's all right," he said, "they know I love them."
Mr. Milford is chronically broke because each month, in what he calls "my ritual," he travels 30 miles to Gallup and visits 16 storefront money-lending shops. Mr. Milford, who is 59 and receives a civil service pension and veteran's disability benefits, doles out some $1,500 monthly to the lenders just to cover the interest on what he had intended several years ago to be short-term "payday loans."
World View Podcast
Summary: A transcript of Calvin Sims interviewing Times Hong Kong bureau chief Keith Bradsher about China's new love affair with cars.
Sims: Gives us some background, if you will, Keith. China is typically known as a country where you had just millions and millions of bicycle people. Probably that's the image they have when they see photos of Chinese, especially in big cities. What has been fueling this growth in car usage in the last couple of years?
The black church has been at the forefront of black leadership and social protest in America. In fact, Abyssinian Baptist Church was founded out of protest.
A video with Rev. Calvin Butts. The conversation discusses the change from efforts focusing on protest to community and economic development within the Abyssinian Baptist Church.
NATIONAL PERSPECTIVES; No Parking: Condos Leave Out Cars
By LINDA BAKER
Published: November 12, 2006
ANNEMIEKE CLARK and her boyfriend, Daniel Pasley, do not spend a lot of time driving. Ms. Clark, a 29-year-old nursing student at Oregon Health and Science University, takes the bus to school. Her boyfriend is a ''crazy bike rider,'' she said.
So when they decided to buy their first home last winter, they chose a one-bedroom unit in the Civic, one of the first new developments in Portland to market condominiums without parking spaces.
Ms. Clark said they bought the $175,000 condo, which will be ready next summer, because ''it was absolutely the cheapest one selling.'' Mr. Pasley also hoped a unit without parking would inspire Ms. Clark to sell her 1992 Subaru.
''So, part of it was idealism -- that we would get rid of the car,'' Ms. Clark said.
Although condominiums without parking are common in Manhattan and the downtowns of a few other East Coast cities, they are the exception to the rule in most of the country. In fact, almost all local governments require developers to provide a minimum number of parking spaces for each unit -- and to fold the cost of the space into the housing price.
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
Published: November 24, 2006
Congestion pricing, the idea of charging drivers for bringing vehicles into the busiest parts of Manhattan, has become a kind of holy grail for transportation advocates and urban planners in New York - a coveted prize that has remained out of reach.
A year ago, officials from a prominent civic group floated a proposal to reduce traffic by levying a $7 fee on cars and trucks driving below 60th Street, but they found themselves treated not like visionary crusaders but like bird flu patients when policy makers at City Hall said very firmly that such a change was not on the mayor's agenda for his second term.
The Hard Part
Evicted From a Blighted Street, Newark's Mayor Finds Another
By ANDREW JACOBS
NEWARK, Nov. 19 - The magenta "praise the Lord" throw pillows: trash. The Black Santa holiday tie: a keeper. The lime-green dress shirt:
"It's not mayoral," said an aide with unconcealed disdain. Into the charity pile it went.
On Mayor Cory A. Booker's final night at his bachelor-pad apartment in Brick Towers last Monday, there were important sartorial decisions to be made before the movers arrived. After living in one of the city's most notoriously troubled buildings - where heat, hot water and elevator service were often in short supply - since 1998, Mr. Booker and two dozen other holdouts were being evicted to make way for the bulldozers.
All Fall Down
By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF
The ravaged neighborhoods of New Orleans make a grim backdrop for imagining the future of American cities. But despite its criminally slow pace, the rebuilding of this city is emerging as one of the most aggressive works of social engineering in America since the postwar boom of the 1950s. And architecture and urban planning have become critical tools in shaping that new order.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's plan to demolish four of the city's biggest low-income housing developments at a time when the city still cannot shelter the majority of its residents. The plan, which is being challenged in federal court by local housing advocates, would replace more than 5,000 units of public housing with a range of privately owned mixed-income developments.
Billed as a strategy for relieving the entrenched poverty of the city's urban slums, it is based on familiar arguments about the alienating effects of large-scale postwar inner-city housing.
But this argument seems strangely disingenuous in New Orleans. Built at the height of the New Deal, the city's public housing projects have little in common with the dehumanizing superblocks and grim plazas that have long been an emblem of urban poverty. Modestly scaled, they include some of the best public housing built in the United States.
Within days the complaints started to pour in. Most of the grumbling was from pedestrians concerned about reckless cyclists coming close to knocking them down (the three deaths were fresh in their minds). Some were from drivers who felt there was more congestion because of the loss of a lane. The department’s investigation found that pedestrians considered the bike lanes to be extensions of the sidewalk; they stood in the lanes waiting for the lights to change, where bikers often yelled at them. (The conflict between bicyclists and pedestrians is much more visceral than any between car drivers and pedestrians. You can see a biker’s face and hear his words.)
Now what do we do in 2006?
First, we need to establish a clear hierarchy for the use of city streets. Pedestrians come first; we started out as a walking city and it will be our greatest strength going forward. This means bikers must yield to pedestrians — even errant ones. Biking is a superb form of transport we should encourage. Drivers must yield to bike riders — even errant ones.
November 4, 2006
A Town Divided Over a Fence
By JILL P. CAPUZZO
While most of the 500 families who bought into the concept of a tightly knit neighborhood, public parks and “Main Street” shopping have been pleased with the outcome, some are starting to feel constrained by the rules governing the 400-acre Town Center. It was New Jersey’s first designated town center and was created along the lines of Celebration, Fla., the Disney-designed mixed-use community outside Orlando that set the standard for such places.
But despite the festive spirit of the town’s fifth birthday on Oct. 15, one issue that continues to cause unrest is fencing, and the benefits of wood versus vinyl.
To create a hometown feel, design guidelines for Town Center included things like old-fashioned front porches, houses painted in muted historic colors and white wooden fences. Within a short time, however, the wooden fences installed by the builders, the Sharbell Development Corporation, needed painting, and repainting.
With reduced maintenance being a prime reason homeowners chose to move to Town Center — where the yards are less than a quarter the size of those in neighboring communities — the wooden fences quickly became a problem. And when it was discovered that the backyard fences were made of pine rather than cedar and that year-old fences were starting to warp and rot, the battle began in earnest.
A City’s Waterfront: A Place for People or Traffic?
By KEITH SCHNEIDER
SEATTLE. ThE din along this city’s waterfront does not come only from the procession of cars and trucks on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated highway over Elliott Bay that carries more than 105,000 vehicles a day. It also comes from the tumultuous civic dispute over a multibillion-dollar repair project involving the highway and the shoreline.
In February 2001, Seattle was struck by the 6.8-magnitude Nisqually earthquake, which severely damaged the 53-year-old viaduct and the seawall holding it up.
October 15, 2006
For ‘One of the Last Buffaloes,’ It’s Time to Roam
By JAKE MOONEY
...But most of what has made Mr. Leggieri an East Village fixture — a status derived in large part from his role as an editor and owner of The East Village Other, one of the city’s more memorable underground newspapers — was gone, packed and shipped away.
Mr. Leggieri, 64, is moving out in the face of a 50 percent rent increase, just the latest, on an old storefront he moved into in 1990 when times were bad and the rent was low. Friends and neighbors collected about 150 signatures on a petition imploring the city, which sold the building to the current landlord, to intervene. But with a move-out deadline of this weekend, Mr. Leggieri was getting ready to close.
“I’m just one of the last buffaloes of a giant herd of buffaloes that used to be here, and those are the artists,” he said last week after a long day of cleaning.
An Arm in the Air for That Cab Ride Home
By CALVIN SIMS
Published: October 15, 2006
In fact, after living overseas for nearly a decade, I have noticed that in New York, it is much easier for me — a black male in my 40’s — to get a cab.
The change has led me to ask two questions. First, how did this come about? After all, empty cabs zipping by my outstretched arm seemed like a fact of life — a persistent form of discrimination, seemingly impossible to end.
And second, how come progress didn’t come sooner? How could such an obvious form of discrimination — akin to not serving blacks at lunch counters — continue all these years
Kazakhstan’s Futuristic Capital, Complete With Pyramid
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: October 13, 2006
Other countries have built futuristic capitals in remote outposts, Brasília most famously, and other cities have experienced feverish, transformational construction, like Dubai or even the imperial capital that once ruled Kazakhstan: Moscow. But none have sprung up quite like Astana, from the ambition to create not only a national capital but also a national identity shaped almost exclusively by a single man: the country’s president since its inception, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. “The chief architect is really the president himself,” Yerzhan N. Ashykbayev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at the ministry’s new building, which opened in April 2005. “Every project, every building is approved by him.”
September 30, 2006
More Players Are Taking the Train to the Game
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT
An hour and a half after the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on a muggy night this season, three players stood sweating on the underground platform at the 161st Street and River Avenue subway station in the Bronx. They were waiting for the B train.
By SAM ROBERTS
Published: October 1, 2006
Across the country, the income gap between blacks and whites remains wide, and nowhere more so than in Manhattan. But just a river away, a very different story is unfolding.
In Queens, the median income among black households, nearing $52,000 a year, has surpassed that of whites in 2005, an analysis of new census data shows. No other county in the country with a population over 65,000 can make that claim. The gains among blacks in Queens, the city’s quintessential middle-class borough, were driven largely by the growth of two-parent families and the successes of immigrants from the West Indies. Many live in tidy homes in verdant enclaves like Cambria Heights, Rosedale and Laurelton, just west of the Cross Island Parkway and the border with Nassau County.
By CHRISTINE HAUSER
Published: September 5, 2006
President Bush today nominated Mary E. Peters, a former top highway official who backed new approaches to traffic control such as higher tolls at peak hours, as the new secretary of transportation.
Developer Said to Cut Size of Brooklyn Project
By CHARLES V. BAGLI and DIANE CARDWELL
Published: September 5, 2006
Facing mounting criticism of its $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards project, the developer Forest City Ratner plans to reduce the size of the complex by 6 to 8 percent, eliminating hundreds of apartments from the largest development proposal in the city, according to government officials and executives working with the developer.
Forest City is also considering reducing the height of the project’s tallest tower, which is known as Miss Brooklyn, to get it under the height of the borough’s tallest building, the nearby Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower, according to real estate executives.
August 12, 2006
Same Problem, Different Stations
By VINCENT M. MALLOZZI
AT 8:30 on a recent morning in West Windsor, N.J., Ken Anderson was sitting behind the wheel of his car, waiting patiently for a train to pull into the Princeton Junction station from New York.
He was not picking anyone up. In what has become part of his daily hourlong commute into Manhattan, Mr. Anderson was staking out reverse commuters so he could grab a parking spot.
‘‘There’s usually one or two people who get off the train and into their cars, and when one of their spots opens up, I make my move,” said Mr. Anderson, 34, of Hightstown, N.J., who works as an accounts payable supervisor at Atari. “To have any chance for a parking spot, you have to get here before 6:30 in the morning or after 8. For me, parking every day is an adventure.”
Blight, Like Beauty, Can Be in the Eye of the Beholder
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
Of all the real estate jargon, bureaucratic buzzwords and plain old insults exchanged over the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, no term has evoked quite such unruly passion as “blighted.”
'Who Killed the Electric Car?': Some Big Reasons the Electric Car Can't Cross the Road
By MANOHLA DARGIS
A murder mystery, a call to arms and an effective inducement to rage, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" is the latest and one of the more successful additions to the growing ranks of issue-oriented documentaries. Like Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" and the better nonfiction inquiries into the war in Iraq, this information-packed history about the effort to introduce — and keep — electric vehicles on the road wasn't made to soothe your brow. For the film's director, Chris Paine, the evidence is too appalling and our air too dirty for palliatives.
With a Cellphone as My Guide
By JOHN MARKOFF and MARTIN FACKLER
Think of it as a divining rod for the information age.
If you stand on a street corner in Tokyo today you can point a specialized cellphone at a hotel, a restaurant or a historical monument, and with the press of a button the phone will display information from the Internet describing the object you are looking at.
This summer, the Frugal Traveler sets out to hopscotch the globe using low-cost carriers, buses, trains, ferries and your travel tips. Follow his journey here every Wednesday, until the deed is done. See the complete list of articles below the map.
Transportation Chief Quits, Citing 'Other Challenges'
WASHINGTON, June 23 — Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, who has served longer than anyone else now in the cabinet, announced Friday that he was resigning effective July 7...
Plan to Move Garden Gains Form, and It's Huge
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By CHARLES V. BAGLI
Published: June 20, 2006
Steven Roth, the chairman of a company once known for operating suburban shopping centers, made a startling move nine years ago when he plunked down more than $2 billion for office towers, a hotel and retail space surrounding Madison Square Garden on a bet that the neighborhood was ripe for transformation.
Now, Mr. Roth is quietly circulating a $7 billion plan detailing just how radical a transformation he envisions for the district, including moving the Garden to a new home on Ninth Avenue. He wants state officials to rethink the plan they have hired him to develop, an expansion of Pennsylvania Station under Eighth Avenue into the landmark James A. Farley Post Office, which is to be renamed Moynihan Station for the senator who championed the project.
But some say the Roth-Ross plan would serve the public, too. "It's actually a real convergence of public benefits and private interests, assuming the Garden fits without breaching the grand historic space," said Lynne B. Sagalyn, a professor of real estate development and planning at the University of Pennsylvania. "There's the potential for another high-density cluster of commercial activity connected to transportation, like Times Square and Grand Central."
Less Housing for Residents of Average Pay, Report Says
By JANNY SCOTT
Published: June 16, 2006
The report, to be released today, for the first time puts hard numbers on a cost squeeze that has intensified with the real estate boom. The researchers found that the number of apartments affordable to households earning about $32,000 a year, or 80 percent of the median household income in the city, has dropped by 205,000 in just three years.
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June 14, 2006
In Major Projects, Agreeing Not to Disagree
By TERRY PRISTIN
In New York, however, some critics are wondering if this trend is threatening to distort the planning process. They say the danger is that local groups will agree not to oppose the projects in exchange for favors that may be unrelated to the project's impact on the neighborhood.
June 11, 2006
Alice Munro's Vancouver
By DAVID LASKIN
IN Alice Munro's Vancouver nobody eats sushi. Nobody jogs along the seawall or browses Granville Street galleries or shops for organic herbs at the Granville Island market. Ms. Munro, the 74-year-old Canadian whom the novelist Jonathan Franzen dubbed "the best fiction writer now working in North America," set a handful of her marvelous short stories in the damp British Columbian metropolis, and the urban geography is so exact you can practically map the city off her fictions. But though the addresses match, the vibe is unrecognizable. Young but hopelessly uncool, lustful without being sexy, dowdy, white, blind to its own staggering beauty, Ms. Munro's Vancouver is an outpost where new wives blink through the rain and wonder when their real lives are going to begin.
June 9, 2006
The Next Thing in Tolls?
By PAUL VITELLO
THERE are always contenders for that most democratic of titles, "the great equalizer." Public education, the work ethic and the lottery have all had their advocates. But anyone who drives a car knows that in the last 50 years in the United States, there has been only one truly great equalizer — traffic.
June 8, 2006
New Urbanism: It's in the Army Now
By WILLIAM L. HAMILTON
Fort Belvoir, Va.
ONE of the newer suburban developments in Fairfax County, Va., is the Villages at Belvoir.
Belvoir is Fort Belvoir, a military post. And the Villages, 15 New Urbanist towns, are on-post housing for soldiers and their families.
The first, Herryford Village, was occupied last year: 171 town houses and houses designed in a local Georgian Colonial style. It has a Main Street with shops and a clock tower, playgrounds, and village greens with open-air pavilions and centralized mailboxes where residents can socialize informally. There is not a tin hut or cinderblock house in sight.
PARK SLOPE TENANTS RENOVATING THEIR 23 BUILDINGS - New York Times
By MICHAEL R. BENSON
Published: September 29, 1985
Work has begun on 23 Brooklyn brownstones purchased last year by their residents from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development after more than five years of complex negotiations with Federal and local housing officials.....