Archive for NY Environment

Community Gardens Thriving in NYC

Farmers and sustainable living enthusiasts are convening throughout NYC to support the GreenThumb program’s community gardens. Spread across numerous neighborhoods, these gardens offer a green summer sanctuary as well as fresh fruits and vegetables to local communities who may be in need.

This summer, the garden count has reached 553, all of which are cultivated by a dedicated crowd of 20,000 volunteers. There is now an annual budget of $2.9 million as well as a staff of 35 people who offer free training and ongoing support, as well as tools and materials. Located on public or city-owned property, the gardens have been the subject of several real estate-related disputes.  For the most part, though, the gardens are considered an integral piece of NYC.

GreenThumb director Bill LoSasso, explained that the project is especially beneficial in communities with many new immigrants.

“Sometimes when you arrive in a new place, you don’t have a network you can tap into for support. By joining a community garden, you’re joining a network of neighbors who are coming from diverse backgrounds who can help new members of their community to get settled.”

Many newcomers to NYC have roots in agriculture as well, making community gardens a familiar, comfortable place for them to meet like-minded community members.

Mr. Efrain Estrada, for example, grows peppers, eggplants, okra and squash. Originally from Puerto Rico, Estrada has confessed that he used to hate working on his family’s farm. Now, he is actively involved in his community garden, and grows so many vegetables that he sends some home to his relatives. “I had farming in my blood,” he says.

NYC Free Summer Show Guide

NYC in summer is the place to be. Whether you’re visiting from out-of-town or a local looking for something to do without too much of a commute, free theater and shows offer a unique, New York-themed experience that you’ll never forget! With the added benefits of fresh air, interesting people and of course the lack of expense, these shows are the perfect local activity.

Here’s a brief guide of free shows in the city:

  • Shakespeare in the Park. NY’s most prestigious free summer theater, with shows held at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
  • New York Classical Theater. Offering a more interactive experience, these shows generally have the audience follow along for about 3 blocks.
  • Hudson Warehouse. A pay-what-you-can theater specializing in the classics and located at the Bernie Wohl Arts Center on the Upper West Side.
  • Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. An annual affair which will take place at the parking lot behind Clemento Soto on the Lower East Side.
  • Potomac Theater Project. Offers experimental workshops and other works in progress at Atlantic Stage 2.
  • Theater for the New City. This summer, the company is offering a political new musical called “Checks and Balances, or Bottoms Up!” throughout the city.

Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces

recyclingNow in its fourth consecutive year, the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Spaces – in NYC’s East Village — once again came to teach its visitors how to protect the environment and efficiently utilize recycling materials.

Short movies and documentaries on this year’s ‘People and the Planet, ’ theme recognizing the staunch sustainable and environmental efforts of various communities nationwide, were featured at the four-day event (from August 18 til August 21).   Events included: ‘Community Garden Racing to Zero,’ ‘Orchard Alley: Racing Extinction,’ ‘Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective’ and ‘Bringing it home.’

Manhattan: Some of the Best


If you want to see some of Manhattan in its glory, enjoy this short video clip made by Helen Lee.

Business Travelers to Lower Manhattan

lower-manhattanIt seems that lower Manhattan is becoming an increasingly popular location among tourists.  While it used to be the case that travelers to New York City would automatically head for Midtown, since lower Manhattan has been encountering a transformation as of late, that has become a hot spot with tourists, especially business travelers it seems.

According to Downtown Alliance’s President, Jessica Lappin, it seems this move is “only natural” given that the area has undergone a “massive redevelopment [transforming it] into a bustling cultural and business destination.” This has led to increased hotel options, many new eateries with an array of cuisines as well as a retail revolution.

Thus it should come as no surprise that NYC company reported figures for 2015 at 12.3 million business travelers to New York City, many of whom stayed south of Chambers Street.  This trend was confirmed by Booking.com which noted how in 2015 and this year, over 20% of its business travel reservations were for the lower Manhattan area.

Meanwhile there are plenty of varied activities to do in the region.  There’s the interactive theater experience through via Accomplice; the bi-weekly farmers market (put on by Bowling Green Greenmarket) and the Children’s Museum of the Arts (which provides young artists with a hands-on workshop as well as skill development in visual and performing arts). Take advantage of the free ferry rides and free walking tours as well as the Federal Reserve tours that are also without a fee.

The East Village: Traditions and Changes

bakeryOver the last 40 years, the East Village has changed quite substantially in terms of eateries and shopping options.  According to Bruce Weber however, some things have stayed the same.  One of those is Moishe Perl’s bakery (certified kosher) located on “a block that could be described as dicey,” requiring the owner to move along some of the drunks sleeping on his street corner.

Perl has seen a lot of changes throughout the four decades he has been baking babka for the locals.  He has seen all sorts of different demographics come to the area, such as “hippies, families and yuppies.” But throughout all of this, one thing has remained consistent: the bakery that still only accepts cash as a payment method for the bakery that has received both the “Best of the Borough” and “Best Smell Ever” awards in its time.

But it’s not just the bakery that has remained consistent.  Some of the village’s old timers maintain that the spirit remains the same too. According to manager of Trash and Vaudeville, Jimmy Webb, the spirit of the area – rock ‘n’ roll – is still very much alive. And according to artist Dave Ortiz, “It’s still a neighborhood where there’s a freedom to be who you are,” and for him that means skating in Tompkins Square Park, just like he did back in 1988.

The good news is, therefore, that the East Village – despite any changes it may have undergone over the last four decades or so – remains a place that has upheld its spirit and where people can call home.

Times Square: The Crossroads of the World

Times Square, located in Midtown Manhattan, is often described as ‘The Crossroads of the World,’ or ‘The Great White Way.’ Every single day, around 330,000 people pass through Times Square. Here, we get a glimpse into the place.

Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan

Check out what New York looked like in the late 19th century, right when film began.

Manhattan’s Green Green Hill

greenThat would be Inwood Hill. Right at the tip of Manhattan sits the stunning Inwood Hill along the Harlem River. What’s wonderful about this unspoiled area is that while the rest of New York (and in particular Manhattan) was just built up and changed and modified, this was quite nicely left alone. Indeed, some even say that it hasn’t been touched since the American Revolution. That’s quite something for anything in New York!

What’s fascinating about this place is that it has not gotten pulled into the growth of NYC’s “most famous metropolis,” but instead has remained in sync with nature. This stunning 196-acre forest can offer the millions of New Yorkers a vacation, some Zen time, an escape, and more while still being in the heart of The City That Never Sleeps.

Inwood Hill brings New York a sense of serenity. Greenery is always needed no matter how metropolitan a city becomes.

Reconnecting Washington Heights and the Bronx

Finally, after decades of closure, the High Bridge linking Washington Heights and Highbridge is reopening. Built in 1848 it closed down in the 1970s and pedestrians were not able to make the move from these two neighborhoods. At the reopening, officials and community members were joined by Gale Brewer (Manhattan Borough President) and Ruben Diaz Jr. (Bronx Borough President). The two raised their hands yelling “Welcome to Manhattan.”

This is a great way of bringing families together. As Diaz said, “today this is about making sure that we’re not just joining Washington Heights and the Highbridge section of the Bronx physically, today is about joining families.”

What is great about this is that it is similar to the bridge as it was in the 1950s. Indeed, Sidney Horenstein crossed it during that time and said it is now “almost the same…save for the 8-foot protective fence, the benches and the light posts.”

Overall the feeling is that it is great that people can walk between these two neighborhoods now. The focus though probably has to move toward ensuring safety though.