Harvest in the Square raises $430G for Union Square Park

Tim Meyers, chef at Bocce USQ (at left) at Harvest in the Square (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Harvest in the Square, the annual food festival that serves as a fundraiser for Union Square Park, raised $430,000 at this year’s event, topping last year’s fundraising amount of $368,000.

Union Square Partnership executive director Jennifer Falk said that a portion of the money raised always goes to programming in the park, such as free community programs through summer in the square, as well as landscaping of park and plazas and capital work to make repairs.

The Partnership will work with the Parks Department over the winter to develop ideas for what the park needs and work on whatever project is chosen will begin next April. The money raised through last year’s Harvest in the Square was used to build out brand new seating area just south of where the mother and child fountain is on the west side of the park between 15th and 16th Streets. The Partnership said that in the last 23 years, the event has raised a total of $6.7 million.

Falk noted that a significant portion of the money from last year was used to replace equipment in the playgrounds and to replace some of the park lighting with LED energy.

Continue reading

Advertisements

New sculpture at Union Square Park built around Washington monument

“Washington 20/20/20” by artist Kenseth Armstead was installed around the monument’s pedestal. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A new sculpture designed as a companion piece to the George Washington monument at Union Square Park was unveiled last Thursday.

The abstract, steel structure, titled “Washington 20/20/20” and created by artist Kenseth Armstead, references the 20 percent of the colonial population that were enslaved Africans, the 20,000 slaves in New York State in 1776 when Washington retreated from New York City and the 20 percent of Washington’s army that was African at Yorktown, Virginia, when he ultimately defeated the British in 1781. The piece was installed around the pedestal of the Washington monument at the park’s south end.

“This piece will spark fascinating discussions about representation, as well as racial and social justice in our country,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said at the sculpture’s debut. “We are proud to count it among the thousands of public artworks exhibited in the 50-year history of Park’s public art program Art in the Parks.”

Continue reading

Creep grabs six-year-old boy’s crotch at Union Square Barnes & Noble

Sept6 forcibletouching1

Forcible touching suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are on the lookout for a man who groped a six-year-old boy in front of his mother at the Union Square Barnes & Noble.

Police said that on Wednesday, August 29 at 4 p.m., the man approached the victim on the second floor of the bookstore at 33 East 17th Street and grabbed his buttocks as well as his groin area. The mother caught him as he leaned in to touch the boy’s leg and his hip and when she confronted him, the man said, “I was trying to help him. I’m sorry.” He then fled the location.

The victim wasn’t injured.

Sept6 forcibletouching2

Forcible touching suspect

The suspect is described as black, 18-20 years old, about 5’8″ tall, and 170 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes. He was last observed wearing a multi-colored short-sleeved shirt, dark jeans and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

City puts cap on apps listing for-hire vehicles

Mayor Bill de Blasio, with 32BJ SEIU union members at Union Square, cheers the new legislation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined union advocates, taxi drivers and other local elected officials in Union Square last Thursday to celebrate the passage of legislation that puts a cap on the number of cars allowed through for-hire vehicle apps.

The cap is meant to address congestion and driver wages, as well as the weakening of the taxi industry, and won’t have any impact on the number of for-hire vehicles already on the road. The legislation additionally includes a new minimum compensation rule for drivers, and the one-year cap does not apply to wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

“The city is sending a clear message: we’re putting hard-working New Yorkers ahead of corporations,” de Blasio said. “The City Council has spoken boldly, and now we can act. We are taking immediate action for the benefit of more than 100,000 hard-working New Yorkers who deserve a fair wage, and halting the flood of new cars grinding our streets to a halt.”

The legislation, sponsored by Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin and which the mayor signed on Tuesday, will also initiate a study to comprehensively manage the industry in order to reduce congestion and protect workers by ensuring fair pay.

Continue reading

Local historic profile: Harriet Quimby, pioneer aviator

July26 HarrietQuimby edit2

By Sabina Mollot

Harriet Quimby was the first woman in America to receive a pilot’s license, which she then made good use out of by flying over the English Channel in a Bleriot monoplane in 1911. This too was a first for a woman. Before and during this time, Quimby also wrote screenplays for silent films and worked as a journalist and drama critic for the magazine Leslie’s Weekly.

While there is debate about where she was originally from, Quimby lived in New York City for a few years, on 27th Street and Broadway in what was then The Victoria Hotel.

But, noted local historian Alfred Pommer, author of The History of Gramercy and Union Square, Quimby’s connection to Manhattan wasn’t just her address. She was often seen at 11 East 14th Street, which was home to an early silent film studio. Along with her journalism work, Quimby wrote seven scripts that were made into silent films, directed by D.W. Griffith, and did a bit of acting.

“She was the first successful female screenwriter in America,” said Pommer. Still, he added, “She was most well-known for her airplane flights.”

Continue reading

Costumed marchers take part in Disability Pride Parade

Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Disability advocates and agency officials gathered in Union Square to celebrate the fourth Disability Pride Parade on Sunday afternoon. The parade traversed down Broadway from Madison Square Park to Union Square Park, where a festival was held in the afternoon.

City agencies such as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Office of Emergency Management and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and local hospitals such as NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Center had representatives along the route.

Nonprofits such as HeartShare Human Services and Gateway, organizations that works with children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Pathways, a school on the Upper East Side for impaired children, Achilles International, a nonprofit that provides assistance to athletes with disabilities, and others marched as well, with kids and other participants dressing up in costumes for the parade’s “creativity” theme. Representatives from the Peter Stuyvesant Little League’s Challenger Division and Stuy Town’s Good Neighbor initiative, including ST/PCV general manager Rick Hayduk, marched towards the end of the parade.

Continue reading

Thief throws wallet in train tracks when victim tries to get it back

July26 Robbery suspsect

Robbery suspect

Cops are looking for a pickpocket who stole a man’s wallet at the Union Square Subway station and then hit the victim on the head when he tried to get it back.

Police said that on Friday, July 13 at around 10 p.m. the victim was in the station when he realized his wallet was gone. He then asked passersby if they’d seen it, and was told that someone had picked it up from the floor. When he confronted the man, the victim saw the wallet in the other man’s hand. The two men struggled over the wallet and the thief then hit him, before throwing the wallet in the train tracks. The pickpocket then ran off and the victim was able to get his wallet back from the track bed.

The suspect, wanted for robbery, is described as white, in his 30s, 5’6″, 165 lbs. and had glasses. He was last seen wearing a gray shirt, black and white shorts and he had on a black backpack.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Two suspects arrested for potentially bias-related assaults in Union Square

Suspect Willie Ames

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested two men in the last week in unrelated incidents in Union Square after their alleged erratic behavior landed victims in the hospital.

Willie Ames, 47, was collared last Thursday for allegedly pushing a construction worker into the subway tracks at the Union Square station after making derogatory comments about his ethnicity earlier last month, and the New York Post noted that 34-year-old Anthony Powell was arrested this past Sunday night after he allegedly caused a panic at the Union Square Regal movie theater, reportedly strangling one of the people who was attempting to flee.

Police said that Ames, who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat during the incident in the subway station, began harassing two men of Mexican descent while they were on an uptown train that was heading towards Union Square on April 20 around 8:15 p.m. Ames allegedly turned to one of the men and said, “You guys come here to take our jobs and you bring drugs. F—king Mexicans, you people are dirty, you people are nasty.”

Once the train pulled into the station, Ames allegedly grabbed one of the men, who the New York Daily News identified as Luis Lopez, pulling him off the train and onto the platform at Union Square. The district attorney’s office said that Ames punched Lopez in the face three times and pushed him onto the subway tracks, causing a cut on his head that required staples to his scalp.

Continue reading

Man committed lewd act on train in Union Square: Cops

May3 Lewdness

Public lewdness suspect

Police are looking for a man who was masturbating on a northbound E train as it got to Union Square and 14th Street.

The victim, a 27-year-old woman, said the man committed the lewd act after reaching under his coat on the evening of March 9 at around 9 p.m.

The suspect, who the victim got a photo of, is black, about 30 to 40 years of age and has a medium build. He was last seen wearing dark-colored clothing and glasses.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Man in MAGA cap pushes victim into train tracks at Union Square

Assault suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a man wearing a Make America Great Again cap and matching shirt who pushed a fellow straphanger onto the train tracks after insulting his ethnicity.

The incident took place on Friday at around 8:15 p.m. when the suspect picked a fight with the 24-year-old victim as they rode a northbound 4 train approaching Union Square station. After making “multiple derogatory statements regarding the victim’s ethnicity,” cops said the suspect followed the victim as he left the train at Union Square and punched him on his head multiple times on the platform. He then pushed the victim onto the track bed before fleeing to the Brooklyn bound L train platform.

The victim’s friend and another person helped the victim back up to the platform and he was taken to the hospital for a wound on his head he got from falling onto the tracks.

The suspect is described as being black with a heavy build. Along with his red MAGA shirt and headwear, he had a black jacket on and jewelry around his neck.

The assault is being investigated as a hate crime and according to published reports, the victim was Hispanic.

Last week, a man wearing a MAGA cap was confronted by two men at the same subway station who stole his hat. When the victim tried to get it back, one of the men pulled out a knife and threatened him with it.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

USP wants to modernize Union Sq. station

The Union Square Partnership proposed a few technological enhacements for the subway station at a Community Board 5 meeting. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The neighborhood BID for Union Square wants to help make the chaotic station more navigable for commuters and tourists alike and this week offered some suggestions to Community Board 5. Union Square Partnership director of economic development Monica Munn said that the impetus for the plan is partially due to the changes the neighborhood will be undergoing with the upcoming L train shutdown but also is a push to generally modernize the station.

“(The L train shutdown) is not just about changes happening above ground,” she said, referring to the planning related to bus and street improvements to mitigate the 15 months without the L train. “We’re thinking about what needs to be done to mitigate that as much as possible but we also want to think about modernizing as much as possible.”

Representatives from the Partnership presented the suggestions to members of Community Board 5’s transportation and environment committee this past Monday.

Continue reading

Fire breaks out at Union Square building

Photo via Google Maps

By Sabina Mollot

The FDNY is investigating a fire that broke out at a high-rise building in Union Square on Monday morning.

Eighty-four firefighters from 26 units responded to the “all hands” fire at 8:10 a.m., but according to the FDNY, it was under control in 31 minutes. The fire was on the seventh floor of the commercial building, 25 East 15th Street on the west side of Union Square Park. A spokesperson for the fire department said it is standard for that many firefighters to respond to any fire at a high-rise. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is still being determined.

After putting out the blaze, the FDNY sent out an emailed alert to warn New Yorkers to expect smoke and traffic delays in the area as well as emergency vehicles.

Pants-less pranksters brave extreme cold this year

Participants on the N train

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, despite frigid temperature, straphangers with an exhibitionist streak ditched their pants and all other leg coverings to take part in the annual No Pants Subway Ride.

Always held on a winter day, the flashmob prank, held for the 16th time, is organized by the group Improv Everywhere. The route technically began at Foley Square and ended at Union Square, but participants of all ages could be seen at other subway stops as well. With the wind chill, the temperature was in the single digits.

Originally begun with just seven cold-tolerant men, the underground leg show now draws thousands and also takes place in other cities and countries. Participants, who dress appropriately for the winter other than their bare legs, always act as if they simply forgot their pants and don’t have any clue why so many others have forgotten them, too.

Continue reading

Man’s head knocked into Q train at Union Square

Dec21 Assault suspect2

Assault suspect 1

By Sabina Mollot

Police are hunting two men they say punched a man so hard his head got smacked onto an incoming Q train at the Union Square subway station.

According to the cops, on Saturday, December 16 at around 3 a.m. the two suspects approached a 41-year-old man who they didn’t know on the platform and the three of them got into an argument. They then began punching him in the head, which caused him to fall to the platform floor and his head to be struck by an arriving southbound Q train. A police spokesperson couldn’t say if the man, who survived, hit the side or the front of the train as it barreled by.

Dec21 Assault suspect 1

Assault suspect 2

The victim was taken to an area hospital where he is being treated for lacerations to the head, multiple fractures to his face and the base of his skull, and bleeding on the brain. A police spokesperson said his condition appears to be stable.

The suspects, if caught, would be charged with assault. They are described as a Hispanic man and an Asian man.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

Female bag thief preying on women at Union Square Starbucks

Nov16 Bag theft suspect2

Theft suspect at jewelry store

Cops are looking for a woman believed to have stolen wallets and bags from women at Starbucks as well as Gemma restaurant inside the Bowery Hotel. The thief apparently takes bags and wallets that their owners have hung on the backs of their chairs and uses their credit cards.

Two of the incidents took place at the Starbucks at 10 Union Square East.
On Saturday evening, October 14, a 24-year-old woman was having coffee when she realized her wallet was missing. She then discovered her credit card was used at a nearby Taco Bell at 18 East 14th Street.

On Monday morning, October 16, a 25-year-old woman at Starbucks realized the bag she’d placed on the floor next to her had disappeared. In this case, there were no unauthorized charges.

Continue reading