LOCAL HISTORIC PROFILE: Evelyn Nesbit, Model, actress, face of the ‘trial of the century’

Illustration by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

Evelyn Nesbit (1884-1967) was a highly sought after artists’ and photographers’ model at a time when fashion photography was in its infancy, and was also an actress who lived in Flatiron, after she and her family came to New York in the year 1900.

However, what Nesbit ended up becoming the most famous for was not her talent or beauty but for being the face of the “trial of the century” as it was called at the time in 1906, when her unhinged millionaire husband, Harry Thaw, fatally shot Stanford White, a well-known architect. White had seduced and, Nesbit stated in court, sexually assaulted her when she was only 16 and unconscious, after drinking champagne, at his home. Still, the two ended up having a year-long relationship.

White was a well-known playboy, and Thaw, who had a reputation for violence, never went to prison for killing him. Instead he was sent to an institution after being found insane in his second trial after the jury was deadlocked in the first. Nesbit would then become known in headlines as a lethal beauty, “the girl on the red velvet swing,” because of a swing that she would play on in a mirrored room at White’s apartment on 24th Street.

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Con Ed asks ST/PCV, Gramercy and Flatiron residents asked not to use unnecessary appliances during repairs

Sept6 Con Ed repairs

Con Ed workers on Broadway and 23rd Street in Flatiron (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Throughout the day on Thursday, Con Ed has been asking customers to curb their power use, while making repairs to electrical cables.

At around 9 a.m., when Con Ed announced the repairs, a spokesperson said the utility hoped to restore any power to lost to customers by the evening.

By the afternoon, Con Ed reduced voltage by five percent in the neighborhoods of Madison Square, Gramercy and Flatiron in Manhattan as a precaution to protect equipment while repairs were being made.

Con Edison has asked customers within the confines of East 31st Street to the north, East 14th Street to the south, Fifth Avenue to the west and the East River to the east not to use appliances such as washers, dryers and, unless needed for health or medical reasons, air conditioners, and other energy-intensive equipment. Customers have also been asked to turn off lights and televisions when not needed until the problems are resolved.

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City putting Flatiron evacuees in hotels

Fifth Ave looking south on Monday

Con Ed crew at work at the explosion site (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As of Tuesday afternoon, the city said it is working with the Hotel Trade Council and Hotel Association of New York City to help displaced Flatiron residents, and that 10 families and one dog had so far been assisted.

Residents seeking a temporary room were advised to visit the reception center at the Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street, which has remained open. It’s open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. each day and according to the city, has seen 362 visitors since Thursday.

Hotel 17 in Stuyvesant Square, which now has an extended stay model and offers emergency housing, is one of the hotels housing evacuees, an employee there said. However, he said he couldn’t reveal how many individuals were staying there as a result of the blast.

Out of the 49 buildings evacuated for asbestos testing, 27 have been cleared for residents to return. Twelve contained some sort of debris that must be cleaned before they can be reoccupied.

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Air asbestos free, city says, but evacuated buildings still off limits

July26 Con Ed cleanup

A Con Ed crew cleaning up the street on Friday (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

The air is asbestos-free, the city said, after testing samples following the steam pipe explosion, on Friday evening. While some debris samples contained asbestos, it’s unlikely people exposed will become ill since “asbestos-related illnesses usually develop after many years of exposure,” according to an update provided by the mayor’s office and the Office of Emergency Management. The city also said irritation to the eyes, nose and throat from debris is possible, and recommends anyone with those symptoms contact doctor.

Meanwhile, the city is still keeping people out of the “hot zone” in Flatiron.

While the area continues to be cleaned up, the hot zone boundaries include:

  • Fifth Avenue from 19th Street to 22nd Street (midway down the block on 19th Street and most of 20th and 21st streets on the west side).
  • The entire block on East 20th and 21st Streets and midway down the block on East 19th Street.

Neighborhood residents whose building have been evacuated (49 buildings in total) are still displaced. Forty-four buildings had their facades visually expected. However, none were cleared for residents to return home as of Friday at 5 p.m. as testing for asbestos continues. At this time, the city doesn’t have a number as to how many buildings have been contaminated. Once a determination is made, the buildings’ facades will be washed. Con Ed has appointed outside vendors for this project.

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After asbestos confirmed, investigation continues in Flatiron

July19 Expolsion info at 22nd Con Ed

Con Ed employees accepting bagged clothing at 22nd Street and Broadway (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

In the wake of Thursday’s steam-pipe explosion, the city has confirmed the presence of asbestos. Sixteen inspectors from the Department of Environmental Protection have been tasked with investigating the presence of any asbestos in nearby buildings while the site of the explosion is also being monitored.

On Friday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality health advisory for the whole city through 11 p.m. The agency’s warning noted that active children and adults as well as anyone with respiratory problems reduce “prolonged or heavy exertion” outdoors.

The public is still being warned to stay away from the immediate area, where there are still emergency crews at work.

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Steam explosion in Flatiron shuts down nearby streets

By Sabina Mollot

Emergency responders are still trying to find out the cause behind an early morning explosion in the heart of the Flatiron District. The blast occurred at 6:40 a.m. on Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, sending a massive gray cloud shooting dozens of feet into the air and causing traffic shutdowns from 19th to 23rd Streets from Broadway to Sixth Avenue.

Eleven buildings were evacuated and surrounding streets were off limits to residents and workers until police began opening some streets at around 8:40 a.m., and office buildings began letting employees back inside. Town & Village’s block on West 22nd Street was one of those affected.

Town & Village driver Ray Pimentel was in his truck with stacks of this newspaper on his way to the office when he heard the massive “Boom!” nearby. Pimentel said had he not been caught at a red light on Sixth Avenue, “I would have been right in the hole in front of Chase Bank (on Fifth Avenue). I’m alive because of five seconds.”

He stopped his truck in the middle of Fifth Avenue and waited there for the Fire Department, which he said arrived in about seven minutes. Oddly, the blast didn’t smell too strong at that time.

“It was like cooking gas, you know like when you’re doing a barbecue, clean, not too bad,” he recalled.

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Shoplifters push down employee at Modell’s

Police are the on the lookout for three suspects.

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for three young men with expensive taste who stole a bag and clothing from two stores on the same day. In one incident, they also bashed into a store employee.

In one incident on March 3 at 12:50 p.m., they headed to a Modell’s sporting goods store at 607 Avenue of the Americas where they stole a Nike jacket and Nike t-shirts, putting the merchandise into duffel bags. On their way out of the store with $525 worth of clothing, they knocked a female employee onto the floor, causing her minor injuries, police said.

This was just 20 minutes after the same trio strolled into the Zara clothing store at 101 Fifth Avenue in Flatiron and swiped a $200 bag. They then fled on foot.

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Two teens arrested for Blue Smoke robbery

The five robbery suspects seen at Blue Smoke restaurant in Flatiron

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested two 15-year-old boys in the last week in connection with a robbery at Blue Smoke that took place on the evening of Sunday, March 18.

As Town & Village reported last week, police have been looking for five men in connection to a robbery at the Danny Meyer-owned barbecue joint in Flatiron who have been going up to victims while pretending to solicit donations for a basketball team that doesn’t actually exist.

In the incident at Blue Smoke, the suspects approached a host inside the restaurant and grabbed cash out of his hands before fleeing, and when the victim chased after them, one of them hit the host in the back of the head.

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Heroes honored at Veterans Day Parade

 

Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

Though the temperature hovered in the 20s, patriotic New Yorkers and those who traveled to the city on Saturday made up a steady stream of spectators during the Veterans Day Parade.

As always, the event began at Madison Square Park, where the mayor and military officials gave remarks as did this year’s grand marshal, Buzz Aldrin.

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Man wanted for gropings at 23rd St. R/W station

Groping suspect

Groping suspect

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for a man who groped multiple women while donning out-of-season headwear in the Flatiron District earlier this month.

Police said that the unidentified man approached a 32-year-old woman on the platform of the 23rd Street R/W station on February 8 between 7 and 7:30 p.m. and grabbed her buttocks before exiting the subway system. He then allegedly grabbed a 34-year-old woman on the buttocks while she was on the stairs going up to the street level. Police said that the man then walked west on West 22nd Street. The two incidents were reported separately at later times.

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 or by texting their tips and TIP577 to 274637 (CRIMES). All calls are strictly confidential.

Neighbors concerned about hotels used as shelters

Representatives from the Department of Homeless Services, the Human Resources Administration and non-profit organizations focusing on homelessness participated in the panel, which was facilitated by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (far right). Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Representatives from the Department of Homeless Services, the Human Resources Administration and non-profit organizations focusing on homelessness participated in the panel, which was facilitated by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (far right). (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Recently, the city has begun using hotels in Flatiron and NoMad as temporary homeless shelters, and the practice has area residents outraged.

New shelter neighbors gathered at the American Sign Language School last Tuesday evening to voice their concerns about the shelters as well as the homeless population in general.

A number of residents at the meeting insisted that they were empathetic to the homeless and acknowledged that it is a small percentage of the population that is causing problems, but many who spoke said that safety was a serious concern.

“The risk doesn’t come from the 70 percent of the homeless population who are working poor, who are just trying to get by,” Third Avenue resident Thandi Gordon-Stein said. “We’re worried about the other 30 percent who are convicted criminals and sex offenders. When you add so many facilities in one neighborhood, it becomes a danger. They say we should call 311 or the police but that’s not working.”

Many at the meeting said they were worried that the neighborhood could become oversaturated with homeless facilities. Matt Borden, Assistant Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Homeless Services, argued that the decision to use hotels in Flatiron and NoMad was based on the so-called “Fair Share Criteria,” which is supposed to prevent neighborhoods from getting saturated with shelters and making sure other areas are home to some. According to the data from DHS, which examines the homeless population within community district lines, Community Board 5 is under the city average of 1,016.

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On 50th anniversary, FDNY remembers the 23rd Street fire

 

By Sabina Mollot

Fifty years ago on Monday, October 17, twelve firefighters lost their lives battling a blaze in Flatiron, making the date the deadliest the department would ever know until 9/11.

The fire, which was hidden at first due to illegal building alterations, had prevented firefighters from knowing just what a dangerous situation they were in for.

On Monday, dozens of fire officials and rank and file, along with family members of the fallen firemen, gathered at the Flatiron Plaza for a remembrance ceremony and then a wreath laying at the site of the fire at the corner of 23rd Street and Broadway. Today, it’s home to a high-rise residential building with a plaque alongside it memorializing the deceased firemen.

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro spoke at the ceremony about how the 1966 fire is still a big part of training for firefighters today.

“Every probationary firefighter learns about this in the academy; 23rd Street has been the subject of countless drills,” the commissioner said. “This was the department’s darkest tragedy… and remained so until 9/11.”

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Three women shot, one fatally, outside Flatiron club

Oct15 Motivo5

Detectives outside Motivo on Monday morning (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

A 24-year-old woman was shot and killed outside of a nightclub in the Flatiron District early on Monday morning, and two other women were also shot and now in stable condition.

Police said that at 4 a.m., the victims were found in front of the club, Motivo at 915 Broadway and 21st Street. The 24-year-old woman who was later pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital had been shot in the back. A 30-year-old woman was shot in the shoulder and a 25-year-old woman had been shot on the hip and foot.

Police officers keep the street in front of Motivo blocked off. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Police officers keep the street in front of Motivo blocked off. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing. Police are withholding the name of the woman who was killed pending family notification.

The Post reported the victims were not likely the intended targets and that the suspect is believed to be in his 20s and was last seen wearing a red and black hoodie, according to cops.

UPDATE: The Daily News reported that the shooter had been kicked out of the club, and then vowed to get his gun before retrieving it from his vehicle. The woman who died was identified as Walikque Faussett, a Bronx resident and mother to a three-year-old son named Alex. The News also reported that the suspected shooter is also from the Bronx and believed to be a member of the “DYMES R US” gang, according to police.

Woman seriously injured by van on Fifth Avenue

Police respond to the scene of the accident at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street. (Photo by Dan Orlando)

Police respond to the scene of the accident at Fifth Avenue and 21st Street. (Photo by Dan Orlando)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A 51-year-old woman is in serious condition after a van hit her while she was crossing Fifth Avenue near 21st Street on Monday morning. A spokesperson for the FDNY said that the call about the incident came in at 8:48 a.m. and the victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital. No further information about her condition was made available.

Police said that the victim was crossing the avenue when she was struck by the driver, who was turning left from 21st Street, and it was unclear if she was in the crosswalk at the time of the collision.

According to Gothamist, the driver remained on the scene. Police said that the driver has not been charged.

Flatiron BID expands public access to WiFi

Argo Tea on Broadway is one of the businesses that has a device for public WiFi installed as part of the new program. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Argo Tea on Broadway is one of the businesses that has a device for public WiFi installed as part of the new program. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Flatiron Partnership/BID announced the completion of a wireless corridor in the district on Monday, offering access to public WiFi on the street and in various businesses throughout the neighborhood.

The recently-announced expansion is bringing public WiFi to additional streets throughout the district, strengthening the signal from Sixth Avenue to Park Avenue South along 23rd Street and adding service on Fifth Avenue from 25th to 21st Streets, on Broadway from 24th to 21st Streets and on 21st Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway.

The BID partnered with 13 businesses, including Alan Tanksley, Inc., Argo Tea, Flatiron Green Café, Marimekko, ilili BOX and others to install equipment for the expanded network.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg initially announced a program to bring free public WiFi to various commercial districts throughout the city in the fall of 2013. The Wireless Corridor Challenge was led by the city’s Economic Development Corporation and was awarded to five organizations in the city, including the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership. Sky Packets, a company that focuses on providing WiFi for retail businesses, worked with the Flatiron Partnership to implement the network.

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