Caroling at Gramercy Park

Carolers in Gramercy Park (Photos by Ira Fox Photography)

On Christmas Eve, the trustees of Gramercy Park and the Gramercy Park Block Association hosted an evening of caroling, an annual tradition that draws thousands from around the city to the normally private park. The event was hosted by Arlene Harrison, president of the GPBA; Calvary Rector Rev. Jacob Smith and Rector Emeritus Rev. Dr. Thomas Pike. Caroling was led Kamel Boutros, music director at Calvary-St. George’s, with music by Alex Nguyen and Friends.

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Local synagogues packed after Pittsburgh massacre

Nov15 Brotherhood Synagogue

The Brotherhood Synagogue in Gramercy Park (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While it happened many miles away from New York City, for Jewish New Yorkers, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting massacre on October 27 hit way too close to home, especially since locally, in the days following, there were reports of anti-Semitic graffiti and other types of vandalism at Jewish houses of worship in Brooklyn.

Many attended a vigil for the victims in Pittsburgh in Union Square shortly after the incident. Others jammed their temples for special Sabbath services that Friday night. Town & Village’s own associate editor, Maria Rocha-Buschel, found herself attending services for the first time in — she admitted — years, and reported that The Brotherhood Synagogue in Gramercy Park was completely packed. Much of the evening’s service was focused on the shootings and Rabbi Daniel Alder read a letter from a congregant who’d grown up near the Tree of Life Synagogue where eleven people were murdered, and knew two of the victims.

East End Temple in Stuyvesant Square Park was also crowded “beyond capacity,” noted a congregant there, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. “There was a lot of unity in difficult times,” he added.

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Some parks are still closed after snowstorm knocks limbs off trees

Nov22 gramercy park clean-up

A worker secures a tree in Gramercy Park after a snowstorm caused a still undetermined amount of damage in the park and other parks. (Photos courtesy of Gramercy Park Block Associaton)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Unexpected heavy snowfall last Thursday caused damage to trees throughout the neighborhood, resulting in park closures through this week, long after all the snow from the storm had melted.

Arlene Harrison, the president of the Gramercy Park Block Association and park trustee, sent an email to park neighbors on Friday noting that the park would be closed until further notice, and included photos of several downed tree limbs inside the park.

“Park caretakers who have been working here for decades said that it was the worst single hit to the park since they’ve worked here,” said Harrison, who made the decision to padlock the park gates for safety reasons until the debris is cleared. She said that the park could reopen by the end of the week but it had to remain closed until the crew can determine that it’s safe.

She added that the crew was pruning on the western side of the park right before the storm so there was the least amount of damage on that side, but five trees in the park were “ravaged” because of the wind and heavy snow.

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Arts Club honors its old adversary

Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, was recognized for her years of community service at the National Arts Club’s 120th anniversary gala. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images North America)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In an event no one in the neighborhood could have foreseen sans a crystal ball just a decade ago, the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park honored Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison at the club’s 120th anniversary gala.

While Harrison and the club have enjoyed a positive working relationship in recent years, she was actively involved in investigations that resulted in the ousting of the club’s former president, O. Aldon James, for misusing the club’s funds and real estate.

Arthur Barnes, chairman of the gala held on Saturday, November 3 and a member of the club’s board of governors, said that the awards were specifically in recognition of community service and the award for Harrison was due to her long-standing relationship with the club and Gramercy Park.

“She’s a tremendously effective advocate of Gramercy Park,” Barnes said. “She’s been a member of the club for many years and we wanted to recognize her leadership within our community, including with the 13th Precinct only two blocks away, and with Brotherhood Synagogue and Calvary Church.”

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Woman takes watches from victim at Gramercy Park Hotel

Oct11 GP Hotel larceny

Watch theft suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a woman believed to have stolen two designer watches valued at $70,000 from a victim who was staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

Police said the thief also took the victim’s wallet, containing credit cards from the room at the hotel, which is located at 2 Lexington Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets. The two watches were Nautilus and Bell Ross.

The suspect is a blonde with tattoos on her right shoulder and arm.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD Crimestoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

Woman mugged in Gramercy Park

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who violently mugged a woman in Gramercy Park on Friday, August 31 at about 3 a.m.

Police said that the victim, a 39-year-old woman, was walking in front of 7 Gramercy Park East when a man snuck up on her from behind and pulled her to the ground. The victim, who was intoxicated at the time, sustained some minor injuries but refused medical attention. The mugger then ran off on East 20th Street towards Third Avenue with the victim’s purse, which contained her credit cards.

The suspect is described as Hispanic with a light complexion, 20-30 years old and about 5’8″, 170 lbs., brown eyes and long brown curly or wavy hair worn in a manbun. He was last seen wearing a white button-down shirt, tan shorts, black/white shoes and dark colored 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. All calls are strictly confidential.

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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Gramercy Park packed on Christmas Eve

Photos by Ira Fox

By Sabina Mollot

On Christmas Eve, carolers came from far and wide to celebrate the evening at Gramercy Park. Christmas Eve is the one day of the year when the gated park is open to the public, and Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association and park trustee, estimated that there were over 1,000 people in attendance. Some, however, couldn’t fit into the park where police were manning two open gates.

“Everyone eventually got in, but the park was packed and (police) said no one was complaining,” Harrison said. “Everyone seemed very delighted to be there.”

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Women accused of stealing laptops, shoes from unconscious man in Kips Bay apartment

Facebook photo of Maxine Hansen

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A woman who was arrested last year in the Gramercy Park Hotel for broadcasting a raucous party over Facebook live is in trouble again after she was charged with stealing from a man in an apartment on East 28th Street after he was allegedly drugged.

Maxine Hansen, 26, along with 33-year-old Sonja Monness and 31-year-old Morgan Romano, allegedly stole a number of items from the man while the four were inside the apartment of the victim’s sister on November 17.

According to the district attorney’s office, Hansen allegedly handed the victim a drink, after which he lost consciousness. Police said that when he woke up, he noticed that an iPhone, three MacBooks, a Microsoft laptop, three credit cards, three Louis Vuitton bags and two pairs of shoes valued at $22,500 had been taken from the apartment without permission.

Hansen appeared in tabloids multiple times last November and December after her arrest related to the Facebook live video, which showed multiple BB guns in the Gramercy Park Hotel room. Police said they found heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs at the party, along with six BB guns, and three other people were arrested.

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Jimmy Fallon reads from his kids’ book at Barnes & Noble

Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Toddlers and “Tonight Show” fans alike were delighted by the appearance of Jimmy Fallon at the Union Square Barnes and Noble earlier this month to talk about his newest children’s book, Everything is Mama. The late night host visited the store previously when his first children’s book, Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, was released in 2015.

Fallon joked at the event that he decided to do a follow-up because the first book was the result of a “fake competition” with his wife.

“It was fake because my wife didn’t care about it at all but I was trying to make ‘Dada’ our daughter’s first word,” he said. “But girls are much smarter than boys so I wanted to do another one, to teach kids about more important words like ‘balloon.’”

Mendez hosting town hall with the mayor on October 12

Council Member Dan Garodnick with Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent town hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

If you missed the recent town hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, you can still share your thoughts with the mayor at another town hall on October 12 at 7 p.m. to be hosted by Council Member Rosie Mendez.

The event is intended for residents of the Council District 2, encompassing the neighborhoods of East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Lower East Side, Murray Hill and Rose Hill. Along with Mendez, co-sponsors are Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Community Boards 2, 3, 5 and 6, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement and the Loisaida Center. Along with the mayor, commissioners and NYPD representatives will be present.

To attend, RSVP by October 10 at 5 p.m. via email at manhattantownhall@cityhall.nyc.gov or by calling (212) 788-2781. Space is limited. Doors open at 6 p.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 188 The Island School, 442 East Houston Street. (Enter on corner of East Houston Street and Baruch Drive.)

Mendez, in an email to constituents, has also mentioned the following rules: Each constituent who is called on to ask a question will be able to ask one question. No signs will be permitted into the event. Chanting is not allowed.

 

Woman arrested in connection with fatal butt injection on East 21st Street

Aug3 Fatal butt injection

LATESHA BYNUM

By Sabina Mollot 

Police have arrested a Queens woman believed to have been involved in the death of a woman who received a fatal cosmetic butt injection last summer in an unmarked building near Peter Cooper Village.

Allison Spence, 44, has been arrested on charges of manslaughter and unauthorized practice of profession for the injection. Spence, who police said turned herself in, allegedly acted as a nurse during the procedure, for which the suspected doctor has still not been arrested. Police said they have identified the man but haven’t disclosed his name. That man is not a real doctor, according to a story in CBS New York, but police told Town & Village they couldn’t confirm that at this time.

The procedure was performed at a third floor apartment at 319 East 21st Street, between First and Second Avenues on July 15. Later police were summoned in response to Bynum complaining of dizziness and chest pains. She was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, but 12 days later was taken off life support after being pronounced brain dead.

The medical examiner has deemed the death of 31-year-old mother Latesha Bynum, a Harlem resident, a homicide.

A lawyer for Bynum’s family told CBS New York the doctor is a phony who used a Dunkin Donuts as his waiting room, and that a fake nurse greeted her. The attorney also said the doctor had a pattern of injecting unsuspecting women with “silicone poison into his patients’ buttocks and/or thighs.”

Meanwhile, Spence’s sister told the Daily News her sister denied giving any injection, saying she only prepped the patient by massaging her muscles.

 

Police Watch: Man arrested for BB gun, Senior busted for groping

MAN ARRESTED FOR THREATENING VICTIM WITH BB GUN OVER PARKING DISPUTE
Police arrested 29-year-old Kastriot Lajqi after he allegedly pulled a BB gun on someone he was arguing with over a parking spot and indicated he was cop.
Police said last Sunday at 11 p.m. when Lajqi and the victim were arguing in front of 200 Park Avenue South, Lajqi reached over behind the passenger’s seat of his car and took out a BB gun. He then allegedly pointed it at the victim while saying, “I will blow your f—king head off.” Police said that Lajqi also retrieved a baseball cap with the letters “NYPD” and an NYPD patch on it and he allegedly said, “You see this, don’t f—k with me.” Police said he then fled north on Park Avenue South but was arrested soon after.
Police confirmed that Lajqi is not a member of the NYPD.
He was charged with alleged impersonation of a police officer and menacing.

OCTOGENARIAN ARRESTED FOR GROPING
Police arrested 85-year-old Zhen Huang for sexual abuse in front of 4 Perlman Place last Monday at 7:20 a.m. The victim told police that she was walking outside as she and Huang crossed paths. When he walked by her, he allegedly grabbed the victim’s upper thigh for no legitimate purpose.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ROBBERY ON EAST 28TH
Police arrested 32-year-old Roberto Vasquez for robbery in front of the Children’s Rescue Fund at 4 East 28th Street last Tuesday at 5:25 a.m. Vasquez allegedly robbed the victim at gunpoint, then fled with the cash. Vasquez was also charged with weapons possession and possession of stolen property, although a gun was not recovered from the scene.

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Gramercy restaurant Sal Anthony’s returns after closing a decade ago

Anthony Macagnone’s (center, outside his restaurant) with his wife Cynthia Graham and Macagnone’s son, who is also named Anthony (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Ten years after Sal Anthony’s closed on Irving Place, the Italian restaurant has come back to the neighborhood, although owner Anthony Macagnone insists he hasn’t really been gone this whole time. Aside from living adjacent to the old restaurant on East 17th Street, Macagnone and his wife, Cynthia Graham, have been running a movement studio on Third Avenue for the last 18 years, but the new space on Third Avenue at East 19th Street marks the first Sal Anthony’s restaurant in the immediate Gramercy Park area in a decade.

The spot on Irving Place expanded over the 40 years the restaurant was open and although the new space on Third Avenue is only a fraction of the size, Macagnone said that he has a much better relationship with his current landlord than with the owner of the building on Irving Place.

Macagnone was forced to close the previous restaurant due to a long court battle over rent but he said that he has been drawn to this neighborhood because of a sense of community.

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Police Watch: Bus driver accused of slapping special needs child, Slashing at Boxers

BUS DRIVER ACCUSED OF SLAPPING SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD OUTSIDE WATERSIDE
Police arrested 55-year-old Lucien Magliore for assault and endangering the welfare of a child in front of 10 Waterside Plaza last Tuesday at 9:08 a.m. Police said that Magliore, a bus driver, caused physical injury to one of the students who was on his bus while attempting to restrain him. Police said that the victim was a 10-year-old special needs child who was acting out on the bus. According to the District Attorney’s office, Magliore slapped the victim on the back, causing substantial pain, redness and a handprint on the child’s upper back.

MAN ARRESTED FOR SLASHING AT BOXERS
Police arrested 25-year-old Tevin Gingles for slashing two people inside Boxers NYC, a gay sports bar, at 37 West 20th Street.
One of the victims told police that on March 26 at 2 a.m. he was trying to breaking up a fight at the bar that involved his friend. That’s when Gingles allegedly slashed him in the shoulder with a box cutter, causing a puncture wound.
Gingles also allegedly slashed another victim on the right hand, causing a deep cut.
Following the incident, the first victim got into a cab and went to Harlem Hospital, where he received 16 stitches. The second victim received five stitches for the cut on his hand.
Gingles was arrested inside the 13th Precinct last Wednesday at 9 p.m. and was charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

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