Entries in Manhattan (9)


Bringing Sunlight to Light an Underground Garden

Kibum Park/Raad, LLC(NEW YORK) -- Imagine an inviting green park with tall, shady trees and wide swaths of grassy lawn where you can hear live music or see theater or simply sit quietly soaking up the noonday sun.

Now, imagine that all underground in an old disused parking garage … but still with trees and grass in the bright sunlight — a little less bright, of course, on cloudy days.

This paradoxical vision is already halfway to becoming a reality in downtown Manhattan, a dream made possible partly by fiber-optic technology that can capture sunlight on high rooftops and literally pipe it down to shine further from big underground “skylights.”

Dan Barasch and James Ramsey envisioned it all in 2008 when they teamed up with an idea to transform an abandoned trolley terminal, a 1.5-acre lot underneath the Williamsburg Bridge and next to the Delancey St. subway station.

They dubbed their underground park the “Lowline,” a nod to Manhattan’s popular Highline Park that transformed another swatch of urban blight — in that case an unused and overgrown elevated rail bed.
Since they teamed up, Ramsey, an architect and principal at RAAD Studio, and Barasch, formerly VP of strategic partnerships for PopTech, have raised more than $500,000 for the project, including a Kickstarter campaign that totaled $155,000.

This past September, Ramsey and Barasch also staged an exhibit at a warehouse on Essex Street, just above where the proposed park would exist, in an effort to show the public what the Lowline could look like.
But lighting the underground space is a challenge and that is where Ramsey’s background in engineering comes in; the former NASA employee turned architect had already been working on a way to collect and funnel light when he approached Barasch about the idea of an underground park.

Ramsey and Barasch explain their concept and in more detail here:

The technology consists of fiber optic cables attached to devices Ramsey refers to as remote skylights. Equipped with GPS, these solar collectors follow and capture the sun funneling it down through the cables. The glass surface of the skylights filters out infrared and UVA rays, but still harvests the light necessary for photosynthesis to take place.

For the exhibit, Ramsey and Barasch, alongside a team of volunteers put this technology to the test; together with their team they hand fit together 600 pieces of anodized-aluminum sheets to create a curved dome, a silver canopy that cast the light down on the warehouse space. On the warehouse roof, 20 feet above, six tracking systems collected the light and piped it down to the space below.

“We looked to the way that they build space telescopes to actually cobble together a mesh of flat pieces to create a very completed curved surface, and that curved surface is calibrated to actually deploy the light,” said Ramsey, who worked with infrared spectrometry while at NASA.

With the help of volunteers, including engineers and team members from RAAD Studio, the duo created a mock-up complete with moss-covered knolls and Japanese maples. For their installation, they partnered with Sun Central, a Canadian-based solar technology firm, and Arup, a design and engineering firm that is also working on the Second Avenue subway line in Manhattan.

“All of a sudden you have this idea beginning to emerge where you can take this ancient disused space underneath the city and actually turn it into a public space, a garden really, for everyone to enjoy,” Ramsey said.

Both Barasch and Ramsey point out despite their success so far, they still have a long way to go before making the Lowline a reality; first, they need to convince city and MTA officials (and ultimately the state) to let them use the site, a process that Barasch says requires both political and public support.

Barasch, who resigned from his position at PopTech in March, is devoting his efforts full time to the project focusing on fundraising and engaging with members of the community.

“This is not a short-term project,” Barasch said. “It’s very big in terms of its integration with the overall ecosystem of the space, the neighborhood, the subway line, the community and the city and we want to do this right.”

If they gain control of the terminal, Ramsey and Barasch estimate the project would cost $50 million in capital costs for construction and may take five to eight years to complete. Nevertheless, both remain determined to see the Lowline complete.

“It taps into this thing that every human actually just needs, which is public space and some semblance of being outdoors as well as being inspired by making the city more beautiful, more livable,” Barasch said.

For now, the trolley terminal remains an empty, shadowy cavern with an undetermined future, but one in which Ramsey and Barasch hope they can play a part.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Occupy Wall Street Protesters Can Stay Put: Park Clean-Up Postponed

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Friday's scheduled cleaning of New York City's Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street protesters have been gathered for a month, has been canceled.

Brookfield Properties, the owners of the park, sent a letter Thursday night to Caswell Holloway, the city's deputy mayor for operations, saying they "have decided to postpone the cleaning operation for Zuccotti Park" that was scheduled for Friday at 7 a.m.

Ric Clark, the CEO of Brookfield Office Properties, said they will defer the cleaning "for a few days while we attempt to work out an arrangement with the protesters."

On Thursday, in advance of the scheduled cleaning, protesters took to Facebook and Twitter, asking people to “donate or purchase brooms, mops, squeegees, dust pans, garbage bags, power washers and any other cleaning supplies.”

The group vowed to stay in the park and said they would try to prevent the cleaning crews from entering.

“Friday morning, we’ll awake and position ourselves with our brooms and mops in a human chain around the park, linked at the arms,” the group posted on its Facebook page.  “If NYPD attempts to enter, we’ll peacefully, non-violently stand our ground, and those who are willing will get arrested.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Violence Mars Union Rally with Wall Street Protesters

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Unions on Wednesday helped the group Occupy Wall Street occupy lower Manhattan.

But what began as a peaceful rally turned ugly as the night wore on. A small group of protesters tried to rush a police barricade, leading to 20 and 30 arrests. Some people were hit with batons and pepper-sprayed.

The incident marred an otherwise significant day for Occupy Wall Street, a movement that began three weeks ago with just a few dozen people camping out in a small area to protest corporate greed and high unemployment.

Their protests garnered the attention of various unions who share some of the same beliefs, namely, that the banks and the wealthy have gotten all the breaks and remained powerful during the long economic downturn while practically everyone else has been hurt.

What really caught the eye of more organized movements was the march on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday that led to more than 700 arrests.

Members of the Transit Workers Union, the Chinatown Tenants Union, and others marched Wednesday to Zuccotti Park where Occupy Wall Street has been camping out to show their solidarity. There were several thousand people at the rally.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Irene Moves On: Millions Without Power, 14 Dead

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Irene, downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, swept through the Northeast Sunday, leaving at least 14 dead in its wake, millions without power and an estimated $7 billion to $13 billion in damages.

"We're not out of the woods yet. Irene remains a large and potentially dangerous storm," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

The storm made landfall in Coney Island, N.Y., at 8:45 a.m. Sunday morning as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds, but by 10 a.m. patches of blue sky and sunshine began peeking through in lower Manhattan.

The storm, which created flood conditions up and down the East Coast, is accompanied by heavy rainfall and powerful winds. But Irene appeared to have caused less damage than anticipated in the New York area, and forecasts indicate the tropical storm will weaken in New England and become a post-tropical cyclone tonight or early Monday.

The hurricane is moving through southern New England Sunday afternoon.

While Irene's strength has declined and residents return home, government officials are warning the public that the storm still poses safety dangers.

"We encourage you to stay off the roads so much as possible," Napolitano said at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) news conference.

"We still have a ways to go with Irene," she said.

Some areas are still prone to tidal flooding and heavy will be the ongoing issue as the storm passes through New England today to eastern Canada overnight, FEMA officials said.

Officials said it will take time to assess total damage costs but Peter Morici, a professor at University of Maryland predicts that the projected dollar figure will surpass Hurricane Katrina.

"Revised estimates of the direct damage caused by Hurricane Irene are in the range of $20 billion. Add to those the loss of about two days economic activity, spread over a week, across 25 percent of the economy, and an estimated of the losses imposed by Irene is about $40 to 45 billion," Morici said.

At least 14 people have reportedly died as a result of Irene's assault on the East Coast, including victims of car accidents and falling tree limbs.

Tornadoes reportedly touched down in Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware, according to the National Hurricane Center's John Cangialosi.

For an hour on Saturday night, there was a tornado warning for Philadelphia's Center City, though there was no indication a tornado actually touched down. Tornadoes often form during hurricanes, but are hard to spot or track because of all the violent weather around them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hurricane Irene: Tornado Warnings Issued for New York City

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Tornado warnings have been issued in the New York City and southern New England regions as Hurricane Irene moves up the east coast of the United States leaving a path of debris and destruction that has claimed at least eight lives so far.

At least 3.1 million homes and businesses are without power while thousands have been evacuated from their homes and approximately 9,600 residents in New York City are currently in evacuation shelters as Irene moves north at maximum sustained winds reaching 80 miles per hour.

Over 270,000 in New York have lost power, while in New Jersey at least 460,000 statewide are without power. The National Grid is reporting that 19,000-plus homes in Rhode Island lost power while 6,000-plus homes are currently without power in Massachusetts.

In lower Manhattan at Wall Street and South Street water from New York's East River is already breaching the seawall. Work crews are swarming the area attempting to halt water from shoving down the streets, where it could affect transformers in lower Manhattan and flow into the subway system.

Irene made a landfall along the coast of New Jersey near Little Egg inlet, just north of Atlantic City, around 5:35 a.m. The estimated intensity of Irene at landfall was 75 mph.

It is the second time Irene made landfall since slamming into North Carolina Saturday.

The hurricane is expected to move near or over the mid-Atlantic coast this morning and on to southern New England by the afternoon. Forecasts indicate Irene will weaken after landfall in New England and become a post-tropical cyclone Sunday night or early Monday.

Irene has been traveling north right on schedule. If it continues as it has, the center of the storm will be 40 miles south of New York City at 7 a.m., still over the ocean, off the coast near Asbury Park, N.J.

By 9 a.m. the center of the storm will be just south of Queens, N.Y. and between 10 and 11 a.m. the landfall is expected to be somewhere east of Manhattan on the Queens-Nassau border.

The deaths reported so far included victims of car accidents and falling tree limbs. One man suffered a heart attack as he boarded up his house in North Carolina.

A Maryland woman was killed when a chimney fell on her house. The unnamed woman was not killed instantly and was transported to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead, according to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Scorned Ex-Girlfriend Sues Billionaire for Millions

Ian Gavan/amfAR11/Getty Images for amfAR(NEW YORK) -- A 28-year-old former Brazilian soap opera actress is suing her billionaire ex-lover, George Soros, for $50 million, claiming the 80-year-old financier reneged on a promise to give her a Manhattan apartment.

The lawsuit filed by Adriana Ferreyr also claims an argument over a $2-million apartment escalated into physical abuse.

"They were lying in bed when...Soros bluntly informed her that he had given the apartment to another woman and an argument ensued," the lawsuit states, continuing: "Soros slapped Ferreyr across the face and proceeded to put his hands around her neck in (an) attempt to choke her."

Soros, a major donor to then-candidate Obama's campaign in 2008, and an outspoken supporter of progressive causes and organizations, denies the allegations.

In a police report, Ferreyr alleged Soros attempted to hit her with a lamp. Ferreyr says she became extremely traumatized. She claims they later made up but he reneged a second time on a promise to buy her an apartment.

Soros' attorney, William Zabel, told ABC News that the lawsuit was an "attempt to extract money from my client who is known to be a very wealthy man. Police investigated the August 2010 incident and concluded that no assault occurred."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amtrak, N.J. Senators Plan New Tunnel Across the Hudson

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) --  Amtrak executives and New Jersey senators Monday will announce a plan to build a new, trans-Hudson tunnel after a similar plan was not approved by Gov. Chris Christie last year, reports The Star-Ledger.

The tunnel, known as the Gateway, would be similar to the ARC Tunnel Christie turned down last year, but would have connections to new tracks at Penn Station. The previous plan was criticized for its lack of connections to other transportation hubs in Manhattan.
"I’m in my late 60s, and I was just hoping and praying I’d see the day when there would be another Hudson River tunnel," New Jersey transportation expert Martin E. Robins told The Star-Ledger. "My hopes have been rekindled."

Before the project can go forward, however, officials will have to figure out a way to pay for the $10 billion tunnel. Amtrack is also expected to ask for federal funding to conduct a study on the plan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Outbreak Feared in Proposed Federal Disease Research Facility

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KANSAS CITY) -- A federal disease research facility planned for Manhattan, Kan., has sparked controversy after a safety study reported a 70 percent chance of an outbreak of dangerous and contagious diseases.

Located about 120 miles west of Kansas City, the proposed $451 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility would study dangerous foreign animal and zoonotic diseases, which are illnesses passed between humans and animals. It would be the first time in almost 75 years that research of highly contagious foot and mouth disease would be allowed to take place on the U.S. mainland.

In a report critiquing the Homeland Security risk assessment study, the National Research Council issued several warnings about the current plan for the facility, chief among them, it said, was a 70 percent chance of a foot and mouth disease outbreak over the building's 50-year lifespan.

Although the Department of Homeland Security assessment put the cost of an outbreak between $9 billion and $50 billion, the report suggests the cost would be much higher.

Foot and mouth disease, a severe viral infection that affects cloven-footed animals such cattle and pigs, is one of the most dreaded diseases among farmers. An outbreak in the United Kingdom in 2001 had grave economic consequences for the country's agriculture industry: with more than 2,000 cases, thousands of healthy animals were slaughtered as a preventive measure.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Police: Who Left Dynamite in a Cemetery?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- FBI agents and New York City police spent much of Monday at a lower Manhattan cemetery after eight sticks of the military explosive C4 were found there.  There was no detonator with the C4.  Hours before, a rambling note was found on the windshield of a police cruiser in front of the nearby ninth precinct headquarters.

The note contained religious statements in it and authorities are looking into it.  So far, they see no connection between the note and the explosives. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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