August 2010
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Archive for August, 2010

MAS Begins Production of Tribute In Light

tribute light beams on roof

As New York prepares to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, MAS is arranging for its annual presentation of Tribute In Light. A world-renowned symbol of commemoration and healing, Tribute In Light’s majestic beams of light will illuminate the lower Manhattan sky beginning at dusk on Saturday, September 11, and fading with the dawn of Sunday, September 12.

Funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, with the generous support of Con Edison, the project was co-founded by MAS and Creative Time. Tribute In Light was first presented on April 11, 2002, six months after the attacks.

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Battle of the Skyline

skyline night midtown

Currently there is a debate about whether the proposed 15 Penn Plaza development should go forward as planned. Vornado Realty Trust wants to build a skyscraper at 15 Penn Plaza (where the Hotel Pennsylvania now stands), which would rival the Empire State Building in prominence in the city’s skyline. Vornado’s skyscraper, which was approved by the City Planning Commission in June, would be only 34 feet shorter than the Empire State Building. Because of the two buildings’ close proximity, 900 feet apart, 15 Penn Plaza would partially obstruct views of the Empire State Building. Some fear Vornado’s building will crowd “the distinctive skyline in the city,” as Malkin Properties President Anthony Malkin, who owns the Empire State Building, said in yesterday’s New York Observer. To read the full article, click here.

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Experts Examine NYC’s Land Use Process at MAS Conference

program land use audience panel

Last Wednesday, more than 300 community board members, land use professionals, and others concerned with development in New York City gathered at Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts for Land Use and Local Voices: Is the City’s Land Use Process in Need of Reform?, a conference co-sponsored by MAS and Manhattan Community Board 1.

MAS President Vin Cipolla opened the day by posing a series of questions that the three panels and keynote interview addressed, “How does New York City build?  How do the city’s neighbors shape their communities?  What, exactly, is distinct about the way New York City plans its neighborhoods and development?…What changes do we want to see?  What are the consequences of those changes?  What mechanisms are already in place to address shortcomings in the land use process, and are they working?” He continued, “As you can probably tell, today’s program is likely to provide more questions than answers, and that’s ok.  MAS, and others, are going to continue to work on these issues until we are that much closer to solving them.”

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Convent Avenue, a Place that Matters

convent avenue place matters

Take a stroll down Convent Avenue in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem and you’ll pass the buildings that Duke Ellington, Jimmy Rushing and Cab Calloway once called home. Nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for its many layers of New York City history, this broad residential street has been home to some very notable New Yorkers. Extending from 127th Street, through City College and up to 152nd Street, Convent Avenue is one of the city’s most cherished exclusively-residential streets. Shaded with trees and lined with rows of small-scale residential buildings it remains a kind of time capsule, largely unchanged since the early days of jazz.

Once a rural countryside, Alexander Hamilton – the first United States Secretary of the Treasury – acquired a 32-acre tract of land in the summer of 1800 for the site of his country estate, which he named Hamilton Grange. Convent Avenue itself was officially laid down in the mid-19th century after the erection of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, which stood just south of 136th Street. The area remained largely unpopulated until the late 1880s when the elevated train was extended above 125th Street along Eighth Avenue, and a cable car railway began running along what is today Amsterdam Avenue. Linked to the flourishing commercial districts of downtown, the area attracted speculative real estate developers who bought up the plots of land that lined Convent Avenue. Before long, single-family houses sprung up and middle-class white professionals moved in.

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