The Broadsheet – Lower Manhattan’s Local Newspaper
A New Home for a Culture ‘Not Really Allowed to Call This Place Home’
Above: A rendering of the planned new home of the Museum of Chinese in America, on Centre Street. Below: Architect Maya Lin: “We are a country where, unless you’re Native American, everyone is from somewhere else. But only some of us get singled out as, ‘where are you really from?’”
Lower Manhattan’s roster of world-class cultural institutions is poised to grow by one. The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), located on a mid-block parcel between Lafayette and Centre Streets (just north of Canal Street) is undertaking a $100 million-plus expansion that will grow its space more than five-fold, to 68,000 square feet.
The centerpiece of this buildout is a design by acclaimed architect Maya Lin, best known for her groundbreaking 1982 plan for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in Washington, D.C. Ms. Lin says her design for the new MOCA building drew inspiration from “the 4,000-year history of the Chinese puzzle, the tangram,” an ancient geometric dissection game that contains thousands of possible combinations and solutions. “So the entire facade becomes this very complex folding and pulling,” Ms. Lin continues. “That puzzle feature allows us to bring in daylight for the offices, education center, part of the temporary galleries, the stairwells, and the elevator lobbies.”
The traditional Chinese tangram puzzle is one source of inspiration for Ms. Lin’s design for the building’s façade. Below: Ms. Lin also drew on the Chinese form of landscape paintings on vertical panels to inform her conception for the new structure
Her second inspiration, Ms. Lin explains, was “Chinese landscape painting, with stone at the bottom, then metal, glass, and the cloud frit”—an architectural technique that combines ceramic glaze with textured glass—“which gives us privacy for the performance spaces, but also looks a little like a metallic floating silver cloud.
MOCA’s current facility will close next year, with the new building slated to debut in 2025. The nine-story structure will feature a succession of galleries, a spacious theater, and a demonstration kitchen, along with classrooms, research facilities, and a genealogy center. The building’s exterior will include landscaped, treelined terraces, which will double as event spaces.
In the wake of a devastating five-alarm fire in 2020 and the more recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, these developments come at a moment when MOCA appears to be hitting its stride as an institution. In 2020, the Ford Foundation named the Museum one of America’s top 20 “Cultural Treasures,” and awarded it a $3-million grant. Last year, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott donated $5 million to the Museum’s capital campaign, as part of her broader push to fund more than 250 other historically underfunded, yet critically important cultural, civic, education and social justice organizations across America.
Ms. Lin reflected that, “we are a country where, unless you’re Native American, everyone is from somewhere else. But only some of us get singled out as, ‘where are you really from?’—like we’re not really allowed to call this place home. And I think it’s critically important we talk about what home is, how we blend in and how we become American. Yet it’s not like we’re abandoning our ideas and our connections and our deeper history with another place. It is so critically important that this Museum really teach Americans about our story.”
The Chinatown Ten
Phalanx of Local Leaders Arrested Protesting Start of Demolition at Lower Manhattan Jail Complex
Ten Lower Manhattan community leaders, including two candidates for public office, were arrested Wednesday morning as they protested the start of demolition at the Manhattan Detention Complex, in a preliminary move by the administration of Mayor Eric Adams to replace that facility with the world’s tallest jail.
Church Street School Fundraiser
Sees Biggest Turnout Ever
Supporters of Church Street School for Music and Art gathered at City Winery on April 8 to honor Dr. Lisa Ecklund-Flores (above), co-founder of the school more than 30 years ago, who is retiring, and the late Tom Goodkind, a champion of the arts and of social justice, who often worked with and at the Church Street School in his exuberant musical endeavors. The record-breaking crowd celebrated the legacy of these two leaders of the arts, and raised money to support Church Street School’s mission to expand access to high-quality music and art programs and experiences. Below, Tom’s widow, Jill Goodkind, addresses the crowd as her daughter Nicole stands by.
Photo above by Michael Scott. Photo below by Robert Simko.
City’s Design Panel Gives New Lease on Life to Local Agitprop Icon
The iconic “Fearless Girl” statue—artist Kristen Visbal’s bronze likeness of a young female striking a jaunty, audacious pose—can remain at its current location, near the intersection of Broad and Wall Streets, for 11 months, the City’s Public Design Commission ruled on Monday.
Getting to the Route of the Problem
CB1 Discusses BPCA Revamp of South End Avenue, Calls for ‘Soft Reboot’ of 2018 Plan
At the March 7 meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) announced that it is taking preliminary steps to move ahead with a controversial plan to reconfigure South End Avenue and West Thames Street. This project envisions safety improvements that narrow both South End Avenue and West Thames Street, widen nearby sidewalks, and relocate several bus stops.
A Remnant Remembered
America’s First Synagogue Celebrates Anniversary at Site Where, Centuries Before Liberty’s Lamp, Lower Manhattan Offered Refuge to Persecuted Jews
On April 8, 1730, the seventh day of that year’s Passover, the fledgling Jewish community of New York City consecrated the Mill Street Synagogue, located on what is now South William Street. They called their new temple “Shearith Israel,” which translates literally as, “remnant of Israel.” It was the first Jewish house of worship in North America.
Taking the ‘Our’ Out of ‘Arcade’
CB1 Opposes Deal to Hand Developer 4,000-Plus Square Feet of Public Space
Community Board 1 (CB1) is reiterating its opposition to a plan that will allow a real estate developer to privatize more than 4,000 square feet of public space, in exchange for a promise to enliven an adjacent plaza. At issue are the arcades—columned porticos that adorn the ground-floor facade of 200 Water Street—which the building owner hopes to enclose, thus creating additional retail space, which can be monetized. The same owner plans to create three new market-rate rental apartments at the second floor level, and to use several hundred square feet of outdoor space on the plaza in front of 200 Water Street, for a cafe.
FRIDAY APRIL 15
11AM – 5PM
South Street Seaport Museum
On Saturdays and Sundays, visit the exhibitions and the ships of the South Street Seaport Museum for free. At 12 Fulton Street, see “South Street and the Rise of New York” and “Millions: Migrants and Millionaires aboard the Great Liners, 1900-1914,” and at Pier 16, explore the tall ship Wavertree and lightship Ambrose. Free.
Local Rates of Infection with BA.2 Version of COVID Among Highest in City
In a sharp reversal of previous trends, four Lower Manhattan neighborhoods are ranking among the top five anywhere in the City for rates of infection with the new BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron mutation of COVID-19.
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Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Every Wednesday & Saturday, 8am-3pm
Food Scrap Collection: Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Open Saturdays and Wednesdays year round
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Green Greenmarket at Bowling Green
Broadway & Whitehall St
Open Tuesday and Thursdays, year-round
Market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Compost Program: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South St., bet. Fulton & John Sts.
Fulton Street cobblestones between South and Front Sts. across from McNally Jackson Bookstore.
Locally grown produce from Rogowski Farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, and other farmers and small-batch specialty food products, sold directly by their producers. Producers vary from week to week.
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
Notre Dame Cathedral burns on this day in 2019. Photo by Wandrille de Préville, via Wikipedia.
1729 – Johann Sebastian Bach’s St Matthew Passion premieres in Leipzig
1738 – Bottle opener invented
1850 – City of San Francisco incorporated
1870 – Last day US silver coins are allowed to circulate in Canada
1878 – Harley Procter introduces Ivory Soap
1892 – General Electric Company forms & is incorporated in New York
1912 – Titanic sinks at 2:27am off Newfoundland as band plays on
1923 – Insulin becomes generally available for diabetics
1924 – Rand McNally publishes its first road atlas
1945 – British and Canadian troops liberate the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen
1947 – Jackie Robinson, the first Black major league baseball player of the modern era, makes his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on opening day at Ebbets Field. The Dodgers defeat the Boston Braves, 5-3.
1952 – Maiden flight of the B-52 Stratofortress
1955 – Ray Kroc starts McDonald’s chain of fast food restaurants
1959 – Fidel Castro begins US goodwill tour
1986 – US air raids Libya, responding to La Belle disco, Berlin bombing
2013 – Three people are killed and 183 are injured after bombs explode near the finish line of the Boston Marathon
2019 – Fire devastates Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The cathedral’s spire collapses and the roof is destroyed, but the overall structure is saved.
1452 – Leonardo da Vinci, Italy, painter/sculptor/scientist/visionary
1684 – Catherine I, empress of Russia (1725-27)
1812 – Pierre-Etienne-Theodore Rousseau, painter
1894 – Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, Russian general and politician, 7th Premier of the Soviet Union
1904 – Arshile Gorky, Armenian artist (d. 1948)
1916 – Alfred S. Bloomingdale, American businessman (d. 1982)
1924 – Neville Marriner, founder of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields; founder and first music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (d. 2016)
1990 – Emma Watson, English actress
1865 – Abraham Lincoln, 16th American president, dies from gunshot wound at 56
1912 – Edward Smith, captain of the RMS Titanic (b. 1850)
1912 – John Jacob Astor IV, billionaire (b. 1864)
1925 – John Singer Sargent, US portrait painter, dies at 69
1980 – Jean-Paul Sartre, existentialist philosopher and writer (Nobel 1964), dies in Paris at 74
1990 – Greta Garbo, actress (Anna Karenina, Camille), dies at 84
1998 – Pol Pot, Cambodian dictator (b. 1925)
2000 – Edward Gorey, American illustrator (b. 1925)
2017 – Emma Morano, Italian supercentenarian, last person verified born in the 1800s (b. 1899)