Thursday, November 22, 2012

New York Is Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and while this holiday usually conjures images of succulent roasted turkey and the rowdiness of football and family, New Yorkers may have a slightly more sobering outlook on this year's festivities. In the wake of the disaster that was Hurricane Sandy, many residents of this great city may be questioning their good fortune and wondering exactly for what they have to be thankful.

To those displaced, mourning, or devastated New Yorkers, we here at the Wall Street Walks Family would like to personally take a moment to express our most sincere and heartfelt condolences, and while it is undeniable that we have felt the effects of Sandy on our business, we cannot begin to comprehend the nightmare with which some of you are dealing. We are certinaly trying to do our part to raise awareness of the devastation that happened in Lower Manhattan and beyond, and we have launched a series of  Sandy Benefit Tours the proceeds of which will be donated to the recovery efforts of the South Street Seaport Museum.

It seems to be a tried and true fact that when this great city is faced with adversity, its people inevitably join together and help in whatever way they can. Our efforts are just a small drop in the bucket compared to the city-wide (and beyond!!!) push to get New York back on her feet. All over, people are donating their time, goods, and hard-earned money to those affected, and that is something we all can be thankful for. 

We would like to acknowledge the ever-growing list of other businesses organizations, and individuals that have worked tirelessly since the waters receded. Obviously, there are far to many to count, but here are a few...

  • Battery Park City Cares, a local charity, coordinated the collection and distribution of blankets, batteries, and bottled water. 
  • The BPC Dog Association first made sure that pets and their owners were safe, then began collecting pet supplies. 
  • The Manhattan Youth put out a call for volunteers to man a bucket brigade and more than 500 people heeded the call.
  • Julie Menin, former chair of Community Board 1, organized a six-day volunteer effort of 300 who  who knocked on 9,000 doors, bringing food, water, and blankets to stranded elderly and disabled residents throughout Lower Manhattan.
  • The Downtown Alliance announced the "Lower Manhattan: Back to Business" grant program to support retailers, restaurants and service providers affected by Hurricane Sandy. The program will provide offers grants of up to $20,000 to small businesses.  See their press conference here.
  • Chop't,  The Diamond in Greenpoint, Park Avenue Autumn, Pegu Club, Meatball Shop, Sfoglia, Shake Shack, Rooftop Supperclub in Greenpoint, Battersby, Pies-n-Thighs, Tasting Table, and countless other restaurants have donated money, food, and goods as well as played host to various charity events. 
  • MTV has round up the cast for “Restore the Shore," a special that will air live from the Times Square studio. The TV network is partnering with nonprofit Architecture for Humanity and viewers will be encouraged to donate via text to assist with reconstructing the Seaside Heights boardwalk and supporting re-building efforts of businesses and residents in the area
  • NYC Young Professionals Group will donate proceeds from their networking event at the Lower East Side's the DL to hurricane relief efforts. Get on the guest list here. Admission is $20 and includes one free drink.
  • At Industry Bar, Ally Sheedy and photographer Mike Ruiz will host a fundraiser to benefit the , an LGBTQ youth organization that had its drop-in center destroyed by the Hudson River storm surge. The event runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets, which are $20, will be available at the door.
  • Lucille Roberts in Forest Hills will host a Zumbathon for Hurricane Sandy relief. Members and nonmembers can donate $10 for a 12:30 p.m. Zumba class that will be doubly worthwhile — all proceeds go to the Red Cross and other efforts.
  • Cubana Social has joined forces with the Hester Street Collaborative to assist the Lower East Side and Chinatown's elderly and disabled residents stuck in housing development by doubling as a drop-off point for donations (food, water, batteries, flashlights, generators).
By most accounts, even the ones hit hardest are still counting their blessings and acknowledging the fact that they and their loved ones are still alive. Many are quoted as saying how material possessions can always be replaced and, while devastating, their loss cannot hold a candle to that of a family member or friend. Some are even taking a break from the cleanup, demolition, or re-building of hard-hit areas to celebrate Thanksgiving and are using the time to try and forget their current woes and enjoy the company of the ones they love. And for the rest of New York spared from Sandy's full wrath, perhaps that sentiment can serve as a meditation on what we all really should be thankful for on this holiday.

From the Wall Street Walks family to yours - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Post-Sandy Photo Blog

 A 6'0" tall man stands next to the Storm Surge waterline

Ruined office equipment and furniture littering the streets 

 Park benches with no seats

 Water damage to the World Trade Center Memorial site

 Discarded sandbags

 Buildings in the process of drying out

Boarded up doorways

Water being pumped and diverted



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shadows of Deceased Ghosts

“They say that shadows of deceased ghosts
Do haunt the houses and the graves about,
Of such whose life's lamp went untimely out,
Delighting still in their forsaken hosts.”
-Joshua Sylvester

To many, ghost stories are campfire fodder, best told ironically in the bleary beam of a flashlight. However, to those who have experienced unexplained paranormal activities firsthand, these tales may be told without the requisite smirk.

But when does a rickety wine cabinet become a Dybbuk Box or the hushed voices in the apartment next door become EVP? When is it time to simply lay off the Fight Night double features or seriously gather loved ones for a séance?

Perhaps the most logical first step in determining whether or not you have a legitimate haunting is to identify some common hallmarks of paranormal activity. However, it should be noted that not all hauntings are alike and can vary from one specific phenomenon to a full-out scene from Poltergeist.

Some telltale signs that you may have a spiritual squatter include:

  • Unexplained noises (footsteps, knocking, banging, rapping, or scratching)
  • Lights turning on and off
  • DOP - Disappearing Object Phenomenon (items that vanish and then reappear)
  • Unexplained shadows     
  • Strange animal behavior    
  • Eerie sensations of being watched
  • Mild psychokinetic phenomena (including the unassisted opening or closing of doors, windows, cabinets, cupboards, etc.)
  • Sensations of being touched  
  • Disembodied cries and whispers    
  • Noticeable variances in temperature (spots can be cold or hot)   
  • Unexplained smells
  • Severe psychokinetic phenomena (such as moving or levitating objects)
  • Physical assault (scratches that suddenly appear with no viable cause)
  • Physical traces such as hand or footprints or unexplained writing

If enough of these boxes have been checked to warrant alarm, how exactly does one go about dealing with these unwanted house guests? (And you thought having bedbugs was trying…)

There are some experts who claim that the physical destruction of the site being haunted is a surefire way to rid oneself of a ghost. However, this method may prove problematic in several ways.  One’s landlord may not take this as an acceptable excuse for the complete demolition of his tenement. Also, this technique does not always work. For example, when the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland (now New York City), Peter Stuyvesant’s mansion burned down in 1744, he simply moved his haunting ground to the Stuyvesant family mausoleum.

Other experts claim that the destruction or removal of the physical remains of the body in question is the only way to quiet a disgruntled spirit. When the body of successful Irish entrepreneur A.T. Stewart was moved from near St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery to the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, his ghost eventually gave up the search.

Another popular method in dealing with visitors from the Underworld is a séance, which is an encounter or meeting during which a spiritualist or a medium attempts to communicate with the spirits of the dead. The word “séance” comes from the French word for “seat,” “session” or “sitting” and from the Old French word seoir, “to sit.” One famous ghost gabber, Hans Holzer, would speak with the spook via a medium to try and decipher the gripes of the restless. If Holzer was successful and the spirit was appeased, then the supernatural activities would come to an end.

For particularly disruptive ghosts who set their sights on people, an exorcism may be the only solution. From the Latin word exorcismus, and from the Greek word exorkizein (to abjure), exorcism is the practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place that they are believed to have possessed. An exorcist is the person called upon to perform this ceremony through prayer, ritual, formula, or through other means such as an angel or an amulet. One such exorcist, Dr. Joseph Green Cogswell, held a secular exorcism at the Astor Library, where he served as Director, after he encountered Austin Sands, a wealthy insurance executive (or what was left of him).

While the previously mentioned solutions are admittedly somewhat time consuming and involved, there are also some simpler techniques that might get the job done.

  • Solving the problem that causes the ghost to haunt (For helpful tips, a viewing of any Scooby Doo episode may prove enlightening)
  • Simply informing the ghost that he or she is deceased! (HELLO! We have all seen The Sixth Sense by now!!
  • Suggesting to the ghost a better place to haunt (How about that really annoying neighbor down the hall?)
  • Simply asking the ghost to leave or stop haunting. (Pretty please??)
  • Perhaps welcome the ghost as a friend. (Ask Christina Ricci, sometimes Casper can turn out to be a real looker.)
  • Or if all else fails, simply move away from the haunted location. (When the New York Times moved its offices uptown in 1904, the newspaper left its resident ghost behind.)

We would like to take a moment to thank everyone who attended our ghost tour, and we can hardly wait until next year as it will be bigger and scarier than ever! In the meantime, please feel free to check out our other tour offerings. We hope to see all of you on Wall Street soon!