Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Officially Summer in New York City

After Memorial Day it’s “officially summer” in New York. Many offices start to allow their employees to dress down. You are no longer required to wear a tie or suit. Now it's smart casual – polo shirt and dress pants. Some offices do dress down all week and others do it on Fridays only.

Many people start going to their beach houses for the weekend.

Summer programs start – be on the lookout for the free concerts in the parks in NYC. In Lower Manhattan we have the River to River Festival.

There are many free concerts and events. Take the ferry to Governors Island and spend the afternoon gazing at the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Top 3 Memorials to Visit in NYC on Memorial Day Weekend

photo from
Today marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. Downtown is home to several memorials. Our war memorials provide places of solace and contemplation. Many of them are in public parks and serve as permanent reminders of the high price the USA and other nations had paid for the preservation of freedom and security. Many memorials are paid for by private funding efforts and not federally funded. My three favorite memorials are:

Korean War Memorial aka The Universal Soldier 
One of the most striking memorials in New York. The 15-foot-tall black granite monument is in the shape of a Korean War soldier. The center is cut out. You can see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island by looking through the silhouette. Every July 27 at 10 a.m., the anniversary of the exact moment in New York when hostilities ceased in Korea, the sun shines through the soldier’s head and illuminates the commemorative plaque installed in the ground at the foot of the statue.

American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial 
It is on a breakwater close to where you line up to board the Statue of Liberty ferry in Battery Park. The monument is a bronze group of men clinging to their sinking boat. During World War II their boat (a merchant marine vessel) was struck by a Nazi U-Boat. They were photographed by the Germans while their boat sank.

Vietnam War Memorial
Located at 55 Water Street (which was the largest office building east of the Mississippi River during the 1970s when it was built). The Vietnam Memorial was flooded during hurricane Sandy and some repairs in the area are still underway. The Vietnam Veterans Plaza honors the 1741 New Yorkers who died during the Vietnam war (1964-1975) In total 250,000 New Yorkers served in the United States armed forces. The Vietnam War tried to curb the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Buttonwood Agreement in 1792 Gave Birth to the New York Stock Exchange

By early 1792, Wall Street was enjoying its first bull market. Several merchants, encouraged by the increased activity, kept a small inventory of securities on hand that would be sold over the counter like any other of their wares. Today’s over-the-counter market got its name from this early form of trading. Business was booming. Some days as many as 100 bank shares would be traded. Things were at times very chaotic and businessmen realized that it needed to be organized.

On May 17, 1792, twenty-four men signed a document they called “The Buttonwood Agreement”. In the agreement they agreed to trade securities only amongst themselves, to maintain fixed commission rates, and to avoid other auctions. The Buttonwood Agreement turned trading into a member’s only activity. The Buttonwood Agreement signers are considered to be the original members of the New York Stock Exchange. Trading took place outside, under the tree, until the Tontine Coffee House was completed the following year in 1793. The Tontine Coffee House was located at the northwest corner of Wall and William Streets.

The Buttonwood tree stood outside at about 68 Wall Street today. The tree stood on Wall Street until June 14, 1865 when it fell over during a storm. The news was treated like the death of a family member, and it was was widely reported in all the local media.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

“LITTLE SYRIA” - NYC's Forgotten Neighborhood

Friday, May 3, 2013 - Monday, May 27, 2013
3LD Art & Technology Center
80 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10006

by Wall Street Walks Tour Guide Marie Beirne

In the 1980’s, when I worked at NASDAQ on the 98th Floor of Two World Trade Center, every evening I waited for the x90 express bus to Yorkville, in front of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church which once stood across Liberty Street from the South Tower.

I have very fond memories of that divine and beloved little church, surrounded on three sides by the parking lot…looking a little lonely and frail, all by itself, especially at nightfall.

Tonight, at a lecture,  I found out that after 9/11, when workers got to the foundation of the destroyed St. Nicholas’,  buried in the rubble, they found artifacts of an old church, the cornerstone of St. Joseph's from “Little Syria”, New York City. The cornerstone now resides in Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral in Brooklyn Heights.

It is rare for New Yorkers to be surprised with news of an old neighborhood you never heard of before…what a delight the discovery of “Little Syria” was for the audience.

On April 30 at the 9/11 Tribute Center, Linda Jacobs, author, archaeologist, and an expert on the Syrian immigrant community in New York City, and Todd Fine, co-founder of the “Save Washington Street,” preservation campaign presented “Little Syria’: Lower Manhattan Before the World Trade Center,” a discussion on the history of the neighborhood in the southwestern corner of Lower Manhattan.

Beginning in the late 1800’s, the neighborhood developed a flavor of the Arab world from which many of the immigrants originated.  Their entrepreneurial spirit transformed the neighborhood, which came to be known as “Little Syria”, into a thriving community lined with shops and coffeehouses. Many of these immigrants owned small restaurants and grocery stores and had easy access to the docks where produce was brought in on boats from New Jersey.  Each furnished with signs written in their native Arabic.  Here bilingual Arab-Americans raised their families, educated their children, formed religious and community organizations and gradually became part of the life of the city of New York.

Eventually the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the World Trade Center displaced the folks in this neighborhood who moved to Atlantic Avenue and other neighborhoods of Brooklyn. 

Most New Yorkers, and even many Lebanese-Americans and Arab-Americans, are unaware that Lower Manhattan — along Washington Street from Battery Park through the 9/11 Memorial to Chambers Street — was once the center of Arab-American life in the United States, from the 1870s to the 1940s called “Little Syria” or the “Mother Colony.”

Today, only three buildings from that era remain and are physically connected: 103 Washington Street, an Arab church that served as a Irish bar for many years.   The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building a New York City landmark on July 14, 2009. 

Two other remaining buildings: 105-107 Washington Street, a community house inaugurated by the governor of New York Al Smith to serve the “Little Syria” neighborhood; and 109 Washington Street, a tenement building still containing apartments are now part of an active campaign by Save Washington Street [] a national coalition of organizations and individuals advocating for the preservation of the last two sites.

While the coalition’s first objective is to achieve the landmark designation of the community center at 105-107 Washington Street, already advocated by Community Board 1 of New York City, the long-term goal of the coalition is to improve education about this diverse neighborhood, and about Arab-American history .

Be sure to discover “Little Syria” for yourself, starting on May 3, and continuing through May 27, the Arab American National Museum (based in Dearborn, Michigan) will present at the 3LD Art & Technology Center (80 Greenwich Street) an exhibition documenting the neighborhood's history.

Join Wall Street Walks on one of our guided walking tours to uncover more of the many, many secrets of NYC. We offer an exciting peek at the New York no one else knows! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

NYC Decks Out in Its Trashiest Haute Couture for the 2013 Met Gala

Every heavily kohl-lined eye in the world will be turned to NYC tonight as fashion’s best and brightest don their haute couture shredded leather for this year’s Met Gala. This year’s theme “Punk: Chaos to Couture” is sure to channel the raucous, devil-may-care heyday of the likes of the New York Dolls, Suicide, The Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, Sex Pistols, and Talking Heads. The Costume Institute Gala (commonly referred to as the “Met Ball” by all those in the know) is a celebration of the annual opening of the Metropolitan Museum's fashion exhibit at the Costume Institute. The preceding red carpet is THE place to see celebrities dressed to the nines in the year’s edgiest avant garde looks. In Gala’s past, photos from the event were posted online, but this unprecedented carpet will feature a live streaming feed, beginning at 7 p.m. EST via the fashion site in coordination with Conde Nast, Samsung, and Vogue magazine. Though the Met Museum may be a far cry from the seedy interior of CBGB, this year’s gala promises to capture the spirit of the trends of yesteryear – be it from a precariously perched Devo cone hat to a strategically placed tattoo a la Richard Hell. This modern interpretation of the counter culture in the mid-seventies heralds back to the music scene of New York circa ‘74–’76 and will most certainly pay homage to classic punk details like studs, spikes, safety pins, distressed denims, and, of course, lots and lots of leather. Sure to be decked out in their best trash bag chic are co-chairs Rooney Mara (popular for her portrayal of punk princess Lisbeth Salander in Hollywood’s “Girl Who…”series), co-founder of Moda Operandi / Vogue editor Lauren Santo Domingo, and famed Italian fashion designer Riccardo Tisci. The fashion world is sure to hold its breath for a singular shot of Anna Wintour in plaid bondage pants.

Get all of the hottest updates in NYC – from Downtown and beyond – with Wall Street Walks.

Copyright: W Magazine