Seen & Heard: The Lifting of the Street Fair Ban

Woolworth Building lobby staircase by Richard Silver courtesy Woolworth Tours••• Woolworth Tours now has a new option for touring the Woolworth Building: “Serious amateur and professional photographers may now attend 75-minute public photo tours on designated weekend mornings when the vintage Woolworth Lobby is the least busy. These special photographic tours are designed to allow for the use of tripods in all of the important areas of the lobby, but no flash or video will be permitted. Experienced guides will provide historical information about Frank W. Woolworth, the building and its architect, Cass Gilbert, along with plenty of time to ask questions. There will also be periods of silence in which photographers can focus on taking unique and stunning shots for portfolio use of the magnificent architecture and splendid details in the 103-year-old lobby.” The tour is $40, and if you’ve never done it, you really must. (The photo above and on the home page are by Richard Silver.)

••• “Baby ducks in danger!” was the subject line of an email I received yesterday afternoon from a reader (and I include it because if you ever want to get someone’s attention, it’s a good one). “There are eight baby ducks in the fish pond by the Irish Hunger memorial. Apparently someone dumped a pet turtle in the pond, and it’s trying to eat the babies!” Evidently a couple was trying to protect the ducklings until whoever feeds them comes around 7 p.m. I never found out who won…. UPDATE: “And here’s a pic. This couple was camped out, showing the turtle every time it tried to snap at a baby. They said they were told they could remove the turtle, and then advised not to remove the turtle. Not sure what the duck feeder determined at 7 p.m. It was so sad seeing this momma lead her brood around trying to get away.”

Battery Park City ducklings terrorized by turtle••• As you may recall, when I last wrote about the resurgence of street fairs, I mentioned this:

Back in 2011, and I quote DNAinfo, “The city has banned all weekday street fairs in lower Manhattan indefinitely, citing the multitude of construction projects that are already choking the neighborhood’s streets.” Does anyone really think there’s less construction now? Or did Mardi Gras Events and Clearview successfully lobby our noble mayor for a change in the policy?

The city’s Street Activity Permit Office wouldn’t acknowledge my calls and emails asking when and why the ban had been lifted, so I tried the media contacts at the Mayor’s Office, which SAPO is part of. I was told that, with guidance from Community Board 1, the De Blasio administration had decided to allow weekday events once again, as long as the community board agreed to them and no “major construction” was happening. This change in policy may have been discussed at one of the many CB1 meetings I don’t attend, or in a non-public setting; regardless, it’s disappointing because “major construction” is still occurring left and right around here: the World Trade Center, the Broadway and Worth reconstruction projects, the 20 new buildings under construction in Tribeca alone…. Obviously, I hope that CB1 will reject any new proposals for street fairs on my block anytime soon—three in a four-month span is too many, especially on a street with two buildings under construction, two bus routes, and a bike lane—and think hard before approving them on other streets around here. At a minimum, there has to be a policy about the number of fairs any one block should have to put up with in a given time frame. The fairs remind me of the charity muggers all around town: They no doubt benefit the organizers as much, and probably more, than the partnering non-profit organizations.

••• The Heyday facial spa on Reade is aiming to open next week.

••• From the Battery Park City Authority: “Have an opinion on the future of South End Avenue?” This is in regard to the arcades, which the BPCA is considering getting rid of. “Please join us Monday, July 25, or Monday, August 1 at 6 River Terrace for a South End Avenue/West Thames Street concept development open house. There is no formal presentation; you may arrive any time between 5pm and 8pm to share your thoughts, view preliminary concepts, and talk to the designers who developed them based upon community input.”

••• Mary noted that the Sephora at 150 Broadway is closing next month and that we may see other businesses coming to the Westfield World Trade Center mall choose to consolidate along the same lines.



  1. I walked by there a little while ago and there were seven, only a few days old. This is the first year I’ve seen turtles in there. When this started happening a few years ago I spoke with someone at the Audobon Society who told me the mortality rate for baby ducks is 50%. Mom duck was squawking for food from passers-by.

    • not sure it it’s the same turtle because i haven’t seen it for over a year but i have definitely seen a turtle there over the past several years.

      • I was there on Sunday, and the turtle was snapping at the ducklings. The mother was swimming constantly, with the ducklings behind her, in a futile attempt to get away. There was an interesting discussion about what one does with urban wildlife, and more importantly who is in charge of creating urban wildlife ecosystems.

    • . . . and today there were five . . .

      . . . but they’re getting bigger and not clinging to mom so much so maybe there was one in the reeds . . .

  2. Anyone know what kind of turtle? Likely doesn’t belong there – maybe a red-eared slider that got too big and someone abandoned? Should probably be removed – might be accepted by the Wild Bird Fund on upper west side – they a have turtle tank there, if anyone willing to take the time and trouble.

    The ducks have been nesting there for years now – shame to lose them.

  3. On Friday 7/29 there were 4 ducklings. Yesterday, 8/5 there were 2 ducklings. I haven’t seen a turtle in the pond the past week – is it still in there eating the ducklings?!

    Does anyone know how long the ducklings, assuming they live, stay in the pond before they fly/walk away?

  4. Correction: 3 ducklings are left

    Spoke to a resident by the pond who has been watching them frequently and here’s what I gathered from her:

    1) A mother with her young child witnessed a turtle grabbing a duckling’s leg and drowning it. After the mother complained about this, the park services removed a turtle
    2) At least 1 new turtle is in the pond today, but might be currently too small to cause harm

    3) A large bird was also preying on the ducklings (probably a heron).

    Debate over whether park services should add turtles to the pond given many enjoy them or remove turtles to protect ducklings. Fish are already added by park services, ducks and heron came on their own.