Planes Trains & Automobiles
When Sam Schwartz went into transportation planning in the 1970s, he never thought he would leave behind the asphalt of Manhattan for the sandy beaches of Aruba.
At a conference a few years ago, Mr. Schwartz, who runs an eponymous engineering firm in Soho, had just finished up a panel when a woman approached him and asked for his help. The American tourists coming to her country were too lazy to walk to the historic city center, which had been languishing, and she hoped Mr. Schwartz would help. He joked that she should fly him down for an inspection. The next day, the trip was booked. “I’ve done that before and no one has ever taken me up on it.”
After dismissing horse drawn carriages, Mr. Schwartz hit on a novel solution: a team of former Spielberg and Disney imagineers had created a super-high-tech trolley system, totally battery powered with an 18-hour running time. No new infrastructure is required. “Can you believe it? Mass transit on this little Caribbean island,“ Mr. Schwartz marveled. A lei of pink flowers hangs in his lofty office overlooking Houston Street, one of hundreds of tokens of gratitude clogging up the walls and shelves like the cars and trucks, constantly honking, in the gridlock below.
Gridlock. A term Sam Schwartz coined, one of his countless tiny little innovations that have endeavored to make traffic move a little faster. After two decades working for the city’s Department of Transportation, Mr. Schwartz has taken his show on the road, and what he sees across the country both delights and troubles him.
Since it started with a roll call of 27 members in 1896 with the goal of “facilitating transactions in real estate,” the Real Estate Board of New York has indisputably been the city’s most influential real estate organization, with its annual gala being to brokers what the Vanity Fair Oscar party is for Hollywood: If you’re there, it means you’re somebody.
Sure, some may lovingly write it off as a veritable men’s club (men are thought to outnumber women five to one), chide it as “The Liar’s Ball” (each year is a broker’s best year, no matter how wretched the marketplace) and speak ill of the food (nearly everyone avoids the chicken and filet mignon).
But the REBNY gala is as essential to a real estate person’s reputation and status as the buildings and bricks he works with. A dozen of the city’s most legendary players spoke to The Commercial Observer about the blurry nights and boom years that helped make the event what it is today.
In 2004, former mayor Ed Koch committed an act of Democratic treason and endorsed George W. Bush in his re-election bid against John Kerry. In Koch’s estimation, Bush could be counted on to keep the country safe, and that pre-empted any concerns about their domestic policies.
In an email to his mailing list this afternoon, Read More
Earlier this week, former mayor Ed Koch announced that he would begin to robo-call legislators who violated a pledge to back non-partisan redistricting.
Most of the renegers were Senate Republicans, and one, an Assembly Republican, reneged on his reneging decided to in fact support the reforms once Koch started calling his Read More
Ed Koch says he’ll send out robocalls today and will reach 100,000 voters in the 42 legislative districts represented by lawmakers who are reneging on their pledge to support independent redistricting.
The lawmakers are mostly Senate Republicans (who are backing a plan to change redistricting rules through a constitutional amendment, which won’t go Read More
2012: “This birther-in-chief is not even a clown. Clowns know they are being absurd.” [Michael Daly]
2012: Trump’s standing in the GOP field today is reminiscent of what Dems faced in 1992. [Steve Kornacki]
Federal Budget: “What [Obama has] done politically does not fit what I think should be Read More
Ed Koch is mailing letters today to Albany lawmakers who signed on to his New York Uprising pledge to support non-partisan redistricting but are now reneging on their word.
The timing, Koch says, is because some lawmakers said that they wanted to wait until after the budget to take up the issue. Now, with the Read More
Ed Koch responds to John Liu’s email complaining about naming the Queensboro Bridge after the former mayor.
What’s interesting in Koch’s response is where he describes Liu meeting him to seek his support during the 2009 comptroller’s race, which came, obviously, years after Koch made remarks in the 1980s that Liu found offensive. Read More
Shortly after city lawmakers voted to rename a bridge after former Mayor Ed Koch, they received an email from the City Comptroller, complaining of a “double standard.”
“I’m unable to hold back,” City Comptroller John Liu wrote in a 5:31 a.m. email addressed to City Council members.
In the email, Liu recalls a Read More
Health Care: “despite all the talk about repealing, scaling back or striking down, this massive, complicated package of new laws is, for the most part, the same as it was a year ago.” [Anna Sale]
Leaked Budget Memo: “What strikes me as interesting here is the fact that the executive branch Read More