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Protest at Gracie Mansion-Horses on City Streets

In NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on October 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

Monday, October 17, 2016.  6:00pm EST.

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Animal rights activists gathered across from Gracie Mansion at the corner of East 88th Street and East End Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  They were shouting to Mayor DeBlasio to keep his promise and ban Carriage Horses in Central Park.  While running for office in 2013, DeBlasio vowed on Day 1 if elected, he would make changes. According to the New York Times there has been no resolution.

DeBlasio was entertaining on this unseasonably warm evening. The protestors took advantage as each guest passed by, to remind the Mayor of his promise.  Parade barriers lined both sides of East End Avenue as the NYC Police and the Mayor’s security detail stood guard at the adjacent entrances of Carl Schurz Park.

Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

On Assignment: NYC Parks Project Stalls in Astoria

In NYC History, NYC Today on September 10, 2016 at 9:56 pm

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September 11 will bring another New York City Parks pool season to a close, and another summer the Astoria Park Diving Pool is left to disrepair.  A plan to convert this space to an outdoor theater was approved in 2011 by former New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  Capital funding of $5.0 million was allocated for the reconstruction.  Today a black chain link fence continues to separate the defunct diving pool from the main pool that teems with life.

Former City Councilman Peter F. Vallone Jr. and members of the Queens Community Board 1 devised the plan.  With the assistance of then Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, the Parks Department allocated the needed funds for the project.  “It was all set to go” Vallone said, “but unfortunately due to term limits I was out of a job in 2013.”

Costa Constantinides, the current District 22 City Council Member met with the Parks Department to downsize the plan in January.  Michael Scholl, Press Officer for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, confirmed that the original proposal for a performance space has been scaled back by the Parks Department to build a plaza.  The one bid that was received during this four year period, came in over budget at $8.0 million.  It was determined then to modify the plan.

Constantinides’ office was unavailable to comment.

“To tell me it’s going to cost $4-$5 million to fill in a hole,  I can get a bunch of school kids to do it with shovels, is outrageous,”  said Vallone, now a Judge of the Civil Court of New York City.  “It would be an outrage for the Astoria community if this did not happen.  This needs to be what was promised, a beautiful outdoor theater for this community.  If not, an investigation needs to be done as to why that didn’t happen.”

The Astoria Park Diving Pool Reconstruction is a capital project that falls under Parks Department jurisdiction.  According to the Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, a capital project has three phases:  Design (10 to 16 months), Procurement (nine months) and Construction (12 to 18 months).  The project is currently in the Design Phase which began in December 2012 and was to be completed by October 2013.  The completion date of this phase has been adjusted to September 2016.  When I first started researching this article in July, the project was in the Procurement Phase and due to be completed that month.  Meghan Lalor, Chief of Staff to the Assistant Commissioner for Communications said “After Procurement, the project will enter the Construction phase which averages 12 to 18 months.”  As of September the project has reverted back to the Design Phase.

Kevin Quinn, Chief of Architecture and Engineering for the Parks Department Capital Projects was contacted to explain these hurdles.  His office has not responded.

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The diving pool once known as The Olympic High Dive when it opened in the summer of 1936, hosted the 1936 and 1964 U.S. Olympic diving trials.  “It was closed in 1980 for safety reasons,” said Lalor.

36 years have passed and the only transformation to this space is decay.

Sean and Dior are friends that grew up frequenting the park; they have never known the diving pool to be opened.  They both expect it will be another seven to ten years before they see any changes to this space.  Sean said, “They wanted to do something with this, turn it into like a kids place.  They never pursued it.  It was just talk.” Dior said, “They’re building the luxury buildings and people want to leave the city, that’s when their gonna do something with that.”

With approximately 215,000 residents speaking over 100 languages, Astoria Park is an oasis for the neighborhood..  Many families live in multi-unit dwellings that have little or no outdoor space.  “Parks are our backyards,” said District Manager Florence Koulouris of Queens Community Board 1.

Astoria Park granted landmark status June 20, 2006, was once a training ground for athletes that would go on to the Olympics and win gold medals.  Today it offers an all-weather running track, tennis and basketball courts, multiple playgrounds and a skatepark that opened in the fall of 2010.  The main pool is the largest in New York City,  measuring 330 feet in length with a capacity of 3000. Throughout the summer this space provides entertainment, cultural activities, and a place for gathering.  “Astoria Park is our Central Park,” Koulouris said.

Where concrete and elevated train tracks define a densely populated neighborhood, this 59 acre park supports the physical and mental health of its users. The diving pool remains an eyesore and a missed opportunity for this community.

Repurposing an old pool into an entertainment venue is not new for the Parks Department.  Jessica Bathurst, Executive Director for the Astoria Performing Arts Center is familiar with pools having other uses. “I saw concerts at McCarren Park Pool before turning it back into a regular pool. It was a lot of fun.”

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Situated between two iconic bridges with the New York City skyline as the backdrop, Astoria Park is the perfect setting for a stage.  “We have so many professional actors, musicians, you name it who live in Astoria now.  Everyone was looking for a place to put on shows.  They were renting out churches, doing all these strange things in order to get performances in Astoria, we thought this would be a great way to give them a place,” said Vallone, a professional musician himself.  “Could you imagine how beautiful it would be to watch a play there, the river, the two bridges, the city behind you?  It would be like ancient Greece.   And now we’re getting a hole filled in with dirt.”

 

Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

On Assignment: A Portrait

In NYC Today on August 23, 2016 at 7:02 pm

-July 6, 2016, 3:40pm(Long Island City, Queens)  

Modou Tague, 28, stands smoking a cigarette at the corner of 12th Street and Queens Plaza South.  The air is thick, a slight breeze is scented with gasoline and exhaust. The “feels like” temperature is 93º.

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As I walk by he says, “Hello Beautiful.”  Today I am compelled to reply, “Have a nice day”.

Crossing 12th Street, I glance back at this man.  He is dressed in solid navy blue from head to toe.  The first few buttons of his work-shirt are undone.  Taking a break during the last 20 minutes of his shift as a mid-level technician, he waits for his replacement to arrive at the Yakuel Taxi Garage.

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The opened bay doors of this brightly painted, single story structure reveal a gleaming tiled floor.  The interior ceiling is a canopy of philodendrons; wind chimes sparkle throughout.  Each car-bay has a yellow jack placed at a 45º angle.

This 24-hour garage with 23 mechanics services 300 medallion taxis owned by Zion Yakuel.  Tague has worked at this garage for seven years as a B Level Technician.

With the title DTC (Diagnostic Technology Center), he analyzes the computer codes generated by diagnostics, e.g. check engine light, as part of regular maintenance of the fleet.

A Bronx native, Tague could not afford college.  “When I was in High School, Bush was President and I didn’t want to go to war. I needed to be a grown man. To move out of my parents’ house.”

Working with his high school guidance counselor he enrolled in Universal Technical Institute, based in Exton, Pa.  He didn’t know a thing about cars but seized the opportunity. He said, I busted my ass and graduated in 2008.

His only job interview was with Yakuel.  Determined to get the job,  he researched everything he could about the position before going in.  “I knew all about the owner and the garage.  This impressed Yakuel.  I was hired on the spot”.

His 12 hour shift starts at 4:00am each day, six days a week.

To conclude this interview, I wanted to take his photograph.  Only after he re-buttoned his shirt and straightened his uniform did he give me that permission.

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Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

Celebrating Education: Michelle Obama

In NYC Today on April 28, 2016 at 8:10 pm

My latest assignment had me working with Michelle Obama.  It was my biggest assignment to date.  Since others have put the words together quite eloquently, it would serve no purpose for me to rewrite any of it.  So, here is the press release direct from the White House.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the First Lady/For Immediate Release    April 26, 2016

REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY AT COLLEGE SIGNING DAY/Harlem Armory/New York, New York/3:45 P.M. EDT

“…MRS. OBAMA: I love every single one of you! Every single one of you! (Applause.) I’m so proud of you all. (Applause.)  But I also want to thank La La and Sway and all of MTV for co-hosting this. You know they put this together for you all? Do you know that? (Applause.) 

But most of all, I want to give a huge shout-out to all the amazing young people who are here today because just — I want you to take a moment because you saw what just happened on this stage. You understand how many people it took to put this together. We did this because of you all. (Applause.) You all are the reasons we did this. Melissa, Ben, Allan Houston, Sway, La La, Carmelo — I mean, all of us are here today because we are beyond proud of you. (Applause.) 

I want you all to listen to this: These Grammy Award winners, these NBA All-Stars, these Hollywood celebrities all wanted to be a part of this day. I called, they came. They love me, but they love you even more. They want to celebrate your achievements. (Applause.)

So I want you to take this in, because no matter what path any of us on this stage took to our success, we all know that completing your education past high school is the most important thing you can do to reach your dreams. That’s why we’re here.

So while you all might be in awe of us, let me tell you, we are in awe of you. (Applause.) Because we know how much work it took for you to get to this point. We know that you have been studying. (Applause.) We know how early you had to wake up every morning to either catch the bus or walk to school. (Applause.) We know about all those applications and essays, all those FAFSA forms you had to complete to make it to this day. It wasn’t just a notion! (Applause.)

But we also know that even in those moments when you were tired and a little frustrated, maybe filled with a little doubt, that you never gave up. (Applause.) You never stopped fighting for your dreams. And you did it! Every single one of you in this room is going to college! (Applause.) Man! Look at you all! And that’s really what College Signing Day is all about. It’s about celebrating your academic achievements. Listen to this. We are celebrating education up in here! (Applause.)…”

The following individuals joined the First Lady in celebrating over 4,000 students at the Harlem Armory:

  •  1.      Aidy Bryant
  • 2.      AJ Calloway
  • 3.      Alessia Cara
  • 4.      Allan Houston
  • 5.      Allison Williams
  • 6.      Bailee Madison
  • 7.      Ben Falcone
  • 8.      Bradie Gene James
  • 9.      Brandon Carr
  • 10.  Calvin Johnson
  • 11.  Carla Hall
  • 12.  Carmelo Anthony
  • 13.  Chef Roble
  • 14.  Common
  • 15.  Darren Criss
  • 16.  Daymond John
  • 17.  Derek Hough
  • 18.  Deon Grant
  • 19.  Diggy Simmons
  • 20.  Elle Varner
  • 21.  Emmy Rossum
  • 22.  FC Harlem Team Members
  • 23.  Jay Pharoah
  • 24.  Jidenna
  • 25.  Jon Rudnitsky
  • 26.  Julianna Margulies
  • 27.  Kelvin Beachum
  • 28.  La La Anthony
  • 29.  LZ Granderson
  • 30.  Matt and Kim
  • 31.  Matthew Morrison
  • 32.  Mariska Hargitay
  • 33.  Mario Batali
  • 34.  Melissa Benoist
  • 35.  Melissa McCarthy
  • 36.  Nicole Beharie
  • 37.  Sasheer Zamata
  • 38.  Ted Allen
  • 39.  Tom Colicchio
  • 40.  Tracee Ellis Ross
  • 41.  Yara Shahidi

This event was hosted by MTV in conjunction with Viacom’s Get Schooled initiative. This was the third annual College Signing Day the First Lady has hosted to celebrate high school seniors choosing to pursue higher education at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. The First Lady has hosted College Signing Day events in Detroit, Michigan in 2015 and in San Antonio, Texas in 2014.  Information provided by the White House.

Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

Committee of Transportation New York City Hall: Hearing of Intro 779

In NYC Today on April 12, 2016 at 7:55 am

Commencing at 10:00am on April 4, 2016 in City Council Chambers, the Chair Ydanis Rodriguez brought the Committee of Transportation to order.  “Today, we will hear three bills and one resolution directed toward improving safety and efficiency on the New York City streets,” stated Rodriguez.

This was my first assignment at City Hall as a photojournalist.  Not only was this story meaningful for the work, it was important to be there for my colleagues.  These men and women are the people that keep you informed, they deliver breaking stories often from challenging locations.   Men and women of the press do their job in the field and need mobile offices.  Currently the New York City Parking laws are in conflict with this goal.  This hearing has begun a formal conversation with city officials to make changes that would benefit all parties.  Representatives from the NYPD, the New York City Department of Transportation, members of the Press both television and print were there to be heard.

Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

Everyone Loves a Parade

In nyc photographer, NYC Today on March 21, 2016 at 7:23 am

My latest assignment was to photograph the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade here in New York City.  Over the six hour period, I covered the activities that happened between 72nd and 79th Streets.

“The Fighting 69th” stepped off at 11:00am on 44th Street leading the line of march up 5th Avenue, passing Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, to 79th Street.   This was the first year in the parade’s history to be “all inclusive” allowing Irish groups from the gay community to celebrate.  Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the parade for the first time since being in office.  On this day everyone is Irish!

The participants and actives along 5th Avenue:

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Acting like children…

Even the dogs were festive:

 

Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

Garden Street Gallery Groundhog Day Gala

In new jersey, nyc photographer on February 22, 2016 at 8:12 am

The opening of my solo show at the Gallery at Garden Street Lofts in Hoboken, N.J. on February 2, 2016 was a dream come true.

So many friends & family, art lovers & supporters, joined in the celebration.

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Special thanks to the Board of Garden Street Lofts, Cork Wine & Spirits and
Dino & Harry’s Steakhouse for making this such a special night.

©2016, Photo Credit Leo Mahaffey

Who knew that Groundhog Day could be so wonderful?  Thank you to all!

The show runs through May 31, 2016.
1425 Garden Street
Hoboken, NJ  07030

 

Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

 

Here are short videos of the preparation and installation of the show.

 

York Avenue at 78th Street

In nyc photographer, NYC Today on January 7, 2016 at 8:40 pm
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Firemen protect evidence on York Avenue

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Car that hit pedestrian

 

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Until next time.

Teresa51art

adventure is life, live it! ®