Covering Battery Park City

World Financial Center construction delayed:
Construction on 2 World Financial Center was supposed to begin around now, with all of the stores in the southern wing shuttered by Sept. 25. But construction has been delayed by a month. SouthWest NY, The Grill Room, Columbus Bakery, Boomerang Toys, Urban Athletics, Cobbler Express and Add Accessories will all remain in place through the end of October. Hallmark will re-locate to the lobby level of 2 World Financial Center in the same corridor as Ann Taylor.

Ciao Bella and Godiva have already closed. The Gap will close on Sept. 30.

SouthWest NY’s new digs:
After closing at the World Financial Center, SouthWest NY hopes to reopen in early November at the site of the former Gate House on South End Avenue at Albany Street. Even if the restaurant can’t open exactly on schedule, the kitchen will be built by then and will deliver.

The right side of the old Gate House space, which used to sell sushi, is being converted to a bar called The Black Hound. It will have a lounge in the front and will serve American tavern food. It will be completely separate from SouthWest NY, which will occupy the southern part of the old Gate House space and will have exactly the same menu as it has had in its present location at 2 World Financial Center.

Owner Abraham Merchant said that he hopes to rehire most of the current staff and that the management will be the same.

Merchant anticipates that his newly situated restaurant plus Merchants River House on the Battery Park City esplanade will have increased business because of all the restaurant closings in the World Financial Center. SouthWest NY will continue to be open daily until midnight. “We’re the only restaurant down here that’s open until midnight,” Merchant said. He expects that The Black Hound will be open until 1 a.m.

Artificial turf-covered ball fields open:
It was a long slog to get artificial turf on the Battery Park City ball fields, which are just north of Murray Street and between West Street and North End Avenue, but on Sunday, Sept. 25, the turf made its official debut. New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was present for the occasion, as were representatives of the Downtown sports leagues, Community Board 1, the Battery Park City Authority and numerous kids with their relatives.

This being Battery Park City — the Queen of Green — no ordinary artificial turf would do. “The fields are amazing and will be the first in the city, and one of the first few in the world, to use coconut shells — yes, coconut shells — as infill,” said Mark Costello of the Downtown Little League.  “No rubber anywhere!” The grass is made of recycled polyethylene over a substructure of peat and sand for better drainage.

Most artificial turf fields are constructed of rubber tires that support nylon grass fibers. If the Battery Park City fields wear well, they could be the prototype for others.

The new fields will permit year-round use and will be brightly lit at night.


On the day before the annual Tunnel to Towers run honoring firefighter Stephen Siller who died on Sept. 11, 2001, Matt Long and Andy Gertler created a sand sculpture on Vesey Street to honor all the firefighters who died that day. Long said that Siller had worked for him as a truck driver before becoming a fireman. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Sand sculpture:
On Sept. 24, the day before 25,000 people visited Battery Park City for the annual Tunnel to Towers Run honoring firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on Sept. 11, 2001, Matt Long and Andy Gertler were at work on Vesey Street creating a sand sculpture in memory of all the firefighters who died that day. Long, who has a wood restoration business on Staten Island, said that Siller had worked for him as a truck driver before becoming a fireman. Sand sculpting is Long’s avocation. Every year since the first Tunnel to Towers Run in 2002, Long has created a sculpture of firefighters.

Siller married in 1990. “I knew Stephen before he was married,” Long said. “I must have been to a dozen memorial services for him.”

Sept. 11, 2001 would have been Stephen Siller’s day off. He had been planning to play golf, but when he heard that the first plane had struck the Twin Towers, he went to his firehouse for his gear and drove to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. It was already closed to traffic, so wearing 60 pounds of gear, Siller ran through the tunnel, hoping to find his company. He left behind a widow and five children.

In the last 10 years, the Tunnel to Towers Run has raised more than $7 million for burn victims, wounded servicemen and orphaned children.

Battery Park City in bloom:
On the southern side of Wagner Park, flowers of vivid purple cause some people to stop in their tracks for a second look. Colchicum ‘Lilac Wonder’ resembles the crocuses of spring, but the flowers are larger and are not bolstered by leaves. The leaves sprout and die back before the flowers appear, giving rise to the common name of the plant, “Naked Ladies.”

Colchicum is a genus with around 60 species native to Western Asia and Europe. The ‘Lilac Wonder’ hybrid was developed in the early 20th century. All parts of the plant contain a poisonous alkaloid called “colchicine.” Infamously, a 19th-century British woman named Catherine Wilson who worked as a nurse used colchicum to poison her victims after getting them to leave her money in their wills. On Oct. 20, 1862 she was hanged for murder. However, colchicine does have pharmaceutical benefits in very small doses. The Federal Drug Administration has approved it for the treatment of gout.