James Cagney Place, the stretch of East 91st Street between Second and Third Avenues closed to vehicular traffic for more than 40 years, was officially recognized as a pedestrian plaza early this month. Photo: Douglas Feiden
EAST SIDE OBSERVER
BY ARLENE KAYATT
City sidewalks — “The curb’s too high,” came the joint howl as two pedestrians tried to mount the curb encircled in the construction corridor temporarily erected on the southwest corner of 86th and Third near the downtown train station. Neither pedestrian — one a teen with a leg in a cast, the other an upright millennial — could navigate the heightened curb that was too many feet away from the cut curb. From what I can tell, once the construction is cleared, the curb’s still too high and the only easy access, short of lowering the curb, will be to reach the sidewalk via the corner cut curb. With all the foot traffic, that will create a very crowded curb. So bring on the experts — just not the ones that should have figured it out and gotten it right the first time.
Return of a native — Film icon James Cagney, son of Yorkville via the Lower East Side in the early 20th century, has a place of honor on the site of the former Ruppert Brewery — now a housing behemoth known as Ruppert Towers and Yorkville Towers at 90th-91st Streets east of Third Avenue — with a memorial headstone in a section of the street re-named James Cagney Place in 1989. The street, closed to vehicular traffic for some 40-odd years, is magical these days with white-wire holiday decoration and light. A Citi Bike rack on the corner south of Second Avenue is a sign of the 21st century. In the last three years, Dave Rosenstein and Rita Popper, who live in the neighborhood and are Community Board 8 members, have worked tirelessly with Ruppert Management and electeds to have the street designated as a plaza for unfettered use by the community. Mission accomplished! Council Member Ben Kallos celebrated the opening with Popper and Rosenstein and locals in a recent Saturday morning ceremony. Way to go.
Out of the box — The empty storefront on Third Avenue between 92nd and 93rd is readying to open. Calling itself “Boxers,” it could be a sparring gym or another Boxers sports bar. This one’s the latter.
Classy closing — Hu’s on Third and 86th. This paleo self-serve two-story restaurant never quite made it. They had all-manner of good coffee, but the food was never quite right. Too salty, too mushy, and it never looked like you’d want to eat it. So when the sign on the door said sayonara, it was no surprise. But they assured passers-by in a gracious note on the door that they were “Closing because it is not the right set up for us right now. Look for us as we grow Hu Kitchen in other formats.” They got it right. While the UES location didn’t work, the Hu’s on 14th and Fifth is thriving.
The best of print news news — With all the kerfuffle surrounding the Trump presidency, print junkies have to heave some thanks, if not praise, on the errant New Yorker’s ability to generate controversy and tsuris. His tweets and tumult are fodder for print. His words and deeds, too. Investigative journalism is alive and well — from the Washington Post to The New York Times digging, digging on the national and global fronts. Here’s to print. Trump, not. Back in the day — like November 1990 — Daily News columnist Liz Smith recognized Our Town’s Bette Dewing’s advocacy on behalf of local news coverage — in news stories, features, editorials, columns and letters. High praise for Bette whose columns emphasizing quality-of-life issues have graced the pages of Our Town since the ‘70’s. Onward.