Monday Bulletin: ‘Wild’ West Side Oysters; East Side Story; Why Filmmakers Keep Coming Back

A Christmas tree made of plastic bottles with lights inside, at 73rd and Broadway. Photo by Harriet Flehinger.

December 13, 2021 Weather: Sunny, with a high of 52 degrees.

Our calendar has lots of local events!

Gov. Hochul is instituting a new mask mandate effective today (Monday Dec. 13) as the Covid case rate rises. In establishments like supermarkets that don’t have vaccine mandates, people must now wear a mask.

A vital part of life on the Upper West Side, the Hudson River is being restored by a once-ubiquitous New York City delicacy that was nearly wiped out by centuries of over-harvesting and pollution. As part of the Billion Oyster Project, “11.2 million juvenile oysters have been added in the past six months to a section of the Hudson River off the coast of Lower Manhattan, where they are helping to filter the water and creating habitats for other marine life,” The New York Times reported. “The waters are still too polluted to eat from freely…. But the water quality in the area is steadily improving…. Now, in addition to the [oysters] being introduced, wild ones are being found on the bottoms of piers off the West Side of Manhattan and the Bronx.”

In case you’ve been asleep for the past six months (or not reading the Rag), West Side Story, the new Steven Spielberg movie, debuted on FridayThe Atlantic called it, “an undeniable triumph.” But what if we told you — seriously — that it was originally supposed to be East Side Story? “In 1955, theater director Jerome Robbins approached writer Arthur Laurents and composer Leonard Bernstein with a new idea for a Broadway musical: a contemporary retelling of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ set among warring gangs of Jews and Catholics on New York City’s Lower East Side,” according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It would be called ‘East Side Story,’ and it would take place at the turn of the 20th century during the holidays of Easter and Passover.”

On the subject of movies, an interactive map highlighting more than 50 iconic New York City movie locations, and an answer to the age-old question, “Why do filmmakers keep coming back?” are featured in Vulture. “New York is not the easiest place to shoot a movie….The city is crowded, cranky, and expensive….[it also] has an energy you can’t get anywhere else: the bebop beat, the sidewalk theater, the sense that the unpredictable is just around the corner. The architecture’s not bad either.”

The stabbing death of Columbia University doctoral candidate Davide Giri outside Morningside Park this month, brought to mind the murder of Tessa Majors, and renewed questions about the relationship between Columbia and Harlem, according to Ginia Bellafante in The New York Times. “Rising crime rates in cities around the country, where campuses typically have porous boundaries, resurrect questions about safety and institutional responsibility, about the tensions between elite universities and the surrounding areas they all too often view merely through the lens of potential real-estate acquisition….Like any university, Columbia is largely exempt from paying property taxes. In terms of the number of buildings and parcels of land it holds, Columbia is the second biggest property owner in New York City.” (The first is New York City.)

Finally, a 30-year-old man was fatally struck by a subway train at the 79th Street station of the downtown 1 train last Tuesday, the New York Post reported. It was the second of two apparent subway suicides in the same night. Please, if you have thoughts of harming yourself, reach out to a trusted other or call 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The holidays can be tough. “NYC Well is staffed by trained professionals who can help you find the services that best meet your needs.”

COLUMNS, NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. babrarus says:

      I thought the catholic church was number two in real estate holding. Guess I was wrong.
      Columbia U at #2 sure is an eye sore.
      It, and all other huge RE holdings should pay property tax.
      Think of all the billions of dollars not collected, and what could be done with the money for the middle and lower class of NYC’s people.

      • Carlos says:

        A lot of major cities are struggling with this issue. These “non-profits” are huge creators of secondary jobs, but I agree that they should pay more of their share.

        At a minimum, they should be paying user fees for things like police, trash collection, etc. I’m not sure what type of arrangement Columbia has.

        • Kayson212 says:

          Correction to post: Columbia is #7 (not #2) among the city’s 10 largest property owners, per the embedded link that goes to’s list and that Ginia Bellafante got wrong.

          • WSR says:

            We thought the same initially, then read “#7. Columbia University: Unsurprisingly, Columbia University has managed to snag a spot in the top 10 on this list. While the square footage of its holdings puts it in seventh place, in terms of actual buildings and parcels of land owned, it’s only second to New York City, with 246 sites. The university has been in the midst of a major expansion of late what with its new Manhattanville campus, and its new medical building in the Washington Heights campus.”

    2. Agnes Frank says:

      Correction to your post re news mask mandates: today is Monday, the 13th, NOT 15TH OF December.

    3. Erica says:

      Yay for the restoration of the Hudson Oysters. One small step toward a healthier ecosystem and cleaner water.

    4. Steven Morvay says:

      You can also text Crisis Text Line @ 741741 if you feel you are in crisis mode!