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Turtle Bay Newsletter, Fall 2004
U.N. Park To Reopen

The United Nations Garden – a favorite Turtle Bay park that’s been closed to the public for most of the past three years – will reopen next year, according to U.N. officials.

The park is currently undergoing a massive $26 million project to upgrade security.  Upon completion, now scheduled for next June, the park will again be available for neighbors to enjoy.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney presents the “Best in Show” award to Anthony Fiorentino at the third annual Lambda Car Club Empire Autorama, one of many events held in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park this past summer.  Some 40 classic cars were displayed at the June 26th show, including Anthony’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.  At left is Michael Butler, president of Friends of Dag Hammarsjkold Plaza.

Hollywood ‘Weekends’ in Turtle Bay
By: Terri Heveran

If you were surprised and curious one weekend last spring to find East 47th Street from First to Second Avenues completely filled with huge white trailers and trucks, even spilling around the corner on to Second Avenue, you might have been even more surprised to learn that they belonged to moviemakers from Universal Pictures.  And that they would be in Turtle Bay for the next 15 weekends, producing the first film ever made inside the United Nations buildings.

Artist’s rendering of a new fence to be installed on the First Avenue side of the U.N., superimposed on a photo to show its relative height.

Shapes of Things to Come
By: Bruce A. Silberblatt

The First and Second Avenue blocks that pass through Turtle Bay have remained relatively unchanged in recent years – a lively streetscape of local eateries, bars, small supermarkets and retail shops occupying the ground floor of elderly four- or five-story buildings. To the west, rising like a mighty, invincible Macedonian phalanx, stand ranks of Midtown office towers. The pressure for development of these older buildings has always been great. Now it is more powerful than ever. Change, for better or worse, is inevitable.

Fun at MacArthur: Youngsters Flock to the Playground
By: Marie-Louise Handal

Young residents of Turtle Bay have been flocking in record numbers to
MacArthur Playground – a beautiful gem of a park virtually hidden at the intersection of East 49th Street and the FDR Drive.  Thanks to park volunteers’ continuing efforts to upgrade and maintain the playground, several hundred children actively use the park’s facilities on a daily basis.  Parks Department workers, in turn, have responded by keeping the playground equipment in good working order and planting new trees and shrubs in the previously fallow tree and flower beds.  Each new renovation seems to attract more and more people.  This past summer, park usage more than doubled from three years ago.

Sunday at Belmont

It was “off to the races” for 45 Turtle Bay neighbors and friends who joined in the fun – and betting – at Belmont Park on Sunday, September 26.  The outing, sponsored by the Turtle Bay Association, included bus transportation to and from the track and a scrumptious “starting gate” brunch in the clubhouse.  However, it seemed that the betting windows were the location of choice for most of the group. By all reports, no one lost – or won – much money, but everyone had a great time. 

When the bus arrived back in Turtle Bay in the early evening, more than one Turtle Bay neighbor was heard to ask, “When can we go again?”


Did You Know?

In the late 1840’s, Edgar Allen Poe lived in Turtle Bay in a house facing the East River at approximately 47th Street.  He liked to row out to the small rocky islands just south of Roosevelt Island (then called Blackwell’s Island) for an afternoon swim.

— New York’s Turtle Bay Old & New, by Edmund T. Delaney


‘Night Out’ in the Neighborhood

More than 500 neighbors – lots of children among them – gathered in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park Tuesday evening, August 3, to commemorate the annual “Night Out Against Crime.”

Sponsored by the 17th Precinct Community Council, the event is an opportunity to heighten public awareness of the potential for crime and how to prevent it.

The evening is geared to both adults and children, but Detective Frank Bogucki of the 17th Precinct says it’s a particularly good opportunity to introduce children to some of the ways in which they can protect themselves and help their neighborhoods as well.  And, indeed, “McGruff,” the crime-fighting dog, mingled with the kids all evening, presumably passing along safety tips.

‘McGruff,’ the crime-fighting dog, gave advice to even the tiniest of neighbors.

Exhibits showed the latest in crime prevention techniques, and Engine Company 2 joined the gathering, their fire truck proving a big hit with the kids.


The Mounted Unit was a big hit with grown-ups and kids alike. Neighbors enjoyed talking with Police Officers Kevin Davis (left) and Brian Hogan, who patrol Turtle Bay’s streets and parks on their bikes.

Among the speakers were State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Jonathan Bing; Deputy Police Commissioner V. James Onalfo, who represented Mayor Bloomberg; Assistant Chief Bruce Smolka, commanding officer of Manhattan South; and Deputy Inspector Michael J. McEnroy, commanding officer of the 17th Precinct.

State Senator Liz Krueger and Deputy Inspector Michael McEnroy spoke at the event.

“Night Out Against Crime” is part of a national effort to strengthen police and community relations.  It’s estimated that more than 30 million people in neighborhoods across the country took part in this year’s “Night Out” events.  In New York alone, there were “Night Out” celebrations in more than 75 locations.


Of Note...


Wedding Bells. Turtle Bay’s own Jonathan Bing, state assemblyman, is engaged to be married to Meredith Ballew, director of development at Wall Street Rising.  After the wedding, Assemblyman Bing and his bride will continue to live in Turtle Bay.

And long-time TBA Board members Francine Mohink and Dick Irwin are to be married on December 5.  Best wishes to both couples!

Kudos to Merchants. The Turtle Bay Association thanks merchants and office building employees who watered the tree beds in front of their buildings along Second Avenue this past summer.  While the Doe Fund is hired to water the trees twice a week, when merchants also take the time to water, the tree beds can be planted with additional greenery. TBA noticed these buildings helped out:

• Turtle Bay Liquors, 855 Second Avenue near 46th Street

• 866 Second Avenue just south of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park

• 820 Second Avenue, on the corner of 44th Street and Second Avenue.

Schlesinger to Speak at Historical Society. Former TBA membership chairman Arthur Schlesinger will take part in a panel discussion, “Alexander Hamilton’s Constitutional Vision,” on Thursday, November 18, 6:30 p.m., at the New-York Historical Society,
170 Central Park West. Admission $10; $5, for seniors.  Information: 212-873-3400;

Losses We Mourn. Neighbors were saddened to learn of the recent sudden death of Arthur Zucker, a long-time Turtle Bay pharmacist who residents describe as an extraordinarily caring man always willing to go out of his way to help his customers. Mr. Zucker, 62, most recently had been a pharmacist at Duane Reade at 852 Second Avenue.

Another neighbor and friend, Mira Noran, died recently.  Mira was a long-time TBA member and volunteer.


TBA Board at Work

The following is a summary of some of the issues and activities addressed at recent TBA Board meetings, as reflected in the meeting minutes.  The TBA:

• continues to work, as a participant in the East Midtown Coalition for Sensible Development, on two issues of critical importance to the neighborhood: opposing the sale of Moses Park to the United Nations without an equivalent park site being designated in its place, and monitoring the on-going plans for the development of the Con Edison Waterside site.

• has sponsored or supported various recent neighborhood events, including the Turtle Bay Street Fair, a performance for children at MacArthur Playground, the “Night Out Against Crime” event and Oktoberfest. Upcoming events include the Annual Holiday Toy Drive scheduled for Sunday, December 12.

• continues its work to beautify the neighborhood through its Tree Program and support of the Turtle Bay Tree Fund.

• is working to produce “A Walking Tour of Turtle Bay,” a small guidebook to be used as a promotional and educational tool for current and new members.

• has proposed a resolution renaming the street on which Katharine Hepburn lived, 49th Street between Second and Third Avenues, as Katharine Hepburn Way.


Call 311 Hotline For Non-Emergencies

Want to report a big pot hole on your corner, a loud noise on your block, or find out if alternate side of the street parking is in effect? 

Dial 311.  That’s the Citizen Service Hotline that handles non-emergency quality-of-life issues 24 hours a day, seven days a week.   Set up in March 2003, the 311 Hotline is now receiving nearly 700,000 calls a month citywide.  

TBA Board members Ethel Bendove and Denise Hamilton had a chance to try 311 recently, with good results.  They recognized that a deep hole near the curb on the southwest corner of 49th Street and Second Avenue was a safety hazard, and reported it to the 311 Hotline.  Shortly afterward, the hole was repaired.  “It’s turned me into a real supporter of the new 311 line,” says Ethel.

Among other reasons to call 311: 

• Find out if alternate side of the street parking is in effect

• Obtain the local garbage pickup schedule

• Get information on services for the aging

• Report a loud noise, blocked driveway or disorderly people

• Report a broken street light

• Give the Mayor your opinion

• Learn about volunteer activities in the neighborhood

So remember: Dial 311 for non-emergencies.  And, as always, dial 911 for emergencies.


Letter to the Editor

Editor’s Note:  The last issue of the Newsletter reported that City Councilwoman Moskowitz’s position regarding the transfer of Robert Moses Park for development of a United Nations office building was contrary to TBA’s position that Moses Park should not be transferred until an equivalent neighborhood substitute is open to the public.  While TBA understands the U.N.’s need to renovate its facilities and fully appreciates the importance of the United Nations both to the international community as well as to New York City, TBA believes an esplanade – a bike and walkway built along the east side of the U.N. property – is not an adequate substitute for the loss of the Moses park space. TBA has suggested that a vacant lot at 685 First Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets and part of the Con Edison properties that the utility plans to sell, could be quickly converted to a replacement park.

Councilwoman Moskowitz replies:

EYE on BUSINESS…Featuring neighborhood establishments
that help make Turtle Bay a special place to live and work


Bridge Kitchenware

When Steven Bridge says his specialty shop – Bridge Kitchenware – is all about quality and selection, it’s hard to argue.  After all, this is the store where Julia Child bought her omelette pans, where legendary food critic Craig Claiborne said he found the best cooking utensils “this side of Paris,” and where today, the most famous of New York’s celebrated chefs browse for the latest in gourmet cookware.


Historic Neighborhood Restaurant Closes

Billy’s – Turtle Bay’s oldest restaurant and one of the most historic in the city – closed at the end of August after a long financial struggle over the past several years.

The restaurant, located at 948 First Avenue near 52nd Street, was opened in 1870 by the great grandfather of the current owner Joan Borkowski.

Over the years, the pub-like restaurant’s clientele included a virtual “Who’s Who” of New York society and entertainment.  Marilyn Monroe, Princess Grace of Monaco, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy frequented Billy’s.  Arthur Schlesinger, Barbara Walters and Walter Cronkite were fans.  And Academy Award-winning Director Sydney Pollack got Billy’s on the “big screen” in “The Way We Were” and “Random Hearts.” 

Ms. Borkowski vows to re-open.  “I’ll be back in operation,” she says. “I’m not going to let a piece of history and my heritage go down.” 

Meanwhile, another long-time Turtle Bay restaurant and a favorite of many neighbors – The Leopard – closed during the summer.  Located at 253 East 50th Street, The Leopard was 40 years old.


Oktoberfest Fun!

Assemblyman Jonathan Bing joined neighbors at the recent Oktoberfest at the Patio Café in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park.  Sponsored by the TBA and Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, the fest included plenty of bratwurst and beer, old German tunes and neighborhood chatter.  Here, Bing visits with Elizabeth Grossich and her daughter Katherine, while husband and dad, Mark Grossich – owner of the Patio – was busy helping to “serve up” the bratwurst.


by Walt McGovern


Turtle Bay Happenings...

Midtown Jazz.  Neighbors are reminded of jazz performances at Saint Peter’s Church every Wednesday at 1 p.m. Admission: $5. Saint Peter’s is at Lexington Avenue and 54th Street. Information: 212-935-2200;

Instituto Cervantes Events. In conjunction with its “Mexico Now Festival,” Instituto Cervantes, 211 East 49th Street, will hold panel discussions exploring Mexican culture and history on November 16 and 17 at 6 p.m.  An art exhibit, “Spanish Contemporary Drawings,” runs from December 14 to January 20.  Free admission to both. Information: 212-308-7720;

Japan Society Exhibit. The Japan Society Gallery, 333 East 47th Street, is showing “Shomei Tomatsu: Skin of a Nation,” an exhibit of Tomatsu’s photographs, through Jan. 2, 2005. Admission: $5; $3 for seniors. Information: 212-832-1155;



Mark Your Calendar

17th Precinct Community Council Open Meeting

Last Tuesday every month, 6 p.m.
Except July, August, December
Sutton Place Synagogue
225 East 51st Street

Community Board 6 Full Board Meeting

Second Wednesday every month, 7 p.m.
NYU Medical Center
550 First Avenue
(between 30th and 31st Streets)

Fundraiser for Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

Sunday, November 14
The World Bar
845 First Avenue at 48th Street
For information, call 212-969-8820

Annual Holiday Toy Drive

Sunday, December 12
Watch your mail for details

Holiday Fest

Wednesday, December 15, 6-7:30 p.m.
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park 

Letters to the Editor

In our continued efforts to reach out to the community and get to know you better, we are initiating a “Letters to the Editor” segment.  So write to us, e-mail us, as we want to hear from you.  And, yes, we do welcome your suggestions.

TBA 2004 Discount Directory Changes


New TBA Business Members

Jaipur’s Indian Cuisine
1007 Second Avenue,
between 53rd and 54th Streets
20% discount for TBA members

Lia Schorr Skin Care
686 Lexington Avenue,
between 56th and 57th Streets

Turtle Bay Newsletter
Editor: Pamela Hanlon
Contributors:  Mary Beierle, Leah Gadlow, Marie-Louise Handal, Terri Heveran,  Olga Hoffmann, Bill Huxley, Millie Margiotta, Patricia Q. McDougald, Bruce Silberblatt
Cartoonist: Walt McGovern
Photography: Vivian Gordon


Turtle Bay Association
President:  William E. Curtis
Vice Presidents:  Millie Margiotta, Dolores Marsh, Bruce Silberblatt
Treasurer:  Francine Mohink
Secretary:  Barbara Connolly

Directors:  Jed Abrams, Ethel Bendove, Meryl Brodsky, Michael Butler, Ralph Compagnone, Barbara Connolly, William E. Curtis, Denise Hamilton, Marie-Louise Handal, Olga Hoffmann, Bill Huxley, Richard Irwin, Millie Margiotta, Dolores Marsh, Patricia Q. McDougald,
Francine Mohink, Michael Resnick, Carol Rinzler, Jeannie Sakol, Helen Shapiro, Bruce Silberblatt, Kirk Swanson

Check the TBA Bulletin Board
On the east side of Second Avenue, 48-49th Streets,
on outside wall of the supermarket.


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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
(212) 751-5465
Fax (212) 751-4941



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