NYPress.com - New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more » West Side Spirit http://nypress.com New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:51:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 LETTER: The Photo West Side Arts Didn’t Want You To See http://nypress.com/letter-the-photo-west-side-arts-didnt-want-you-to-see/ http://nypress.com/letter-the-photo-west-side-arts-didnt-want-you-to-see/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:06:26 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73409 voices lead letter SP_fmtTo the Editor:

As a member of the West Side Arts Coalition, one of my photographs was withdrawn by the management the day before the opening reception on Sept. 13, with the unsupported claim that the image was not appropriate! Can this flagrant deprival of an artist’s rights be tolerated?

I am a professional photographer, retired professor at FIT, where I taught photography and artists legal rights. (I also am an attorney, specializing in intellectual property).

My photo work is in several permanent collections, including the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; ICP; the Museum of the City of New York; Erie Museum of Art, Erie, PA, etc. This violation of artist’s rights should be a public matter. I will be 87 next month and have been a defender of civi liberties my adult life.

Postscript: On Saturday, Sept 13, I appeared at the reception. I brought my bottle of red wine and a sign I prepared explaining, briefly, why my photo was removed. I pasted the sign in the empty space left by the removed photo. Within one hour, Margo Mead, VP of the coalition, called and advised me that, though she liked my photo, she had to withdraw it and the sign had to go also. She spoke to the curator at the gallery and the sign was removed. She said there was a city rule that prohibits nudity and they have no choice. I asked her who interpreted the so-called rule to include classic statuary on public view in a great museum within the scope of that rule? Did she get an opinion from a responsible person in the city administration on that? She had no answer to that,

I have spent considerable time defending artists from this kind of senseless arbitrary abuse of freedom of expression. While this is just a single act of censorship (intended or not) it is an affront to all artists!


Len Speier

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OP-ED: A Memo To The 99 Percent http://nypress.com/op-ed-a-memo-to-the-99-percent/ http://nypress.com/op-ed-a-memo-to-the-99-percent/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:03:53 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73406 By Ben Krull

By Ben Krull

By Ben Krull

“New York City has approved a developer’s Dickensian plan to include a ‘poor door’ in a luxury apartment complex in the Upper West Side.” — Newsweek

From: Jameson Crow, Field Manager, Soweto Properties

To: Prospective residents of Two Cities Towers

While we anticipate that 99 percent of our residents will be trillionaires or billionaires, our policies are designed to assure that our one-percent of financially challenged tenants are treated as if they earned (or inherited) the right to live in such fancy digs.

SEPARATE BUT EQUAL ENTRANCES: Our doorman-free zone for the building’s “Main Street” entrance will avoid the resentment that would develop from requiring our staff to serve people who are unable to afford generous holiday gratuities. This segregated entrances policy will, thus, protect our most vulnerable tenants from retaliatory actions, such as lost packages, unannounced guests and the spreading of false rumors that

the tip-averse occupant of 4A is a prostitute. In addition, requiring our “Main Streeters” to open their own door, will help instill the work ethic required to ascend to our tower’s “Wall Street” wing.

WELL-HEELED SNEAKERS CLUB: Rumors that we will prohibit our blue-collar friends from using the health club are false. Our Perrier Water pool and Italian-tiled treadmills are open to all! For health reasons, those wishing to use our gym will be required to name every muscle group from an anatomy chart and perform a set of 30 reps on our P90X approved pull-up bar. A waiver will be issued to tenants who show proof that they have used a personal trainer in their home gym within the past week or have at least three friends who regularly take SoulCycle classes.

There are no restrictions on our lo-sodium salt-water outdoor pool…during January and February. Our Tiger Woods-designed indoor golf driving range and Barack Obama putting green will also be open to all. Unfortunately we can not issue waivers to the requirement that all residents using the golfing facility bring a caddy.

COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING DINNER: Enjoy our traditional Thanksgiving dinner of free range tofu turkey, unsweetened sweet-potato casserole, and organic, nut-free pecan pie, with gluten-free crust. The meal is open to all…who can name at least three menu items from any Daniel Boulud restaurant or produce a Platinum American Express Card.

SECURITY: Former members of Blackwater Worldwide Security Forces will patrol our hallways to enforce our ban on “Hoodies” and displays of Bloods and Crips colors. Our army of drug sniffing dogs will be trained in stop and frisk tactics.

PARKING: Not to be outdone by our SoHo neighbors, residents are welcome to use our valet bicycle parking, at a yearly rate of $1,000,001 (children’s scooters and skateboards park for half-price). Free car parking will be offered to our disadvantaged tenants…so long as they provide a copy of their chauffeur’s driving license.

Ben Krull is a family law attorney and freelance writer.

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Washington Square Favorite Shines at Vendy Awards http://nypress.com/washington-square-favorite-shines-at-vendy-awards/ http://nypress.com/washington-square-favorite-shines-at-vendy-awards/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:01:01 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73403 Thiru Kumar, with his cart at the Vendy competition

Thiru Kumar, with his cart at the Vendy competition

Vegetarian food cart NY Dosas drew rave reviews and long lines at this weekend’s food truck festival and awards

Nestled into a far corner of Governor’s Island on a gray Saturday were close to thirty of the city’s finest food vendors, neatly corralled into a triangle of tasty trucks.This year the Vendy Awards celebrated their tenth birthday, with faces old and new.

Categories for this year’s competition included “Rookie of the Year,” “Best Dessert” and one exclusive to the decade-anniversary celebration, “Masters Cup.” Vendors competing for the title of “Masters Cup” were all winners in past years, including King of Falafel, Calexico and NY Dosas.

Winner of the Vendy Award in 2007, Thiru Kumar is the man behind NY Dosas. Known for a big mustache and smile to match, Kumar delivers fast and healthy food to New Yorkers in the Washington Square Park area on a day-to-day basis. Kumar has been in business since 2001, and has gained a sunny reputation around town for his friendliness and his specialty, Indian-style vegetarian crepes called dosas.

Before the general admission ticket holders entered the festival, vendors were serving the press, volunteers and VIP. Even though the grounds were barely half full, NY Dosas was already sporting a strong line that hardly diminished throughout the day.

Sisters Keri and Jodie Goldman said they had both sampled dosas before, but never the ones made by Kumar. “Simply delicious,” said Keri. Jodie chimed in to compliment the side of soup that partners with the crepe. “The best part is that it is all vegetarian.”

Other festivalgoers were also new to NY Dosas.Suzanne Risman said that she enjoyed Kumar’s version of a dosa. The others she tried were extremely greasy, whereas Kumar’s were crisp and fresh tasting. She also said that the crepe was more flavorful, and much spicier than expected. “I stayed away from those hot sauces,” Risman said with a laugh.

Each potato filled dosa was served with creamy mint sauce, an extra spicy hot sauce for the adventurous, as well as vegetable soup and scoop of hummus. The flavors introduced with each separate side blended perfectly to complement the main dish, even if it did leave your mouth begging for a cool glass of water to diminish the spice.

While waiting in line for the famed crepe, inexperienced eaters received a crash course in the meal from Kumar’s right-hand man Stanley Lee. (Kumar himself was fully engrossed in churning out food for the eager line of patrons and couldn’t stop to chat with reporters.)

Lee stood tirelessly beside the truck chatting with anyone and everyone, all while sporting a wide grin that was almost as big as Kumar’s.

Lee said that he joined forces with NY Dosas completely on a whim when Kumar’s line was particularly long. Lee was attending NYU grad school at the time and often frequented the vegetarian cart. He offered to help with the cooking one day and Kumar gladly accepted considering the overwhelming number of customers; the rest is history.

“The first really surprising thing about my experience with NY Dosas is that it was all fresh,” Lee said. Lee grew up with two parents in the food-truck market and was always taught the importance of never using artificial substances in cooking. With the lessons he learned from them and their history with the food industry, Lee said he knew right away that Kumar was “legit.”

“When you taste his food it has a super clean finish in your mouth,” Lee explained, and compared to other cheap and fast foods around town, that usually isn’t the case.

Not only does NY Dosas produce fast and fresh meals, this truck is known world-wide for its exceptional service. “Kumar has such an interesting and international client base,” said Lee. “I’ve talked to people from Tokyo, London, France, Germany, Australia and they say that they’ve read about Kumar in their New York guidebooks and they’re like ‘we had to come here!’”.

Despite losing the Master’s Cup title to fellow vendor Calexico, NY Dosas still had a successful day dishing out their veggie-friendly food. Lee said that even before the fest drew to a close, the truck was running out of essential supplies such as potatoes, due to the extreme demand for dosas. Even then Lee and Kumar never stopped smiling and chatting with customers.

“When you’re buying food from Kumar, it feels like you’re eating with him,” said Lee. “He is always talking, always joking. It is an amazing atmosphere to be around and I just try to add to that. At the end of the day, meals are not just about food. The food is a way to get the humanity across.”

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Ask A Broker: Just Saying Yes to Condo Developments http://nypress.com/ask-a-broker-just-saying-yes-to-condo-developments/ http://nypress.com/ask-a-broker-just-saying-yes-to-condo-developments/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:56:43 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73400 Mike Mishkin is the CEO of Love Where You Live Realty and iLovetheUpperWestSide.com

Mike Mishkin is the CEO of Love Where You Live Realty and iLovetheUpperWestSide.com

There has been a change of attitude on the Upper West Side about real estate development. More and more, neighbors, community boards and historic preservationists are saying yes to condominium conversions and construction. There’s the new story being added on top of 498 West End Avenue, the Extell/Megalith deal at 36-40 West 66th Street, and the projected transformation of 206-210 West 77th Street from a Hertz garage into a luxury Condo high rise.

An artist’s rendering of the latter project can be viewed on a site called newyorkyimby.com. (The “YIMBY” stands for “Yes In My Backyard.”)

The website NYCurbed reported that the swift approval for construction of an additional story on the former rental building at 498 West End came as a surprise, given that the Landmarks Preservation Commission had given the owners of the behemoth Apthorp building a hard time when they asked to do the same thing.

Before the condominium project at 36-40 West 66th Street could move forward, Congregation Habonim had to agree to sell its property. As part of that deal, they will get a synagogue condo unit inside the new building, but it is too early to say how many neighbors would be sharing the property. Estimates on the size of the new building once completed, which is projected for 2018 or 2019, range anywhere from 150,000 to 400,000 square feet, according to The Real Deal.

The Naftali Group has plans to convert the former Hertz garage building on West 77th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam, into 25 “enormous” family-sized condo units, plus commercial space, across 18 floors. The plan for a 185 foot tall building was made possible by the fact that its address lies in between historic preservation districts. And in a neighborhood that typically experiences a housing market tighter than a marine’s bed sheets, expect more such transformations in the nearby future.

Mike Mishkin is the CEO of Love Where You Live Realty and iLovetheUpperWestSide.com

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LETTER: Searching for Public School Space on the U.W.S. http://nypress.com/letter-searching-for-public-school-space-on-the-u-w-s/ http://nypress.com/letter-searching-for-public-school-space-on-the-u-w-s/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 15:37:19 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73263 By Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal

By Councilwoman
Helen Rosenthal

It’s not in my nature to say, “I told you so,” but when it comes to needing more space in public schools, I’m proud to shout to the Department of Education (DOE) from the rooftop of any Riverside South high-rise: “I TOLD YOU SO!”

In 2006, the DOE lost a valuable opportunity to purchase land and build a new public school at Riverside South. Over 2,500 apartments were built in the area, and not surprisingly, families moved in. As chair of Community Board 7 from 2007-2009, I worked with the District 3 Community Education Council (D3 CEC) to address the growing wait lists for local children to attend kindergarten at P.S. 199 and P.S. 87. Our findings were clear: six new classrooms for kindergarten students would be needed to address overcrowding in the coming years. The DOE agreed to open a new school (P.S. 452) with three kindergarten sections—placing the school in the I.S. 44 O’Shea complex and displacing West Side Prep to P.S. 145. Within two years the DOE allowed Upper West Success, a charter school, to open with two new kindergarten sections in the Brandeis building, and many of its students are from the southern part of the Upper West Side.

At the beginning of the summer, there were over 100 students on the wait list for P.S. 199. While some families chose different schools and a Kindergarten class was added to P.S. 199 (for this year only), there are still approximately forty very anxious families whose children may not be able to attend their zoned school.

To add to the P.S. 199 space crunch, two high-rise residential buildings are going up along Amsterdam Avenue within the school zone over the next few years, and they will bring hundreds of families with young children. It’s safe to say that this won’t be the last year of kindergarten wait lists at P.S. 199.

While upcoming kindergarten families should fight for a comprehensive plan from the DOE to address the inadequate space planning, there is good news for the families who were on the waitlists for kindergarten in 2009: their children will attend middle school in the 2015-2016 school year, and the DOE is opening a new one in the building currently occupied by the Beacon high school.

Beacon will move to West 44th street at the end of this school year, and the DOE is actively preparing to renovate the building for a middle school that will grow to include a high school as the students get older. D3 CEC and CB 7 gave the DOE a pair of carefully crafted resolutions for a grade 6-12 school, and DOE has answered those requests in full. The West End Secondary School for Urban Studies will be helmed by Interim Acting Principal Jessica Jenkins, and it will have a portfolio-based admissions policy. All of the details will be found in the DOE’s Middle School Directory that is published in the fall. The key to West End’s success will be parents and future middle-schoolers taking the time to learn more about the school and applying.

It is up to us to continue to advocate for proper space planning, community input into the types of schools we want for our children, and more equitable zoning so that we can begin each school year with hope and excitement for our children’s future, not anxiety and confusion.

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side’s 6th district in the city council.

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St. Michael’s Church Appoints First Female Rector http://nypress.com/st-michaels-church-appoints-first-female-rector/ http://nypress.com/st-michaels-church-appoints-first-female-rector/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:17:24 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73194 Milestones_Reverend-Ka_fmt

Rev. Katharine G. Flexer

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, which has occupied the same location on the Upper West Side since its founding in 1807, has called the Rev. Katharine G. Flexer to be its 11th Rector — the first woman to hold the position.

Flexer is a native of the Seattle area and a former associate rector at St. Michael’s. Since 2011 she has been Rector of the Episcopal Church in Almaden (ECA) in San Jose, California.

“St. Michael’s became a part of me when I was there,” Flexer said. “I hope to increase the church’s presence in the neighborhood. Our mission is to serve God in the community.”

“Kate’s shining qualities as a priest and as a person were uppermost in our minds as we made this decision,” said Michael Smith, one of the wardens of the parish. “But it has not escaped our notice that we have also made a bit of very pleasing history in calling the parish’s first woman Rector.”

The appointment followed an extended search that drew applicants from across the U.S. and abroad.

Flexer is joined by her husband Jim Hinch, a journalist who covers religion for the Orange County Register and other publications, and their children Frances and Benjamin, who were born in New York City during the family’s earlier stint at St. Michael’s.

Flexer is an avid runner who has twice completed the Boston Marathon. She and her family share a passion for hiking and camping in the backwoods.

Flexer graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, with her junior year abroad at Strasbourg University in France. She earned a master of divinity degree from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, and took part in a postgraduate study exchange at Ripon College Cuddesdon in Oxford.

Flexer is known for her gifts as a preacher, pastor and educator, with a special talent for bringing the next generation into parish life – from children to young adults. For three summers she has co-led the Family Camp of the Diocese of California.

At St. Michael’s, Flexer helped create a successful Sunday evening service to engage the unchurched, the lapsed and anybody who prefers an alternative style of worship.

Among the parish’s community ministries are its Saturday Kitchen (open since 1983) and the Pilgrim Resource Center, which serve hundreds of guests every weekend, and a relatively new program, Careersearchers, a job-search support group.

St. Michael’s also helps support a ministry to families in need at nearby Trinity Lutheran Church, and members of the parish prepare meals for residents of Trinity’s shelter for homeless LGTBQ youth.

Flexer’s rectorate begins a new era at an old but lively church. She will take up her duties on Dec. 14, the third Sunday of Advent.

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Neighborhood Scrapbook: Celebrating 60 Years on the West Side http://nypress.com/neighborhood-scrapbook-celebrating-60-years-on-the-west-side/ http://nypress.com/neighborhood-scrapbook-celebrating-60-years-on-the-west-side/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:41:42 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73113 EleanorFriedman, whomneighborsdescribeas“thegranddameof West83rd Street,” celebratedhersixdecadesonthe Upper West SidelastweekbeforeamovetoFlorida. HerfriendsandneighborscameouttotoastFriedmanatagoing-awaypartyandto honor her for her contributions to the neighborhood. Photo by Gail Dubov

EleanorFriedman, whom neighbors describe as “the grand dame of West 83rd Street,” celebrated her six decades on the Upper West Side last week before a move to Florida. Her friends and neighbors came out to toast Friedman at a going-away party and to honor her for her contributions to the neighborhood.

Photo by Gail Dubov

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LETTER: The Never-Ending Fight For Parking http://nypress.com/letter-the-never-ending-fight-for-parking/ http://nypress.com/letter-the-never-ending-fight-for-parking/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:30:07 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73110 voices lead letter_fmtI tried the impossible last Sunday: finding a free parking space near the World Trade Center.

After looking for about 25 minutes, I spotted one on a one-way street but had to go around the block to get to it. By the time I got there, a man was standing in that space, illegally “holding” it for a friend. I told him to get out because that’s illegal; the first CAR to arrive is entitled to the spot. He refused.

I told him I was going to call 911 and did so. But when the 911 operator asked me where the dispute was, I was unable to tell her because THERE WERE NO STREET SIGNS ON THAT INTERSECTION!!

Meanwhile, a van showed up ready to claim his “reserved” space, which I had blocked with my car. The driver at first begged me to give it up because he had kids in the car; I said, first come, first served, and told him police were on the way. e then screamed vicious, obscene insults at me and drove away with his friend. I took my spot, but stayed there a while to make sure he didn’t come back and vandalize my car.

There are at least three lessons here for city government:

1. You have, under the last mayor, outrageously betrayed the rights of car-owners by eliminating free parking for the benefit of schools, churches, and especially for Citibike racks, by the thousands, thus encouraging angry jousting for the remaining few free spots.

2. By not informing drivers that it is illegal to stand in a parking space or “reserve” it [by putting cones, chairs or other objects there], you have made drivers like me into “pseudo-cops”, as I was that day. Not surprisingly, I was unable to win the argument by simply citing the law. You could attach signs to lampposts explaining this law, as you do with thousands of other signs, and it wouldn’t take more than a few hundred to do that.

3. Probably most outrageous, when I called the police to report trouble, I was unable to do so because there were no street signs, neither north-south nor east-west. I want an investigation made into this and any other street corners without street signs. Such places are a big danger to anyone who is stalked, attacked or threatened on the streets of NYC.

J.B., E. 89th Street

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Back To School Bites http://nypress.com/back-to-school-bites/ http://nypress.com/back-to-school-bites/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:48:09 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73079
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

When it comes to packing lunches and after school snacks for your little ones, it’s easy to get into a rut. But by making a few delicious and convenient choices in the grocery store, you can break away from the same old sandwich routine and serve up nibbles and noshes your kids will love.

Whether your star pupils prefer a savory dip, a light and salty snack or a chewy fruit bar, here are a few great choices you can pack.

Pop Up Some Fun

12135_cPO_fmtFor back-to-school snacking, you can’t beat popcorn. Pop up a bowl and let the fun flavor creations begin – sweet, savory or with just a dash of salt. Popcorn is a grab-n-go treat that takes minutes to make. Plus, it’s whole grain and contains fiber to fuel the body and keep you feeling fuller longer than other snacks. This beloved treat is also economical, costing mere pennies per serving. For more information, visit www.popcorn.org.

Fuel Their Day

12135_bPO_fmtHelp them have a great day at school by serving those little learners the proper fuel. With a commitment to creating all natural snacks you can feel good about giving your kids, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are cholesterol free, dairy free and kosher. From the sweetness of Blueberry to the tartness of Lemon, these bars are available in a variety of jam-packed, fruity flavors. For more information, visit www.naturesbakery.com.

Serve a Satisfying Snack

12135_ePO_fmtDo you need an easy way to pack more protein, calcium and other nutrients into your family’s diet? You can’t go wrong with a kid-friendly kitchen staple like low-fat yogurt. With a wide array of textures, consistencies and flavors, there are sure to be several varieties that even the pickiest eater will enjoy. Take these beloved flavors to new heights with toppings such as dried fruit, organic granola, dark chocolate and coconut shavings.

Keep Food Fresh

* Ensure that puddings and yogurts stay cold by freezing them the night before use. You can also freeze water bottles or juice boxes to act as ice packs in lunch containers.

* Keep PB&J sandwich bread fresh by spreading peanut butter on both slices of bread, and avoid saturation by placing jelly in the center.

* Add a paper towel to containers with freshly washed fruits and vegetables. This will absorb any extra moisture, retaining peak texture and flavor.

12135_dPO_fmtDip It Up

For a quick burst of flavor at home or on the go, try Sabra Classic Singles with veggies, pita bread, pita chips or crackers. These 2-ounce servings of creamy Classic Hummus are perfect for the lunchbox or on-the-go snacking and portable enough to bring along on any adventure. For more information, visit www.sabra.com.

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The Best Elementary Schools On The Upper West Side http://nypress.com/the-best-elementary-schools-on-the-upper-west-side/ http://nypress.com/the-best-elementary-schools-on-the-upper-west-side/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:19:22 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73093 In one sense, finding a public elementary school for your child is easy in New York: you go to the school you’re zoned for.

The reality, of course, is not easy at all.

The sad truth in the city is that most neighborhoods still suffer from a shortage of top-notch elementary schools, despite improvements in recent years. That has sent families scrambling to find housing in one of the desired school zones, sending real estate values in those neighborhoods soaring. Many have been priced out.

The Upper West Side is a lucky exception. The neighborhood is home to a number of top-notch elementary schools, giving parents unusual choice. Think of it as yet another perk of living in one of New York’s best neighborhoods.

We’ve drawn up a list of the best of the best, as an aide to parents trying to decide where to settle in advance of their kids starting kindergarten. All of the schools on our list have been given an “A” by the city’s Department of Education, as part of its impressively rigorous own grading system. We’ve combined city data with numbers compiled by sites like Greatschools.org and Schooldigger.com, and we’ve talked to parents and educators in the neighborhood about which schools we recommend. We looked at test scores, attendance numbers, and diversity stats to draw up our alphabetical list. (We limited this list to public schools, meaning that private schools — of which there are many in the neighborhood — weren’t included in the list, nor were charter schools.)

Think of this as we did, which is as one piece of the elementary-school puzzle in New York. How the pieces fit together will depend on your family and your kids.

– The Editors

P.S. 334 The Anderson School 100 W. 77th Street P.S. Sarah Anderson 100 W. 84th Street P.S. 173 Alfred E. Smith 163 W. 97th Street P.S. 75 Emily Dickinson 735 West End Avenue Special Music School 129 W. 67th Street P.S. 333 Manhattan School for Children 154 W. 93rd Street P.S. 199 Jessie Isador Straus 270 W. 70th Street P.S. 166 The Richard Rogers School of the Arts 132 W. 89th Street P.S. 84 Lilian Weber 32 W. 92nd Street P.S. 87 William Sherman 160 W. 78th Street ]]>
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