A patient New York City, yearning to feel the pulse of live music after a quiet 15 months, is ready for the return of concerts — and Foo Fighters, like hundreds of musical acts, promised quite a show this summer.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for over a year,” the band said in a statement announcing its recent June 20th concert at Madison Square Garden, “and Madison Square Garden is going to feel that HARD.”
Live music is back in New York, and the city plans a full-throated blast of rock, hip hop, pop, country, folk, blues, jazz, soul, country, and classical music this summer. From the biggest arenas to the smallest clubs — and even in subway stations again — the city is turning up the volume.
So what should you know about getting in on the act? Here are the details.
Many shows and concerts, particularly those in large venues, will require proof of vaccination for COVID-19. For instance, Springsteen on Broadway begins its revival on June 26 at the St. James Theater, where guests must be fully vaccinated to attend. The venue defines that as being 14 days removed from the second shot of a two-dose vaccine or 14 days after receiving a single-dose vaccine. Tickets are available via SeatGeek.
Likewise, Foo Fighters’ concert at MSG (the venue’s first full-capacity show since March 2020) required guests to show proof of vaccination. Children under 16 who were not vaccinated could attend if they provided proof of a negative COVID-19 test and were accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that New York state would lift most of its COVID restrictions once 70 percent of the adult population has received its first vaccination dose. Businesses can continue to require proof of vaccination, masks, and distancing in their establishments if they choose. So whatever show you plan to attend, make sure to check the venue’s particular requirements.
“The lifting of our COVID restrictions is a sign of how hard New Yorkers have worked to contain the spread of the virus and protect their communities,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement.
New York is a living soundstage for all kinds of music, and they’re all coming back. Where to begin with so many choices? Here’s a start.
TimeOut New York has a comprehensive listing of venues and shows, though check with specific locations for potential changes. Remember, the scene still is fluid, and schedules are bound to shift. NYC.com, NYCgo, and DoNYC have good show calendars as well.
SummerStage kicks off a capacity-controlled series of shows in mid-June, a welcome restoration of live music to parks across the city. From Central Park to Coney Island, outdoor venues will bounce to a variety of beats. Central Park shows include George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, The Originals, the Met Opera Summer Recital, and Gloria Gaynor at the Coney Island Amphitheater.
Lincoln Center has launched the Restart Stages, ten outdoor spaces “to help kickstart the performing arts sector and New York City’s revival.” The stages offer performance and rehearsal space to a variety of artists, and free tickets are available for performances.
Carnegie Hall has announced its 2021-22 season, which begins with shows in late June, and Irving Plaza reopens with several shows in August. In addition, Radio City Music Hall is gearing for a fall concert schedule.
For those in search of a fresh place to see a show, Brooklyn Made, a new 500-seat venue in Bushwick, opens its doors in September.
The Future of Virtual Performances
Performers around the world spent the past year producing online shows to compensate for the lack of in-person opportunities. This shouldn’t go away.
Livestreams brought more acts and more diversity of music to more people during the pandemic. Artists say they want to continue these shows, and tech companies and music labels have invested heavily in these formats.
We met so many vibrant artists via Instagram, Zoom, and Twitch over the past year. We should continue supporting them in that space.
“People were literally relying on this for their health. And honestly, so were we,” artist Tucker Halpern told Time Magazine. “It was definitely counterintuitive that we felt more connected to people not actually being with them.”
Ringing in NYC’s Return
Perhaps the city’s biggest summer music event is the “mega-concert” scheduled for Aug. 21 in Central Park. Mayor Bill de Blasio promised a “classic, iconic, massive” event that would celebrate New York’s “comeback.”
Performers for the show have yet to be announced, but de Blasio said that legendary record producer Clive Davis would produce the show, which promises to be epic.
“I said, ‘I need the biggest, most extraordinary all-star lineup you can put together, heavy on New York artists,’” de Blasio said at a news conference. “[Davis] said, ‘I’m on it. I’m going to make it happen.’ So, in August, get ready for an unforgettable week, a once in a lifetime concert and a moment that really says New York City’s back.”
Around the world, high-speed rail has become a major asset in improving transportation standards, commuting efficiency, green energy consumption, and more. In the United States, limitations such as property boundaries and challenging topography have prevented the development of similar rails, but the future may still hold potential for the integration of advanced train systems.
The Long Island Rail Road has recently begun testing battery-operated trains, the first to do so in the United States. In Europe, battery-powered trains are the standard, and by taking this initiative to identify whether similar models will function optimally on U.S. railroads, the Long Island Rail Road could help inspire widespread change in standards of locomotion.
Unique Advantages of Electric and Battery-Operated Trains
One of the most prominent advantages of battery-operated trains is a drastic decrease in both fuel consumption and harmful emissions. Already, trains that use a blend of diesel fuel and electricity have reported fuel savings of 10 to 15 percent. Equipping trains with rechargeable batteries to replace fuel dependency would increase fuel savings, making for a more cost-effective and environmentally sound system.
A Danish study from 2019 found that the air quality on trains is drastically altered depending on what the locomotive uses for energy. Researchers found that diesel trains may expose passengers to up to six times the amount of black carbon and 35 times more ultrafine particles than electric trains. Not only do battery-powered trains reduce carbon emissions, but they are also presumed to be healthier and safer for passengers.
Another significant benefit to battery-powered trains is efficiency and expediency. Diesel-fueled trains have a limited ability to travel due to the recurring need to stop and refuel. Trains equipped with rechargeable batteries may be able to travel greater distances before needing to stop and recharge; by charging the batteries on electric lines and using battery power on non-electrified tracks, trains can prolong the amount of time between full charges and increase the distance they can cover in a single trip. What this means for passengers is a decreased need to switch trains due to refueling needs, more efficient transportation, and reduced pain points for travel.
What the Long Island Rail Road’s Initial Test Could Mean for the Future of Transportation
In testing battery-operated trains on the Long Island Rail Road, researchers are striving to identify whether battery and electric power is a practical alternative to diesel fuel. Researchers are investigating the actual amount of time and distance a train can run on battery power, how long it takes for the batteries to recharge, where the batteries could be located for optimal performance, how much power trains need to cover long distances or scale hills, and more.
Learning about these aspects will help researchers and transportation experts make educated decisions about locomotive systems and standards. Improving the efficiency and emissions of trains could also lead to the development of high-speed rail lines that are better suited to the geography of the United States by accounting for energy conservation and innovative solutions.
The Long Island Rail Road is taking a great stride toward a future of efficient, economical, and environmentally-conscious commuter transportation. In order to acquire and assess sufficient data, this trial period may last several years, but gathering essential information to make the best decisions is just part of the process. By tackling big questions and taking these initial steps to identify whether battery-powered trains are an appropriate alternative to diesel-fueled trains, the Long Island Rail Road may pave the path for other railroads and locomotive designers, and manufacturers, encouraging further development and broader integration of similar models.
The community quilt that we call New York is finally unfolding, and we’re more than ready to welcome her back — particularly so we can eat at our favorite restaurants again.
Though COVID-19’s true impact on New York city dining remains unknown, some optimism is returning as restaurants begin turning on their lights (and grills and brick ovens) for indoor service once again. But even through their struggles, restaurants and community organizations still turned their efforts toward another vital enterprise, one that helped the city tackle a food-insecurity situation exacerbated by the pandemic.
All across New York, restaurants large and small partnered with non-profit organizations, or developed their own creative plans, to source, cook and deliver food to those who need it most. According to City Harvest, the organization that began New York’s food-rescue movement, food insecurity increased among New York residents by 38 percent in 2020. One in four children lacked access to food, City Harvest reported.
Further, Food Bank NYC saw a 91 percent increase in visits to its Community Kitchen in Harlem at the pandemic’s height. Leslie Gordon, Food Bank NYC’s president and CEO, said that “this is need unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
Food Bank NYC responded by delivering a record 100 million meals in New York during 2020. That included 23 million pounds of fresh produce. Because community kitchens and pantries also closed during the pandemic, Food Bank NYC established a series of partnerships at locations where the need was most urgent. Food Bank NYC reported that these partnerships helped deliver three times more food than in 2019 — and will continue to grow.
Many New York non-profits raced to develop their own action plans. City Harvest helped to open 29 emergency food sites across the city. The organization located some of the sites near hospitals to feed frontline healthcare workers.
In April of 2020, Rethink Food, which repurposes excess food from New York restaurants into nutritious meals, launched a unique program that serves two purposes. Rethink Certified helps feed underserved communities while supporting restaurants during the shutdowns.
Restaurants opened their kitchens and welcomed back staff to prepare meals for donation, and Rethink Food provided them grants to support operations costs and pay staff. According to Rethink Food, the program invested more than $10 million into New York restaurants and served 2.5 million meals.
Elsewhere, Citymeals on Wheels met its annual goal of delivering more than 24,000 meals at Christmas to elderly New Yorkers, some of whom found themselves even more disconnected during the pandemic. Welcome to Chinatown adopted a series of pandemic-related initiatives; their “Greens for Good” program sourced nearly 8,000 pounds of fresh produce, and a dumpling drive fed hundreds. The organization also introduced a self-guided walking tour that led foodies on a Chinatown exploration within COVID-19 guidelines.
Hundreds of restaurants contributed to the cause, even while shuttered or operating at drastically reduced scales. For instance, Eleven Madison Park extended its partnership with Rethink Food by launching a food truck that will serve about 400 meals per day in communities of need. Diners will help fund the project by eating at the Michelin-starred restaurant.
Eleven Madison Park began its pandemic-response program in 2020. Restaurant co-owner Daniel Humm, who co-founded Rethink Food, transformed his closed restaurant into a kitchen that produced 3,000 meals per day for frontline workers and those facing food insecurity.
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes more than a dozen New York restaurants, last summer converted three of its venues into community kitchens to prepare meals in the South Bronx.
The Thai restaurant Wayla launched “Lunchboxes 4 Neighbors,” turning diners into donors by asking them to give $5 to fund a lunchbox. At Red Rooster in Harlem, a weekday lunch program distributed free meals in the community.
Junzi, which has several New York locations, introduced “Share a Meal,” which gives diners ordering takeout a chance to provide meals for frontline healthcare workers. And in April 2020, Tacombi, a popular New York taco chain, launched the Tacombi Community Kitchen to produce healthy meals in several communities. Tacombi says the program has served more than 100,000 meals.
These restaurants weren’t alone in opening their hearts during this trying time. Countless New Yorkers across the city lent them support by making a donation, ordering takeout, or dining on-site. So many people and organizations in New York are doing good by making sure everyone can access fresh, nutritious food.
Let’s eat again, New York — and let’s continue to be good neighbors as well.
Bennat Berger is the co-founder and CEO for Novel Property Ventures, a top-tier property management firm based in New York City. Under Berger’s guidance, Novel has grown into a thriving, full-service organization. The firm capitalizes on the high demand and limited supply of NYC’s real estate market by cultivating a standout portfolio of residential and mixed-use properties. But Novel Property Ventures doesn’t just acquire listings — it revitalizes its assets to ensure that they always exceed expectations.
Bennat Berger knows that buildings alone don’t usher in success; people do. From day one, the entrepreneur has applied a thoughtful, person-first approach to Novel Property Ventures’ leadership and hiring efforts. As such, the Novel team is staffed with professionals who have extensive backgrounds in property management, finance, and development. All take a proactive, ethical approach to management, and all are dedicated to ensuring that Novel’s investors and residents are satisfied with their experience.
Novel Property Ventures isn’t Bennat Berger’s only entrepreneurial success. Berger is also the founding partner for Novel Private Equity, a PE firm that specializes in helping promising tech-centric startups scale to success. The investing firm’s interests are eclectic; to date, Novel Private Equity has invested in businesses related to entertainment, experiential retail, and supermarket tech.
Outside of his business efforts, Berger is a prolific writer on matters relating to the often-disruptive impact that innovative tech has on culture and business. His work has been featured in publications including Entrepreneur, Fortune, and TechCrunch.
When he isn’t providing business direction at Novel Property Ventures or penning industry analyses, Bennat Berger enjoys spending time with his friends and family in New York City.
At Novel Property Ventures, a Thoughtful Culture Ensures Achievement Despite Uncertainty
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a mass migration out of our offices, corporate leaders have scrambled to find ways to preserve their company culture across digital channels. We’ve so long assumed that centralized spaces were necessary to ensure productivity and connectivity that, once those hubs were removed, many executives found themselves at a loss.
But Bennat Berger, the CEO and co-founder of Novel Property Ventures, was not one of them.
“None of our underlying cultural principles changed,” Berger asserts. “It didn’t matter if our team members were in the office or scattered across the city — we were a team. And that was a culture we curated from day one.”
As the CEO explains, his perspectives on corporate culture were well-set even before he founded his business. He knew that he wanted to build a positive environment that would facilitate constructive, kind, and communicative collaboration.
“Everything is shared,” Berger said. “When we close a high-profile deal, our entire team celebrates the victory. If a project falters or fails, we all come together to address the fallout. Most importantly, when we don’t succeed, no one points fingers or assigns blame.”
It’s fair to say that Berger’s pro-team approach has worked well for his firm. In the years since its founding, Novel Property Ventures has grown into a thriving full-service property management firm. The New-York-based business capitalizes on its home city’s high residential demand and limited housing supply by curating a diverse portfolio of residential and mixed-use properties. But its greatest strength, according to Berger, is its elite team.
“We have good people,” the entrepreneur says. “It’s in our best interest to take care of them, regardless of whether we’re in the office or apart.”
It’s worth noting that this people-based philosophy doesn’t just allow for greater adaptability during a crisis — it also cultivates greater business growth overall. One study conducted by management researchers at Berkeley in 2014 found that firms with stronger cultures tended to be more adaptable and demonstrate better performance than those with weaker ones.
Other research efforts further indicate that positive workplace environments facilitate better employee relationships, increase creativity, and empower workers to overcome professional challenges. Caring for colleagues, providing support and compassion, avoiding blame, and treating everyone in an organization with respect is the only way to maximize team performance and well-being.
The results of taking such a tack very nearly speak for themselves. As Bennat Berger shares of Novel Property Ventures’ team status, “The average employee at Novel has been with us for about five years. We rarely lose key team members, and we often promote from within. There is tremendous continuity amongst our team that, I feel, leads to a respectful work environment that is free of unnecessary politics.”
Now more than ever, teams must come together to help their businesses thrive through uncertain times. Covid-19 has hit everyone hard. But if leaders approach their workforce with compassion and kindness, they can, like Novel Property Ventures, pull through even stronger.
When the Covid-19 pandemic restricted indoor dining, New York City restaurants took to the streets — literally.
“Streeteries” — temporary outdoor seating areas that extend into street parking spaces and sidewalks — have become vibrant staples on NYC streets. At the start of the pandemic, these structures were rudimentary, their boundaries defined by beer kegs and makeshift seating. But as months passed, some restaurants have leaned into the outdoor dining norm to make spaces that feel more permanent and welcoming.
Today, many outdoor areas are enclosed by inexpensive but aesthetically-pleasing features such as wooden fencing, planters, and greenery. These spaces typically include seating and bike racks but can also encompass tables, games, and artwork.
In July of 2020, Curbed’s Diana Budds took a bike tour around Brooklyn and found a kaleidoscope of unique decorating styles and creative arrangements. She described her findings for the magazine, writing:
On Smith Street in Cobble Hill, a block of adjacent restaurants all appeared to have worked with the same builder — all of them had trellises topped with a few potted plants which made their outdoor spaces feel like gardens. Brooklyn Pizza Market made their barriers unique by repurposing tomato cans into planters. Xochitl Taqueria painted their plywood enclosure a buttery yellow. On Fifth Avenue, one restaurant painted its barriers white and decorated them with cascading flowers and vines — cottagecore in the wild. I also really enjoyed the Barragan-esque bright pink Cubana Cafe used for their outdoor area. Café Grumpy, a coffee shop on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope, used shipping pallets to enclose their seating area.
Of her explorations, she concluded: “These improvised spaces offer refreshing breaks from the relentless blandmarks (sic) and towering luxury condos that have defined the city’s new architecture for the past few years.”
These features seem like a silver lining amid the pandemic — an opportunity to refresh New York’s urban landscape with greater vibrancy and architectural flair. They also appear to be entrenching into greater permanency; according to another Curbed report, at least one construction company in the city has pivoted to focus almost exclusively on building streeteries once the demand for office construction all but disappeared.
Of course, one could argue that these temporary outdoor havens are by nature temporary and will disappear once the need for social distancing has passed. Eating outdoors in cold weather, after all, isn’t most customers’ preferred dining experience. However, it’s difficult to believe that these structures will disappear entirely now that restaurant owners have had the opportunity to recognize their potential as attractive gathering-spaces.
“The beauty of streeteries lies in the fact that they are flexible; they can be permanent, semi-permanent, or seasonal,” Evan Goldin explained for the National Association of Realtors. “They can work in spaces of any shape and size. In addition, they can feature moveable furniture and planters that can be easily removed or replaced. It is precisely this adaptability […] that makes them so popular.”
Streeteries have been necessary, yes — but they also created welcoming atmospheres for countless restaurants under stress and provided vibrancy and cheer in a time when New Yorkers needed both the most. These structures may have started as temporary fixes, but it’s certainly worth hoping that the brightness they provide will remain on a more permanent basis.
After Amazon’s caustic breakup with New York City came to pass on Valentine’s Day 2019, even the most optimistic tech enthusiasts had to doubt that the e-retail giant would ever return to New York City in force.
Why would it, when its much-negotiated plans in the city had fallen through? Amazon’s dreams of having a four-million square foot campus on the East River had crashed and burned, and any return it did attempt would lack the nearly $3 billion in public funds it had negotiated for during H2Q negotiations.
Given the acrimony of the split and the volume of perks lost, a reasonable person might think that Amazon would storm out of New York and seek the support it wanted elsewhere. But now, shockingly, Amazon is back in town — and it won’t be leaving anytime soon.
In early March, Amazon paid $1.15 billion to acquire the iconic Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue, which it intends to staff by 2023. Company press releases further indicate that the e-retailer plans to recruit a whopping 2,000 employees from New York City.
But how does this about-face make sense? Wasn’t the whole point of Amazon’s split with NYC that the city couldn’t offer what the company needed? Well, yes — and no.
Amazon might not be getting $3 billion in public support anymore, but New York is still one of America’s foremost business hubs. Over the last decade, New York has become the East Coast equivalent of Silicon Valley, offering a welcoming home to established tech giants and nascent startups alike.
“We know that talent attracts talent, and we believe that the creative energy of cities like New York will continue to attract diverse professionals from around the world,” Ardina Williams, Amazon’s vice president of workforce development, shared in a release on Amazon’s office acquisition.
Other major companies seem to share this sentiment. Before the pandemic took off in March, Google added over 1.7 million square feet of commercial real estate towards its developing campus in Manhattan. Apple, Amazon, and Facebook have purchased more than 1.6 million square feet of office space since the start of 2020.
But New York doesn’t just offer an exceptional business location — it also provides top-tier talent. NYC currently encompasses over 120 universities and is ranked first globally for the number of STEM-field graduates produced annually. A full tenth of the nation’s developers live in New York City, and, according to a recent HR&A report, tech firms in the city have the fastest average hiring time for engineers across all US tech hubs. Major player statistics underpin New York’s talent advantage; collectively, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have hired over 2,600 employees in New York since the start of 2020.
Worth noting, too, is that Startup Genome ranked NYC first globally in terms of funding availability and quality. The metro region alone received an incredible $13 billion in funding in 2018. New York’s wealth of available talent, preexisting tech presence, and deep funding pools cement NYC as a go-to place for tech interests.
Moreover, tech sector optimism continues to run high despite the uncertainties of COVID-19. As one writer for the New York Times recently reported: “Executives at the companies said their investments even during one of the city’s darkest periods reflect their belief that the features that set New York apart — its diversity, culture, regional transportation network and numerous colleges and universities — will keep luring people after the pandemic.”
Of course Amazon has returned to the city; its acrimonious exit was a $3 billion bluff. It would be a mistake to view the city as being any less than it is: one of America’s foremost tech hubs.