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A look back at ’23: Tragic losses, construction-cracked building, Beth Israel, congestion questions and ‘Sphere and Loathing’

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | And the 2023 analytics are in. …

Last year’s top stories in The Village Sun’s online edition included tragic deaths, tenants forced out of a construction-damaged, landmarked building, a judge’s scolding Mayor Adams to stop claiming “emergency” to justify on-street dining, the death of a beloved Greenwich Village merchant and a former East Village activist being chased out of Las Vegas by a huge entertainment orb.

Police on the F.D.R. after a man jumped from the Manhattan Bridge. (Photo by Roger Bultot)

The year’s top article, based on page views, on was a brief report on a man who leapt to his death from the Manhattan Bridge in May. He had been spotted climbing on the span’s pedestrian path before landing on the southbound F.D.R. Drive’s roadway.

Police did not release much information about the man. But someone who apparently knew him posted in the article’s reader comments, “You were loved, Brian. If anyone is considering death by suicide, know that you aren’t alone. Tell someone. Call the 988 suicide hotline.”

The second-most-viewed article was another tragedy, about a woman struck by a commuter bus on Broadway just south of Union Square in early June. Roberta Lerman, 70, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A dining shed in the curbside street lane on First Avenue in the East Village. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Landing in the third spot, was an article on Justice Arlene Bluth of State Supreme Court ruling this past summer that Mayor Adams cannot repeatedly keep issuing emergency orders — to suspend 26 local laws — to extend the city’s pandemic-inspired Open Restaurants program. In short, Bluth ruled, with the pandemic over, there was no emergency reason to justify the continued existence of the dining scheme, which has blanketed the city’s streets with thousands of dining sheds.

Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett.

Kathryn Adisman’s obituary in April on Sean Kavangh-Dowsett, 56, the co-owner with his wife, Nicky Perry, of Tea & Sympathy and two other English-themed eateries on Greenwich Avenue, was the year’s fourth-most-read article. The much-loved merchant, who was a former model, lived in Greenwich Village.

In February, the exterior of 10 Fifth Ave. showed visible cracks and spaces opened up in between facade elements after foundation drilling at the nearby 14-16 Fifth Ave. unsettled the area. Nearly a year later, the building remains empty. (Photo by The Village Sun)

A breaking-news (literally) report in February on the shocking damage of a landmarked residential building on lower Fifth Avenue by an adjacent construction project was the No. 5 article for ’23. Foundation drilling at 14-16 Fifth Ave. cracked and destabilized 10 Fifth Ave., forcing the evacuation of 30 tenants. Outraging Village Preservation and local politicians, the Landmarks Preservation Commission had approved the demolition of the previous building at the construction site — which is within the Greenwich Village Historic District — to allow the contentious project to go forward.

A missing Union Square-area publicist and writer being found after having gone missing also made The Village Sun’s Top 10 list for the year. The woman, 58, was found by police in another state.

Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, along with other local politicians, health advocates and hospital staff, rallied near Beth Israel in December to protest plans for its closure. (Photo by Jon Keller)

Mount Sinai’s sudden announcement of its plan to shutter the historic Beth Israel Hospital by this July sparked a wave of alarm throughout Downtown and Lower Manhattan. The Village Sun’s scoop on Dec. 21 that the New York State Department of Health had warned Mount Sinai it cannot slash Beth Israel’s services until it gets D.O.H. approval on the closure plan was the year’s seventh-most-read article.

The already-congested F.D.R. Drive seen from the Corlears Hook footbridge a couple of years ago. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Clocking in at No. 8 was Kathryn Freed’s talking point on how congestion pricing actually would worsen congestion and air pollution on the Lower East Side and East Village along the F.D.R. Drive between the Brooklyn Bridge and E. 10th Street. The retired judge and former councilmember noted that while the Bronx is slated to get $130 million to mitigate the adverse impacts it would see from congestion pricing — including for a new asthma center — all of Manhattan would get just $20 million for similar purposes.

“We need real mitigation — and I don’t mean an asthma center,” Freed fumed.

A jumbo ad for the video game Mortal Kombat displayed on the Sphere. (Photo by John Penley)

Former East Village activist John Penley’s freakout over James Dolan’s new Las Vegas Sphere came in ninth place. The pacifist Vietnam vet had moved to Vegas a few years ago because it was affordable. But he feared that the giant new entertainment venue, located just blocks from his home — which U2 kicked off with a months-long residency — would gentrify his ’hood. He subsequently moved to Arizona.

Rounding out the Top 10 was another tragic story, about the death of John Castic, 27, a young financial expert who lived on the Bowery and went missing after an electronic dance music show in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. His body was found three days later in nearby Newtown Creek.

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