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Is New York’s 'War on Brunch' Coming to an End?

Is New York’s 'War on Brunch' Coming to an End?

A law banning outdoor seating before noon may be overturned

In the history of inane restaurant-related laws in New York City (and believe us, there are plenty of them), there’s one that might take the cake: restaurants are outlawed from seating guests at sidewalk seating areas before noon on Sundays, and the city has recently been cracking down on restaurant owners who break this obscure law.

But one city councilman is co-sponsoring a bill that could nix this law once and for all, The Brooklyn Paper is reporting. Steve Levin is on a mission to repeal this law, which has been on the books since the 1970s but didn’t really register in people’s heads until last year, when Community Board member Tom Burrows pressured the city to begin enforcing it. Apparently, he believed that alfresco diners were preventing churchgoers from getting to church, which might have been the original reason for the law in the first place.

Levin’s convinced that overturning this law is "totally common sense," though, and just about everyone except for Burrows seems to agree with him, even church leaders. "Brunching does not stop churching," pastor Ann Kansfield of the Greenpoint Reformed Church told the paper.

The measure is set to be voted upon June 13. Maybe after that they’ll try to overturn the law that’s still preventing restaurants from selling alcohol before noon on Sundays.

If woke companies really 'care,' let them help where it counts: fighting crime

The best kept secret of the pandemic — kept secret especially by our perma-doom-saying public-health authorities — is that the COVID-19 vaccines work. They work very, very well. Yes, even the Johnson & Johnson product just put on pause because of a one-in-a-million side effect.

The vaccines have shown incredible results in fighting off serious cases of COVID-19. These shots are scientific miracles — and you should take one at the first opportunity.

Take the vaccine, wait two weeks after the final dose, and then return to your 2019 life. Or better yet, make up for the last miserable year by taking your 2021 life to the next level.

Take off your mask as much as you can. You will still have to wear it in shops that require it, or on the short but deadly walk to your table at restaurants (eye roll). But you don’t need it anymore to walk your dog, push your child on a swing, hug a friend. Outdoor masking was always more about virtue-signaling. But your going mask-less now signals something else: You’ve gotten the jab, you trust in the science and you are moving on.

Make plans. So many of us have been in a holding pattern for more than a year. See friends, and not just the ones you’ve bubbled with for the last year. Fill your weekends. Have brunch, lunch and dinner out. Go to a museum. Lounge in the park. Go on adventures. Fall in love with someone new or with your spouse all over again.

Remember why you love your city. Change out of your leggings. Get dressed up. Find somewhere to go dancing. Go laugh your face off at a comedy show. You have taken the vaccine, and the pandemic is effectively over for you. Celebrate that — hard.

Take a trip. The world may still be largely closed, but you live in a vast, amazing country, and there is so much to see. America is open to you. Don’t wait for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to let you. In March, the CDC warned that vaccinated individuals shouldn’t travel. In April, the agency said they could, but then clarified that they still shouldn’t.

So much of the guidance from the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci has been conflicting gobbledygook that they’ve had to clarify or walk back.

We have Andy Slavitt, a White House senior adviser on COVID previously known for his hysterical tweets, now issuing “hugging guidance” for grandparents and their grandchildren. These people have tasted power and are reluctant to let it go. Remember they aren’t actually in charge of anything.

Teacher pays just $1,300 a month for unreal 'Monica Geller' apartment in NYC

Rents are collapsing while vacancy rates soar citywide. This is clearly the time to finally free New York City from its unjust, destructive rent laws. That way, at least one good thing would come from this pestilence of a pandemic.

StreetEasy just reported that third-quarter market-rate rents in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens are all below their levels of a year ago — something that last happened in the wake of the Great Recession. The median Manhattan rent dropped below $3,000 for the first time in nearly a decade.

And the trends will continue — the market is fat with inventory, and the pandemic has plainly prompted a lot of people, especially higher earners, to move away permanently. Landlords are offering months of free rent to entice people to commit, even as the law temporarily bans evictions.

Unofficially, the city’s population is down by 500,000, and it won’t soar back up soon. Units are going for an average of 9 percent below the listed amount, and vacancies are still at historic highs.

In theory, this should end the city’s decades-long “housing emergency,” which stands as the legal justification for rent controls. If the vacancy rate is above 5 percent at the time of the next official survey, the rent laws are supposed to expire.

See also

Manhattan rents hit record lows, report finds

That would indeed be a cause for celebration. Landlords, who are now despairing, are given long-term hope. And it wouldn’t hurt tenants — not when rents are dropping.

Rent control and rent stabilization keep prices artificially low, which discourages move-outs and the private production of affordable housing. Without these laws, nearly everyone would benefit, as a functional market would finally encourage healthy investment in new housing, without the fear that lawmakers would change the rules after the fact.

Yes, a few people with insanely good deals might lose out — but those aren’t the truly poor or even working-class renters that the laws are supposed to help.

We realize that the Democrats who control the Legislature won’t like any of this: They’re all too likely to change the law to keep the phony “emergency” going, since they can score easy political points by denouncing landlords as long as the laws keep the market broken.

But the truth remains: In US cities without rent laws, an abundant apartment supply keeps rents reasonable and provides enough slack so renters — especially low-income ones — can more easily find and move into larger places as their needs change. Government doesn’t have to spend big creating or subsidizing low-income housing.

This is New York’s chance at a normal housing market — an opportunity not to be missed.

Rush hour traffic is back. Noise complaints are picking up. And it’s once again difficult to score a reservation at your favorite brunch spot.

When the pandemic emptied New York City’s streets last year, some declared it dead. But after a terrible, painful year, the city is now defying those declarations — and getting its mojo back.

More than half of adult New Yorkers have had at least one vaccine shot, and਌ovid-19 cases and hospitalizations are dropping sharply. Museums are back to 50% capacity, and movie theaters are at 33%. You can finally sit at the bar for a drink starting Monday, and subways will return to 24-hour service on May 17, Governorਊndrew Cuomo said. “Shakespeare in the Park” is coming back, albeit with an abridged schedule.

Parks and outdoor areas — safer places, of course, to congregate during an airborne pandemic — have been jammed. People are starting to take their masks off outside, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. Central Park, Prospect Park and Washington Square Park have all surpassed their pre-pandemic crowd levels, according to Orbital Insight, a data company that tracks the movement of goods and people.

Even rents appear to be stabilizing, and tourists are booking their trips. Mayor਋ill de Blasio expects 80,000 city workers back in the office Mondayਊnd aims to have the city fully reopen by July 1.

“We see the comeback in full swing,” de Blasio said on Monday at a briefing. “It’s a great feeling.”

While thousands of New Yorkersਊre still suffering from the long-term health and economic effects of the pandemic, and offices are still mostly empty, in many little ways, things are returning to normal. That’s making people optimistic about the future of the city that took one of the hardest, and earliest, hits in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus.

More than 40% of all New Yorkers — and that includes children who aren’t eligible — have already gotten at least one shot, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker. After a few months when vaccination appointments were scarce and difficult to schedule, people can now just walk in to any city- or state-run site to get a shot.

fitting as hell that on my Fully Cooked Vax Night, when I set out for an impromptu celebratory dinner, I wander for an hour trying to find a table for two and every local place is full to bursting and hosts give me pitying looks but whom even cares cause new york is back baby .

— Rachel Holliday Smith (@rachelholliday) April 29, 2021

So far, it’s the fun stuff that’s coming back the fastest and strongest.

In recent months,਌hristina Hansen, 40, a New York City carriage driver, has picked up visitors fromꃊlifornia, Texas, Florida and North Carolina in a white-and-burgundy carriage pulled by herꀢ-year-old horse, King.

“There’s still less business than there was before,਋ut we are doing alright,” said Hansen, who has been a carriage driverਏor nine years. “New York is not dead. New York will never be dead.”

Tickets are nearly sold out for next week’s Frieze New York art fair, which will bring in collectors from around the country.

At neighborhood bar and restaurant Reservoir in Greenwich Village, locals will wait about 30 minutes on a weeknight to get a table. The bar and restaurant reopened in February after closing its doors for nearly a year.

“To have that place that you love come back, especially after being cooped up at the house all the time for a year straight, it has that warmth that made you love New York to begin with,” owner Joe Arongino said. 

Reservoir returned with some changes. Arongino renegotiated his rent, updated the cocktail and food menu, and raised prices. Before building his new outdoor patio space, he walked around the city to get inspiration.

His new outdoor patio, with TVs and heaters, is the biggest silver lining to come out of the pandemic, Arongino said. “It has a very European feel,” he said. “I hope they never take it away, because it brings a lot more to the city which we never had before.”

Weaning Ourselves Off Delivery

After surging last year, searches for takeout and delivery food options in New York City have slowed down

Data shows the year-over-year change in searches for takeout and delivery

Another crucial element to New York’s return will be tourism. The city expects domestic tourism to rebound by 2023 and total tourists to surpass the pre-pandemic level of 66.6 million visitors a year by 2024.

Devin Cooper, 25, of Los Angeles, booked his first-ever trip to New York as soon as his company’s guidelines allowed him to travel without quarantining. Fully vaccinated, he plans on arriving in mid May.

Even though he may not be able to enjoy some of the activities the city would traditionally offer — Broadway producers are hoping to open in September — there’s still plenty to see and do, Cooper said. He plans to go toꃎntral Park, shop on Fifth Avenue and see the Empire State Building — then play it by ear. “New York doesn’t seem dead at all,” he said. “I won’t be able to see a Broadway show this time, and I might eat outside at restaurants, but that’s a small price to pay for safety during a pandemic.”

Yet even as most of the arts, diningਊnd entertainment life that set New York apart from other cities have resumed, the future of work-culture and the fate of millions of square feet of office space remain uncertain. The subways are far from packed, though they will resume 24-hour service on May 17, NBC New York reported.ꃞ Blasio said that the return of city employees would be an “important indicator” to the private sector that it should follow suit.

Office workers will be crucial to New York City’s long-term comeback. Some are slowly making their way back to their desks. An analysis of 68 Manhattan office buildings spanning a range of sectors by Orbital Insight — which developed a way to gauge activity levels through satellites and cell phone data — showed that foot traffic by the end of March was at 34% of pre-pandemic activity.

Wall Street Remains Quiet

Cell-phone data analysis shows workers haven&apost returned in droves to the downtown headquarters of major banks

New York will allow offices to increase capacity to 75% on May 15, up from the 50% currently allowed. Unlike at restaurants and movie theaters, people aren’t begging to return. JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Tuesday said all workers would be expected back in by July, but only on a rotational basis.

Mohammad Naveed, 47, operates a਌offee cart positioned between Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s headquarters and the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. offices near Wall Street. The cart has held the permit on the corner of Murray Street and Greenwich Street for about 20 years. In other words, he can’t just move the cart somewhere else.

It used to be a prime location, and he𠆝 sell about 500 coffees a day. Now on a good day, he sells 30. “The place is empty,” Naveed said. “There’s no people at all.”

Once in a while, Naveed says, he will see some of his regular customers stop by for coffee when they happen to come into the office. Sometimes it’s every two weeks. Other times it’s once a month.

During the pandemic, storefront after storefront seemed to empty out, with retail shops closing. The sector is rebounding — faster than many others — but it’s still far behind where it once was. But between May and February, 67% of retail jobs have returned to New York state, according to the New York State comptroller’s office.

The retail figures include restaurants. With the pandemic raging in April 2020, restauranteur Keith McNally became hospitalized in London because of Covid-19. He permanently closed two of his restaurants, but re-opened Balthazar in late March.

“To me, and I believe for a number of New Yorkers, the re-opening of Balthazar symbolized the re-emergence of New York City,” McNally said in an email to Bloomberg.

Erin McDonnell had been a regular at Balthazar during the 10 years living in the city. It was her place of choice for special occasions and the perfect New York institution to bring out-of-town visitors. She booked a reservation as soon as she heard it was re-opening.

“There was a real fear that these kinds of places would disappear — and possibly forever,” McDonnell said after her lunch at Balthazar, getting teary eyed. “So when it’s brought back, of course it’s emotional.”

When she arrived for lunch, she took a seat in the wooden outdoor dining structure that takes up most of Spring Street in Soho.

“It feels normal again,” she said. She ordered the house-made pappardelle as she waited for a friend to arrive and then the pan roasted chicken breast — a second entree. “I thought you know what? We’re here, we’re celebrating, we’re going to eat, drink and be merry.”

McNally said he doesn’t਎xpect business to return to pre-pandemic levels until restaurants and bars are allowed to operate at 75% capacity — which will happen on Friday.

A look at the Manhattan rental market suggests the early stages of a recovery. The number of new active listings has declined, the number of monthly signed leases is rising, and prices appear to have bottomed out, according to data from UrbanDigs. There are still twice as many apartments available for rent in New York City compared with򠯯ore the pandemic, keeping prices low, data from StreetEasy shows.

Recovery Mode

Manhattan rental market data shows new active listings declining, monthly signed leases rising and prices bottoming out

“The rise in remote work has shifted the perspective of a lot of renters,” StreetEasy economist Nancy Wu said. “Instead of strictly searching for an apartment in Manhattan with a short commute to the office, they can afford to explore a ton of other neighborhoods in boroughs they may not have considered before because of the long subway rides.”

Renters can count onਏinding great deals for at least the next several months, Wu said.

Donovan Davis, 24, of Staten Island, had been waiting in line at the Supreme store on Bowery for about 15 minutes on Friday to check out the brand’s new spring collection and snag himself a backpack. Davis, a counselor at Wagner College, is newly vaccinated. Being cooped up at home for the past year, he says he hadn’t really felt the urge to go shopping. Until now.

“The weather is warming up,” Davis said. “I’m starting to finally get outside and do my shopping.”

New Yorkers used to take for granted how crowded the city was. Not anymore.ꃚvis says the subway isn’t as busy as it used to be. But otherwise, the city is alive and feels normal again, he says.

𠇎very time I go out, it’s mad how many people are there,” Davis said.

New York on the verge of legalizing recreational cannabis

New York is on the verge of legalizing recreational cannabis as early as next week after state lawmakers finalized language for a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana for people over 21.

The proposed legislation, which was introduced Saturday, days after lawmakers struck an agreement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would include social justice elements to "repair the heavily discriminatory impact that enforcement of prohibition has had on communities of color in New York State," said state Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat, in a statement.

"I am very proud that we finally have a . bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in a way that foregrounds racial justice, while balancing safety with economic growth, encouraging new small businesses, and significantly diminishing the illegal market," Krueger said.

"My goal in carrying this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana prohibition that has taken such a toll on communities of color across our state, and to use the economic windfall of legalization to help heal and repair those same communities."

Krueger added that lawmakers could take up the bill next week.

The provisions include dedicating 40 percent of revenue for communities disproportionately impacted by the so-called drug war, automatic expungement of records for people with previous convictions and the elimination of penalties for possession of less than three ounces of cannabis.

The bill would also establish "equity programs" that would provide loans and grants to small farmers and people who have been affected by the drug war interested in entering the industry.

"Cannabis legalization in New York will be centered on equity, investment into communities, economic opportunities for historically disenfranchised people, research, education and public safety," said New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat, in a statement. "I am honored to sponsor this legislation and excited to see the positive impact it will have for so many New Yorkers."

According to the proposed legislation, an Office of Cannabis Management would be created. comprising a five-member board tasked with regulating and overseeing the nascent industry, including establishing license protocols for growers, dispensaries and consumption sites.

All adult-use cannabis would be laboratory-tested before it is sold to consumers. The office would also set a 9 percent sales tax, a 4 percent locality tax and an additional tax based on THC content.

New York residents would be limited to growing three mature and three immature plants per adult with a maximum of six mature and six immature plants per household. Localities would be allowed to opt out of retail sales.

New York's recreational cannabis market is estimated to be worth $4.6 billion by 2023 and $5.8 billion by 2027, according to a recent analysis by advisory firm MPG Consulting.

Earlier this year, Cuomo called for the creation of a new Office of Cannabis Management that would oversee recreational use, as well as existing medical use, NBC New York reported. It was his third attempt to push New York towards legalization in as many years.

"For too long, the lives of New Yorkers in low-income and communities of color across the state have been ruined by our state's draconian enforcement of harmful prohibitionist policies, said Troy Smit, of Empire State NORML, in a statement. "We sincerely hope that the New York State Legislature passes this bill."

Alicia Victoria Lozano is a California-based reporter for NBC News focusing on climate change, wildfires and the changing politics of drug laws.

Shooting in Kenosha Just the Beginning of Civil War in America, Says Prediction Expert

AP Photo/Morry Gash

Anyone could have seen this coming. The question that should be asked after an armed man shot two rioters on the streets of Kenosha is, what did you expect? Here’s the scenario: mobs of criminals are torching and looting the private businesses of Americans all over the country and local law enforcement won’t stop them. Not only will they not stop them but anyone who is arrested is released immediately to do it all over again the next night (see Portland). Did you expect that this could go on without more violence? How did you think it would end? Where was this going—social change to utopia? Cities are burning. New York City is now a place no retailer will go. How much more of this did you think people would take?

Here’s the bad news. Kyle Rittenhouse, whom we know nothing about, is only the beginning of what is to come. It’s going to get much worse, and people like me who are anti-war and want nothing but peace with my countrymen are about to become severely disappointed.

Any speculation on Rittenhouse’s motives is total stupidity in the fog of war when facts are indecipherable from lies. Don’t attempt it. Let us just look at the general climate in which this tragedy occurred. And I use the word “tragedy” somewhat reluctantly because all involved in this, especially the government officials who let it happen, deserve exactly what they got.

If you go out to protest in an environment where you know there is looting and mayhem, I don’t care what happens to you. Not even a little. Photographic evidence appears to point to self-defense. It’s too soon to tell but it appears from these photographs that at least one of the people who was shot was holding a gun.

This is all you really need to know about the Kenosha shooting. I’m glad that the young man made it out alive, no matter what it took.

&mdash Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules) August 26, 2020

A video shows the alleged shooter saying he was there to protect private property. There is no evidence that any press outlet can find to prove that he is a “white supremacist,” as is being alleged all over social media. He could just be a person concerned about escalating violence and no law enforcement stopping it who got fed up waiting for the adults in the room to do their jobs. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide.

CONTEXT: I spoke with the alleged shooter earlier in the night who stated he was there to protect property

He did not make racist comments, condemn #BLM, or mention political motivations for his actions

He said that he was there to protect property & was carrying a firearm

&mdash ELIJAH RIOT (@ElijahSchaffer) August 26, 2020

Maybe he will be acquitted in court. Who knows? That’s not important. What is important is that this is only the beginning of a scary and dark time in American history and I’m not the only one who sees it. Mobs are accosting diners and demanding they display the Communist fist. Do you think this is going to end the way the mobs want it to? How many of you would rather be dead than Red? Make a choice now because this is where we are in the timeline of human events. Your time to make a choice is running out. The mob is perfectly willing to do it for you.

If you're one of those people who gets off on the whole "history repeats" bromide, here's a little comparison of the Cultural Revolution with today's mobs.

&mdash Dave Vandenbout (@devbisme) August 26, 2020

Armed Vigilante Who Shot BLM Looters in Kenosha Arrested

Prediction expert Scott Adams, who is rarely wrong about his prognostications about human behavior, says that there will be more of this as our leaders have failed to control the situation. In his broadcast on Wednesday, Adams laid out his reasoning for the coming civil conflict.

I think I’ve been telling you for some time the obvious way that these protests/riots/looting episodes were going to go. There was only one way that these would go under the assumption that the police would not get more aggressive and that the local government would not let the federal government come in and take care of the violent stuff. There was going to be no adult supervision and that was intentional. The local leadership decided to not have any adult leadership during the protests/riots/looting. So it was obvious that the locals would end up arming themselves because what else would happen? Could you think of any other outcome? It was obvious this would be the outcome. And this is just the beginning, not just a one-off. It’s pretty obvious that more militia or more citizens are going to bring heavier arms…and they’re going to start showing up….There’s probably no way it’s going to stop.

The worst case scenario is if the protesters arm themselves…ultimately this is the way it had to go. I feel bad for anyone who gets hurt and I don’t encourage any violence but as a prediction this was the way it had to go. It will end, but with more of this.

I am pleading with all state governments to stop the violence and lawlessness now. I don’t want to live in a hot civil war but there is no other outcome if this continues. People are not going to lay down and let the mob destroy, maim, or kill them or tear down their livelihoods. They will go to jail willingly first. There will be blood running in the streets before America allows criminals posing as activists to undo the fabric of their lives. Do not doubt it. Need proof?

Armed Citizens Gear Up to Defend Businesses as BLM Rioters Burn Kenosha, Target Cops

PJ Media’s Rick Moran just reported that Americans are arming themselves as if they are preparing for war.

Nearly 5 million Americans purchased a firearm for the very first time in 2020. [The National Shooting Sports Foundation] surveyed firearm retailers which reported that 40 percent of sales were conducted to purchasers who have never previously owned a firearm…

“This is a tectonic shift in the firearm and ammunition industry marketplace and complete transformation of today’s gun-owning community,” said Lawrence G. Keane, a senior vice president at the foundation.

“These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, were agnostic regarding firearm ownership. That’s rapidly changing, and these Americans are taking hold of their God-given right to keep and bear arms and protect themselves and their loved ones,” he added.

It was a short trip from the Boston Massacre, which has eerie similarities to the current climate on the street when riotous mobs antagonized British soldiers into opening fire on an unarmed crowd, to Lexington and Concord when the Revolutionary War kicked off with a bang. We are teetering on the edge and our elected officials are trying to push us over into an abyss from which there is no return other than to walk through the hell of war.

These officials should be arrested by the county sheriffs all over the country who can and should take control and stop the violence right now. If they do not arrest these governors and mayors and police chiefs who are complicit in this lawlessness and put an end to this insurrection, the American people will have no other choice but to step in. And you do not want that to happen. Even those of you who think a new civil war is necessary or would be easy, or a good idea…you’re out of your damned minds.

War is hell. Act now for peace. You’ve been warned.

You can put a stop to all of this with an overwhelming police response. Arrest every single person who throws a brick, breaks a window, or lights something on fire. Prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. That's how you end it. It can be done. But our leaders refuse.

&mdash Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 26, 2020

Sorry, Pelosi: Eliminating official use of ‘mother’ isn’t inclusive — it’s waging war on women

One of the first acts of our new House of Representatives might be to cancel Mom.

On Sunday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic majority proposed to eliminate “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister” and all other language deemed insufficiently “gender-inclusive” from House rules. They would be ­replaced with terms like “parent, child, sibling, parent’s sibling” and so on.

“Mother” — among the most important concepts in human life — would be erased from the lexicon of the US House of Representatives. It’s important to recognize how radical this is. And no, it isn’t akin to updating federal law to replace “policeman” with “police officer,” a rational corrective sought by feminists for generations.

There, the terms were changed for the benefit of clarity and accuracy. “Fireman” became “firefighter” to reflect that women could be firefighters under the law and, in fact, were already serving as such. However much fun it is to say “mailman,” we all knew and know female mail carriers. It was silly, archaic and inaccurate to pretend such jobs could be filled only by men.

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.)

House Democrats don’t pretend to seek this change merely for the sake of “streamlining” congressional language. The explicit point is to advance “inclusion and diversity” and to “honor all gender identities.” Pelosi & Co. are desperate to accommodate an ­aggressive gender ideology that ­insists “man” and “woman” are fuzzy, subjective categories, rather than biological ones.

Lest you think this a harmless alteration, consider the ways California’s Democrats have run wild with Newspeak. As Quillette ­reported last week, California’s insurance commissioner has ­issued a directive to reclassify double mastectomies of healthy breasts from “cosmetic” procedures to “reconstructive,” necessary to “correct or repair the abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects.”

When Did Slavery End in New York?

This article was written by Craig A. Landy, a partner at NYC firm Peckar & Abramson, PC. Mr. Landy talks more extensively about this topic in Issue 12 of The Historical Society of the New York Courts’ Judicial Notice, a journal of articles of historical substance and scholarship that uniquely focuses on New York legal history. This latest issue of Judicial Notice is ready to be shipped out and is only available to Society Members. Don’t miss out and Join the Society !

Photo: The Fifteenth Amendment. Celebrated May 19, 1870. Pub. by Thomas Kelly, New York, c. 1871, showing the grand celebratory parade in Baltimore. A similar parade in New York City on April 8, 1870 drew over 1,500 spectators and over 7,000 participants. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-pga-01767

When did slavery end in New York State? That’s not an easy question to answer. In 1799, New York gradually freed future generations who would otherwise have been born into slavery, but left enslaved thousands born before 1799. It was not until March 31, 1817 that the New York legislature ended two centuries of slavery within its borders, setting July 4, 1827 as the date of final emancipation and making New York the first state to pass a law for the total abolition of legal slavery. When Emancipation Day finally arrived, the number of enslaved men and women freed was roughly 4,600 or 11% of the black population living in New York and the black community and its supporters held joyous celebrations and parades throughout the state.

Slavery existed in New York State from colonial times through the creation of the modern state. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and other prominent New Yorkers owned slaves at one time, but the more reform-minded of these formed organizations to end slavery in New York, such as the New York Manumission Society. New York’s free African-American community also led the anti-slavery movement through activist ministers and tireless black abolitionists.

The 1799 gradual abolition law declared that children born after July 4, 1799 to enslaved mothers in New York would be born free, but would have to provide free services to their mothers’ masters until they reached 25 if female and 28 if male. Because the law applied only to those born after 1799, slavery continued for those enslaved born before that year and a final act of emancipation was needed to eradicate slavery in the state. One was passed on March 31, 1817, even though some of those freed were required to continue to serve their masters under an indenture for a term of years. Yet no sooner had slavery been slated for extinction in New York than the right of blacks to vote in New York came under bigoted political attack. The New York Constitutional Convention of 1821 was called to extend universal suffrage across the state and it did abolish property qualifications for white men, but at the same time the convention delegates disenfranchised the states’ African-American citizens—including those to be freed in 1827—by limiting the right to vote by free black men to those who owned substantial property. New York’s racialized suffrage standards would not be remedied until the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1870. Sadly, the state had to be compelled to allow equal voting rights for New York’s African-Americans.

Contrary to the popular narrative, the southern states were not alone in their adamant refusal to end slavery. New York also held on to that repressive institution until the free black community and the Manumission Society combined to persuade Governor Daniel D. Tompkins and the state legislature to end slavery within its boundaries. The 200th anniversary of the Final Act of Emancipation is celebrated in “When Men Amongst Us, Shall Cease to be Slaves: The Bicentennial of New York’s 1817 Final Act of Emancipation,” in the forthcoming issue of Judicial Notice soon to be released.

Dating the Start and End of Slavery in New York

To date slavery in New York, it is common to start in the mid 1620s and end in the late 1820s. Our records begin earlier and end later, because we consider enslavement as a functional status enabled and practiced in a range of ways. The functional status of enslavement involves degrees of the following:

  • Ownership of the enslaved person, which can be transferred by sale or other means
  • Subjugation of the will of the enslaved person to the owner’s authority
  • Social and legal alienation of the enslaved person and that person’s family and children. Forms of alienation include exemption from legal rights, the extension of enslavement and ownership to children of enslaved people, and the limitation of marriage and family rights.

Records of slavery as a legally authorized activity appear in 1725 in New Amsterdam, and end in 1829 when the process of gradual abolition under the 1799 abolition law and it subsequent amendment and refinement was completed. However, we include records of enslavement starting in 1525 and records of fugitives from enslavement during the underground railroad period prior to and during the Civil War, when fugitives from southern-state enslavement were captured and subjected to re-enslavement under prevailing federal and state law.

Estaban Gomez in 1525

Estaban Gomez sailed with Magellan’s fleet with the early 1500s. He was commissioned by King Charles V of Portugal to search for a northern route to China. Gomez explored and mapped a series of river inlets and bays including the Hudson River which he later called “Deer River.” He did not find the route he searched for, and instead returned to Portugal with 58 indigenous persons to sell as slaves, persons who we might today call native Americans. King Charles disapproved and semi-freed Gomez’ captives, assigning them to various families as servants. It is uncertain where these people were captured from, but it is possible that some came from the area we now call New York. There is no doubt that a slave-ship explored the lower parts of the Hudson River.

Jan Rodrigues in 1613

Jan Rodrigues was a crewman on the Dutch ship Jonge Tobias. When the ship left what is today Manhattan, the captain left Jan Rodrigues behind (Burroughs and Wallace, 1999, p. 18) either because of a dispute or in order to signify possession of the site. Rodrigues did not regard himself as enslaved, but he was a mulatto man who was forced to work for his captain without compensation. (Hodges, 1999, p.6) As the first non-indigenous resident of what is now Manhattan, he acted has a free man. So in the database his record is tagged “FRE” signifying that he was a free person who had previously experienced a form of enslavement.

The African Burial Ground biographical summary explains: “Jan Rodrigues (or Juan Rodrigues, depending upon the source) was the first non-native to settle in New York City. Raised in a culturally diverse household (his mother was African and his father was Portuguese) in the Spanish settlement of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Jan was known for his linguistic talents and was hired by the Dutch captain Thijs Volckenz Mossel of the Jonge Tobias to serve as the translator pn a trading voyage to the Native American island of Mannahatta. Arriving in 1613, Jan soon came to learn the Algonquinian language of the Lenape people and married into the local community. When Mossel’s ship returned to the Netherlands, Jan stayed behind with his Native American family and set up his own trading post with goods given to him by Mossel, consisting of eighty hatchets, some knives, a musket and a sword.”

Emancipations in 1644

The Dutch Colonial Council decided to partially emancipate 11 people from servitude. The record of their decision in 1644 states that the have served the Company for 18 or 19 years. This means that their servitude began in 1625 or 1626.

“We, Willem Kieft, director general, and the council of New Netherland, having considered the petition of the Negroes named Paulo Angolo, Big Manuel, Little Manuel, Manuel de Gerrit de Reus, Simon Congo, Antony Portuguese, Gracia, Piter Santomee, Jan Francisco, Little Antony and Jan Fort Orange, who have served the Company for 18 or 19 years, that they may be released from their servitude and be made free, especially as they have been many years in the service of the honorable Company here and long since have been promised their freedom also, that they are burdened with many children, so that it will be impossible for them to support their wives and children as they have been accustomed to in the past if they must continue in the honorable Company’s service Therefore, we, the director and council, do release the aforesaid Negroes and their wives from their bondage for the term of their natural lives, hereby setting them free and at liberty on the same footing as other free people here in New Netherland, where they shall be permitted to earn their livelihood by agriculture on the land shown and granted to them, on condition that they, the above mentioned Negroes, in return for their granted freedom, shall, each man for himself, be bound to pay annually, as long as he lives, to the West India Company or their agent here, 30 schepels of maize, or wheat, pease, or beans, and one fat hog valued at 20 guilders, which 30 schepels and hog they, the Negroes, each for himself, promise to pay annually, beginning from the date hereof, on pain, if any one shall fail to pay the annual recognition, of forfeiting his freedom and again going back into the servitude of the said Company. With the express condition that their children, at present born or yet to be born, shall remain bound and obligated to serve the honorable West India Company as slaves. Likewise, that the above mentioned men shall be bound to serve the honorable West India Company here on land or water, wherever their services are required, on condition of receiving fair wages from the Company. Thus done, the 25th of February 1644, in Fort Amsterdam in New Netherland”.

The First Enslaved Woman: Gracia or Mayken?

Among the people emancipated in 1644 was a person called “Gracia” which is Portugese for “Grace.” Her name appears on the document:

The name “Gracia” appears in the document between the names Antony Portugal and Piter Santomee.

Gracia may have been the first enslaved woman. However, another emancipation in 1663 was for “Mayken, an old and sickly black woman, to be granted her freedom, she having served as a slave since the year 1628.” This record documents that her servitude began in 1628.

Slavery after 1827

Slavery officially ended in New York 1827. When the Gradual Emancipation law was passed in 1799 it did not apply to persons enslaved at the time, but gradually emancipated children of enslaved mothers born after the enactment of the law. However, in 1817 another law was passed to emancipate the enslaved people from before the enactment of the law in 1799. However, the 1830 census records 75 slaves in New York State. (See US Census Century of Population Growth, p.133) One can also list the owners individually in the dataset by entering Census1830 in “SOURCE” in the Search page. We believe that these are persons born to enslaved mothers some years after 1799 who were still completing their years of slave-like service required under the emancipation law.

Slavery also continued to exist in New York in other ways.

Out-of-State Slaves Temporarily Visiting: The 1817 law that eventually emancipated NY slaves in 1827, also permitted slave owners to bring enslaved people into New York State for up to 9 months, effectively recognizing enslavement based on the laws and practices of other jurisdictions.

Fugitives: Fugitive slaves would be captured and be formally adjudicated by New York courts, under federal and state law, for return to the state the fled from. Agents representing southern plantations search for black persons resembling fugitives. They would take them south furtively, or, take them to NYC’s Court of Special Sessions, presided over by former slave holder Richard Riker and his associates known as the “Kidnapping Club.” We have assigned the tag “RIKER” to records of such cases.

Slave Ships: While New Yorkers were not allowed to own slaves, the Port of New York allowed slave ships to anchor and restock. A Federal court case – U.S. v. Joas E. de Souza dated 12/16/1838, by Judge Thompson of the United States Circuit Court, found that a ship was permitted in (in this case in NY Harbor although the court was Federal) to carry slaves as long as there was no intent to sell or transfer them.

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Cuomo Seems Intent on Screwing up New York's Marijuana Legalization

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tried and failed to legalize recreational marijuana use for several years now, and in his budget proposal for 2021, he's giving it yet another try.

How hard can it be to legalize marijuana once the public supports it? In New York, the conflict is over the money, of course. In Cuomo's budget proposal, he's entirely focused on the revenue marijuana sales will bring into the state. He's proposing a 10.25 percent state sales tax, and allowing local sales taxes on top of it. Cuomo predicted that eventually, once the state's system is fully operational, the government will be bringing in $300 million in tax revenue annually.

But unfortunately, it looks like Cuomo's proposal may also have some embedded bad ideas. Last year, when Cuomo started shopping around a legalization plan, it included a complete ban on home cultivation for recreational use. In order to legally access marijuana, you had to buy it from a legal vendor, thus guaranteeing the government gets a sweet cut of the money.

Reason has requested a copy of the governor's full proposal, but his office has not yet responded. According to Marijuana Moment, which has spoken to local advocates, the home cultivation ban is back in Cuomo's new legislation—and he's actually expanded it. Last year's proposal allowed medical marijuana users to grow plants at home. This year's proposal allows cultivation for neither recreational nor medical marijuana users, a ban reportedly urged by major marijuana companies.

The proposal also allows municipalities and counties with a population of 100,000 and more to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana sales, so in some parts of the state, you may not be able to buy or grow your own marijuana. By contrast, California allows cities to opt out of retail sales, but citizens are permitted to grow up to six plants for their own use at home.

The proposal also doesn't authorize delivery or point-of-sale marijuana consumption but will leave it to regulators to develop new categories of licenses later on.

More bad news about Cuomo's plan came from public defender Eli Northrup of The Bronx Defenders. He noticed that Cuomo's plan actually increases the criminal penalty for anybody caught selling marijuana to somebody who is under 21. It's currently a misdemeanor, but Cuomo's plan turns it into a class D felony with a potential prison sentence of up to two and a half years. The current marijuana legalization bill in circulation in the state's legislature keeps it as a misdemeanor.

Cuomo's proposal shows that he and the state don't actually care that much about the devastating impact that the war on marijuana has had on poor communities. He just wants to make sure that the state still has a solid cash flow once they've stopped locking people up, fining them, and seizing their property. And if anybody attempts to grow or smoke weed without giving the state its cut, he's willing to keep the drug war going.