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Weather: Brittle cold, with wind chills in the low teens this morning and a sunny high of 36.
Alternate-side parking: in effect till Jan. 21.
As you walked to the train this morning, you probably passed an empty storefront. Perhaps even two or three.
These empty storefronts are representative of businesses that disappear as a result of rising rents and the popularity of online retailers.
It’s a troubling trend we looked at in September, and it seems to be getting worse.
Recently, Cornelia Street Café in the West Village closed after four decades, thanks to a rent increase, the owners said.
In some neighborhoods it can feel like every street has vacancies.
“I just walked by a restaurant on Ninth Street” that recently closed, State Senator Brad Hoylman said on the phone as he walked in his Manhattan district yesterday. A block later: “Now, I’m opposite a vacant storefront.”
In 2017, Mr. Hoylman released a report on the “high-rent blight” on Bleecker Street.
Now he and his fellow Democrats control the State Legislature. But he seemed less than enthused by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent proposal to tax landlords who leave storefronts vacant.
Supporters say a vacancy tax would push landlords to fill empty spaces or work with their tenants so they don’t leave in the first place. Landlords, not surprisingly, think it’s a bad idea.
But Mr. Hoylman says that the city hasn’t done a survey to fully know the scale, or nature, of the problem.
“We’re looking for an evidenced-based policy on this,” he said. He seemed to suggest that without knowing that, how can a tax be the solution?
Perhaps the city could offer aid to struggling businesses, and create a registry for “legacy businesses,” he said.
“It’s not like you can tax or fine someone into compliance with respect to a landlord,” he said.
New York mourns a firefighter
Steven H. Pollard, the 1,151st city firefighter to die in the line of duty, was buried on Friday in Brooklyn. Read the story by my colleagues Michael Gold and Sean Piccoli.
Best of The Times
They’re not like me. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it is a mistake to consider her a Tea Party of the left.
Where do I park? Where’s the food? New legislators settle into Albany.
“His Doughnuts Were Getting Really Popular. Then He Was Shot in the Face.” The triumph of a talented pastry chef in Bayside.
“I’m scared to go outside the lines.” An Australian actress learns to spray-paint graffiti in Bushwick.
Politics of broccoli: Presidential hopefuls diet to get in shape for 2020.
What’s the matter with MTV’s “Made on Staten Island”? Everything.
A play confronts a musical: Ishmael Reed’s “The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda” says that “Hamilton” gets the story wrong.
What we’re reading
That’s a lifesaver! An app that alerts medical volunteers to nearby emergencies has drastically cut response times in Jersey City. [New York Post]
The man who would be subway king: Governor Cuomo wants full control of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. [CBS New York]
Can the 9/11 bus permanently stay at a metered parking spot? Supporters are seeking permission. [New York Post]
What was 2016 all about? Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “There’s still a lot of moderate voices in the party that did not learn the lessons of 2016 and are not listening to what people need.” [CNN]
New Yorker breaks a glass ceiling: Representative Nita Lowey of Westchester is the first woman to chair the House Committee on Appropriations. [Daily News]
Federal shutdown? O.K., we’ll do it. Volunteers, led by the newly elected Representative Max Rose, are cleaning a national park on Staten Island. [NY1]
Stat of the day: 36%
That is how many New York State voters say infrastructure is the top issue on their mind, according to a new poll by Siena College Research Institute. Last year, 40 percent of voters said their top issue was taxes.
Coming up today
Learn about the long history of gin (it started out as medicine), complete with tasting, at Brooklyn Brainery in Prospect Heights. 6:30 p.m. [$13]
“Brilliant Darkness,” a conversation with artists about mental illness, at New York Live Arts. 7 p.m. [$10]
Veterans of the 1968 Ocean-Hill Brownsville teachers strike speak at the Brooklyn Historical Society. 6:30 p.m. [$5]
See the comedian Phoebe Robinson of HBO’s “Two Dope Queens” at Villain in Williamsburg. 9 p.m. [$15]
The Tony winners Ron Simons and LaChanze talk about being “hyphenated” artists who work in multiple fields at Harlem Stage. 7:30 p.m. [$10]
— Iman Stevenson
Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.
And finally: The “No Pants Subway Ride” guy has a request
Yesterday was the 18th annual “No Pants Subway Ride,” which you might have noticed if you didn’t spend all your time looking at your phone.
It all started when Charlie Todd and some friends thought it would be funny to surprise people by showing up in a subway car, in the dead of winter, without pants. It worked.
Mr. Todd turned that prank, and others, into his full-time job at Improv Everywhere, a production company. And the no-pants subway ride has been copied in cities around the world: London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Portland, Ore.
“It’s not particularly fun,” Mr. Todd said during a brief interview: He did not intend to create a mass-participation event. He just wanted to catch passengers off guard.
But he became a victim of his own success. Now Mr. Todd, 40, has to handle the logistics of an event that can draw more than 1,000 participants.
“We have to divide people into 10 train cars, and then we divide them into multiple cars in each train. And then we divide them into multiple stops,” he said. “It’s a lot of work to make sure it’s not this unruly mob.”
(Hear that, SantaCon organizers?)
Mr. Todd has turned down sponsorship requests and keeps political messages out of the ride.
Which is why his answer to who he’d like to see participate next year was surprising.
“I would love to invite Mayor de Blasio,” Mr. Todd said. “More important, I would like to invite de Blasio to start taking the subway to Park Slope, to his gym, so he’s not taking a caravan of S.U.V.s through our congested streets. And he could do that with or without his pants.”
Metropolitan Diary: At Times Square station
I was wandering through the Times Square subway station at rush hour when I noticed a blind woman walking perilously close to the tracks.
I approached her and offered my assistance. She took my arm with her left hand and held her walking stick in her right.
She said she was on her way to catch a No. 1 train. I said it would be my pleasure to walk her there.
As I led her along, following the clearly marked signs toward her destination, we started to talk. I was recounting the story of my life when she stopped me short.
“I think it’s that way,” she said. She was pointing toward a passageway to the left.
The sign above us proved her right. I changed course, and she joked that she had made a lucky guess.
We reached the No. 1 platform as a train was arriving. The crowd parted as I guided her onto the train.
“This is where we go our separate ways,” I said.
“Where are you headed?” she asked.
“The Q train,” I said. “Heading home to Brooklyn.”
As the subway doors closed, she reached out her hand and extended her index finger. She was pointing me in the direction of the Q.
— Benjamin Rubin
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