A New York Walk-Up? No, an Art Installation in New Jersey.

Good morning. It’s Thursday. We’ll look at a four-story facade that has that New York City look, but that’s not where it is. We’ll also find out why Gov. Kathy Hochul has walked back her proposal to rewrite the state’s climate change law.

The newest New York apartment facade is in New Jersey. Specifically, in Jersey City.

It is four stories tall and has storefront space for a deli on the ground floor. The building is a walk-up, and it is also being walked on. Literally.

It is an art installation at Liberty Science Center, where it has been laid out on the floor. A mirrorlike reflector provides the view that you would expect to see from the street, except that it seems to shrug off gravity and physics. You see yourself in the mirror, stepping across the image on the floor or stopping to sit on the tenement-style fire escapes that have been attached to the flat installation on the floor. A floor in New Jersey.

“We have a long, complicated relationship with New York City here in New Jersey,” said Paul Hoffman, the president and chief executive of the science center. “We are very happy that we have the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, even if everyone thinks the one in Manhattan is bigger. The one in Manhattan can fit inside our planetarium.”

That would be the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, the twinkly destination for generations of middle-school field trippers. When it opened in 2017, Hoffman pointed out that his planetarium is next to a park 370 acres larger than Central Park. But, he said, “I’m not fixated on size.”

Or weight. Or speed. Alongside the facade installation is “The Politics of Eternity,” by the Brooklyn-based artist Dustin Yellin. It weighs 10,000 pounds and took 20,000 hours to complete.

The installation was the work of the Argentine-born artist Leandro Erlich, who has done similar pieces in such places as Buenos Aires, London (an off-site commission for the Barbican Gallery on an empty lot) and Paris, as well as in Niigata Prefecture in Japan, which hosts a regional art festival. “I’ve created 18 different facades, and every time it’s a look at the context of the venue. In France, it was a Parisian facade. In Japan, it had a particular look. In Denmark, in Buenos Aires, in Montevideo — every time the facade is different.”

For the New York facade, he said that he drew on “my memories of New York.”

“It’s like a Frankenstein facade, meaning it takes elements from different buildings,” he said. “A New York facade could be many different things, but basically, it gives you something local. And the work itself plays with bringing something extraordinary out of something we are very much used to seeing.”

That would be people in places they could not go or positions they could not assume in real life. And, as if to emphasize the stagelike quality of his installations, Erlich calls the people who walk across the floor image, interacting with architectural elements, “spect-actors.”

Hoffman said the facade represented “your standard small city building.”

“The whole city was full of these buildings before they developed construction techniques for higher ones,” he said. “What Erlich has done in his whole career is take quotidian things like the facade of a building and make you look at it in a different way. That’s what’s so cool about it.”

Hoffman said the installation inaugurated an art program as the center celebrates its 30th anniversary. He said the idea was to broaden the center’s appeal — perhaps counterintuitively, in a world where marketers and advertisers often chase younger audiences.

“We’re known for our programming for young learners — children, in other words,” he said. “We really want to be a space for adults, too. We have a lecture series of leading astronomers from around the world who come here to use the canvas of the planetarium to show their work. But with this art program, we’re trying to inspire people who wouldn’t necessarily come to see the sky.”


Prepare for a chance of showers and thunderstorms, persisting through the night, with temperatures near the high 70s. At night, temps will drop to around 50.


Suspended today and tomorrow (Passover).

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Soft-pedaling a move to ‘weaken’ a climate change law

Gov. Kathy Hochul had proposed revising the state’s landmark 2019 climate law as a way of making a green economy more affordable. But — under pressure from scientists, environmentalists and lawmakers who said her modifications would fundamentally undermine the measure — Hochul has backed off.

My colleagues Grace Ashford and Dana Rubinstein write that state officials told reporters in Albany that the administration would not make the proposal a priority in the state budget that is under negotiation. But the officials said they would still pursue it and other initiatives to reduce costs for consumers.

Hochul’s decision came on the day that some two dozen professors — including scientists from Cornell University, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — sent a letter to her office protesting her bid to “weaken” the measure, the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. It requires the state to meet aggressive emissions reductions targets.

Hochul’s proposed revisions surfaced in a bill last month and raised concerns she was trying to make an end run around one of the nation’s strongest climate laws. The changes she was backing included altering the time frame used to measure greenhouse gas emissions in a way that critics said would have benefited the natural gas industry and utilities.

What gained the most attention was a bid to substitute New York’s 20-year accounting method for greenhouse emissions with a 100-year accounting method. State officials argued that the current method, unique to New York and Maryland, would be costly for consumers and might undermine climate change efforts.

Environmentalists argued that the change would underplay the impact of the potent planet-warming gas methane, a chief component in the natural gas used for cooking and heating. The natural gas industry has sought to present it as a cleaner alternative to coal and oil.

Edwin Cowen, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University who signed the letter to Hochul, said he was “pleasantly surprised” by her decision. “I think the backlash was incredibly strong and swift,” he said.


Heavy traffic

Dear Diary:

I was riding my bike on Fifth Avenue south of 55th Street. Traffic was heavy. Suddenly, a cabdriver with four young male passengers cut across a lane and screamed at me in an unfriendly voice.

“Hey, lady,” he yelled, “Why don’t you get yourself a horse?”

I didn’t respond and instead kept an eye on the cab as I continued on downtown. When it was forced to stop and wait at a light, I sidled up to the driver’s window and leaned in.

“And you sir,” I said in a soft voice, “should get yourself a broom.”

I heard a loud burst of laughter from inside the car.

The light changed, and we continued along at about the same pace. When we reached 34th Street, the driver leaned out of the window.

“Lady,” he said, “please accept my apology.”

“An apology from a cabdriver!” I said. “No one will believe me, but apology accepted.”

— Dorian Cusick

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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