The Briefly for December 23, 2019 – The “Sitting Around the Apartment, Staring at Your Family” Edition

Today’s daily NYC news digest: The two worst hours to drive in the city, the world’s largest gingerbread village, tour a $30 million apartment, a $5,000 cocktail, and more

Today – Low: 35˚ High: 50˚
Clear throughout the day.

Gramercy Park will open to the public on Christmas Eve for one hour between 6 and 7pm. (Devin Gannon for 6sqft)

A $1,550 coffee can, a $150 meal for a child, a home decorated for only $50,000. These are the holiday deals for New York’s obscenely rich. (Kathleen Culliton for Patch)

A $5000 cocktail at The Baccarat. (Matt Coneybeare for Viewing NYC)

Okay, you’ve got family in town this week? Here are some suggestions on what to do with them instead of staring at each other inside your apartment. (Meredith Craig de Pietro for Brooklyn Based)

Christmas day activities for anyone not into Christmas. (Sara Lewin Lebwohl for I Love the Upper West Side)

More Christmas day activities. (Rebecca Fishbein for 6sqft)

Photos: Brooklyn’s largest Hanukkah menorah’s night one celebration. (Todd Maisel for amNewYork)

It’s the record-holder of the Guinness World Records for largest gingerbread village, with 800 pounds of candy, 600 pounds of gingerbread dough, and 2,300 pounds of royal icing. (Stephanie Simon for NY1)

AAA declared Thursday between 4:15pm and 6:15pm the absolute worst time to drive in the city with traffic 2.7x the usual amount. (Adam Nichols for Patch)

The population in Downtown Brooklyn is expected to double in the 2020s. The future of the neighborhood, as envisioned by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership could include protected bike lanes, a mix of some of the most pedestrian-friendly features the city has to offer between 14th St’s busway and Times Square’s pedestrian plazas. (Benjamin Schneider for The City)

Advocates want more New York City school staff to be better educated in how to guide undocumented high school seniors through Dream Act application process. (Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech for amNewYork)

A federal judge on Thursday rejected a motion from ICE officials to dismiss a New York lawsuit challenging the federal agency over courthouse arrests. The judge ruled that ICE agents should not be allowed to make arrests while witnesses or parties are coming in and out of court proceedings. (Stephen Rex Brown and Leonard Greene for NY Daily News)

We’ve got a new entry into the 100+ point violation club in the weekly list of restaurants ordered closed by the Department of Health. (Adam Nichols for Patch)

Parents are accusing the two out of 28 yeshivas that were reported as providing the minimum secular educations of making superficial changes when administrators knew about the inspections in advance, possibly making the already embarrassing report even worse. How bad can it get? Five of the 28 schools inspected offered zero math or English classes at all. (Jessica Gould and Jake Offenhartz for Gothamist)

One of the Mob Wives was arrested? Quelle surprise! (Corey Kilgannon for NY Times)

Want some good news? Here’s a story about a firefighter that saved and adopted a kitten. (Jen Chung for Gothamist)

Apartment Porn: Take a tour of a $30 million Park Ave penthouse with a rooftop pool, 14-foot ceilings, and a bathtub with a view. (Architectural Digest)

2019 was not a memorable year for sports in New York. (Robert Pozarycki for amNewYork)

Please meet Elizabeth Warrhen, a lost rooster found in Park Slope trying to root atop an inflatable Santa. (Ben Yakas for Gothamist)

D’ussé Palooza went from a basement party in Harlem thrown by two unemployed friends to 9,000 revelers at the Barclays Center, sponsored by Jay-Z and a half-million dollar budget in seven years with a plan to expand globally. (Aaron Randle for NY Times)

“Why not use drones to do building inspections?” is a perfectly good question to ask. Installing a sidewalk shed and scaffolding is an expensive, time consuming and may contribute to why some building owners don’t get it done. So what’s stopping it from happening? There’s a 1948 law that requires that all aircraft take off and land in a location designated for flight by the Port Authority. (Mark Hallum for amNewYork)

2019 has been “a difficult and challenging year under Vision Zero,” according to the city’s transportation commissioner, and the end of the year isn’t letting up. In three days drivers killed six pedestrians in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, bringing the death toll on city streets to 119 this year, topping last year’s 110. (Christina Goldbaum for NY Times)

Are you ready for the Brooklyn version of High Fidelity? (Ben Yakas for Gothamist)

A vigil for the five people killed by drivers on 3rd Ave in Brooklyn was held, calling for the mayor to not wait another year or for another vigil to take action to make 3rd Ave safer for everyone. (Julianne Cuba for Streetsblog)

A detective involved in the Tessa Majors stabbing investigation, Wilfredo Acevedo, has been sued multiple times for allegations that include withholding exculpatory evidence and making false accusations. He’s already facing scrutiny for interrogating a thirteen-year-old suspect with no attorney present. He also has three disciplinary findings from the NYPD. (George Joseph for Gothamist)

The Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain in Bryant Park is never turned off, which makes a beautiful ice sculpture every time the temperature goes below freezing. (Matt Coneybeare for Viewing NYC)

A Bronx soccer stadium may be closer than we think, despite neighborhood opposition. (Ed García Conde for Welcome2TheBronx)

What do you do when the leader of a gang is already in prison? Howard Smith is accused of being the leader of the Brick Squad gang, giving orders through coded phone calls from prison. (Nicole Hong for NY Times)

Despite the city-wide reduction in chain stores, Dunkin’ and MetroPCS saw a booming 2019. Dunkin’ is the city’s largest chain with 636 stores, followed by MetroPCS with 468. (Devin Gannon for 6sqft)

If you love sushi omakases and hate having money, there are at least 10 sushi omakases that are over $300 before tax or drinks. (Ryan Sutton for Eater)

Where to go when you’ve eaten “everywhere” in Soho. (The Infatuation)

The Briefly for December 20, 2019 – The “Do You Know About the Secret Pet Tree?” Weekend Edition

Today’s daily NYC news digest: The Inwood rezoning is killed in court, New York state’s $6 billion deficit, the city moves to kill its relationship with the Trump Organization, and more

Today – Low: 23˚ High: 33˚
Clear throughout the day.
This weekend – Low: 27˚ High: 42˚

This weekend’s subway disruptions hit the 1, 3, 6, A, E, F, and Q trains. (Subway Weekender)

The story of the two menorahs claiming to be the world’s largest and why there can’t ever be a bigger menorah. (Alexandra Alexa for 6sqft)

13 places to find festive holiday decorations in the city. Do you know where to find the secret pet tree in Central Park? (Nicole Saraniero for Untapped New York)

Landlords are blaming the new rent laws on why they’re cutting back on apartment renovations. Or maybe it’s because landlords are always cutting back on apartment renovations? (The Real Deal)

The fourth annual Kwanzaa crawl is happening on the 26th with stops in Harlem and Brooklyn to celebrate the city’s black-owned restaurants and bars. (Tanay Warerkar for Eater)

Will less garbage cans in Prospect Park lead to people carrying their garbage out of the park? The Prospect Park Alliance will be trying a “carry-in, carry-out” policy modeled after the National Parks Service policy. (Colin Mixson for Brooklyn Paper)

The MTA tried a similar program for five years where garbage cans were removed form stations and riders were encouraged to carry their garbage out with them. It ended because the amount of track fires caused by trash doubled after the program was implemented. (Vincent Barone for amNewYork)

The MTA unveiled 68 subway stations that will be getting elevator upgrades as part of their 2020-2024 capital plan. Among the 68 are Broadway Junction, Woodhaven Boulevard, and Van Cortlandt Park-242 St. (Vincent Barone for amNewYork)

There are over 100 subway stations across the city where one or more entrance is “temporarily” closed, some since the 70s or 80s. Maybe it’s time to reopen some of these entrances? (Canaan Geberer for Brooklyn Eagle)

After a nine month renovation, the Astoria Boulevard stop on the N/W line reopened on Wednesday, but construction will continue as workers instal elevators, staircases, walkways, and more. (NY1)

Turns out Christmas is predicted to be warmer than average this year and more importantly, no snow. (Adam Nichols for Patch)

We will all wake up on January 1, 2020 sharing the state’s fresh $6 billion deficit. (Ross Barkan for Gothamist)

14 historic sites of the abolitionist movement in Greenwich Village. (Andrew Berman for 6sqft)

Video: Meet Hannah Gavios, who completed the 2019 New York City Marathon on a pair of crutches. (Great Big Story)

Governors Ball wants to move to Van Cortlandt Park the Bronx. (Ese Olumhense for The City)

Where to eat with a really big group. (Bryan Kim for The Infatuation)

Queens man impeached. (Victoria Merlino for Queens Eagle)

RIP Felix Rohatyn, “Felix the Fixer,” the man who saved NYC from financial collapse in 1975. (Bruce Nelan for Washington Post)

For a brief period of time on Thursday you could come across impeachment-themed postcards in the Trump Tower gift shop thanks to comedians Davram Steifler and Jason Selvig. They’ve done it in the past too, with Russian flags, Putin postcards, and KKK hoods. (Lee Moran for HuffPost)

For the second year in a row we are ending the year with less chain stores in the city than we started. The city overall is down 304 chains. (Kevin Sun for The Real Deal)

Terra cotta building facades have a history of disrepair and danger, from the death of Grace Gold in 1979 to this week’s death of Erica Tishman. (Elizabeth Kim for Gothamist)

Governor Cuomo’s Mother Cabrini statue has found a home in Battery Park City’s South Cove. The patron saint of immigrants will be across the harbor from the Statue of Liberty. (John Alexander for The Brooklyn Home Reporter)

Meet Athena Soules: The artist and co-founder of NYC Light Brigade, whose signs are shaping the image of New York’s resistance movement. (Paul Frangipane for Brooklyn Eagle)

The City Council appears to be ready to flush the Trump Organization, targeting city contracts with the Trump Organization at the skating rinks in Central Park and the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx. Both locations are underperforming and losing funds for city parks. (Mark Hallum for amNewYork)

The Heartland Brewery is on its last legs. Down to three locations, one in the Empire State Building and two in Times Square, the Empire State Building location is set to close next month with rumors of the last two locations closing following suit in 2020. (Erika Adams for Grub Street)

We better start getting used to seeing humpback whales in city waters, because they’re hanging out even in winter. (Ben Yakas for Gothamist)

One day people will look back at the 2019 trend of erecting plastic “igloos” outside in winter and laugh. We’re not there yet. (Adam Goldman for Time Out)

It’s in violation of the city’s paid sick law to require employees to find replacements when calling out sick, but that didn’t stop Starbucks from doing that for years. A settlement with the city is forcing Starbucks to pay $150,000 in restitution. (Kate Offenhartz for Gothamist)

How Jona Rechnitz, “a liar and a felon,” became a star witness after being arrested on corruption charges. (Jan Ramson for NY Times)

The Department of Transportation is hiring seven “apprentice highway and sewer inspectors” to inspect bike lanes and review road work done by contractors. Bike team, assemble! (Eve Kessler for Streetsblog)

A look back at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2019, a year spent trying to convince everyone they were wrong when they said no one wanted him to run for president and eventually he learned the truth and kept pushing until he had no money left and came home. (Gloria Pazmino for NY1)

The City Council and the mayor blew their own self-imposed deadline of the end of the year to reform the city’s property tax system. That’s politician-speak for “broken promise.” (Janaki Chadha for Politico)

Speaking of blown self-imposed deadlines, it looks like the NYPD won’t actually be encrypting their radios in 2020. (Todd Maisel for amNewYork)

A judge nullified Inwoods rezoning, finding that the de Blasio administration “failed to take a hard look” at how the land use changes will impact the neighborhood. (Caroline Spivack for Curbed)

Only two out of 28 yeshivas investigated by the city’s Department of Education were deemed to be providing an education “substantially equivalent“ to that given at secular public schools, according to the city’s report on the long-delayed investigation into failing yeshivas. (Madina Touré for Politico)

A straightforward guide to holiday tipping. (Kathleen Culliton for Patch)

The best new restaurants of 2019. (The Infatuation)

The Briefly for December 19, 2019 – The “Here Come Governor Cuomo’s Subway Cops” Edition

Today’s daily NYC news digest: Mayor de Blasio interfered with a report on the schools’ yeshivas, this year’s most checked out books, the South Bronx is not SoBro, and more

Today – Low: 24˚ High: 28˚
Clear throughout the day.

The woman whose instagram posts inside the liana’s enclosure at the Bronx Zoo seemed to heave no fear, except of showing up at court. She no-showed her court date last week and a bench warrant has been issued for her arrest. (NY1)

Non-binary New Yorkers will no longer be labeled as male or female on their death certificates and can instead have an X. The city has offered an intersex designation for birth certificates since 2016 and a nonbinary X since 2018. (Brooklyn Eagle)

The MTA board, controlled but he governor, approved the governor’s proposal of hiring 500 new police officers to patrol subways and buses, costing $249 million in the next four years. The three board nominees appointed by Mayor de Blasio voted against the measure. (Vincent Barone for amNewYork)

Misdemeanors in the city’s public transit system peaked in 2009, then declined, and have since been holding fairly steady, with some minor fluctuations, since 2012. Experts say Governor Cuomo’s claims that misdemeanors are up 11% is based on incomplete data. (Dana Rubenstein for Politico)

Photos: Inside Gramercy Typewriter, one of the city’s last typewriter stores. (Nicole Saraniero for Untapped New York)

The #1 book checked out of the NYPL this year was Becoming by Michelle Obama. Fine out the rest of the top ten and what was popular in each borough. (Jen Carlson for Gothamist)

Stonewall House, New York City’s first affordable LGBT-friendly senior housing complex, is now open in Fort Greene. (Alexandra Alex for 6sqft)

The city’s 29th bicyclist in 2019 killed by a driver is Dr. Daniel J. Cammerman, a doctor at Mount Sinai Health System on the Upper East Side. The Upper East Side is a particularly dangerous place for cyclists. (Todd Maisel for amNewYork)

The NYPD have begun testifying in the juvenile court case of the 13-year-old accused of stabbing Tessa Majors to death. (JB Nicholas for Gothamist)

NYC’s 15 most iconic modern buildings. (Amy Plitt for Curbed)

Chase, Joe Coffee, and By CHLOE, the businesses in the location of the former Union Square Coffee Shop, are now open. (Alexandra Alexa for 6sqft)

So now we all know what a snow squall is. (Ben Yakas for Gothamist)

Okay, but why did everyone in the city get a notification about the squall? The National Weather Service added squalls to their list of weather threats worthy of notifications in January of 2018. Wednesdays pair of notifications were the second and third ever to be issued in the city. (Ed Shanahan for NY Times)

Photos: One upside to freezing temperatures is the look of the plants at the New York Botanical Garden wearing icicles like jewelry. (Jen Chung for Gothamist)

The owners of the building where Erica Tishman was killed by falling debris on 49th St were fined for failure to maintain the building’s facade in October of 2018 and April of this year, which identified falling hazards for pedestrians. The building got approval to begin masonry work to repair the facade last month. Now that someone was killed as a result of their delays, repairs appear to have begun. (Ben Yakas for Gothamist)

The city’s small claims court cases have a new upper limit of $10,000, up from $5,000. (Allie Griffin for LIC Post)

Stop trying to rebrand the South Bronx as SoBro. (Ed García Conde for Welcome2TheBronx)

Two-ways tolls are coming back to the Verrazzano. Rolled up into the $1.4 trillion government spending bill is changing the bridge’s one way $19.00 toll to an each-way $9.50 toll. Drivers re-route their trips to avoid tolls, making the East-bound direction of Staten Island more congested than necessary as a result. The bill is headed to the senate, where it’s expected to pass. (Paula Katinas for The Brooklyn Home Reporter)

The Nevins Street Subway Raccoon was spotted on Tuesday night. What does this little scamp want? Probably the same as the rest of us on the subway, to be left alone. Trash panda-related subway delays have doubled in 2019, up to 11 total. (Claire Lampen for Gothamist)

A history of the Central Park carousel. (Patricia Youngquist for I Love the Upper West Side)

Mayor de Blasio delayed a report about the investigation into if private yeshivas in New York City were not providing their students with an adequate education as long as possible for his own political gain. A report from the DOE’s Special Commissioner of Investigation on the situation states the inquiry itself was delayed at least a year in order to drum up support for mayoral control of city schools. It’s been four years since the inquiry was supposed to start and no report has been produced. (Christopher Robbins for Gothamist)

Mayor de Blasio didn’t break the law, but he did interfere with his own Department of Education’s probe into the yeshivas. Now the mayor’s office sounds like an echo of the president, immediately issuing the statement “There’s no ‘there’ there, as evidenced by the finding of no wrongdoing.” (Eliza Shapiro and Jeffrey C. Mays for NY Times)

Jersey City has joined the federal lawsuit against the de Blasio administration for its placement of homeless families from the city in apartments controlled by slumlords in New Jersey. (Mark Hallum for amNewYork)

OMNY has arrived in the Bronx, starting with the E138 St, Grand Concourse, and 149th St stations. (Ed García Conde for Welcome2TheBronx)

The ten best dishes inside the new Essex Crossing. (Robert Sietsema for Eater)