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A Look Back at the ‘Families Belong Together’ March Across Brooklyn Bridge

Thousands gathered in downtown Manhattan on Saturday morning to protest what they said was the Trump administration’s inhumane policy on illegal border crossings. The Families Belong Together march, one of hundreds around the country, started at Foley Square and took demonstrators to Cadman Plaza. Watch our video to see the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and hear what motivated New Yorkers to come out in the sweltering heat and call for the abolition of ICE, the reunification of families separated at the border, and more.

Video by Jennifer Perry.

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Come for the Beach, Stay for the Brisket at Rockaway Beach BBQ

(Photo: RBQ on Instagram)

After a bit of a delay, Rockaway Beach BBQ (RBQ) is finally up and running in the site of the former Playland Motel, which was sold to investors in 2017. Officially opened earlier this week in time for the 4th of July, this offshoot brought to you by the team behind Swingbellys in Long Island is sure to whet any famished beach-goer’s appetite.

Two of RBQ’s business partners, Ryan Moroney and Jacob Marlin, are from the area. Marlin, who’s also the head chef of RBQ, spoke fondly about returning to his native roots. “Oh, it’s a great feeling. Between friends and family and the community board, everyone knows us.”

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Celebrate July 4th at One of These Outdoor Parties

Photo: @TheLotRadio on Instagram.

Independence Day falls on a Wednesday this week, which means Hump Day is gonna be lit. (If we’re allowed to say “lit” anymore.) Here’s our roundup of parties, from the weekday into the weekend. Wherever you end up, remember that the Department of Transportation, in an effort to curb drunk driving, is partnering with Lyft to offer $10 credits when you enter the code KNOWYOURLIMIT here.

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Inside the Installation of the Summer, Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Narcissus Garden’

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

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(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

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(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

(Photos: Scott Lynch)

MoMA PS1 has once again brought their crack aesthetic instincts and curatorial muscle out to Fort Tilden for the summer, this year hosting a fantastic installation by one of the most popular artists of our time, Yayoi Kusama’s “Narcissus Garden.”

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Even MORE Hummus Among Us: VISH Opens On East 8th Street

(Photo Credit: VISH)

It’s been a hummus-filled week, folks. Alongside the arrival of Panorama near Union Square, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant VISH Vegetarian Hummus opened up earlier this week on E. 8th Street in the heart of NYU’s campus community. Falafel-lovers’ favorite, Maoz Vegetarian, closed in the spring and left a pita-shaped void on the block. But since VISH is opening in the exact same spot, fans can rest easy.

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The Very Latest on the City’s Plan to Deal With the L-Pocalypse

(Photo courtesy of Buck Ennis)

Speaker Corey Johnson opened this week’s City Council hearing on the 15-month L-train shutdown with a dramatic flourish. He promised “dogged oversight” and suggested with a firm note in his voice that there better be a “hard stop” at the project’s anticipated completion date. As you’re probably aware, service is expected to be suspended for 15 months between Bedford Avenue and 8th Avenue starting in April 2019. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DoT) and the MTA are working around the clock with new plans to ease the fretful minds of legislators and affected residents and commuters. Here’s the important stuff you need to know from this week’s hearing.

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More Hummus Among Us: Levantine Chain Panorama Launches Near Union Square

(Photo courtesy of Panorama)

The latest health-minded fast-casual chain to hit Manhattan just launched off of Union Square. Panorama Middle Eastern Grill is clearly aiming to become the Levantine Chipotle, and is hoping to succeed right across the street from where The Hummus & Pita Co. failed. Backed by a Canadian real-estate developer, the restaurant aims to open 15 locations around Greater New York in the next few years, starting with its first at 820 Broadway.

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Williamsburg’s Bar Beau Serves Coffee By Day, and Soon Cocktails By Night

Bar Beau (Photo: Claire Chan)

I know what you’re thinking: Does Brooklyn really need another café? But this is no ordinary coffee shop. Bar Beau, which opened on Monday, works overtime for it patrons, doubling as a coffee shop by day and trendy cocktail bar by night.

The coffee bar’s architecture also lends it an unusual appeal. Crisp lines of marble intersect with the ceiling’s plaster curves, evoking rocky cliffs and turbulent waters in an homage to the Pacific Northwest background of owner Claire Chan, who also operates the West Village café The Elk.  The cocktail-slash-cafe is named for her nephew, Beau. “My roots are PNW (Vancouver, Canada), so it was important for me to integrate that into this “home away from home,” says Chan.

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Politicians Call Out Airbnb as Mural Welcomes Guests to ‘Illegal Hotel Row’

A mural painted by local tenants in protest of Airbnb’s impact on their community. (Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)     

“Hey hey, ho ho, illegal hotels have got to go!” On a rainy Wednesday afternoon at the First Street Green Cultural Park, a dedicated group of 15 or so elected officials, activists and local residents sporting “Save the Lower East Side” T-shirts gathered to protest commercially operated, short-term rentals like VRBO and Airbnb.

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A Visit to Williamsburg’s New Food Hall, North 3rd Street Market

Though it’s one of Smorgasburg’s home bases, Williamsburg hadn’t yet gotten one of the glitzy food halls that have been popping up all over Manhattan. That changed when North 3rd Street Market opened at 103 N 3rd this month, bringing with it ramen from Chuko (to make up for its closing in Bushwick), lobster rolls from Greenpoint/Rockaway fixture Lobster Joint, sandwiches and burritos from Lower East Side transplants Regina’s Grocery and Jajaja, croissants from Ben Cuit, cappuccinos from Champion Coffee, rolls from GoFish Sushi Box, and more. DJs from Halycon, the record shop inside of Williamsburg club Output, pair the eats with beats. Maybe most exciting, pizza institution Di Fara has set up its first satellite oven here, which means you’ll no longer have to trek out to Midwood to scarf what many consider to be the best pie in the city. Watch our video to check out the scene and hear from vendors and customers.

Video by Erica Carnevalli.

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Amid Jeers and Fears, City Ups the Rent On Stabilized Apartments

(Photos: Dave Colon)

Despite a boisterous, chanting crowd that filled an auditorium in Cooper Union’s Great Hall and called for a rent freeze or rollback, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board voted to allow 1.5 percent increases on one-year leases and 2.5 percent increases on two-year leases in a narrow 5-4 decision last night.

Like the preliminary vote meeting the Rent Guidelines Board held in April, last night’s meeting was packed with tenants and activists hoping for at least a rent freeze on rent-stabilized apartments, which some said was the only thing between families across the city and homelessness.

“There is one barrier between a lot of us and homelessness: the Rent Guidelines Board,” Fitz Christian  a member of CASA, told the crowd before the meeting began. “We who are living in our homes for 30 or 40 years are having a hard time living in our homes. It is a tremendous burden for us and our children. We want a rent rollback so we can live as human beings.”

In addition to speakers like Christian, tenant representative Leah Goodridge made the case for a rent freeze to the crowd and the board before actually introducing her motion. Goodridge pointed to the city’s rising numbers of homeless people and to data that she said showed landlords had actually made over $312,000 per landlord during the rent freeze period compared to $296,000 per landlord in non-rent freeze periods.

“My vote is for tenants struggling to make ends meet when the rent goes up,” Goodridge said before asking the board to vote for a rent freeze. “The tenants who have to decide ‘Should I buy a MetroCard or should I pay my rent? Should I buy food for my child or should I pay my rent?’”

The rent freeze proposal failed 6-3, but only after the 7-2 failure of a loudly booed motion from the landlords’ representatives to tack on a 2 percent increase for one-year leases and a 4 percent increase for two-year leases.

Ultimately, the board approved the 1.5 and 2.5 percent rent increases 5-4, before adjourning the meeting while the crowd chanted “Shame on you” before leaving the Great Hall to continue to rally outside. “It seems to me they were not relying on the testimony we heard from tenants,” Goodridge told reporters after the meeting, accusing the board of putting “profits before people” and refusing to consider the stories of tenants who testified in front of the board at five public meetings through the spring.

However, one of the board’s owner representatives disputed the dichotomy of “people vs. profits.” “The owner’s perspective or at least my perspective is you want to keep enough of an incentive for people to keep the housing in a state of good repair,” owner representative Angela Pinsky told reporters after the vote. “You don’t want to encourage them to look into other options like selling or redeveloping the land.”

In choosing against a rent freeze, Pinsky said the board was looking for the kind of compromise that allowed landlords to avoid “all sorts of market pressures that are pushing them towards other options than keeping an aging building with low-rent tenants” and cast the vote as the best possible scenario for the tenants.

“The most stable place for a lot of the people who came to testify would be in their current apartment in a state of good repair. I think moving around is costly for them, having your building bought and sold is expensive for them,” she said.

Tenant activists, of course, disagreed with that assessment, and promised a political fight. Before the vote itself, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein (who represents an area including Stuy Town, Alphabet City, the East Village and the Lower East Side) exhorted the crowd to vote in the 2018 state legislature elections and to “hold us all accountable, me in the Assembly and all our members” in an effort to repeal the Urstard Law, a long-running campaign by tenants advocates against the law that gives the state authority over rent regulation.

Rolando Guzman, a deputy director for community preservation with the St. Nicks Alliance, also promised tenant organizing would ramp up as the year went along, pointing to the march against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s housing policies held earlier this month as an example of a motivated and mobilized base. “There’s [political pressure] being built already, and this is pressure being built from the base up, from tenant associations and tenants who are being harassed,” he told Bedford + Bowery.

Still, in the moments after the vote, activists and renters couldn’t help but be somewhat discouraged by the board’s vote, which Guzman said amounted to a message of “We don’t care about you.”

“Nobody had a conscience, they’re not thinking about poor people,” Sondra James of the Flatbush Tenants Coalition told Bedford + Bowery outside Cooper Union. “What should we do? Hold our rents and force the landlords to know that we can’t pay it? Build tents around on corners, decorate New York with tents and live in them to show how many homeless people there are?”