Hawk Cam Returns for Third Season

The Hawk Cam, which has chronicled the lives of red-tailed hawks in Washington Square Park since 2011, will return for a third season very soon. The stars of the reality raptor drama, believed to be last year’s couple, Rosie and Bobby, are currently warming three eggs on a nest situated on the 12th-floor window ledge of New York University’s president, John Sexton.

The camera is expected to go live in the coming days, John Beckman, the university’s spokesman, said on Wednesday. The university will be sponsoring this year’s broadcast, with equipment donated by The New York Times.

“We have been in touch with some of the stalwart members of the online community that have followed the hawks, and we’ll be working with them over the coming days to let the broader community of Hawk Cam watchers know when we are ready to start the streaming video, which should be soon,” Mr. Beckman said in an e-mail.

According to Mr. Beckman, the first egg was spotted “a few weeks ago” and the third appeared last week. The mother bird has been on the nest “pretty constantly,” he added. Typically, hatching begins 28 to 35 days after egg-laying, meaning that there could be a baby hawk in early April.

The first season of the Hawk Cam starred Bobby and his then-mate, Violet, who died in December 2011 following surgery to remove a necrotic foot, and their offspring, Pip.

Last January, Bobby mated with a new female, named Rosie for her feather coloring. The pair consummated their union atop a church cross and successfully incubated two baby hawks, who made their live debut in April. The young hawks, named Boo and Scout by readers, took their first flight at the end of May.

“We know people are eager for the Hawk Cam to resume, and we’re glad to be able to responsive,” added Mr. Beckman.

We’ll let you know when the camera is ready for prime time.

For coverage and updates, read D. Bruce Yolton’s Urban Hawks, rogerpaw.blogspot.com and follow @Rueby on Twitter.

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Deft Hands Make Her Work Worthwhile

Ms. Yu manages to make repairs swiftly even though her fingers were damaged in a fire when she was a baby.Todd Heisler/The New York Times Ms. Yu manages to make repairs swiftly even though her fingers were damaged in a fire when she was a baby.

On a recent Saturday, Sandy Yu, protected by a red parka, was one of the few sidewalk vendors who showed up along a normally jammed Fifth Avenue commercial strip in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

“Battery change — how much?” asked a young woman, holding out her watch. “Five dollar,” said Ms. Yu, putting down her thermos.

Ms. Yu, 37, took her tools from a box of baby wipes. She plucked out the watch’s battery with tweezers, replaced it with a new one, cleaned the mechanism, then reset the time and calendar.

All this took Ms. Yu less than a minute — without the full use of her hands. Her fingers are fused together as a result of a childhood accident. The customer, who did not seem surprised by Ms. Yu’s speed, handed her a five-dollar bill, which Ms. Yu tucked into her shoulder bag.

For the past six years, Ms. Yu has set up her watch repair stand in the heart of a seven-block stretch of vendors, grilling corn and frying empanadas, selling jewelry and toys. She rarely moves from her chair, except when she’s tending to her children — washing her 3-year-old son’s hands, or brushing her 8-year-old daughter’s hair. Many passers-by know her: “Will you be here tomorrow?” one man asks, anxiously. “Twelve-thirty,” she replied.

She is there on summer days when the sidewalks are carnival-like — bags of cotton candy topping vendors’ carts like flags — and in the dead of winter, when people hurry past, heads down. For two dollars she does minor adjustments, like taking links off watchbands. For $10 she replaces watchbands and does simple repairs.

“Always, I want to be working,” she said. She sets up her stand even if it’s raining. “If I’m working, I still have a hope” the day will clear, she explains in halting English.

Some people have told Ms. Yu that there is a stigma attached to working outdoors on the street. But, she said, “I am not ashamed. My job is so flexible.’’

If her children are sick, for instance, she can stay home with them. And she likes the independence: “I work alone.” She lives nearby with her husband, David Hu, 41, who operates his own watch repair stand on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park, and their three children. The couple came here from China in 2003.

Ms. Yu learned her craft from her husband, who owned a clothing and jewelry store in Guangzhou. Before they met, he had become “interested in watches,” she said, “and bought a lot of books” on the subject. “If someone had an old watch that was broken, he would buy it. Little by little, he start to know it, to organize it.”

She sometimes shopped at his store. “I noticed him,” she said about her future husband, a shy, handsome man. “We talked a little bit.” Her friends encouraged her to try to meet him. She was not interested, but one day a friend took her watch to the shop for repairs. When it came back, there were two small hearts clipped onto it.

Recently, a woman in a brilliant blue sari handed Ms. Yu a gold watch for a battery change. “What happened to your hands?” she asked. ”I was in a fire,” Ms. Yu said. Later, she explained: When she was about 8 months old, her grandmother put her close to a primitive stove in her family’s farmhouse kitchen. It was filled with burning hay. “The fire came near where I was sitting,” she said. Burns covered her face and hands. When her family took her to the village doctor, “he put my fingers together,” she said, reshaping her hands.

It wasn’t until 2003, as part of her visa application, that she had a medical exam. “The doctor said they should have separated my fingers,” she said, matter-of-factly. “I’d have more fingers to use. They made a big mistake.”

Ms. Yu rarely has a chance to speak English beyond her brief contact with customers. “I learned English from doing homework with my older son,” she said. She also studied intermittently at the Brooklyn Chinese Association, and said she hoped to go back to school and get a high school equivalency diploma when her children are older. She worries that her vocabulary is shrinking: “Since I stop studying English,” she said. “I lose, lose, lose.”

She and Mr. Hu have lived in Sunset Park since they arrived from China. “Everybody knows me,” she said. “This neighborhood is always lucky: We didn’t get the hurricane, or the one before that.”

The light was fading. Soon she would pack up her watch repair stand, load it onto a dolly and wheel it home. “There may be a better place,” she said, but “for now, I am satisfied.”

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A New Purpose for an Old Telephone Building, but Its Dull Face Remains

When City Room last visited the bulky old telephone switching station at 375 Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, it was poised to emerge — like a chrysalis — from its limestone shell and turn into a sleek glass-skinned office tower, putting at risk its standing as one of the uglier skyscrapers in New York.

Building Blocks

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

That was early 2008, before the bottom fell out of the economy, the developers at Taconic Investment Partners lost control of the building and the M&T Bank sold it for $119 million to a group headed by the Sabey Corporation of Seattle.

Sabey is turning the 32-story structure into a commercial data center where tenants can house their servers with what Sabey says will be uninterrupted power, cooling and security. The first phase, now nearing completion, has the capacity to handle 5.4 megawatts of electrical demand, Tom Beckwith, a senior vice president at Sabey, said. Prospective tenants are typically in the market for 100 kilowatts to 2 megawatts of power. Six tenants have signed on, he said. The building could accommodate a total demand of up to 40 megawatts.

Construction is far enough along at the center, called Intergate Manhattan, to warrant a visit by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Verizon still uses three floors of the structure, which was built in 1975 by its corporate predecessor, the New York Telephone Company. It owns these floors outright as a condominium unit. Sabey owns the other 29 floors. Verizon pays rent to Sabey (Mr. Beckwith would not say how much) for the illuminated sign on the building’s east facade, which is highly visible from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Tenants in the data center are charged on the basis of energy demand rather than square footage. “They’re paying for capacity,” John Sasser, vice president for operations, said. “The space comes with it.” Leases typically run for 10 years.

Since acquiring the building in June 2011, Sabey has applied some hard-won knowledge to the project. For instance, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the company decided to install critical backup generators on the fourth floor, 69 feet above street level, rather than on the second floor, 23 feet above the street.

Though Sabey typically operates expansive, low-rise buildings, it found that 375 Pearl Street came with many built-in advantages, John Ford, the vice president for leasing, said. These included floors that were designed for much heavier loads than would be found in a typical office building and ample space at the north and south ends of the tower for vertical conduits and ductwork. As far as security goes, it does not hurt to have Police Department headquarters next door.

Today, there is little to record Taconic’s plan except the remnants of its marketing center on the 26th floor. There, a mock-up corner office was constructed with a glass wall facing a curved photo mural — almost like a cyclorama — depicting the Lower Manhattan skyline. It was meant to show how beautiful 375 Pearl Street would be with a new, transparent skin.

But the existing monolithic and inscrutable limestone facade suits the new owners just fine, Mr. Beckwith said. “We think it’s beautiful, as a data center.”

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Van Cliburn, My Nemesis

Dear Diary:

One of the residual scars from growing up in the ’50s and ’60s was the parental reproach, “Why can’t you be more like…”

I have no doubt the comparison was well meaning, but often enough it had the opposite effect. Of course I resented the well-behaved older sister Geraldine!; be damned the straight-A’s (pimply faced) Michael Portnoy from down the block! But these weren’t the worst, no sir! My nemeses were Van Cliburn … and Joey Parsky.

I took no comfort at the news of the great pianist’s death (“…why can’t you play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 like Van Cliburn?”). But he was always paired with that other do-gooder, Golden Boy, the dreaded Joey Parsky, who took his grandmother to temple, took the garbage out to the curb, and took prizes in debate and science.

I should tell you there’s no comeuppance for Joey Parsky, who went on to be an attorney, married, had nice kids and led, presumably, a very good life. He also, years later, won the Massachusetts State Lottery, which prompted my own grandmother, on her deathbed, to say, “Why can’t YOU do that?”


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West 22nd Street, 4:51 P.M.

March 19

City Approves 700-Unit Rental Complex on Gowanus Canal

The complex is to consist of two buildings of graduated heights, some as tall as 12 stories. Most apartments are to be sold at market prices, but 140, or 20 percent of them, are to be reserved for people of modest incomes.

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