Memorializing a Year of Loss in New York

Weather: Mostly sunny today, with a high in the low 80s. On weekends mixed sun and clouds with a chance of afternoon storms and highs around 90.

Alternative parking: In force until May 31 (Memorial Day).

An arrangement of homemade signs, letters, and flowers near the gates of Green-Wood Cemetery on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. Another outside a nursing home in Cobble Hill. A mural in a parking lot in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

At the beginning of the pandemic, temporary memorials were erected across New York for those who died from the coronavirus.

Now that the city is resuming its pre-pandemic rhythm and workers returning to the office have grim memories of deceased employees, city officials are grappling with how to more permanently recognize the life lost last year.

[Read more about how city workers and other New Yorkers lost may be memorialized.]

Here are three things my colleague Corey Kilgannon learned about the plans:

Officials from the city’s sanitary department yesterday unveiled the city’s first permanent free-standing memorial to victims of the pandemic. The 600-pound statue, dedicated to nine plumbing workers who lost to Covid-19 last year, was on display in downtown Manhattan in front of one of the department’s warehouse structures.

It will be shown in several departmental garages this summer. After Labor Day, it will be permanently installed in front of a garage on Spring Street in Manhattan.

More than 300 city workers have died from the virus. Another 159 subway, train and bus workers for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have also died.

City officials have not announced any specific plans for a memorial to city workers or the more than 30,000 New Yorkers who have died from Covid-19. However, minor efforts have been made for months. In January, for example, the MTA installed digital displays in subway stations showing portraits of fallen workers.

Other authorities are now grappling with how to remember their fallen workers. The city’s Justice Department, which has lost at least 11 employees, plans to create a memorial garden on Rikers Island.

Councilor Mark Levine has passed legislation to erect a memorial in honor of the estimated hundreds of virus victims buried on Hart Island, Bronx. And seven fallen workers at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens were remembered with a painted triptych of a tree with leaves on which were handwritten messages from surviving workers.

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The Times’ Melissa Guerrero writes:

Although many performance rooms, museums, and community centers are closed, people are finding creative ways to connect through virtual events and programs. Here are suggestions on how to have a social life in New York this weekend while keeping a safe distance from other people.

On Friday at 12 noonLearn about lost or forgotten stories of rare stone fruits from artist and orcharder Sam Van Aken, who has a decades-long project to collect and preserve them.

Free RSVP on the event page.

Visit five historic Queens homes without leaving your couch Saturday at 1 p.m.

Purchase tickets ($ 5 or $ 30) from the event page.

On Saturday at 3 p.m.Learn about bizarre and unusual modes of transport with Michael Hearst, musician and author of Unconventional Vehicles: Forty-Five of the Weirdest Cars, Trains, Planes, Submersibles, Airships, and Missiles.

Register for free on the event page.

It’s Friday – take a break in the sun.

Dear Diary:

I was 23 and hungry and tired after a Sunday shopping on the Lower East Side when I discovered Ratner’s on Delancey Street. I was shown to a stall and a bowl of onion rolls and a menu were thrown on the table.

“What will you have?” demanded the waiter without looking up from his order pad.

“Well, uh …” I stammered and looked at the unfamiliar menu.

“You will have the stuffed cabbage,” he said. “And by the way?” (He still didn’t look at me.)

“Um … mashed potatoes?”

“You will have the Kasha varnishes,” he said, scribbling on his pad and then hurried off.

Generous servings of food soon appeared and I ate it quickly.

The waiter came back.

“So I think everything was fine,” he concluded when he saw me wiping up one last piece of sauce with a piece of bread roll.

“Absolutely delicious,” I replied.

“Of course,” he said. “And for dessert?”

“Nothing, thanks. I’m so full.”

“You will have the Nesselrode cake,” he said, and then disappeared back up the corridor.

– Sherry Friedman

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