In late October, visitors from Germany, Jan and Christina, met Greeter Laurie on the steps of City Hall. Council Member Daniel Garodnick was to join them as Greeter for a Day.
Ilona Kramer, his Chief of Staff, showed up instead. She apologized since the Council Member was in a voting session. She would take his place, and he would meet us later.
The City Hall Building, with a French-Renaissance exterior and an American-Georgian interior, was magnificent. The City Council is on one side and The Mayor’s Office on the other. It is the country’s oldest City Hall – built in 1803 – and today it is being restored, section by section, to keep it functional.
Ilona took us to The Council Chambers where meetings are held. With towering wooden doors, ornate gold-plated balconies, and a massive ceiling mural, it was breathtaking.
There are 51 council members, each representing about 170,000 constituents. Council Member Garodnick’s district is Manhattan’s East side, from 14th to 97th Street. He is also Chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee.
We stopped at the City Hall newsroom where Stan Brooks, WINS News Reporter and husband of our founder Lynn Brooks, shared some wonderful City Hall lore with us.
He talked about two paintings of George Washington in the building: one with George near his horse’s head; one with George near his horse’s rear. The second painter evidently wasn’t too fond of George!
Council Member Garodnick joined us at 250 Broadway, the Council Members’ offices. He took Christina and Jan to a large window, showing them neighboring buildings of interest.
As we sat and talked for a while, he explained the City Council passes all local laws, with an annual budget of $68 billion dollars!
He graciously recommended some unusual sites for our visitors: the Coney Island Halloween Parade, the Farmer’s Market at Union Square, the East River Ferry to the Brooklyn Bridge, and the statue of Christopher Columbus, which is temporarily encased in a real living room as part of an art project.
As we said “goodbye,” Jan and Christina confessed they loved the “inside view” of our government. We all agreed that Ilona and Council Member Garodnick were smart, funny, and warm – the perfect ambassadors for New York City!
Story by Bobbie Kaplan
Photos by Sabrina Petrovicki