Archive for January, 2008

The Little Georgia Town That Covers New York City in Turf
January 7, 2008

THE NEW YORK SUN — January 7, 2008

DALTON, Ga. — With a population only twice the number of people who work inside the Empire State Building, this self-proclaimed carpet capital of the world appears to have very little in common with the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Delfino Cruz, above, moved to Dalton, Ga., from Oaxaca, Mexico, 14 years ago and now works 70 hours a week for FieldTurf Tarkett, one of the largest turf manufacturers.

But Dalton, which is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, has forged a most unusual connection to New York: It has, literally, become crucial to the ground on which many New Yorkers walk and play.

The town has carved out a niche for itself as the manufacturer of New York’s “grass” — the artificial turf that the city has been laying increasingly in parks and asphalt lots and, most recently, public housing projects.

Since 1997, when the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation began turning to turf, Dalton has knitted, tufted, and coated thousands of feet of it and loaded it onto trucks for the 800-mile journey to the five boroughs.

To date, the city has replaced 90 of its 800 grass or asphalt ball fields with artificial turf, and another 23 are scheduled for conversion.

“Anywhere you’re going to look, there’s a 100% chance that’s it going to come from Dalton,” the president of Elite Synthetic Surfaces, Mike Gismondi, said about turf around New York City.

Until a decade ago, Dalton was a sleepy, white town where residents and carpet barons piled into Baptist churches on Sunday mornings. But in the last 15 years it has become a magnet for Hispanic immigrants and, in turn, an even more important manufacturing community. At the same time, New York’s manufacturing industry has virtually disappeared. (more…)

The Matzo Show on Rivington Street
January 6, 2008

THE NEW YORK TIMES — January 6, 2008

Richard Perry/The New York Times

Through the window of Streit’s matzo factory, some watch and others ask for free samples.

ALL day long, people ask Leonides Negron if he is Jewish.

Mr. Negron, a 46-year-old Puerto Rican, works at the venerable Streit’s matzo factory on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, handling the stacks of steaming flat breads as they emerge from the 900-degree, 72-foot-long oven. While bearded rabbis upstairs bless the dough, Mr. Negron stands near the first-floor window, listening to merengue on the radio and moving matzo from a conveyor belt onto wire cooling racks.

The bakery has operated in the same four red brick tenements since 1925, and because its oven is on the first floor, passers-by often gaze through the barred windows to watch the action inside. Some ask what is being made; others request a taste. A man who strolls by every morning asks for a piece of matzo for his dog.

Mr. Negron is happy to chat.

“I tell them it’s Jewish bread,” he said of the matzo in the familiar red and blue box. “But to Spanish people, we just tell them it’s crackers.” (more…)