Google-adjacent Chelsea gets Wi-Fi, Schumer and Bloomberg suggest something bigger

Bloomberg in Chelsea. (Dana Rubinstein)
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"This neighborhood can now claim to be the first in Manhattan with totally free outdoor Wi-Fi," announced Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning, standing in the concrete courtyard of the Fulton Senior Center on Ninth Avenue.

Thanks to 29 antennas mounted on lamposts and buildings throughout the neighborhood, free Wi-Fi is now available outdoors in the area bounded by Gansevoort and 19th Streets, Eighth Avenue and the West Side Highway.

The only other New York City neighborhood to have similar Wi-Fi access is Dumbo, in Brooklyn.

The mayor has made bolstering the city's tech-friendliness one of his chief third-term goals, and he framed today's announcement as part of that larger effort.

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The Chelsea Improvement Company, a neighborhood nonprofit, sponsored the $250,000-over-two-years effort with Google, which bought its $2 billion Ninth Avenue headquarters a couple of years ago and can now claim New York City as its second-biggest hub.

"It's not very expensive, so the mayor and I are talking maybe we can do this for the whole city," said Schumer, who had downloaded his talking points to his iPad using the new Wi-Fi. 

"With federal money, we'd love to do it," said Bloomberg.

"Excellent," said Schumer. "It would be a smidgen of what Sandy is costing us."

Twenty parks around the five boroughs also have free Wi-Fi, as part of a partnership with AT&T. Another 32 parks are supposed to be wired by September. 

Following the press conference, reporters tailed Schumer out of the courtyard.

One of them asked him if today's report that Bloomberg had asked him to run for mayor was true.

"Just read the newspaper," he said, before slipping away.