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Midtown, Policy, Transportation

Image via Wiki Commons

The day after Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo announced plans to review and remove controversial public Confederate structures and markers throughout the city, the MTA says it will do the same. Well, sort of. Over 90 years ago, station architect Squire J. Vickers installed mosaics resembling the Confederate flag at the 40th Street entrance for the 1, 2, 3 trains to honor early New York Times owner and publisher Adolph S. Ochs, who had “strong ties to the Confederacy” and was buried with a Confederate flag when he died in 1935. But yesterday, MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz told Gothamist, “These are not confederate flags, it is a design based on geometric forms that represent the ‘Crossroads of the World’ and to avoid absolutely any confusion we will modify them to make that absolutely crystal clear.”

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Art, Events

Minimodel maven Eiran Gazit’s latest project is anything but small: The former Israeli soldier and his team are putting the finishing touches on Gulliver’s Gate, a sprawling exhibit of the world made of minimodels set to open on April 4 in a 49,000-square-foot space at 216 West 44th Street in Times Square, reports Crain’s. The $40 million extravaganza represents a decade of dreams and hard work for Gazit, in this case the chief dreamer, plus years of seeking investors, coordinating with dozens of artists around the world and months of installation.

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affordable housing, housing lotteries, Midtown West

Ten affordable apartments, literally steps away from Times Square, will be up for grabs starting tomorrow for qualifying applicants. Located at 301 West 46th Street, the units are part of the newly-opened Riu Times Square, a $106 million luxury hotel development that includes eight condos and an HPD housing component that distributes the ten aforementioned below-market units across seven floors of the 29-story tower. Rents start at $1,486/month for two-bedrooms, and $1,709/month for three-bedrooms. Apartments have been priced for households of two to six people earning between $52,355 and $84,100. 

More info here

Midtown, Policy

naked cowboy, Times Square

Mayor de Blasio first started pushing to corral the costumed characters and topless performers in Times Square last August, and now almost a year later work has begun on a reconfiguration of the area, reports the Daily News. A preliminary map that divided the plazas into three zones was released in September, but a new, final version was issued on Wednesday. Called “TSq Plaza Rules Cheat Sheet,” it splits the tourist mecca into Chill Zones (places to “sit, nosh, meditate, take in the sites”), De$ignated Activity Zones (“commercial activities, street entertainment, posing for photos, vendors of expressive matter… in exchange for compensation, donation, or tips”), and Express Lanes (“pedestrian through lanes, NYC style”). After the City Council passed legislation eight weeks ago that gave the Department of Transportation the power to relocate the performers and ticket sellers, workers began painting the colored lines to delineate the zones on Wednesday night.

See the full map

Architecture, Midtown West, Urban Design

Shanghai-based architecture firm 100architects noticed how New Yorkers are always trying to get out of Times Square as fast as possible, which made them wonder if there was a way to engage people in the urban setting without them having to deal with the chaos at street level. That’s where their proposal for Vertical Times comes in (h/t Architizer). The 180-foot-tall tower is a stack of six cylindrical glass pods along a central column that “multiplies the intended space for public recreation in a vertical way.” Within these spaces would be a carousel, ball pit, hammock plaza, sky garden, restaurant, and bar.

Get the rest of the details

Midtown West, Urban Design

Times Square Toyota Billboard

Today’s your last chance to catch three professional climbers and one “daredevil amateur” scale a 100-foot-tall billboard in Times Square. The three-dimensional advertisement is for Toyota’s new RAV4 Hybrid and features a scale-able rock-climbing wall that rises ten stories and is mounted along the northeast corner of the DoubleTree Hotel at 1568 Broadway (47th Street and 7th Avenue).

The wall has a 96-foot vertical climb with more than 100 hand holds for the team of five climbers, made up of Christina Fate and her fiance, RAV4 Rally driver Ryan Millen, David Morton, an expert climber and technical consultant for the project, and veteran ice climbers and mountain guides Eric and Adam Knoff.

Should more interactive advertisements come to Times Square?

Featured Story

Features, History, Restaurants

Automat, Berenice Abbott, Photography, NYC

Automat by Berenice Abbott, 1936

In the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s Automats were a New York City dining staple for a hard-working lunch crowd, a modernist icon for a boundless machine-age future. At their height there were over three dozen in the city, serving 800,000 people a day. And nearly everyone who actually experienced Automats in their heyday says the same thing: They never forgot the thrill of being a kid at the Automat.

Created by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia in 1902, coin-operated Automats were lovingly-designed Art Deco temples to modern efficiency. Sleek steel and glass vending machine grids displayed sandwiches and main dishes as well as desserts and sides, each in their own little boxes, square and even, clean and well-lit. You put a coin in the slot, opened the door and removed your food—which was reportedly quite good, as the founders took terrific pride in their craft.

What was it about the experience that made for such a lasting memory?

Architecture, History, Midtown, New Developments

Palace Theatre

At a public hearing yesterday the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan drawn up by Platt Byard Dovell White Architects (PBDW) for Maefield Development to raise the historic 1913 Palace Theater 29 feet in order to accommodate expanded facilities and new retail space underneath. The decision isn’t sitting well with preservationists, but the exterior of the theater was replaced in the early 1990s to make way for the 45-story adjacent DoubleTree hotel, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, the actual theater space is an interior landmark and the $2 billion redevelopment project will restore the decorated interior and add 10,000 square feet of theater facilities.

More on the history and future of the Palace Theater

Architecture, Hotels, Midtown West, New Developments

701 Seventh Avenue, Marriott Edition Hotel, Platt Byard Dovell White, PBDW, TImes Square, SKyscraper Construction

Earlier this week, the five-star Marriott EDITION hotel, slated to tower over Duffy Square, broke ground. The 39-story, 517-foot tall building is being developed by a partnership between the Witkoff Group, Howard Lorber’s New Valley LLC, Winthrop Realty Trust, and Maefield Development. Going by the invented address of 20 Times Square (701 Seventh Avenue), the 370,000-square-foot tower will be the first hotel to rise directly along the Square’s “bow-tie” area since Gary Barnett opened the W Times Square in 2000.

Taking full advantage of its coveted, highly-trafficked location, the project will contain 76,000 square feet of retail and food and beverage space, as well as an outdoor roof terrace. Its six-story podium anchors the northeast corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue and will be wrapped by a 120-foot-tall, 18,000-square-foot LED display, which according to the Witkoff Group, “will be one of the largest and most technologically advanced in the world today.”

More details and renderings ahead

Architecture, Midtown West, New Developments, Urban Design

Last week, Morgan Stanley unveiled a set of seven modernized LED signs at the base of its headquarters building at 1585 Broadway in Times Square. The digital billboards, which took five months to replace, feature six million LED pixels that can display up to 281 trillion colors. The screens replace the iconic amber ticker that stood at the lower three floors of the Gwathmey, Siegel & Associates-designed building for more than 20 years.

Since the sign was inspired by similar signage at Bloomberg’s 731 Lexington Avenue, the bank spent nine months working with Bloomberg’s internal creative agency to develop its content. With custom-built technology by British-based Framestore, the screens can display updated imagery and data at all times. The sign’s fact sheet (PDF) notes that the displays will be operational 19 hours a day and will display 2,100 pieces of distinct content, including 855 news headlines and real-time data of eight global indices.

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