All posts by Cait Etherington

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Featured Story

Alphabet City, East Village, Features, History, Top Stories

summer of love 1967

Hippies singing and playing music in Washington Square Park in the late 1960s. Photo: Peter Keegan

It has been 50 years since 1967’s “Summer of Love” when young people from around the world flocked to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and to other urban neighborhoods, including New York’s East Village, to trip out at psychedelic dance parties, sleep in city parks, and live and do whatever they pleased. While the hippie subculture was already flourishing prior to the Summer of Love, by mid 1967, hippies and their music, style, and communal way of life had caught the attention of the mainstream media and as a result, reached a critical mass of young people who were now eager to ditch their suburban homes to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

Reactions to the Summer of Love in New York were predictably mixed. An estimated 50,000 young people descended on the city to join the movement, but many New Yorkers, including longstanding residents, police officers, and politicians, had little interest in spending the Summer of Love soaking up the good vibes. In the end, the city’s Summer of Love saw as much conflict and violence as peace and love, and debates about rental prices, real estate values, and the gentrification of the Lower East Side were all part of the conflict.

find out more here

Featured Story

City Living, Features, History

Sauna-hot apartments: How to cope without stripping down

By Cait Etherington, Wed, February 15, 2017

From a distance, one may wonder why television characters living in New York City apartments so often appear to wear little at all in the privacy of their own homes. From Archie Bunker’s white undershirts on “All in the Family” to Carrie Bradshaw’s lingerie on “Sex in the City” to Hannah Horvath’s practical skivvies on “Girls,” fictional New Yorkers always seem to be stripping down to the bare essentials regardless of the season. To any real New Yorker, there is an obvious reason why these fictional New Yorkers are so often shown partially clad July or January: New York apartments have a tendency to be sauna hot. But in a city where tenants frequently have to fight for even the most basic amenities, how did heat become overly abundant, even in the dead of winter?

find out more here

Featured Story

Features, History

Excavating the city: A look at urban archaeology in New York

By Cait Etherington, Tue, February 7, 2017

When most people think about archaeologists, they imagine outdoorsy adventurers—perhaps, modeled on the fictional Indiana Jones—uncovering ancient artifacts in remote locations. They probably don’t imagine archaeologists riding the MTA to excavation sites.

In reality, archaeologists frequently do work in New York City and the surrounding region and play an essential yet often under-recognized role in the city’s building industry. While many new developments go ahead without major archaeological studies, most developments only get the green light to move forward after archaeologists have completed at least a preliminary investigation.

how archaeologist work in urban environments like NYC

Featured Story

Features, Policy, real estate trends

Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and failed Republican nominee, has now been cleared to serve as Secretary of Housing for the next four years. For many, his appointment remains perplexing. Carson has no political experience and no obvious knowledge of housing and development issues. At least some concerns about Carson’s fitness for the job were put to rest during his Senate hearing on January 12. Beyond a contentious exchange with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Carson dodged any major attacks. Still, there is no question that under Carson’s direction, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will roll out a series of changes over the coming four years. While some changes will impact housing and development in New York City, Carson’s influence is expected to be minor.

READ THE FULL STORY AT CITYREALTY…

Featured Story

Features, real estate trends

Health and high-rise living: Is higher healthier?

By Cait Etherington, Tue, January 24, 2017

manhattan at night, manhattan at night aerial view

In 2017, new high-rise developments will continue to define the city’s skyline. There are currently more than 30 high-rise developments under construction and proposed for the waterfront in Queens. In Manhattan, rezoning initiatives promise to bring more high-rise developments to neighborhoods from East Harlem, Two Bridges and Midtown East. And in Downtown Brooklyn, with the 2016 approval of the borough’s tallest tower and a slew of other skyscrapers wrapping construction, the height trend is also well underway. If high-rise developments are on the rise citywide, it is not a surprise. By building up, the City of New York is able to maximize available space and even diversify certain neighborhoods by creating mixed-income housing communities. At their best, high-rise developments can drive economic and social change, but are these buildings also good for our health?

more on high-rise living and health this way

Featured Story

Architecture, Features, Technology

At the start of every new year, futurologists inform us of what the next 12 months might have in store. For 2017, there is widespread speculation that the Internet of Things will continue to reshape our lives and homes in profound and lasting ways.

If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with the Internet of Things (also known simply as the IoT) the concept is generally used to talk about the networking of objects. Increasingly, sensors are being embedded in physical objects of all kinds from refrigerators to running shoes to pacemakers. These objects are then linked through wireless networks to the Internet. When objects are networked, however, their potential changes. When you network a pair of shoes, for example, data can flow from the shoes to a computer for analysis. In turn, a shoemaker can start producing shoes not simply in your size but shoes that are made-to-order to better respond to your specific way of walking or running. The bottom line is that when objects can both sense what is happening in an environment and communicate this information back to us and to other objects, they are no longer simply innate objects but rather responsive tools that can be used in new and potentially revolutionary—and scary— ways.

READ MORE HERE…

Featured Story

apartment living 101, Features, stuff you should know

A guide to tipping building staff during the holidays

By Cait Etherington, Mon, December 5, 2016

Doorman at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel. Image Steven Pisano/flickr

Every December, building staff across the city leave seasonal cards under residents’ doors. If you’re new to life in a full-service building, don’t be fooled—this card is not simply a chance for staff to extend holiday cheer to you and your family. These cards, which usually arrive in the first week of December and list the names and years of seniority of all building staff, are the first reminder that it is tipping season. While no one is obliged to tip, whether you’re a renter or owner, choosing not to tip is discouraged.

Ahead we go over everything you need to know about tipping, including the economics of it all, when to leave it, how much to give, protocols for renters versus owners, how to present your tip, and what not to give.

A COMPLETE GUIDE FOR TIPPING AT CITYREALTY….

Featured Story

Features, Policy, real estate trends, stuff you should know

How 100 years of zoning has shaped New York City

By Cait Etherington, Fri, December 2, 2016

historic midtown empire state building view

In October, city officials unveiled plans to rezone a large swath of East Harlem. The major thrust of the rezoning initiative is to bring more high-rise buildings to a corridor running several blocks along Park, Second, and Third avenues. By building up, city officials hope the neighborhood will increase its housing stock, including its affordable housing stock. In the long term, the proposed rezoning will also radically reshape the East Harlem’s appearance and street life, turning it from a mostly low-rise to high-rise neighborhood. What is about to happen to East Harlem, however, is a familiar story. Since 1916, when New York passed its first zoning resolution, the city has been profoundly shaped by zoning regulations.

MORE ON THE HISTORY OF ZONING AT CITYREALTY…

Featured Story

Features, Lower East Side, real estate trends

Images via Extell and Google Maps

The construction of Extell’s high-rise condo development at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge is now well underway. When complete, 250 South Street (formerly 227 Cherry Street) will rise more than 80 stories above the East River and be home to just under 800 units, but that’s not all. As the Extell building goes up, the surrounding area is also attracting growing attention from other developers. In July, JDS Development announced plans for a rental development just next door at 247 South Street. Given the scope of the Extell development and its neighboring rental development on South Street, thousands of new residents are expected to arrive in the Cherry Street neighborhood between now and 2020. Of course, there are many neighbors who arrived first.

READ MORE AT CITYREALTY…

Featured Story

Features, History, Interiors

New York’s dirty little secret: The apartment kitchen

By Cait Etherington, Mon, November 14, 2016

tenement nyc kitchen

Model of tenement kitchen via the Tenement Museum

Unlike the warm and welcoming kitchens found in many U.S. cities, in New York, kitchens are more likely to be dark and dank hallways or neglected corners crammed with miniature appliances than actual rooms. In many New York apartments, kitchens don’t even merit their own room but take the form of what is commonly described on listings sites as the “open concept living/kitchen area” (a feature welcomed only by those who don’t use their kitchen or have no qualms about grilling a steak just inches away from their sofa). Worse yet, New York kitchens not only frequently merge with living rooms but also other parts of the home. In many old tenements, bathtubs and showers can be found in the kitchen too.

more on the history of the NYC kitchen

Featured Story

City Living, Features, History

Life in New York City before indoor toilets  

By Cait Etherington, Mon, October 24, 2016

19th century toilet nyc

Image: The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1902 – 1914

If you’ve ever bemoaned the fact that you share a bathroom with several family members or housemates, you’re not alone. Most New Yorkers live in apartments and most units have just a single bathroom. A hundred and fifty years ago, however, the situation was much worse. At the time, New Yorkers had just a few choices when it came to taking care of their lavatory needs and by modern standards, none of the options were appealing—visit an outhouse or use a chamber pot. Nevertheless, indoor toilets proved slow to gain popularity when they were first introduced in the second half of the nineteenth century. Initially, many residents feared the newfangled invention would bring poisonous gases into their homes, leading to illness and even death.

learn more here

Featured Story

affordable housing, Features

nyc houseboat couple, vicortia fine, jon vidar

Victoria Fine and Jon Vidar, a NYC couple who ditched their apartment to live on a boat. Courtesy of Mel Magazine

In Amsterdam, hundreds of houseboats line the city’s canals and living on a houseboat is simply considered an affordable way to live in the center of the city. While Amsterdam may be synonymous with houseboats, houseboats are also popular in cities around the world. From London’s Little Venice to waterfront neighborhoods in Vancouver, Los Angeles and Sydney, one can find burgeoning communities. So why doesn’t New York—with its 578 miles of coastline—have a thriving houseboat community too?

more on houseboat living and how to do it yourself

Featured Story

affordable housing, Features, real estate trends, Upper East Side, yorkville

A look at Yorkville’s affordable housing decline

By Cait Etherington, Mon, October 10, 2016

Despite its location just a few blocks east of Park Avenue, Yorkville remains one of Manhattan’s most affordable neighborhoods south of 95th Street. The neighborhood’s reasonable prices partially reflect its reputation. Simply put, Yorkville has never been considered quaint or hip. Since its development in the nineteenth century, it has been best known for its German delis and unremarkable yet practical residential housing. Another factor that has historically kept the neighborhood’s housing prices below average is its high stock of rent stabilized units. Unfortunately, Yorkville’s reputation as a great place to find a bargain may soon be compromised. Recently released data on affordable housing stock in New York reveals that rent stabilized housing in Yorkville is rapidly declining. Indeed, between 2007 and 2014, the neighborhood lost more rent stabilized units than any other neighborhood in the city’s five boroughs.

read more here

Featured Story

Features, History

Images: A model fallout shelter, 1955. Image Wiki Commons

Decades after the end of the Cold War, ominous black-and-yellow fallout shelter signs still mark buildings across New York City’s five boroughs. The actual number of designated fallout shelters in the city is difficult to discern. What is known is that by 1963, an estimated 18,000 shelters had been designated, and the Department of Defense had plans to add another 34,000 shelters citywide.

While the presence of a fallout shelter in one’s building may have given some residents peace of mind in an era when nuclear destruction seemed imminent, in reality, most of New York’s fallout shelters were little more than basements marked by an official government sign.

more on the history of new york’s fallout shelters

Featured Story

Alphabet City, East Village, Features, gentrification, History

In the 1980s, the idea that Avenue C would eventually be home to condo developments with names like Boutique 67 would have sent most local residents into a fit of laughter and possibly a fit of rage. At the time, heroin was so widely available in Alphabet City that junkies would simply line up outside local tenements and wait for dealers to lower their next hit out the window in a bucket (such practices were well documented by local activist and photographer Clayton Patterson and some of this footage appears in the 2010 documentary, “Captured). Of course, Alphabet City in the 1980s was about much more than drugs. It was the epicenter of New York City’s fight to maintain affordable housing at a time when gentrification was already beginning to reshape both the West Village and Soho. The neighborhood was also home to the city’s then thriving punk music scene.

Most vestiges of the Alphabet City of the 1980s are already long gone, but at least a few reminders of the era and the old neighborhood remain, including C-Squat.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE…

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