All posts by Cait Etherington

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Architecture, Features, History

A short history of New York City’s foul air shafts

By Cait Etherington, Mon, October 16, 2017

apartment building air shafts, air shaft

Image by Bikes And Books

If you think there is nothing worse than renting an apartment with windows and no view, think again. At one point in the city’s history, where one may now enjoy a small sliver of daylight and at least some fresh air, there was no light or air at all. Indeed, at some points in the history tenants’ windows looked out onto slits—sometimes a mere 28 inches wide—that were teeming with waste, rancid smells, and noise.

on the history of NYC air shafts

Featured Story

Features, History

The history of New York’s railroad apartment

By Cait Etherington, Wed, October 11, 2017

Rendering by 3DCOW

Apartments comprised of a series of directly connected rooms—without a hallway—are a common feature of the New York City housing market. Generally, this layout is described as a “railroad apartment.” It is important to note, however, that depending on where you are in the United States, the “railroad” may, in fact, refer to a very different type of layout—namely, an apartment with a series of rooms connected by one long hallway. Indeed, in many other U.S. cities, “shot-gun apartment” is the more commonly used term for an apartment where rooms are connected without a hallway, and in some cities, these apartments are also described as “floor-through apartments.”

Whatever you call them, the layout nearly always comes with its share of pros and cons. At their best, this apartment layout offers considerably more space at a lower cost than a conventional layout and desirable pre-war details. At their worse, this layout offers nothing but a dark and dank space that can be especially awkward when shared by roommates rather than couples.

find out more here

Featured Story

City Living, Features, Interiors, real estate trends

In New York City, how much space is too little?

By Cait Etherington, Mon, September 18, 2017

Anthony Triolo apartment, NYC tiny apartment, Upper West Side tiny apartment, 150-square-foot apartment

Image © James Karla Murray / 6sqft

Walking through Union Square in late August, it was difficult to miss the new advertising campaign for Breather. Breather is just the latest space-by-the-hour option for New Yorkers who are in desperate need of space, even if it is simply a small room barely large enough to accommodate two chairs and a table. Of course, Breather isn’t the only company now selling space-by-the-hour to city residents. The market for shared workspaces also continues to grow, providing a growing army of local freelancers with access to desks and even soundproof telephone booths where it is possible to talk to clients without explaining a barking dog or screaming baby in the background.

That so many New Yorkers are willing to pay anywhere from $40 to $100 per hour for a small room where it is possible to have a thought or make a phone call without distraction may appear to offer profound evidence of the city’s space crisis. But are New Yorkers really lacking space, or is our sense of space simply unrealistic? Are we just too precious about the space needed to live and work?

read more here

Featured Story

City Living, Features, History

The boarding house’s long history of hosting single New Yorkers

By Cait Etherington, Tue, September 12, 2017

boarding houses

Images by Esther Bubley, 1943. Courtesy of the Esther Bubley Photo Archive

In the mid-19th century, as the city rapidly grew in area and population, many single New Yorkers faced difficult decisions on the housing market. Unlike the majority of today’s single New Yorkers, however, the decision was not whether to share an apartment with one or more roommates or squeeze into a studio apartment but rather which type of boarding house to inhabit. Ahead we’ll go over the history of the New York City boarding house, as well as where you can still find the handful that remains.

read more here

Featured Story

apartment living 101, Features, NYC Guides, real estate trends

Image: Dov Harrington / flickr CC

Living in a college residence might be fun for a year or two, but most college-age kids eventually want to move out. And who can blame them? After all, who wants to show ID to a security guard every time they arrive home, share a room with a stranger, or eat in a cafeteria night after night? In many smaller college towns, sending your kid first and last month’s rent is more than enough to get them out of residence and into their first apartment. In New York City, it’s a bit more complicated.

In most cases, parents need to be directly involved in the housing search and rental process and prepared to come up with a substantial deposit, which can meet or even exceed the money needed to purchase a starter home in many U.S. cities. In order to rent an apartment in New York City, renters typically must come up with first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and a broker’s fee (the fee is either one month’s rent or anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the first year’s rent). Also, as a rule, owners and management companies require lease holders to have an established credit history, to make more than 40 times the monthly rent on an annual basis, or to have a guarantor who exceeds these criteria.

This 6sqft guide outlines everything parents need to know before going on the market to rent an apartment for a college-age child, including advice on where to find listings and how to decode them.

the full scoop here

Featured Story

Features, History, NYC Guides

How to kayak or canoe across a NYC water reservoir (GUIDE)

By Cait Etherington, Fri, August 18, 2017

Image via Pexels

On average, New Yorkers use a staggering 1 billion gallons of water per day, but unlike people in many other U.S. cities, they don’t need to worry about their taps running dry. Over a century ago, city engineers devised a plan to ensure the city would have ample water and that the supply would meet the growing needs of the city over time. Today, the city’s century-old reservoir system continues to supply New Yorkers with clean water year round. For outdoorsy residents, the city’s water supply also serves another surprising purpose. Located just over two hours north of the city limits, the reservoirs are also an increasingly popular place to canoe and kayak without the distraction of motorized water vehicles and cottagers.

our complete guide here

Featured Story

affordable housing, Features, real estate trends

Image via CityRealty

You’ve landed a great job in New York City—then the reality of the city’s housing market starts to sink in. It’s a situation that thousands of new city residents face every year. New York City’s cost of living, which continues to outpace most other cities across North America, can make a move to the city seem difficult and even impossible. In fact, even highly compensated professionals often balk at the idea of relocating due to the fact that it typically means radically adjusting one’s established standard of living. After all, most adults assume it is normal to have more than one closet and expect their kitchen to be large enough to accommodate more than one person at a time. This is why at least some local employers throw in the most coveted perk of all—free or at least steeply discounted housing.

find out where these jobs are

Featured Story

Features, History

When temperatures soar, fire hydrants across the city flow freely and not necessarily to put out fires. The practice, commonly known as “uncapping,” has long served as a way for city residents to cool off. Although it is not entirely legal, it is generally tolerated, especially when temperatures climb above 90, and for a number of legitimate reasons.

read the full story

Featured Story

apartment living 101, City Living, Features, NYC Guides, real estate trends

Image via WikiCommons

6sqft’s ongoing series Apartment Living 101 is aimed at helping New Yorkers navigate the challenges of creating a happy home in the big city. This week, we cover everything you need to consider when raising chickens in the city.

In a city where simply finding a balcony large enough for a pot of basil can be a challenge, one may be surprised to discover that chicken coops can be found across all five boroughs. Chickens were once primarily kept by older city residents, including many who come from places in the world where a backyard supply of fresh eggs is taken for granted. More recently, everyone from Park Slope housewives to Bushwick hipsters appears to be embracing the backyard chicken craze.

More on Raising City Chickens

Featured Story

City Living, Features, NYC Guides

Beekeeping finds a home throughout NYC’s five boroughs

By Cait Etherington, Mon, July 17, 2017

Image via The Co-Op Group Urban Bees’ Revolution

On June 1, the United Nations joined a growing local trend—they installed three apiary yards, better known as beehives, on their grounds in midtown Manhattan. The UN is hopeful that by summer’s end, their 150 bees will turn into a thriving colony of 250,000 bees. If this happens, the UN bees will not be alone. There are millions of bees buzzing around the five boroughs and not only in the backyards of earthy residents in neighborhoods like Park Slope and Greenpoint. From the rooftops of high-rises in Manhattan to community gardens stretching from the Bronx to Staten Island, New York City is home to thousands of active beehives, but this wasn’t always the case

Prior to a 2010 ruling, beekeeping existed in the five boroughs but only under the radar. At the time, the city deemed beekeeping to be as dangerous as keeping cobras, tarantulas, or hyenas on one’s property. Indeed, if caught, underground beekeepers faced hefty fines of up to $2000. Since the 2010 ruling that legalized beekeeping, both bees and beekeepers have been on the rise citywide and so have organizations and services designed to help residents explore apiculture.

learn more about beekeeping in the city

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