The East Village’s Gem Spa first opened in the 1920s on the corner of St. Mark’s Place and 2nd Avenue and received its current moniker in the 1950s. The shop became famous when it was frequented by Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg and featured in a painting by Jean-Michelle Basquiat and then later as an all-night punk hangout and tourist stop for egg creams. Today, however, the store is struggling to stay afloat due to the ever-increasing gentrification of the neighborhood and losing its cigarette and lottery licenses in the spring. In an effort to save the icon, small business advocacy group #SaveNYC is hosting a cash mob this Saturday. In preparation, a faux storefront was installed that reads “Schitibank coming soon,” in reference to rumors that Citibank is trying to take over the storefront.
All posts by Dana Schulz
Photos: (l) Tax photo of 137 West 71st Street, 1964 (a year before James Baldwin bought the building). Courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives; (r) 137 West 71st Street, on the Upper West Side, 2016. Credit: Christopher D. Brazee/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
In June, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated six sites significant to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, including the former home of James Baldwin on the Upper West Side. Now, the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project tells us that the Baldwin residence at 137 West 71st Street has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, which recognizes his role nationally as relates to LGBT and civil rights history.
A lot of couples in NYC count down the days until they can pack up their studio for more spacious digs, but for Raechel and Ryan Lambert, they have no plans to upsize. The couple has been living in studio apartments for the past seven years–first in San Francisco, now in Hell’s Kitchen–and they’re doing it to maximize in other areas of their lives, such as travel and saving. Rae, a product marketer for tech companies, also runs the blog Small Space, Big Taste, where she embraces her minimalist mindset and shares with readers her tips on finance, cooking, traveling, and interiors. From packing for an eight-day trip in one backpack to sharing everything one needs to know about Murphy beds, Rae’s articles are best exemplified in her and Ryan’s 400-square-foot apartment.
When Rae invited us into her home, we were welcomed into an airy, comfortable apartment that was so well organized it had space for cooking, dining, lounging, sleeping, and even playing the piano. Thanks to a less-is-more philosophy and a great collection of multi-purpose and moveable furniture, this couple’s savvy design may have you rethinking that one-bedroom listing.
All photos © Jonathan Flaum. Photo above: High Line Color 1. June 2005.
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Photographer Jonathan Flaum started going up on the abandoned High line in the ’80s, when it was full of overgrown wildlife, to see some of his friends’ graffiti work and find a quiet escape from the city. In the late ’90s, he heard about plans to demolish the former elevated train tracks and decided to start photographing the structure. Soon thereafter, Joshua David and Robert Hammond started Friends of the High Line, then a small, grassroots organization advocating for its preservation and adaptive reuse into a park. When they built their website, they incorporated Jonathan’s photos to provide a behind-the-scenes look for those who weren’t as adventurous to venture up there.
The park’s first phase officially opened in 2009 and to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, Jonathan has shared with us his collection of photos. Ahead, hear from him on his experiences with the High Line and see how far this NYC icon has come.
Not only will Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie have some of the most insane views in New York City, but he’ll be just a 15-minute walk from the team’s court at the Barclay’s Center. The New York Post reports that Dinwiddie is in contract to buy the penthouse unit at Brooklyn Point, the 720-foot-tall tower that is the borough’s current tallest residential building and boasts the highest rooftop infinity pool in the western hemisphere. The 68th-floor apartment was last asking $3.9 million.
All renderings via AI SpaceFactory, © Plomp
If you’re intrigued by all the talk of living on Mars but don’t actually want to depart planet Earth, you can have a shot at semi-extraterrestrial living this spring. AI SpaceFactory, the architects behind NASA’s Mars habitat MARSHA, are bringing a “Mars habitat designed for off-grid living on Earth” to a site an hour-and-a-half north of NYC along the Hudson River (h/t Curbed). For a donation as low as $175, you’ll be able to spend the night in the TERA cabin and get “a glimpse into the future of sustainable life on and beyond our planet,” according to a press release.
Ten years ago, Christine Blackburn and her husband built an entirely new home above two storefronts in Fort Greene. Christine is one half of the Barak/Blackburn Team at Compass. As a seasoned real estate agent who specializes in North Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan, it’s no surprise that she had the eye to create a home with a double-height living room, two terraces, a roof deck, and plenty of cool, custom design details. 6sqft recently paid Christine a visit to get a tour of her home, learn what it was like to build the residence from the ground up, and hear her thoughts on the real estate market in New York City.
All images courtesy of Industry City
Today, beloved Middle Eastern grocery store Sahadi’s is opening its second Brooklyn location at Industry City, and it’ll now include a sit-down restaurant. It’s the first expansion for the third-generation, family-owned business, whose production facility has long been located nearby in Sunset Park. The new 7,500- square-foot space will have 80 seats, Lebanese wines on tap, daily meze specials, grab-and-go options, and one of NYC’s only operational Saj griddles. As co-owner Ron Sahadi says, “We were artisanal before it was cool.”
Photos by Vanessa DeGarcia, courtesy of The Corcoran Group
If there’s one building that has come to represent the preservation movement in Gowanus, it very well might be the Coignet Stone Building. Built in 1873 as a showroom and physical advertisement for Francois Coignet’s concrete construction company, it was the first documented concrete building in the city. Whole Foods purchased the property in 2005 and built its new supermarket next door, and the following year, the Coignet Buiding was landmarked. After years of neglect, Whole Foods completed a $1.3 million restoration in 2016, listing the property shortly thereafter for $6 million. It’s now back for a hair more, and though a gut interior renovation is definitely required, it’s being sold as a residential townhouse that has incredible potential.
photos © 6sqft
It’s been nearly two years since artists Gillie and Marc first revealed their “Statues for Equality” project. Noting that less than three percent of all NYC statues are of women, the husband-and-wife public art specialists created a series of 10 bronze sculptures of inspirational women who were voted on by the public–Oprah Winfrey, P!nk, Nicole Kidman, Jane Goodall, Cate Blanchett, Tererai Trent, Janet Mock, Tracy Dyson, Cheryl Strayed, and Gabby Douglas. Monday, on Women’s Equality Day, the statues were unveiled in front of RXR’s Realty’s 1285 Avenue of the Americas (h/t Untapped Cities).