All posts by Emily Nonko

Emily is a Brooklyn-based writer who has covered New York City real estate, architecture and design for Brownstoner, The Wall Street Journal, Dwell and other publications. You can follow her on Twitter @EmilyNonko.

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Cool Listings, Historic Homes, Upstate

116 Premium Point, All View, Westchester, Halstead, waterfront mansion,

Prepare to be stunned by this waterfront mansion that’s just hit the market within commuting distance of New York City. The 35-room Westchester estate, appropriately named “All View” by its original 19th-century owner, sits grandly atop a three-acre peninsula jutting out into the Long Island Sound. The grounds (conceived of by Central Park and Prospect Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted) do not disappoint; neither does the house, which is full of historic details but has also received modern — and a few whimsical — renovations. It now boasts 13 bedrooms, nine wood-burning fireplaces, three kitchens, and a new geothermal heat and air conditioning system. The best part? Every single room offers a view of the water.

You have to see inside

Featured Story

Features, History, Interviews

Photos courtesy of Mary French

In a city as tight as New York, it’s no surprise we’ve long struggled to figure out what to do with our dead, from acres-wide cemeteries to those wedged into forgotten slivers of city blocks. The city now boasts 140 cemetery sites, and Mary French has visited them all. Mary is the author of the New York City Cemetery Project, a chronicler of “the graveyards of this great city.” Though cemeteries may come with dark connotations, Mary sees them as prime opportunities to understand the history of New York. As she explains on her website, “For those with a passion for culture and history and a curiosity about the unknown, cemeteries are tantalizing spots that provide a wellspring of information about individual lives, communities, religions, and historic events.”

On NYC Cemetery Project you can read the histories of existing and long-gone cemeteries and the interesting New Yorkers living six feet under, alongside a trove of historic photos and maps. It’s a labor of love (and intense research) for Mary, who has a background in anthropology and library science. With 6sqft, Mary explains what first attracted her to the cemeteries of New York and what it’s like delving into their past. She also explains why she thinks many might be lost to the pressures of development in New York.

Read the interview

affordable housing, Policy

rent guidelines board, rent guidelines board meeting

Photo courtesy of the MET Council on Housing

Last night the Rent Guidelines Board approved rent hikes for tenants in rent-stablized buildings, making this the second year rents for such units have increased. This latest vote by the board allows landlords to charge their rent-stabilized tenants increases of up to 1.5 percent for one-year leases and 2.5 percent for two-year leases. As the New York Times points out today, “the increases were seen as modest given the history of the nine-member board.” Still, these are the steepest permitted increases since 2013 — news met with jeers from housing advocates at a public hearing held at Cooper Union.

Here more about what’s in store

Featured Story

Features, History, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Midtown

grand central terminal, amtrak, intercity rail service

Grand Central Terminal Lobby via Wikipedia

On June 26th, 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a momentous decision that wouldn’t just save a cherished New York landmark, it would establish the NYC Landmarks Law for years to come. This drawn-out court battle was the result of a plan, introduced in the late 1960s, to demolish a significant portion of Grand Central Terminal and erect a 50-story office tower.

Though the proposal may seem unthinkable now, it wasn’t at the time. Pennsylvania Station had been demolished a few years earlier, with the owners citing rising costs to upkeep the building as train ridership sharply declined. The NYC Landmarks Law was only established in 1965, the idea of preservation still novel in a city practicing wide-scale urban renewal. Finally, Grand Central wasn’t in good shape itself, falling apart, covered in grime, and home to one of the highest homeless populations in New York City. But a dedicated group of preservationists–aided by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis–took the fight to the highest levels of the court. Keep reading to find out how, as well as learn about the celebrations planned by the MTA surrounding the anniversary.

Here’s how Grand Central was saved

Policy, real estate trends

Photo by Dan DeLuca/Flickr

In a city as pricy as New York, it’s no surprise the buildings here pay some of the heftiest property taxes in the country. And that’s overwhelmingly what Commercial Cafe has found in their Top 100 US Property Taxes in 2017 ranking, released this week to mark the end of tax season. New York, the report states, has an “overwhelming presence in the mix,” as 78 of the top 100 U.S. taxes belong to properties located across the state. In 2017, those buildings generated $2.2 billion in property tax revenue, accounting for 82 percent of the total contributed by all 100. (Buildings are mostly offices, alongside some mixed-use, retail, hotel, entertainment and residential properties.) While the top spot was claimed by an industrial property in Fort Salonga, New York — which pays a whopping $82 million of property taxes a year — the next 19 buildings are located here the city and include Stuyvesant Town, pictured above, and the Metlife Building.

Read more about New York’s top buildings

Featured Story

Architecture, Brooklyn, Features, History

Top 10 secrets of the Brooklyn Bridge

By Emily Nonko, Thu, May 24, 2018

135 years ago today, throngs of New Yorkers came to the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts to celebrate the opening of what was then known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people total crossed what was then the only land passage between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The bridge–later dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name that stuck–went on to become one of the most iconic landmarks in New York. But there’s been plenty of history, and secrets, along the way. Lesser known facts about the bridge include everything from hidden wine cellars to a parade of 21 elephants crossing in 1884. So for the Brooklyn Bridge’s 135th anniversary, 6sqft rounded up its top 10 most intriguing secrets.

All the secrets right this way

Featured Story

Features, History, Interviews, People, photography

Photographer Berenice Abbott has long captured the imagination of New Yorkers. Her storied career began after fleeing Ohio for Greenwich Village in 1918 and included a stint in Paris taking portraits of 1920s heavyweights. But she is best known for her searing images of New York buildings and street life–her photograph “Nightview, New York,” taken from an upper-floor window of the Empire State Building in 1932, remains one of the most recognized images of the city. Well known is her exchange with a male supervisor, who informed Abbott that “nice girls” don’t go to the Bowery. Her reply: “Buddy, I’m not a nice girl. I’m a photographer… I go anywhere.”

Despite Abbott’s prolific career and fascinating life, there’s never been a biography to capture it all. Until now, with Julia Van Haaften’s work, “Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography.” Van Haaften is the founding curator of the New York Public Library’s photography collection. She also befriended Abbott, as the photographer approached 90, while curating a retrospective exhibition of her work in the late 1980s. (Abbott passed away in 1991 at the age of 93.)

With 6sqft, Van Haaften shares what it was like translating Abbott’s wide-ranging work and life into a biography, and the help she received from Abbott herself. From her favorite stories to her favorite photographs, Van Haaften shows why Abbott’s work has remained such a powerful lens capturing New York City to this day.

Read more

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, People

Photo of Frank Leadon © Katherine Slingluff

In “Broadway: A History of New York City in Thirteen Miles,” architect Fran Leadon takes on a monumental task: to uncover the news events, people, businesses, and buildings–mile by mile–that have contributed to New York’s best-known street. Beginning as a muddy path that cut through the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam and dissolved into farmland, Broadway has evolved over 200 years to host a chaotic mix of traffic, hotels, stores, theaters, churches, and people. In its first mile, you can see 400 years of history, from the Civil War to the emergence of skyscrapers. Moving uptown, Broadway takes us to the city’s cherished public spaces–Union Square, Herald Square and Times Square–as well as the Theater District and Great White Way. The street continues to upper Manhattan, where the story of urban renewal plays out, then cuts through the Bronx and winds all the way to Albany.

In his book, Leadon focuses on Manhattan’s relationship with Broadway, making the argument that you can tell the story of NYC–and even the country–through these 13 miles. “Broadway was never just a thoroughfare; it has always been, first and foremost, a place,” he writes. With 6sqft, Leadon talks about understanding Broadway, a street he often experienced in fragments, as a single 13-mile thoroughfare that serves as the lifeblood of New York. He also discusses how years of research and discovery made it to the pages, surprising histories that emerged along the way, and why he’s still writing the history of Broadway in his head.

Keep reading

History, Transportation

moving sidewalk, new york city, history

Photos courtesy the New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery

As the city currently tackles a plethora of issues with its public transit system, New Yorkers have been presented with no shortage of innovations to make commuting (hopefully) better. Take a look back at the turn of the 20th century, though, and the moving sidewalk was considered the future of urban transportation. According to Gizmodo, “The moving sidewalk represented a bold new vision for tomorrow… This idea of rolling pavement appealed to people in major cities who didn’t yet see the rise of the automobile as inevitable and were looking for an affordable alternative to more elaborate infrastructure like subway trains.” In 1903, an article in Harper’s Weekly said that moving sidewalks were the perfect solution for the city to tackle congestion issues that would arise with new bridge connections bringing people from Brooklyn into New York City.

They would move at 9MPH

Cool Listings, Interiors, Tribeca

6 varick street, tribeca, compass, loft, condo

A massive wall of windows anchors this artsy Tribeca loft, complete with high ceilings, exposed brick walls and Corinthian columns. It’s located at 6 Varick Street, a condo conversion with no shortage of distinct loft apartments. After being on the market last year, asking $1.695 million and not selling, this pad is trying its luck with the higher price tag of $1.8 million. The next buyer will have free range across 1,079 square feet of open apartment.

Take a look

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