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.
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
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.
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Designer Francine Coffey brought an elegant aestheitc–inspired by American history and the Federal era–to her co-op spanning the full parlor floor of the Upper East Side mansion at 36 East 69th Street. The prewar, baronial-feeling home spans 1,425 square feet, all of it dripping with lavish details that include fireplaces, French doors, wood moldings and decorative ceilings. Coffey has listed the grand spread for a grand total of $2.25 million.
Early numbers from the Census Bureau’s Housing and Vacancy Survey show that the number of unoccupied apartments throughout New York City has grown significantly over the past three years–a whopping 35 percent to 65,406 apartments since 2014, when the last survey was taken. As the Daily News puts it, “Today, 247,977 units — more than 11% of all rental apartments in New York City — sit either empty or scarcely occupied, even as many New Yorkers struggle to find an apartment they can afford.” One reason for the growing vacancy rates, as the article states, is the city’s high rent, which has risen twice as fast as inflation.
Here’s a breakdown of vacancy rates
Renderings courtesy of Grimshaw Architects
With major renovations underway at both JFK and LaGuardia Airports, Newark is the latest to join the crew. Grimshaw Architects has just announced its involvement building a new terminal at Newark Airport, the third airport serving New York City. According to dezeen, Grimshaw will serve as lead design architect, alongside design firm STV and contractor Tutor Perini/Parsons, to build a two-leveled, T-shaped building spanning one million square feet with 33 different gates.
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At one of the Upper West Side’s most historic apartment houses, this four-bedroom spread has undergone a fresh modern revamp. The 3,069-square-foot apartment comes from the Apthorp, a condo built in 1908 for William Waldorf Astor. This apartment belongs to a designer couple, who oversaw the reno but maintained prewar details like fireplaces, moldings and wood floors. They gave the historic interiors pops of color, plus modern amenities. After selling in 2015 for $5.5 million, it’s asking $7.75 million after the flip.
Shipping container construction, courtesy SG Blocks
A developer is getting creative in his latest affordable housing project in the Bronx. Gold Key Group, which typically develops market-rate housing, teamed up with SG Blocks, a shipping container company, to build 65 to 75 apartments above a retail store and a church. SG Blocks will use shipping containers due to the affordability and quick construction time–the method cuts the building timeline by 40 percent and is 10 to 20 percent less expensive than typical construction, according to Paul Galvin, CEO of SG Blocks. And as amNew York reports, Galvin “hopes this type of construction will become a solution to the housing crisis.”
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This full-floor penthouse is located within the former attic of one of New York’s early skyscrapers, the Liberty Tower. Built at 55 Liberty Street in 1909 by Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb, the Gothic Revival-style office building was the tallest in the world when completed. It was home to FDR’s law offices and, later, to German spies plotting to prevent American from joining WWI. Architect Joseph Pell Lombardi converted the tower to co-ops in 1979, with the attic unit retaining vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, and 29 windows offering views across the city. It’s now listed for $2.695 million.
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Behold, 2,700 glorious square feet of authentic artist loft, located in the middle of Soho on the corner of Crosby and Grand Streets. The open interior is decked out with soaring 14-foot ceilings, cast iron columns, exposed brick and six massive side-by-side wood framed factory windows. The fashion photographer and filmmaker Greg Kadel purchased the home in 2005 for $1.73 million, according to public records. And now the co-op has been listed for $3.895 million.