Jake Dobkin was born in Park Slope 42 years ago, and over those years he’s never left New York City for longer than 10 weeks. In 2003, he co-founded the website Gothamist with Jen Chung, which emerged as a popular culture and entertainment blog about all things New York. In the summer of 2013, Dobkin decided to channel his native knowledge and newsroom snark with the column Ask a Native New Yorker. The first installment addressed a question to make any New Yorker shudder, “Is It Normal For Roaches To Crawl Through My Hair At Night?” Since then, he’s tackled everything from amusing annoyances of city life to more serious issues like homelessness, gentrification, and who deserves a seat on the subway.
Dobkin ultimately adapted “Ask A Native New Yorker” into a book, which was just released a few weeks ago. Titled Ask A Native New Yorker: Hard-Earned Advice on Surviving and Thriving in the Big City, it contains answers to 48 new questions on New Yorker’s minds including if public transit will be messed up forever and why we complain so much. 6sqft spoke with Dobkin on why he started writing the column, how it’s changed over the years, and what’s ahead with a new book and Gothamist under the new ownership of WNYC. He also shares the best place to find a peaceful spot in the middle of the city.
Photos courtesy of Roey Yohai Studio
Gracie Mansion, the residence of Mayor Bill de Blasio, is officially in full holiday spirit. The historic home, which dates back to 1799, is showing off decorations that promote some of the mayor’s top initiatives, plus the overall theme of togetherness. It’s all the work of New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray and renowned event planner Bryan Rafanelli, who have been refining the vision since this summer. This is Rafanelli’s second year working with McCray to decorate the people’s home of New York. For 2018, they selected jewel-toned colors, lots of ribbon, and even worked in some participation from New Yorkers.
Keep reading to figure out how the pair made it happen, an effort that includes bringing a 17-foot-tall tree through a narrow French door into the mansion’s ballroom. The images are sure to put you in a New York holiday spirit.
“Bird’s-eye View of the Southern End of New York and Brooklyn, Showing the Projected Suspension–bridge over the East River from the Western Terminus in Printing-House Square,” drawn by Theodore Russell Davis (1870)
If you want to go on a visual journey that begins with Manhattan’s first European settlement, way back in the seventeenth century, up through the skyscrapers and urban planning of the late twentieth century, look no further than New York Rising: An Illustrated History from the Durst Collection. The book, set to come out on November 13th, originates from the sprawling Durst Collection at Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. Incredible photography captures the most definitive parts of New York history, accompanied by the thoughts of ten scholars who were asked to reflect on the images. Their writing ranges from the emergence of public transit to the “race for height” to affordable housing.
6sqft spoke with Thomas Mellins, who edited the book with Kate Ascher, on their efforts delving into the Durst Collection — which has its own unique history — to come up with this comprehensive visual history. See a selection of photos from the book, along with thoughts from Mellins, after the jump.
View from Domino Park, photo by Daniel Levin
Fresh off the news that the city will invest over $250 million to connect and green 32 miles of Manhattan waterfront, it’s become easier for New Yorkers to access the existing waterfront spaces open to the public. The Department of City Planning has just released the Waterfront Access Map, a tool to help you find one of the 200 open spaces situated along the city’s 520 miles of shoreline. It was released to mark the 25th anniversary of a 1993 zoning change that mandated public access to the city’s shoreline whenever a waterfront property is redeveloped.
Check out the map
This duplex condo up for sale at 384 Warren Street, in Boerum Hill, easily stands out with its beautiful living room fireplace. It’s a still-working, wood-burning brick fireplace that’s going to be perfectly cozy as winter approaches. Other than that, the apartment has a host of other perks. High ceilings make the pad feel spacious, a small deck offers a nice hang-out spot in warmer months, and a skylight brightens the space. It just sold last year for $830,000, and now it’s back on the market with a price bump to $900,000.
Take a tour
Yesterday the de Blasio Administration released the Long Island City Investment Strategy, an effort by the city to support sustainable growth in the waterfront neighborhood. Following an upzoning in 2001, the area has seen incredible transformation in the form of thousands of new apartments and waterfront towers. The city admits that the reason behind its strategy is such rapid development, which has strained neighborhood resources and the quality of life of residents.
$180 million is designated for the area, which is on top of $2.2 billion the city says its already invested over the years. “We are investing $180 million in Long Island City to address the needs of today while preparing for a more sustainable future.” Mayor de Blasio stated in a press release.
Where will the money go?
The Ansonia in 1904, via Wiki Commons
With the 2018 World Series kicking off today, it’s amazing to think that one of the most iconic landmarks of the Upper West Side played a crucial role in shaping the outcome of the World Series back in 1919. Back then, the Ansonia was a brand new, luxury residential hotel in Manhattan–it opened in 1904 with a grand total of 1,400 rooms and 320 suites. The lavish locale quickly became popular amongst athletes; even Babe Ruth would stay there and come to treat the entire hotel like an extension of his apartment. But in 1919, baseball players and the mafia found a match in the hotel. A small group of players, and one very powerful, moneyed mafioso, came up with a deal that would throw the results of the game pitting the Chicago White Sox against the Cincinnati Reds.
Keep reading about the illicit deal
This Nolita loft is open, airy, and spans an impressive 1,800 square feet. The design is spot-on, too, complementing the lofty bones of the apartment that include vaulted, barrel ceilings and exposed brick. The building, 40 Great Jones Street, is believed to be built in the late 1800s. But everything here is thoroughly modern, from the flexible great room to the glass-panelled master bedroom.
Take a look inside
According to Douglas Elliman’s latest market report, home prices in Brooklyn are higher than ever. The median and average sales prices for the borough both broke records, crossing the $800,000 and $1 million thresholds for the first time in the third quarter of this year. “As the Brooklyn market continues to reinvent itself over the past five years,” says the report, “There is no standard of comparison with historical trends.” It means Brooklyn, and also Queens, boast some of the fastest residential price growth in the country, with new developments cropping up and demand skyrocketing as buyers stream into outer boroughs.
Keep reading for stats
Photo by Marc Hermann, courtesy of the New York Transit Museum
Concetta Anne Bencivenga wants you to visit the New York Transit Museum. After coming on as the museum’s director early last year — following Gabrielle Shubert’s impressive 24-year run — she’s become “cheerleader in chief,” in her own words, excited to promote the museum’s exhibits and programming to a wide range of New Yorkers.
With 6sqft she discusses how her diverse background brought her to the Transit Museum and what the past of New York’s public transportation can teach us about moving forward. She also talks about the revamp of an existing exhibit, the introduction of new ones, and her goals moving forward as director. Do you know why the MTA subway system is featured so prominently in early comic books? Keep reading, as Concetta shares the reasons why public transit is so crucial to New Yorkers lives — in both the obvious and more surprising ways.