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.

History, Transportation

What it was like the day the NYC subway opened in 1904

By Emily Nonko, Tue, October 27, 2020

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “City Hall Subway Station, New York” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1906.

The Interborough Rapid Transit Subway, or IRT, was the first subway company ever in New York City. The company formed as a response to elevated train lines springing up around the city–it was time to go underground and build a rapid transit railroad to help combat street congestion and assist development in new areas of New York, according to NYCsubway.org. And so 116 years ago, on October 27th, 1904, the first IRT subway line opened with the City Hall station as its showpiece. It’s no overstatement to say that after this date, the city would never be the same. And the day was one to remember, with pure excitement over the impressive feat of moving the city’s transit system underground.

Here’s what you need to know about the day

Featured Story

Features, History, Midtown, Transportation

Grand Central, Track 61, secret track, elevator, FDR

Image © Emily Nonko for 6sqft

The iconic Grand Central Terminal is a building with more than a few secrets. Constructed in 1913 with the wealth of the Vanderbilt family, there was a lavish private office (now known as The Campbell Apartment), glass catwalks, a hidden spiral staircase, and even artists’ studios on an upper floor. One of the most infamous secrets of the terminal, however, was a secret track used specifically for a president to access one of the most famous hotels in the world. Known as Track 61, it leads to a special platform that was never used or intended to be used in regular passenger service—it just happened to be in the right place.

Keep reading about Grand Central’s secret track

History, maps, Meatpacking District

13th avenue, 13th avenue manhattan, meatpacking district

1885 map showing 13th Avenue, via the New York Public Library

You may be scratching your head at the mention of the 13th Avenue in Manhattan, but it does exist–and it’s the shortest avenue in the whole city with a fascinating history behind it. The minuscule stretch covers prime Meatpacking District real estate, just west of 11th Avenue and between Little West 12th Street and Gansevoort Street. The single block across the West Side Highway is unmarked, but officially known as Gansevoort Peninsula. The avenue was created by the city in 1837, and in no way was intended to be so short. In fact, by the mid-1800s 13th Avenue encompassed nearly 15 blocks and was planned to stretch all the way up to 135th Street. But the block never left Chelsea and was mostly destroyed by the city at the turn of the century.

Read all about the life and death of the Avenue

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Features, History, holidays, Manhattan

In 1882, Labor Day originated with a parade held in NYC

By Emily Nonko, Fri, September 4, 2020

labor day, first labor day, labor day parade, new york city

An illustration of the first Labor Day parade, via Wiki Commons

Though Labor Day has been embraced as a national holiday–albeit one many Americans don’t know the history of–it originated right here in New York City as a result of the city’s labor unions fighting for worker’s rights throughout the 1800s. The event was first observed, unofficially, on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882, with thousands marching from City Hall up to Union Square. At the time, the New York Times considered the event to be unremarkable. But 137 years later, we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of every September as a tribute to all American workers. It’s also a good opportunity to recognize the hard-won accomplishments of New York unions to secure a better workplace for us today.

Keep reading for the full history

Bronx, Cool Listings

Leave it up to Riverdale to supply some of the most jaw-dropping, “is it really in New York City?” properties. This Greek Revival mansion at 5501 Palisade Avenue looks like it belongs upstate, but it’s located right here in the Bronx, in a neighborhood known for impressive properties with views. The 1.7-acre property is situated on the top of the hill, so it has prime views of the Hudson River and the Palisades. The interior, which boasts five bedrooms, isn’t too shabby, either.

See inside the mansion

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Architecture, Chelsea, condos, Features, Major Developments, New Developments, Rentals, Starchitecture

The 14 best apartments near the High Line

By Emily Nonko, Thu, July 9, 2020

In the decade since the High Line opening, the surrounding area of West Chelsea has exploded into one of Manhattan’s most desirable areas for developers building luxury real estate. (It didn’t hurt that the opening of the now-famous elevated park coincided with a neighborhood rezoning.) These days, any walk along the park reveals a variety of development in different stages of construction right alongside buildings that have welcomed new, typically wealthy residents over the past several years. 6sqft has rounded up the 14 defining buildings now open around the High Line. There are the early trailblazers, like the energy-efficient condo HL23, as well as the starchitect standouts, like Zaha Hadid’s 520 West 28th, and of course, the new kids on the block, including Bjarke Ingels’ twisting towers The XI and Thomas Heatherwick’s bubbled Lantern House condo.

See the full list here

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Features, real estate trends

NYC real estate experts offer their 2020 predictions

By Emily Nonko, Mon, December 16, 2019

NYC skyline, Central Park skyline, Billionaires' Row

Photo by Leonhard Niederwimmer via Pixabay

In some ways, 2019 was a continuation of the past few years: political and global uncertainty loomed over the New York real estate market, development continued at a steady pace, and prices were as high as ever. (Oh wait — they were actually higher.) But the year also brought notable changes, from a total overhaul of rent and tenant protections, increased urgency in regards to climate change, an increasingly buyer’s market, and dry-up of the once pervasive rental concessions.

So what’s in store for the year ahead? Real estate experts believe sustained political uncertainty — particularly around an election year — could mean buyers proceed cautiously. The new rent laws will undoubtedly shape New York, as both the rental and condo markets tighten. Pre-war design will make a comeback in defiance of glassy modern architecture, while the focus on sustainability will increase and amenities will become more flexible.

Keep reading for the 6sqft’s full roundup of 2020 predictions.

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building of the year, Features

VOTE for 6sqft’s 2019 Building of the Year

By Emily Nonko, Thu, December 5, 2019

If you had to boil it down, 2019 has been an important year for advancing the city’s most noteworthy residential projects. Perhaps no news was more important than the official opening of Hudson Yards, which introduced a collection of sleek towers to the Manhattan skyline. (Two Hudson Yards buildings, 15 and 35 Hudson Yards, have made this list.) But that still didn’t overshadow other glittering towers now transforming the skyline: the world’s tallest residential tower at Central Park Tower, the most expensive residential sale in the country at 220 Central Park South, and the highest infinity pool in the Western Hemisphere at Brooklyn Point. It’s been a year of construction progress, eye-popping sales prices, and exceptionally luxurious apartments and amenities behind unique facades.

Our picks are down to 12 of the most notable residential structures this year. Which do you think deserves 6sqft’s title of 2019 Building of the Year? To have your say, polls for our fifth annual competition will be open up until midnight on Friday, December 13th and we will announce the winner on Monday, December 16th.

Cast your vote!

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Features, History

united neighborhood council, bury the slums, settlement house, settlement house history, settlement house rally

United Neighborhood Houses’ Rally for the Bury the Slums Campaign in 1936

Look back to early 1900s New York and you’ll find a city not only transformed by an influx of immigrants from around the world, but a movement to improve their living conditions. As newcomers to the city increasingly faced poverty, hunger, disease, crime and unsafe housing, community hubs like churches and synagogues began advocating for better living conditions. Settlement houses also played an important role in this movement for social justice. Their initial purpose of bringing more privileged, outside “settlers” into immigrant communities could be controversial, but it also forged bonds between different classes of New Yorkers who fought for issues like housing protections, stronger labor laws, and city sanitation efforts.

Exactly 100 years ago, an organization emerged to better coordinate the efforts of settlement houses and ensure their advocacy into the future. United Neighborhood Houses was the city’s first umbrella organization for settlement homes with the goal to fight for equality and social change. Today the organization exists as one of the largest human service systems in New York City, holding up the city’s still-robust collection of settlement houses. The history of United Neighborhood Houses tells a larger story of the evolving role of settlement houses in New York: why they were introduced, how they integrated — with some bumps — into impoverished communities, and how they’ve grown into community hubs still servicing New Yorkers today.

The full history ahead

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City Living, Features, Interviews

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.

Read more

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