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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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

Cool Listings, Design, Interiors, Upper East Side

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.

Go inside

affordable housing, real estate trends

Nearly 250,000 NYC rental apartments sit vacant

By Emily Nonko, Mon, March 26, 2018

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

New Jersey, Transportation

newark airport, newark liberty airport, terminal one, grimshaw architects, newark airport renovation

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.

Get more details

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