Dead Horse Bay is a small body of water in Brooklyn that got its name from the horse rendering plants that were on the former Barren Island in Jamaica Bay near the shoreline of Flatlands. In the late 1850s, Barren Island was the site of the largest dump in New York City, fed by barges carrying garbage and animal remains. Factories on the island used the carcasses of horses, which were put in large vats and boiled until the fat could be removed, for use in fertilizer, glue, and oils. The bones of the horses were then chopped up and dumped into the water. Starting in 1930, the island also became the site of the first municipal airport (Floyd Bennett) after the city filled in marshland to connect it to the mainland.
The last horse rendering factory on the island closed in 1935 and in 1936, the island’s final 400 residents were evicted to make way for the creation of the Belt Parkway. The City continued using the area as a garbage dump until 1953 when the landfill was capped. Since 1972, the area surrounding Dead Horse Bay has been part of the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area. We joined Robin Nagle, NYC Department of Sanitation’s Anthropologist-in-Residence for an exclusive exploration of Dead Horse Bay earlier this year with the City Reliquary Museum and had a chance to speak with her about this mysterious area, which is strewn with glass bottles, fragments of centuries-old horse bones, and mounds of trash.
Have a look around
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring the oldest pharmacy in the United States, C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries in Greenwich Village, and talking with owner Ian Ginsberg. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries was established in 1838. It is the oldest apothecary in America. It was originally called the Village Apothecary Shop and was opened by the Vermont physician, Galen Hunter. It was renamed C.O. Bigelow Apothecary when it was purchased by an employee, Clarence Otis Bigelow in 1880. The apothecary is in fact so old that it once sold leeches and opium as remedies. According to legend, the chemists at Bigelow even created a salve for Thomas Edison to treat his burned fingers when he was first developing the light bulb.
In 1922, the apothecary was sold to the pharmacist, Mr. Bluestone, employed by Bigelow, thereby continuing the unique legacy of passing ownership from employer to employee. Bluestone sold the pharmacy to yet another pharmacist employee, William B. Ginsberg in 1939. And since 1939, three generations of Ginsberg’s have owned and operated the shop, passing down from father to son to most recently grandson, Ian Ginsberg, who 6sqft spoke with at this historic pharmacy in Greenwich Village at 414 Sixth Avenue.
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring artist Stephen Powers’ Boerum Hill studio and sign shop. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
Walking along Fourth Avenue in Boerum Hill, the storefronts all look pretty similar–pizza shops, laundromats, cute cafes–until you come to the corner of Bergen Street and see the large, colorful collage of signs gracing the side of the little brick building. This is ESPO’s Art World, artist Stephen Powers’ sign shop. But as you can imagine, this space is much more than that. Powers, who painted graffiti under the name ESPO for much of the ’80s and ’90s in NYC and Philadelphia, also uses his shop as a retail store and informal gallery where passersby can walk in and peruse his graphic, pop-art-esque, text-heavy work. Stephen recently gave 6sqft a guided tour of his shop and chatted with us about his transition from graffiti to studio art, why he dislikes the term “street art,” his love for Brooklyn, and where he sees the art scene heading.
Get a look around and hear from Stephen
Photos © James and Karla Murray
The new exhibition at the Brooklyn Historical Society, “The Business of Brooklyn,” celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and tells the fascinating story of the borough’s 100 years of business, detailing its industrial past, large companies, as well as its preponderance of mom-and-pop shops. It also showcases many objects and artifacts, which have their origins in Brooklyn, demonstrating the significant “role that Brooklyn has played in American consumer culture.” The exhibition is on view at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s landmark building in Brooklyn Heights located at 128 Pierrepont Street until Winter 2019. From those iconic yellow pencils to Brillo pads to Cracker Jack, you may be surprised to see what has been made in Brooklyn.
The history of 10 famous products made in Brooklyn
In 1883, one of NYC’s first skyscrapers opened at the corner of Nassau and Beekman Streets. Known as Temple Court, the nine-story red brick and terra cotta structure was designed in the Queen Anne style by architect James M. Farnworth to attract accountants and lawyers who needed to be close to the city’s courthouses. Its most impressive feature was its central atrium that rises the full height and is topped by a large pyramid-shaped skylight and two rooftop turrets.
In the 1940s, this romantic atrium was walled in from top to bottom, and by 2001, the last commercial tenant moved out, ultimately sending the building into disrepair, a crumbling shell open to the elements. Plans to restore Temple Court into The Beekman hotel and add an adjacent 51-story condominium tower first surfaced in 2008, but before work got underway in 2012, we were granted the rare opportunity to explore the architectural gem in its eerily beautiful derelict state. And now that guests are filling up the 287 hotel rooms, the main floor is buzzing with restaurants from restaurateurs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally, and the atrium’s skylight and Victorian cast iron railings and ornamentation have been restored, we went back in to document how this one-of-a-kind landmark has been restored.
See the before-and-after photos and learn about our experience
Murray’s Cheese was founded in 1940 on Cornelia Street. When Rob Kaufelt bought the business in 1991, he grew the store into an internationally known food destination that now includes educational programs, a full-service restaurant, catering, and state-of-the-art cheese aging caves in Long Island City. Personally, our love affair with Murray’s Cheese began in 1994, when we were newlyweds on a budget, often buying cheese from the small Bleecker Street store to eat with some freshly baked bread purchased from the nearby Zito & Sons Bakery. Plus, with Murray’s being our namesake, we felt an immediate connection to the store.
Just last month, the Kroger Company purchased the equity of Murray’s Cheese and its flagship Greenwich Village location to form a merger of the two companies. As this new era approaches, we decided to capture all the cheesy goodness of the store, restaurant, and caves, as well as chat with Rob, cavemaster PJ, and Murray’s Cheese Bar’s general manager Jake Goznikar to learn about Murray’s history, unique contributions to local and world-wide food culture, and future.
Take the grand tour
6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, award-winning photographers James and Karla Murray return for Saint Patrick’s Day with a look inside McSorley’s Old Ale House. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
With Saint Patrick’s Day just around the corner, McSorley’s Old Ale House–located in the East Village on East 7th Street by Cooper Square–is readying to welcome a crowd of beer-loving New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike. What sets this watering hole apart, aside from its limited “dark or light” menu, is that it’s the oldest bar in the city, a distinction proven after extensive research by the bar’s official historian Bill Wander. We recently paid the Irish tavern a visit to capture its historic details such as the original wooden bar and pot-bellied stove; iconic tchotchkes adorning the walls, which run the gamut from shackles worn by a prisoner of war from the Civil War to a horseshoe that legend says came from one of the horses that pulled Abraham Lincoln’s hearse; and the fun-loving crowd that can be seen there on a typical day. We also chatted with Teresa Maher, the very first woman to work behind the bar in 1994.
See all the photos and hear from Teresa
Moviegoers at the Village East Cinema may be surprised to learn that they are visiting a recently restored New York City designated landmark. The Village East Cinema has a fascinating history as one of the last surviving “Yiddish Rialto” theaters along Second Avenue in the East Village. Today, the cinema is known for premiering many independent films and an eclectic mix of art and commercial releases. The theater’s most significant visual aspect, however, is its main auditorium’s ornate and colorful ceiling, which is regarded as having one of the most remarkable works of plaster craftsmanship in New York City.
explore the spectacular space here
6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, award-winning photographers James and Karla Murray return with a look inside Pete’s Tavern, a Gramercy favorite with beautiful holiday decorations and an interesting historical connection to Christmas. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Pete’s Tavern lays claim to being NYC’s oldest continuously operating bar and restaurant. Established in 1864, it’s become famous for the fact that O. Henry is said to have written the classic short Christmas story “The Gift of the Magi” while dining and drinking here. We recently visited Pete’s to photograph its lovely holiday decorations and to chat with restaurateur Gary Egan and manager A.C. about the establishment’s unique history, connection to O. Henry, and time as a speakeasy during Prohibition.
All the photos and the interview
6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, award-winning photographers James and Karla Murray return with a look inside Rolf’s German Restaurant, known for its over-the-top Christmas decorations. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Beginning the last week of September, a six-man team starts the process of adorning Rolf’s German Restaurant with 15,000 Christmas ornaments, 10,000 lights, and thousands of icicles. By the first of November, the process of turning this historic Murray Hill restaurant into a holiday wonderland is complete, attracting both locals and tourists who are eager to see the one-of-a-kind display of Victorian-style decorations.
We recently paid a visit to Rolf’s, capturing everything from dolls found in New England antique shops to 19th century German ball ornaments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And we’ve shared an interview with owner Bob Maisano where he talks about the building’s past life as a speakeasy during Prohibition, German history in NYC, and what makes Rolf’s a unique holiday destination.
All the photos and the interview with Bob