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
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 series of snapshots from last year’s debaucherous Village Halloween Parade. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Started by Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee in 1973, the Village Halloween Parade began as a “wandering neighborhood puppet show.” The event was a walk from house to house in Lee’s neighborhood, created for his children and their friends to enjoy. In the three years that followed, the parade took on new shapes and sizes, propelled first by George Bartenieff and Crystal Field of the Theater for the New City, who staged the production in its second year as part of their City in the Streets program; and then two years later when the parade became a non-profit with its own resources to put on a major show. By 1985, the parade morphed into an extravaganza that marched down Sixth Avenue, attracting 250,000 participants and onlookers. Today, the Village Halloween Parade is the largest celebration of its kind, considered by Festivals International to be “The Best Event in the World” for October 31st.
see more here
, Wed, September 21, 2016
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 authors and photographers James and Karla Murray introduce us to the faces and food vendors that make up the 2016 Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
2016 marks the 90th anniversary of the Feast of San Gennaro, which is held in the “Little Italy” neighborhood of lower Manhattan from Thursday, September 15 through Sunday, September 25th. The Feast is an 11-day salute to the Patron Saint of Naples, Saint Januaries, and it is the longest and most popular street fair in New York City (anticipated to bring in one million tourists and New Yorkers this year).
Little Italy was once known for its large population of Italian immigrants and is now centered on Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets. Italians first began to settle in the area during the 1850s, but by the 1960s, wealthy Italians began to move out and Chinese merchants for the first time began to move north of Canal Street—the traditional boundary between Chinatown and Little Italy. Observing the changes in the neighborhood, Italian merchants and restaurateurs formed an association dedicated to maintaining Mulberry Street north of Canal as an all-Italian enclave, which it still largely remains.
Ahead we document some of the longtime New Yorkers, tourists, and decades-old Italian vendors who’ve added their own flavor to this year’s festivities.
our account and more photos here
6sqft’s new series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In the first installment, award-winning authors and photographers James and Karla Murray brought us 15 years of images documenting the changing storefronts of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. Now they share more amazing images, this time of privilege signs, an industry term for the promotional signs installed by large corporations on storefronts. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on 6sqft? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Privilege Signs are an industry term for the promotional signs installed by large corporations such as Coca-Cola and the Optimo Cigar Company. They were popular in the 1930s through 1960s and received their name because store owners were given the “privilege” of completing the signs with their own copy. Large companies benefited from the signs because they were an easy way of weaving a marketing campaign right into a building’s façade. The signs were not only given free to store owners, but they also brought people into the store with instant brand recognition.
Today, they read retro and antique, standing out as a testament to a business’ ability to endure even in the face of the monumental challenges in a city known for its rapid pace of change. When compiling our books on disappearing storefronts, we were immediately drawn to facades that still had these type of signs, so we’ve rounded up some of our favorites ahead.
See all the photos ahead