All posts by Penelope Bareau

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Features, History

New York in the 1960s was a city of news junkies. Even though 10 newspapers fed that appetite, some New Yorkers who read two papers every morning were heard to complain that there was only one in the afternoon. Today, there are only three papers in New York—the Times, the Post, and the Daily News, (The Wall Street Journal is customarily considered a business publication, not a general newspaper.), but of course, one’s media appetite is fed digitally. Back in the 60s, though, there were few other options.

So in 1962, when 17,000 newspaper workers went on strike for 114 days, and then again in 1965 for a whopping 140 days, crippling print publications, the starvation was keenly felt. These two events are also what ultimately led to NYC going from 10 to three newspapers.

The entire saga unfolds right here

Featured Story

Features, Interviews, People, Policy

Michael Hiller is a zoning and land-use attorney who has represented community groups in seemingly impossible quests for about 20 years. His high-profile cases have often been against the Landmarks Preservation Commission, notably Tribeca’s iconic Clock Tower Building and new construction along historic Gansevoort Street, both of which are pending appeal by the defendants.

As one legal observer commented, “He has become an expert in the nuances of the Landmarks Law from a legal perspective. In court, he is very talented on his feet before a very hot bench, before judges who ask a lot of tough questions.” His successes have won him designation as a Super Lawyer every year since 2009 as well as the 2017 Grassroots Award from the Historic Districts Council. 6sqft recently visited Michael at his office to learn more about his work.

Ahead, hear from Michael and learn more about his current cases

Featured Story

Far Rockaway, Features, History, Queens

Before JFK, there was Idlewild Airport

By Penelope Bareau, Mon, May 15, 2017

Pan Am Boeing 707-100 via Wikipedia

Changes are afoot at JFK International Airport; construction has already begun on the transformation of Eero Saarinen’s masterful TWA terminal, out of commission since TWA folded in 2001, into a 505-room first class hotel, and just a few months ago, Governor Cuomo announced a massive $10 billion overhaul of the whole airport, which will involve interconnecting the terminals, redesigning roads, and improving parking, amenities and security. When finished, the airport will bear little resemblance to what it once was, which has a much more interesting history than one might think. Ahead, 6sqft delves into how JFK changed from a playground for the rich to a major international airport, with some interesting debacles in between.

The whole history ahead

Featured Story

Features, History

Past Prisons: Inside the new lives of 7 former NYC jails

By Penelope Bareau, Mon, April 10, 2017

A 1938 photo showing the Women’s House of Detention south of the Jefferson Market Courthouse, via NYPL

The past week has been full of news about Rikers Island and Mayor de Blasio’s announcement that the notorious prison will be closed and replaced with smaller facilities throughout the boroughs. Ideas for re-use of its 413 acres have included commercial, residential and mixed-use properties; academic centers; sports and recreation facilities; a convention center; or an expansion of nearby LaGuardia airport. And while anything final is estimated to be a decade away, this isn’t the first prison in NYC to be adaptively reused. From a health spa to a production studio to a housing development, 6sqft explores the new lives of seven past prisons.

Read more

Featured Story

Features, History

Charles Lewis Tiffany (left) in his Union Square store, with Charles T. Cook, in 1887

The recent shake-up at Tiffany, involving the replacement of CEO Frederic Cumenal and the departure of its design director, is said to be predicated on disappointing sales and a resultant decline in share prices. Since last fall, many upscale shops in the area have complained about a negative impact they felt was caused by the hullabaloo around Trump Tower—both rubber-necking and security barricades. A change in marketing emphasis toward a younger consumer—witness the hiring of Lady Gaga for advertising—and designs reflecting that shift are reportedly in the offing to reverse disappointing balance-sheet figures. Not everyone is worried, though. Tiffany & Co. has weathered many a storm in its 180 years, and the ambiance on the floor is still serene, the merchandise still beautiful. For a sense of perspective, and just in time for Valentine’s Day, 6sqft looks at Tiffany’s history.

The full story, right this way

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CityRealty, Features, NYC Guides, Policy, stuff you should know

Stuff You Should Know: How Eminent Domain Works

By Penelope Bareau, Wed, May 4, 2016

atlantic yards before and after

The Atlantic Yards (now known as Pacific Park) in Brooklyn where eminent domain was used to take property. Image via Atlantic Yards Report

It has been called the most coercive public policy after the draft. It has also been said that without it, construction in major cities would come to a shuddering stop. What is this powerful, controversial tool? Can both statements be true?

Eminent domain is the policy by which a governmental agency can acquire or “take” property from an owner unwilling to sell in order to build something else there, and it has been around for centuries. Some say it derives from the medieval concept of the divine right of kings, empowered by God the Almighty to be sovereign over all. And by inference, that includes the land, which individual owners occupy and trade at the king’s sufferance. When he wants it back, it is his right to take it. So under eminent domain, all land theoretically belongs to the state, which can assume control at any time.

more on eminent domain here

Featured Story

Architecture, Chinatown, Features, History

On Leong Tong Building, Merchants' Association building, Poy Gum Lee

If you’re planning to head down to Chinatown for the celebration of the Lunar New Year, you’ll likely amble past the corner of Mott and Canal Streets, where there is a remarkable building like no other in New York. It’s called On Leong Tong, or, in English, the Merchants’ Association building. Built in 1950, it combines modernism (though you wouldn’t know it to look at it) with familiar Chinese architectural features—the pagoda roof, balconies, colorful columns and so on. Once you’ve seen it, you won’t forget it.

Read the full history of this building

Featured Story

Features, History, NY in the '60s

Photo by Garry Winogrand via Worcester Art Museum

New York in the ’60s” is a memoir series by a longtime New Yorker who moved to the city after college in 1960. From $90/month apartments to working in the real “Mad Men” world, each installment explores the city through the eyes of a spunky, driven female.

In the first two pieces we saw how different and similar house hunting was 50 years ago and visited her first apartment on the Upper East Side. Then, we learned about her career at an advertising magazine and accompanied her to Fire Island in the summer. Our character next decided to make the big move downtown, but it wasn’t quite what she expected. She then took us through how the media world reacted to JFK’s assassination, as well as the rise and fall of the tobacco industry, the changing face of print media, and how women were treated in the workplace. She also brought us from the March on Washington to her encounter with a now-famous political tragedy that happened right in the Village–the explosion at the Weather Underground house. Now, in the last installment of the series, the girl takes a look at just why New York in the ’60s was such a special place to her.

Her thoughts this way

Featured Story

Features, History, NY in the '60s

New York in the ’60s” is a memoir series by a longtime New Yorker who moved to the city after college in 1960. From $90/month apartments to working in the real “Mad Men” world, each installment explores the city through the eyes of a spunky, driven female.

In the first two pieces we saw how different and similar house hunting was 50 years ago and visited her first apartment on the Upper East Side. Then, we learned about her career at an advertising magazine and accompanied her to Fire Island in the summer. Our character next decided to make the big move downtown, but it wasn’t quite what she expected. She then took us through how the media world reacted to JFK’s assassination, as well as the rise and fall of the tobacco industry, the changing face of print media, and how women were treated in the workplace. Now, she takes us from the March on Washington to her encounter with a now-famous political tragedy that happened right in the Village–the explosion at the Weather Underground house.

Read all about it

Featured Story

Features, History, NY in the '60s

Image via wackystuff/Flickr

New York in the ’60s” is a memoir series by a longtime New Yorker who moved to the city after college in 1960. From $90/month apartments to working in the real “Mad Men” world, each installment explores the city through the eyes of a spunky, driven female.

In the first two pieces we saw how different and similar house hunting was 50 years ago and visited her first apartment on the Upper East Side. Then, we learned about her career at an advertising magazine and accompanied her to Fire Island in the summer. Our character next decided to make the big move downtown, but it wasn’t quite what she expected. She then took us through how the media world reacted to JFK’s assassination, as well as the rise and fall of the tobacco industry, and now she sheds some light into how women were treated in the workplace at this time.

Read the first-hand account here

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