Behind the Scenes

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Behind the Scenes, Downtown Brooklyn, Features, History

Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn, 9 DeKalb Avenue, Halsey McCormack and Helmer, Dime Savings Bank history

Since it opened in 1859, the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn has been integral to the history of the borough it calls home. True to its name, you could open a savings account with just a dime. The first person to make a deposit was a man named John Halsey who invested $50. Scores of Brooklynites followed suit, and by the end of the bank’s first business day, 90 people opened accounts; by the end of the first month, more than 1,000 people were depositing at Dime.

But the bank cemented its prominent status in 1908 when the first subway tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn opened and Dime moved into its grand neo-classical building on Dekalb Avenue and Fleet Street. After the bank closed in 2002, the landmark still stood in all its former glory, operating as a special event space. Three years ago, JDS Development filed plans to build Brooklyn’s tallest tower adjacent to Dime, incorporating its Beaux-Arts interior as retail space for the project. And with work now underway, 6sqft recently got a behind-the-scenes tour of Dime Savings Bank with Open House New York.

Explore the history and future of Dime Savings Bank

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Behind the Scenes, Design, Features, Historic Homes, holidays, Interiors, yorkville

gracie mansion, gracie mansion holidays, Bryan Rafanelli

Photos courtesy of Roey Yohai Studio

Gracie Mansion, the residence of Mayor Bill de Blasio, is officially in full holiday spirit. The historic home, which dates back to 1799, is showing off decorations that promote some of the mayor’s top initiatives, plus the overall theme of togetherness. It’s all the work of New York City’s First Lady Chirlane McCray and renowned event planner Bryan Rafanelli, who have been refining the vision since this summer. This is Rafanelli’s second year working with McCray to decorate the people’s home of New York. For 2018, they selected jewel-toned colors, lots of ribbon, and even worked in some participation from New Yorkers.

Keep reading to figure out how the pair made it happen, an effort that includes bringing a 17-foot-tall tree through a narrow French door into the mansion’s ballroom. The images are sure to put you in a New York holiday spirit.

Read more

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Architecture, Behind the Scenes, Features, Financial District, History

Hardhats aren’t your typical church-going attire, but they were necessary at Trinity Church when Vicar Rev. Philip Jackson led a behind-the-scenes tour of Trinity’s ongoing $112,000,000, two-year restoration. The project, officially known as a “rejuvenation” of the facilities, began on May 7, 2018, and is slated to be finished in the spring of 2020. Now six months underway, the meticulous work, headed by architect Jeff Murphy of Murphy Burnham and Buttrick, will preserve Trinity’s landmarked church building while “enhancing the overall worship experience,” by making the church more accessible and welcoming.

Weaving our way between scaffolding and rubble in one of New York’s most iconic naves, we saw the very foundation of Trinity Church’s past and got a glimpse of its future. From the finer points of organ-voicing to some of the first examples of American stained-glass, check out 10 of the most exciting behind-the-scenes secrets of the Trinity Church Restoration.

Check out the Church!

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Behind the Scenes, Features, History, Jamaica

John Eberson architect, 165-11 Jamaica Avenue, Loew’s Valencia Theatre, Loew's Wonder Theatres, Tabernacle of Prayer for All People

Earlier this year, 6sqft got an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at the majestic Loew’s Jersey City Theatre, as well as the United Palace Theatre in Washington Heights. In 2016, we joined Untapped Cities and NYCEDC on a tour of Brooklyn Kings Theatre, and just last month, as part of Untapped Cities Insider’s Tours, we were lucky enough to tour and photograph the former Loew’s Valencia Theatre on Jamaica Avenue in Queens, which is now home to the Tabernacle of Prayer for All People church.

The majestic Loew’s Valencia Theatre opened on Saturday, January 12, 1929, as the first, largest, and most famous of the five flagship Loew’s “Wonder” Theatres established in the New York City area from 1929-30. All of the grand movie palaces were built by Marcus Loew of the Loew’s Theatres chain to establish the firm as a leader in film exhibition and to simultaneously serve as a fantastical yet affordable escape for people of all classes from the tedium and anxieties of their daily lives. The Valencia most definitely did not shy away from this fantastical approach, with its Spanish/Mexican Baroque architecture, gilded ornamentation, rich jewel-tone colors, and elaborate carvings.

Take the grand tour

Archtober, Behind the Scenes, History, Lower East Side, Museums

Ten secrets of the Eldridge Street Synagogue

By Lucie Levine, Mon, October 1, 2018

Museum at Eldridge Street, Eldridge Street synagogue, Lower East Side synagogue

As a media sponsor of Archtober–NYC’s annual month-long architecture and design festival of tours, lectures, films, and exhibitions–6sqft has teamed up with the Center for Architecture to explore some of their 70+ partner organizations.

With stunning stained glass windows and a striking mix of Moorish, Gothic, and Romanesque features, the Eldridge Street Synagogue cuts an imposing figure on the Lower East Side. The Synagogue opened in 1887 as the first and finest Orthodox house of worship built by Eastern European Jews in America and served as a spiritual headquarters for millions of immigrants as they made new homes in New York. By the turn of the 20th century, over 4,000 congregants supported three daily services, and holiday crowds overwhelmed the building.

But, by the 1940s, the congregation dwindled, and the doors of the great sanctuary were sealed; not to be reopened until the 1970s. When preservationists rallied to save the building on its 100th anniversary, they rediscovered the splendor of the sacred structure and spent 20 years restoring it. Following a meticulous restoration, the Synagogue reopened in 2007 as the Museum at Eldridge Street. Today, the museum welcomes visitors from around the world, and preserves city’s immigrant history as well as the structure’s sacred secrets.

Learn about these 10 secrets of the synagogue

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Behind the Scenes, Brooklyn, Features, History

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

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Behind the Scenes, Features, Urban Design, Williamsburg

Maker Park, THE TANKS at Bushwick Inlet Park, Bayside Oil Depot, Williamsburg waterfront, fuel tanks, Karen Zabarsky, Stacey Anderson

We first learned about the proposal to turn Williamsburg‘s former Bayside Oil Depot into a public park nearly two years ago. Since then, co-founders Karen Zabarsky and Stacey Anderson have been working tirelessly with a team of designers and environmentalists to refine their plans to be something both true to the site’s history and representative of where the neighborhood is heading. Part of the larger Bushwick Inlet Park, a 28-acre open space along an unused waterfront industrial stretch, the plan is unique in that it plans to adaptively reuse the 10, 50-foot decommissioned fuel containers, transforming them into everything from performance spaces to greenhouses.

With a fresh name–THE TANKS at Bushwick Inlet Park–Karen and Stacey recently took 6sqft on an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the abandoned site, giving us a glimpse into how this incredible industrial relic is poised to become NYC’s next anticipated park. Get a rare, up-close look at the tanks, hear what these powerhouse women have been up to, and learn what we can expect in the near future.

You won’t believe these photos

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Behind the Scenes, Features, History, Washington Heights

United Palace Theatre, Loew's 175th Street Theatre, Loew's Wonder Theatres, Washington Heights theater, Reverend Ike, United Palace of Cultural Arts, Thomas W. Lamb

Earlier this year, 6sqft got an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour at the Loew’s Jersey City, one of the five opulent Loew’s Wonder Theatres built in 1929-30 around the NYC area. We’ve now gotten a tour of another, the United Palace in Washington Heights. Originally known as the Loew’s 175th Street Theatre, the “Cambodian neo-Classical” landmark has served as a church and cultural center since it closed in 1969 and was purchased by televangelist Reverend Ike, who renamed it the Palace Cathedral. Today it’s still owned by late Reverend’s church but functions as a spiritual center and arts center.

Thanks to Reverand Ike and his church’s continued stewardship, Manhattan’s fourth-largest theater remains virtually unchanged since architect Thomas W. Lamb completed it in 1930. 6sqft recently visited and saw everything from the insane ornamentation in the lobby to the former smoking lounge that recently caught the eye of Woody Allen. We also chatted with UPCA’s executive director Mike Fitelson about why this space is truly one-of-a-kind.

Take the incredible digital tour

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Behind the Scenes, Features, History, Upper East Side

Located on East 79th Street at the corner of Fifth Avenue and across from Central Park, sits one of New York City’s last turn-of-the-century, French-Gothic styled-structures. Designed by Gilded-Age architect Charles Pierrepont Henry Gilbert, the building was home to Isaac D. Fletcher and Harry F. Sinclair, giving it the fitting name of the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion. Now, the mansion is occupied by the Ukrainian Institute of America, a nonprofit organization that has promoted Ukrainian art, music and literature since 1948. Ahead, join 6sqft on a tour of the landmarked building and check out some of the unique features within this hidden-in-plain sight New York City architectural gem.

Take a tour

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Behind the Scenes, Features, History, New Jersey

Loew’s Jersey Theatre, Rapp and Rapp, Journal Square theater, Journal Square history, Loew's Jersey City, Loew's Wonder Theatres, Wonder Theatre Jersey City, Jersey City historic theater

“The wealthy rub elbows with the poor — and are better for this contact,” said architect George Rapp of his Loew’s Jersey and Kings Theatres–two of the five Loew’s Wonder Theatres built in 1929-30 around the NYC area. The over-the-top, opulent movie palaces were built by the Loew’s Corporation not only to establish their stature in the film world but to be an escape for people from all walks of life. This held true during the Great Depression and World War II, but by the time the mid-60s hit and middle-class families began relocating to the suburbs where megaplexes were all the rage, the Wonder Theatres fell out of fashion.

Amazingly, though, all five still stand today, each with their own unique preservation tale and evolution. The Loew’s Jersey, located in the bustling Jersey City hub of Journal Square, has perhaps the most grassroots story. After closing in 1987, the building was slated for demolition, but a group of local residents banded together to save the historic theater. They collected 10,000 petition signatures and attended countless City Council meetings, and finally, in 1993, the city agreed to buy the theater for $325,000 and allow the newly formed Friends of the Loew’s to operate there as a nonprofit arts and entertainment center and embark on a restoration effort. Twenty-five years later, the theater is almost entirely returned to its original state and offers a robust roster of films, concerts, children’s programs, and more.

6sqft recently had the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Loew’s Jersey Theatre with executive director Colin Egan to learn about its amazing evolution and photograph its gilded beauty.

Take a tour of this one-of-a-kind historic gem

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