Features

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Architecture, Features, History, Top Stories

A short history of New York City’s foul air shafts

By Cait Etherington, Mon, October 16, 2017

apartment building air shafts, air shaft

Image by Bikes And Books

If you think there is nothing worse than renting an apartment with windows and no view, think again. At one point in the city’s history, where one may now enjoy a small sliver of daylight and at least some fresh air, there was no light or air at all. Indeed, at some points in the history tenants’ windows looked out onto slits—sometimes a mere 28 inches wide—that were teeming with waste, rancid smells, and noise.

on the history of NYC air shafts

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Events, Features, Giveaways, Gowanus

With cleanup efforts underway along the notoriously polluted Canal and a slew of new developments rising, Gowanus is undoubtedly one of the top neighborhoods to watch. But we can’t talk about its future without also looking back at its history. On October 28th, the Municipal Art Society is hosting a walking tour of Gowanus led by architectural historian Matt Postal that will explore the area’s past as an industrial shipping center and its transformation into a trendy, artistic enclave. Not only will the two-hour tour take you to the city’s oldest concrete structure and oldest retractile bridge, but it’ll make stops at the new residential and commercial spaces. Interested in attending for free? MAS is giving away two tickets to “Gowanus Grows in Brooklyn.”

Find out how to enter here

Featured Story

Features, History

hilltop park, new york yankees, the highlanders

The Highlanders play a game at Hilltop Park in 1912, photo via NYPL

Not unlike their unexpected ALCS journey this year, the most dominant team in American sports got off to quite a rocky start. Not only did the New York Highlanders, now known as the Yankees, have a losing record for many years, the team’s first home field was a mess: it was located near a swamp, the outfield had no grass, and the ballpark sat mostly unfinished. In just six weeks, 500 men hastily built the stadium on Broadway and 168th Street in Washington Heights, known as Hilltop Park, in time for the Highlander’s first home game on April 30, 1903. Due to the unsavory, rock-filled conditions, the last big league game at Hilltop Park was played in October of 1912. Following its closure, the Highlanders changed their name to the Yankees in 1913, moved to the Bronx, and went on to become one of the most successful sports teams in the world.

More this way

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Features, History, More Top Stories, photography, The urban lens

The corner of Broadway and 55th Street in 1970

6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Edward Grazda shares photos from the “mean streets” of 1970s and ’80s NYC. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

When photographer Edward Grazda moved to New York in the early ’70s, he was renting a loft on Bleecker Street for $250 a month during a time when the city was in a financial crisis, jobs were hard to come by, and places like the Bowery were facing a huge rise in homelessness. But it was also a time when a new generation of artists were beginning to move in. Instead of the tourist- and millionaire-filled streets we see today, 40 years ago they were teeming with energy. “I felt like there were many possibilities to be creative,” Ed says. And with that in mind, he began shooting candids and random street scenes between personal projects in Latin American and Afghanistan. This work abroad taught him “how to make oneself invisible and blend in on the street.”

Just a few years ago, Ed rediscovered these black-and-white photos and noticed how different things are now, from the physical buildings to the absence of people reading newspapers. He decided to compile them into a book “Mean Streets: NYC 1970-1985,” which was just released earlier this week and offers a rare look back “at that desolate era captured with the deliberate and elegant eye that propelled Grazda to further success.”

See Edward’s photos here

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History, People

Lorraine Hansberry’s Greenwich Village: From ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ to civil rights

By Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Thu, October 12, 2017

Lorraine Hansberry at her typewriter in her Greenwich Village apartment in 1960. Photo by David Attie courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute.

Lorraine Hansberry, the trailblazing playwright, activist, and Nina Simone song inspiration was perhaps most closely associated with Chicago. But in fact she lived, went to school, and spent much of her life in Greenwich Village, even writing her best known play “A Raisin in the Sun” while living on Bleecker Street. And shortly a historic plaque will mark the site of her home on Waverly Place.

Learn the full history here

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Features, History, More Top Stories

The history of New York’s railroad apartment

By Cait Etherington, Wed, October 11, 2017

Rendering by 3DCOW

Apartments comprised of a series of directly connected rooms—without a hallway—are a common feature of the New York City housing market. Generally, this layout is described as a “railroad apartment.” It is important to note, however, that depending on where you are in the United States, the “railroad” may, in fact, refer to a very different type of layout—namely, an apartment with a series of rooms connected by one long hallway. Indeed, in many other U.S. cities, “shot-gun apartment” is the more commonly used term for an apartment where rooms are connected without a hallway, and in some cities, these apartments are also described as “floor-through apartments.”

Whatever you call them, the layout nearly always comes with its share of pros and cons. At their best, this apartment layout offers considerably more space at a lower cost than a conventional layout and desirable pre-war details. At their worse, this layout offers nothing but a dark and dank space that can be especially awkward when shared by roommates rather than couples.

find out more here

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Features, More Top Stories, NYC Guides, Restaurants

A borough-by-borough guide to NYC’s food halls

By Devin Gannon, Tue, October 10, 2017

Cronuts. Raclette. Poke bowls. Avocado toast. While the list of trendy cuisines making a splash in New York City’s food scene appears endless, food halls are making it easier for New Yorkers to try a bit of everything all under one roof. The city is experiencing a boom in this casual dining style; real estate developers opt to anchor their buildings with food halls, as all-star chefs choose food halls to serve their celebrated dishes. Ahead, follow 6sqft’s guide to the city’s 24 current food halls, from old standby Chelsea Market to Downtown Brooklyn’s new DeKalb Market, as well as those in the pipeline, planned for hot spots like Hudson Yards and more far-flung locales like Staten Island.

More this way

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Features, photography, The urban lens

The Urban Lens: Documenting NYC’s vanishing ATMs

By Dana Schulz, Fri, October 6, 2017

Ivan Kosnyrev, Unreliable ATM, vanishing ATMs, NYC ATMs

Outside the Lower East Side club Fat Baby

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, Ivan Kosnyrev shares photos from his Instagram series Unreliable ATM. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

We recently shared photographer’s before-and-after photos of Tribeca, a project that helped him learn about the history and present evolution of his neighborhood. Having only moved to NYC three years ago from Moscow, Ivan uses his documentary photography as a way to get acclimated with his new home. And when he wants to go outside his home base, he often does so through the lens of his Instagram account Unreliable ATM, which documents the vanishing street ATM. Not only does this disappearance represent changing times and technologies, but it’s a visual reminder of how the city is losing its small businesses and culture. Ahead, Ivan shares some of his favorite ATM photos and talks about his inspiration for the project.

All that, this way

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Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History, More Top Stories

Uncovering the sites of the South Village’s secret ‘Little Italy’

By Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Thu, October 5, 2017

Caffe Reggio, via Prayitno/Flickr

Many think of Little Italy’s Mulberry Street or the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue as the centers of Italian-American life and culture in New York. But some of the most historically significant sites relating to the Italian-American experience in New York can be found in the Greenwich Village blocks known as the South Village–from the first church in America built specifically for an Italian-American congregation to the cafe where cappuccino was first introduced to the country, to the birthplace of Fiorello LaGuardia, NYC’s first Italian-American mayor.

All the historic sites right this way

Featured Story

Architecture, Design, Features, Green Design, Interviews, More Top Stories

Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano

After completing architecture school at Universita’ di Napoli, Italy, Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano fell in love with New York City, deciding in 1995 to establish an innovative firm in Manhattan called LOT-EK. Early experiments in the art world grew into a substantial architecture practice, but their philosophy has always been the same: Both Ada and Giuseppe are focused on a concept they call “up-cycling,” taking existing objects and elevating them through art, design, and architecture. The firm has done its most innovative work re-using shipping containers and received a wave of attention this year for a Brooklyn residential project that utilized 21 shipping containers in surprising, stunning ways.

The firm has just released its second monograph, LOT-EK: Objects and Operations, a photo-heavy showcase of dozens of projects the firm produced around the world over the past 15 years. “LOT-EK is a design practice that believes in being unoriginal, ugly, and cheap,” the book states. “Also in being revolutionary, gorgeous, and completely luxurious.” With 6sqft, co-founder Giuseppe Lignano talks about the early days of running a firm and waiting tables in 1990s New York, explains the firm’s philosophy behind sustainability and re-use, and discusses the inspiration behind their notable Williamsburg project.

This way for the interview

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