135 years ago today, throngs of New Yorkers came to the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts to celebrate the opening of what was then known as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people total crossed what was then the only land passage between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The bridge–later dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name that stuck–went on to become one of the most iconic landmarks in New York. But there’s been plenty of history, and secrets, along the way. Lesser known facts about the bridge include everything from hidden wine cellars to a parade of 21 elephants crossing in 1884. So for the Brooklyn Bridge’s 135th anniversary, 6sqft rounded up its top 10 most intriguing secrets.
Photographer Berenice Abbott has long captured the imagination of New Yorkers. Her storied career began after fleeing Ohio for Greenwich Village in 1918 and included a stint in Paris taking portraits of 1920s heavyweights. But she is best known for her searing images of New York buildings and street life–her photograph “Nightview, New York,” taken from an upper-floor window of the Empire State Building in 1932, remains one of the most recognized images of the city. Well known is her exchange with a male supervisor, who informed Abbott that “nice girls” don’t go to the Bowery. Her reply: “Buddy, I’m not a nice girl. I’m a photographer… I go anywhere.”
Despite Abbott’s prolific career and fascinating life, there’s never been a biography to capture it all. Until now, with Julia Van Haaften’s work, “Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography.” Van Haaften is the founding curator of the New York Public Library’s photography collection. She also befriended Abbott, as the photographer approached 90, while curating a retrospective exhibition of her work in the late 1980s. (Abbott passed away in 1991 at the age of 93.)
With 6sqft, Van Haaften shares what it was like translating Abbott’s wide-ranging work and life into a biography, and the help she received from Abbott herself. From her favorite stories to her favorite photographs, Van Haaften shows why Abbott’s work has remained such a powerful lens capturing New York City to this day.
Photo via Jeffrey Zeldman/Flickr
The New York Public Library first roared into existence on May 23, 1895, educating and inspiring countless millions, free of charge. The Library’s 92 locations include four research divisions and hold over 51 million items. Out of all these tomes, the greatest tale might be Library’s own history: Founded by immigrants and industrialists, it was equally admired by William Howard Taft and Vladimir Lenin; open to all, it has counted among its staff American Olympians and Soviet spies; dedicated to intellectual exploration and civic responsibility, it has made its map collection available to buried treasure hunters and Allied Commanders; evolving with the city itself, it has made branch locations out of a prison, a movie theater, and most recently, a chocolate factory. The history of the New York Public Library is as vital and various New York itself, so get ready to read between the lions.
Restuarant photo credit: Nicole Franzen; Portrait credit: Kathryn Sheldon
Earlier this month, Nolita restaurant De Maria won the coveted James Beard Award for best restaurant design or renovation in North America. The designers at The MP Shift replicated an artist’s studio, with Soho in the ‘70s and the Bauhaus movement in mind. But it’s not just the space that’s beautiful; Venezuelan-born chef Adriana Urbina‘s dishes, composed heavily of veggies and seafood, look like they were made for Instagram.
Outside of the visuals, however, what sets De Maria apart is Urbina’s socially conscious approach. Not only does she mix her South American heritage with her fine dining background (she started her career as an apprentice at Michelin 3-star restaurant in Spain, Martín Berasategui and was a 2017 winner of Food Network’s “Chopped”), but she’s committed to empowering female chefs and business owners, as well as using food as a way to connect people and raise awareness about what’s going on in the world. 6sqft recently enjoyed an insanely delicious meal at De Maria and chatted with Adriana about her journey, the restaurant scene in NYC, and why this Nolita restaurant is the perfect place to see out her dreams.
With Memorial Day Weekend just around the corner, it’s hard not to imagine the taste of savory barbecue food like hot dogs and hamburgers, chicken wings and corn on the cob. And while our tiny apartments in New York City may not always be the greatest spots to host a barbecue, the city’s parks provide some of the best places to get your grill on this summer. Ahead, 6sqft rounded up 15 of the best parks to host outdoor barbecues, from old standby Prospect Park to less known locales like Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, most New Yorkers have two options–sit in endless hours of traffic trying to get to the beaches on the Hamptons or down the Jersey Shore, or have a staycation in the city. And while the latter may sound boring (and hot!) there are plenty of beaches to hit up within the boroughs. From the Rockaways to Fort Tilden, we’ve rounded up the seven best sandy spots in NYC.
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Hannah La Follette Ryan shares photos from her “Subway Hands” Instagram account. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
While many street photographers have been inspired by straphangers over the years, Massachusetts- born Hannah La Follette Ryan has taken a very different approach to subway photography: focusing on riders’ hands. Her viral Instagram account, “Subway Hands,” is closing in on 20,000 followers and features nearly 1,000 photos, all shot on her iPhone, of the impossibly varied things people do with their hands on the NYC subway.
Photo via Wiki Commons
At 102 West 116th Street in Harlem sits a mosque singularly incorporated into the cityscape. The building houses street-level commercial businesses and is topped by a large green dome, the structure in-between used as a Sunni Muslim mosque. While the property has seen much local history pass through it, it is not landmarked.
Before becoming a religious structure, the lot used to contain the Lenox Casino, a space which was often rented for meetings by the Socialist Party and used as a theatrical performance venue for a number of then-renowned artists. Built in 1905 and designed by Lorenz F. J. Weiher, the Lenox Casino was raided in 1912 for showing “illegal films” in an escapade grippingly documented by the New York Times.
An 1870 newspaper illustration of Elizabeth Blackwell giving an anatomy lecture alongside a corpse at the Woman’s Medical College of New York Infirmary. Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
One of the most radical and influential women of the 19th century changed the course of public health history while living and working in Greenwich Village and the East Village. Elizabeth Blackwell, America’s first female doctor, established cutting-edge care facilities and practices throughout these neighborhoods, the imprint of which can still be felt to this day in surviving institutions and buildings. In fact, one recently received a historic plaque to mark this ground-breaking but often overlooked piece of our history.
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.