6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Aaron Bernstein shares his “Manhattan Meltdown” photo series of famous NYC foods, frozen. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Photographer Aaron Bernstein was overwhelmed when he first moved to New York City for his career in fashion. One way to adjust to his new home was through different food experiences. “Food was this daily thing that I could measure small successes with,” Aaron told us. “If I was able to cook for myself or buy myself a meal, I saw it as a tiny victory.” And now as an Adobe Creative Resident, Aaron is exploring the intersection of food and art through the “digital guise” of “Hungry Boy,” an online platform that shows off his colorful, food-centric photos.
Aaron recently shared with 6sqft his “Manhattan Meltdown” series, which features beloved food seen as synonymous with the city’s culture– from Anthora coffee cups to black and white cookies from William Greenberg Desserts, all encased in ice. While the photos are fun and playful, they also represent a bigger truth about the disappearance of beloved Manhattan mom-and-pop shops due to skyrocketing rents and the growing popularity of big businesses. Ahead, get a taste of Aaron’s work and hear what the photographer has planned next.
Meet Aaron and see his tasty work
The mayor’s office announced this week that New York City’s residential evictions by marshals had declined by 37 percent since 2013, with approximately 18,000 evictions in 2018 compared to almost 29,000 evictions in 2013. In Manhattan, evictions are down 47 percent since 2013. What that means: Since 2013, more than 100,000 New Yorkers who might otherwise have faced evictions have been able to stay in their homes. And evictions decreased 14 percent in 2018 alone. Maps from the New York City Council show data on where the most evictions happen and allow you to search for a specific address in any borough to find out more.
Universal Access to legal aid, maps and more
Image: Steven Pisano via Flickr.
The Department of City Planning, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Margaret Chin announced today the launch of a six-month public engagement process addressing the future of NYC’s Soho and Noho neighborhoods. The series of public meetings and consultation with local stakeholders are an early phase in outlining a vision for the future of those neighborhoods; the city’s plans include updating what many consider outdated zoning laws, including the removal of rarely-enforced restrictions on ground floor retail tenancy and Soho’s Artist In Residence law.
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Via Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
A Christian megachurch in East New York is partnering with the Gotham Organization to redevelop their East New York campus into a mixed-income community, or “urban village” as Reverend A.R. Bernard calls it, of 2,100 affordable units and neighborhood amenities. The plan from the Christian Cultural Center, led by Bernard, will supplement the existing church at 12020 Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn and create a community with CCC at its core.
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Image: Clover Grocery via Facebook.
There was a time not too long ago when New Yorkers began to resent the apparent gentrification of local bodegas, which had begun carrying high-priced, healthy food items sought by new neighborhood residents. Chain convenience stores like 7-11 were yet another blow to the concept of the quirky corner deli. And then, of course, there was the Whole Foods effect. The latest development in the ascent of the local grocery store is even more difficult to grok: The “wellness bodega” has arrived. As Eater reports, mini-markets–like Clover Grocery in Manhattan’s West Village–in metro areas like NYC and LA are stocking items like $18 “vegan friendly” condoms and marine collagen supplements–and confusing the daylights out of ordinary city folk.
And a WeWork market, of course
Toby’s Estate cafe and roastery on North 6th Street. Photo by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft.
It started with Bedford Avenue. Whether you called it Williamsburg 3.0 or the New Brooklyn or any number of monikers signifying the North Brooklyn neighborhood’s ascent to the international hall of coolest–and priciest–neighborhood fame, that avenue was its anchor. A Whole Foods and an Apple store soon followed. And, inevitably, as businesses flocked to the surrounding streets, the clear hegemony of Bedford began to become less evident even if its tourist population continued to grow. Now, the New York Post hails North Sixth Street, longtime home of anchor condo The Edge and more recently a growing host of retail chain shops, as the top contender.
The new 34th Street?
While tenant displacement is happening in every New York City borough, the reason behind it differs from neighborhood to neighborhood. An updated, interactive map from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) looks at the loss of rent-regulated housing, property sales, construction permits, and evictions across the city’s 763,000 residential properties as a way to determine the risk of residential displacement in every NYC community (h/t Curbed NY).
Explore the map
Inwood Hill Park; Image: Dana via Flickr.
On Wednesday the City Council approved a rezoning plan for a 59-block section of Inwood, a neighbhorhood often referred to as the “last affordable neighborhood in Manhattan,” the New York Times reports. The plan was approved last week by the city’s zoning subcommittee and the Land Use Committee. The Inwood rezoning is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to rezone neighborhoods across the city as part of the push to create and preserve 300,000 affordable housing units by his goal date of 2026. Inwood is the fifth neighborhood–including the also-controversial East New York and East Harlem–to be approved for rezoning under the plan.
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Photo of the new Bed-Stuy location, courtesy of Starbucks
Starbucks has been all over the map, not only geographically but symbolically. Reactions to a new Starbucks often range from being a welcome addition by caffeine-deprived people to being the face of a large corporation that is a lightning rod for gentrification, threatening mom and pop shops. With 14,163 Starbucks in the US, what street corner doesn’t have a Starbucks? Well, the Bedford-Stuyvesant community didn’t, until now. A Starbucks just took over the location of shuttered local department store, Fat Albert. Is this another example of the big, faceless corporation blazing its way into a community that doesn’t want it?
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Background image via Andrew Malone/Flickr
When it comes to the Chelsea Hotel, Ed Hamilton has seen it all. He and his wife moved to the iconic property in 1995, living among artists and musicians in a 220-square-foot, single-room-occupancy unit. The storied, artistic community nurtured inside the hotel came to an end a decade ago when the building sold for the first time and evictions followed. Since then, the property has traded hands a number of times with talks of boutique hotel development, luxury condos, or some combination of the two. Hamilton started tracking the saga at his blog Living With Legends and published a book, “Legends of the Chelsea Hotel,” in 2007.
After the book’s success, Hamilton wrote a short story collection titled “The Chintz Age: Stories of Love and Loss for a new New York.” Each piece offers a different take on New York’s “hyper gentrification,” as he calls it: a mother unable to afford her lofty East Village apartment, giving it up to a daughter she shares a strained relationship with; a book store owner who confronts his failed writing career as a landlord forces him out of now highly valuable commercial space.
Ultimately, many of the stories were inspired by the characters he met inside the Chelsea Hotel. And his tales offer a new perspective on a changing city, one that focuses on “the personal, day-to-day struggles about the people who are trying to hang onto their place in New York.” With 6sqft, he shares what it’s like writing in the under-construction Chelsea Hotel, what the Chintz Age title means, and the unchanged spots of the city he still treasures.