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On average, New Yorkers use a staggering 1 billion gallons of water per day, but unlike people in many other U.S. cities, they don’t need to worry about their taps running dry. Over a century ago, city engineers devised a plan to ensure the city would have ample water and that the supply would meet the growing needs of the city over time. Today, the city’s century-old reservoir system continues to supply New Yorkers with clean water year round. For outdoorsy residents, the city’s water supply also serves another surprising purpose. Located just over two hours north of the city limits, the reservoirs are also an increasingly popular place to canoe and kayak without the distraction of motorized water vehicles and cottagers.
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Everyone knows the folk-rock classic “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, which topped the charts 51 years ago this August in 1966. But fewer know the song’s roots in Greenwich Village–lead singer John Sebastian actually grew up in the neighborhood and the act got their start in the local clubs–and fewer still know a 15-year-old Village student was responsible for a significant part of its composition.
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Image via Alisdare Hickson/flickr
After a violent weekend led by white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, New York officials have announced plans to review and remove controversial public structures. Mayor de Blasio said on Wednesday the city will conduct a 90-day review of “all symbols of hate on city property,” by putting together a panel of experts and community leaders who will make recommendations for items to take down (h/t NY Post). On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo called upon the United States Army to reconsider its decision to keep the street names that honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, two Confederate leaders, at Fort Hamilton. Cuomo also announced the removal of the busts of Lee and Jackson from CUNY’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx.
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The Ramones outside of CBGB, photo via CBGB
On August 16, 1974, four men dressed in leather motorcycle jackets and Converse high-tops hit the stage at CBGB, an iconic East Village dive bar, for the very first time. After this debut performance, the Ramones, who hailed from Forest Hills, Queens, became the first regulars at CBGB, a spot known for the cutting edge punk rock musicians that played there, like Talking Heads, Patti Smith and Blondie. In the year 1974 alone, the Ramones played there over 70 times.
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General Lee Avenue and Robert E. Lee’s former home on Fort Hamilton, via Jeremy Bender/Business Insider
Following the tragic events in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend, officials announced Tuesday that two plaques honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee outside of a Brooklyn church would be taken down. The plaques, tacked to a maple tree, belonged to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Hamilton, although the church has been closed since 2014. As Newsday reported, the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island owns the church and will sell it.
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Photo of 541 Clinton Street via Apartments.com
In the 1940s, two attorneys from Manhattan let the mortgage payments lapse on a building they owned in Carroll Gardens. Julius Freilicher and Martin Auslander had a $3,300 mortgage with Dime Savings Bank on their tenement at 541 Clinton Street. Believing it was a better idea to not pay the mortgage, the two lawyers decided the best thing was to file a deed of gift, as the Brownstone Detectives reported. The receivers of this gift? Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
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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.
102 Bedford Street in 2015 (left) via Wiki Commons, and as of today, via GVSHP
Few buildings capture the whimsy, flamboyance, and bohemian spirit of early 20th century Greenwich Village as does the building known as “Twin Peaks” at 102 Bedford Street. Described as a “wonderfully ludicrous mock half-timbered fantasy row-house castle” by architecture critic Paul Goldberger, the present incarnation of the building was born in 1925 as a radical remodeling of an 1830 rowhouse into a five-story artists’ studio apartment building. In the mid 20th-century, the building became even more iconic with a cream and brown paint job that mimicked its Alpine cottage inspiration. However, a more recent paint job stripped away this history, resulting in a controversial landmarks battle.
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Image courtesy of Halstead
A block of 78th Street on the Upper West Side, between the Museum of Natural History and Amsterdam Avenue, has more going for it than just colorful brownstones; it also has a colorful architectural secret. The block’s display of Moorish brick and stone buildings shares a history with some of the city’s notable public spaces. Known as “Guastavino Row,” its decorative and altogether charming townhouses were designed by noted 19th-century architect Rafael Guastavino, famed for his beautiful and expertly engineered vaulted, tiled ceilings. Recently, a small but lovely first-floor studio at 120 West 78th street listed for $359,000, and it boasts a beautiful ceiling that, according to the listing, was one of Guastavino’s iconic designs. Read more
To fully experience New York City, you have to eat. And then eat some more. So inextricably linked with its food, the city’s social and cultural history requires an exploration of its endless cuisines. And while street food is not unique to New York, the city provides some of the most diverse dining options in the world, with over 10,000 people make a living by street vending. But this tradition dates all the way back to the 1600s when European settlers enjoyed eating shellfish on the streets. Food vendors took on a more formal incarnation in the early 1800s on the Lower East Side and have changed with every new immigrant group that’s landed here since. From oysters and knishes to hot dogs and Halal, the city’s street vendors reflect its constant evolution and also what brings New Yorkers together.
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