Alley Pond Park via NYC Parks (L); The Queens Giant via NPR by Benjamin Swett (R)
In case you haven’t noticed, we typically talk about buildings here at 6sqft, but today we’re taking a look at a different kind of structure important to the urban fabric of New York City–a tree. But not just any tree; this is the oldest and tallest tree in the entire city, and it can be found in Alley Pond Park in Queens, between Douglaston and Bayside.
Known as the Queens Giant, the record holder is a 134-foot (when last measured in 2005) tulip poplar tree that is believed to be 450 years old, according to Untapped Cities. Despite its impressive status, however, even the most seasoned New Yorkers don’t know about this gem, which is likely what has led to its longevity.
Find out more here
Expect conditions to be a little more, um, icy. Photo courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery
What could be more romantic than a cozy mid-winter afternoon trolley ride through one of NYC’s most interesting national historic landmarks, Green-Wood Cemetery? Celebrate this most romantic of holidays with a bit of a gothic twist: Expert guide Ruth Edebohls will lead a tour highlighting historic power couples, romantic monuments and tales of love everlasting, both triumphant and grim.
You can also view Civil War love letters from the Brooklyn Historical Society’s historic archives on display in the Historic Chapel and have some coffee, tea or hot chocolate before the trolley tour begins. The event is on February 14, 1-3 PM; $20 for Green-Wood and BHS members/$25 for nonmembers.
Find out more and buy tickets here: Love Set in Stone: A Valentine’s Trolley Tour.
Gansevoort Market in 1905, via MCNY
Why is it called the Meatpacking District when there are only six meat packers there, down from about 250? Inertia, most likely. The area has seen so many different uses over time, and they’re so often mercantile ones that Gansevoort Market would probably be a better name for it.
Located on the shore of the Hudson River, it’s a relatively small district in Manhattan stretching from Gansevoort Street at the foot of the High Line north to and including West 14th Street and from the river three blocks east to Hudson Street. Until its recent life as a go-to high fashion mecca, it was for almost 150 years a working market: dirty, gritty, and blood-stained.
Read the full history here
The story behind cheese-aging facility Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights tells of an enormous amount of risk and dedication to making something on a small scale; to doing one thing well. It also once again stirs the hive of buzz around today’s Brooklyn. Article after article raises the idea that Brooklyn’s moment as the new hot spot for excellence in food, culture and authentic, hand-crafted goods, is in some quarters regarded as trite and trendy hype with little substance to it.
For some, the underground cheese caves are just one more example: Cheese caves. How Brooklyn. Thirty feet below street level, in the lagering tunnels of a former brewery beneath the Monti Building in Crown Heights, Benton Brown and Susan Boyle spent several years renovating and creating “Brooklyn’s premier cheese-aging facility” complete with state-of-the-art humidity control and cooling systems. The couple created the 70-foot space with advice from the world’s top cheese experts; Crown Finish Caves opened in 2014. On an article in Cheese Notes, a commenter raves: “If I were a mouse, I would move to Crown Heights.”
More excellence and authenticity this way
For those of us who came to the city within the past decade, it’s hard to imagine East 14th Street without its stretch of bulky NYU dorms, big-box supermarkets, and mini-chain restaurants. But of course this wasn’t always what the area looked like. In the late 19th century, the area centered around Irving Place, was full of entertainment venues like the Academy of Music, the city’s opera house, Steinway Hall, Tammany Hall, and the City Theatre movie house. And at the heart of it all was a restaurant that catered to both the theater crowd and the German population of the East Village–Luchow’s.
Luchow’s was established in 1882 at 110 East 14th Street at Irving Place when German immigrant August Lüchow purchased the café/beer garden where he worked as a bartender and waiter. It remained in operation for a full century, becoming an unofficial neighborhood and city landmark, until it was replaced by NYU’s University Hall dormitory.
Read the full history here
Back in the summer we uncovered the history of the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre, which has been home to Long Island University’s gymnasium since 1963. But now, the day before the Loew’s Kings Theatre, a fellow historic movie house in Brooklyn, is set to reopen to the public, we’ve learned that the Paramount will follow suite.
Brooklyn Daily reports that the Flushing Avenue theatre in Downtown Brooklyn will once again show live performances to the public, thanks to a deal between LIU and an affiliate of the Barclays Center, which will bring 1,500 seats back to the venue (down from the original 4,000) and showcase musical and comedy performances and boxing matches, all with an emphasis on emerging artists. The remainder of the space will still serve as a practice gym for LIU athletics.
More details ahead
Of Brooklyn’s gentrifying neighborhoods, few have seen such rapid change as Bushwick. The neighborhood, which sits in the northern portion of the borough, running from Flushing Avenue to Broadway to Conway Street and the Cemetery of the Evergreens, has grown as a natural extension of Williamsburg—a haven for creatives and young folks looking for lower rents. But well before its trendy vibe put it on the map, Bushwick was a forested enclave originally settled by the Dutch—its name is derived from a Dutch word “Boswijck,”defined as “little town in the woods”—and later, German immigrants who began building breweries and factories.
Unfortunately, as the breweries along Brewer’s Row and factories closed and farms disappeared, derelict buildings and crime took hold—with the looting, arson and rioting after the city’s blackout during the summer of 1977 playing a starring role. According to the New York Times, “In a five-year period in the late 1960s and early 70s, the Bushwick neighborhood was transformed from a neatly maintained community of wood houses into what often approached a no man’s land of abandoned buildings, empty lots, drugs and arson.”
More on Bushwick’s past… and present
As one of the world’s most respected film directors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers and editors, it’s really no surprise that Stanley Kubrick was also quite the shutterbug. Well before creating mind-bending movies like A Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick was shooting for New York’s (now defunct) LOOK magazine as a way to help make ends meet. His street photos, which are quite dramatic in subject and composition, give us a look into the mind of a young Kubrick, who at just 17 was already showing a talent for creating atmosphere with a lens.
See more photos ahead
Broadway in Brooklyn via wallyg via photopin cc
Last week we took a look at why there are three Broadways in Manhattan–the thoroughfare proper, East Broadway and West Broadway– and learned that Broadway actually extends through the Bronx and into Westchester. There’s even a one-block street in Harlem called Old Broadway. As if that weren’t enough confusion, though, there are four other Broadways in the outer boroughs–one in Brooklyn, one in Staten Island, and two in Queens.
Learn about these outer-borough Broadways
It’s hard to imagine the Lower East Side without all of its barflies and bros, but get ready for a blast from the past. Bowery Boogie has found an amazing video that gives us a glimpse into the neighborhood’s quirky past—well before it became a nightlife mecca for New York’s downtown set. The four-minute film, aptly titled “Planet Ludlow,” takes us through the block via Ludlow Street circa 1995.
Watch the video here