The 101-year old Woolworth Building has been in the news quite a bit lately, especially since it was first announced that the top 30 floors would be turned into 34 apartments; one of which is a nine-story penthouse is expected to hit the market for a record $110 million. But the Woolworth has long been at the center of New York life with its storied past and lofty 792-foot height.
It cost $13.5 million to erect the tower in 1913, and the building was the world’s tallest when it first debuted. Though a number—50 to be exact—have surpassed it in height, the Woolworth Building has remained one of the world’s most admired for its detailed and compelling ornamentation. Like other prestigious companies of its time, Frank W. Woolworth wanted something unforgettable and the building’s architect, Cass Gilbert, certainly delivered. The tower is filled to the brim with mosaics, stained-glass, golden embellishments and of course tons of those carved faces and figures.
See the faces of the Woolworth building
A new mapping tool called Urban Layers lets users see almost every building still standing in Manhattan today and reveals exactly when it was built. The data goes back as far as 1765. The interactive map by Morphocode provides insight not only into the history of a specific building, but into the evolution of entire neighborhoods, too. And for New York City history fanatics like us, this user-friendly tool is definitely going to come in handy.
More on the mapping tool here
If you read 6sqft’s version of “A History of New York in 101 Objects” you know that we received quite a diverse mix of responses. But there were a few items that proved to be most popular. So we want to know which of these three you think is THE object that defines New York City.
The Federal government has dabbled in several architectural styles over the years when designing New York City post offices. From outdated baroque in the late 1800’s to New Deal-era Art Moderne, all of these historic buildings seem to share two characteristics: grandiose and massive. We’ve rounded up here some of the greatest architectural stunners, which also showcase the evolution of historic post office architecture in the city (and almost make waiting an hour in line to mail one letter bearable).
See more of NYC’s historic post offices here
Jam-packed full of boutiques, bars, and a booming frat scene, the East Village‘s past as a haven for artists and other creatives is quickly being forgotten. But from the 1950s through the 60s, the Village was the epicenter of beat poetry and was once the stomping grounds of lit’s most prolific.
For more than sixty years there has been an intense poetry scene happening in the East Village. Passing Stranger, a project by WNYC’s Pejk Malinovski and The Poetry Foundation, is an interactive documentary experience that brings listeners through two miles of the East Village via the poetry and poets of the 1950s up to the present. If you love podcasts such as This American Life and 99% Invisible, you’ll love this sound-rich audio tour which will get you out and about on a beautiful fall day, and enlighten you on one of the most important bohemian communities to exist.
More on the project and podcast
Today we think of cemeteries as spooky, haunted places that we avoid, or as sad, depressing spots reserved for funerals. But they were once quite the opposite–in fact, they were the earliest incarnations of public parks. In New York City, burials took place on private or church property up until the mid-1800’s when commercial cemeteries began popping up. And in the East Village there are two such early burial grounds hidden among the townhouses and tenements–the New York Marble Cemetery (on the west side of Second Avenue just above Second Street) and the New York City Marble Cemetery (on the north side of Second Street between First and Second Avenues).
Though their titles are extremely similar and they’re located less than a block apart, the two cemeteries are operated separately and have their own unique history. And during openhousenewyork weekend, we were lucky enough to take a peek beyond the cast iron gates and into these important pieces of the East Village’s past.
Explore the Marble Cemeteries
As urbanists we tend to define the city by locations and the historic events that unfolded at them. But what about getting even more specific and looking at New York’s past through tangible objects? That’s exactly what New York Times urban affairs correspondent Sam Roberts has assembled in a new book, A History of New York in 101 Objects. And a corresponding exhibit at the New York Historical Society puts Roberts’ choices, along with objects from the Society’s collection, on view.
We were so intrigued by this idea that we decided to put together a 6sqft version of the list. From preservationists to architects to real estate brokers, we’ve asked ten people to give us the ten objects that they feel best define New York City’s history. There are definitely some favorites that emerged like cobblestones, Metrocards, and pizza, as well as an eclectic mix of items that speak to our participants’ personal connections to New York.
See the lists here
Photo by brandon king cc
Brooklyn is changing fast and at the forefront of this is Bedford-Stuyvesant—or as it’s more commonly known, Bed-Stuy. Like most New York neighborhoods, Bed-Stuy has had its ups and downs, its most notable down being the 80s and 90s when crime and drugs were at a record high. But as hard as the times may have gotten, the neighborhood has maintained itself as one of the city’s most culturally significant. Bed-Stuy has long been home to one of the largest concentrations of African-Americans in New York, it boasts beautiful well-preserved architecture spanning countless styles and centuries, and of course, there is the neighborhood’s central role in the hip-hop movement.
More on the history and future of Bed-Stuy
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), Manhattan boasts about 20 bridges that connect the Big Apple to neighboring areas—many of which have various degrees of landmark status, including the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the High Bridge, the University Heights Bridge and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. We often use these marvels without giving them much thought beyond the grandiose size and maybe their engineering, so to give you a little trivia to impress your friends with the next time you cross one these storied bridges, we’re offering up a handy primer on seven of the city’s most famous.
A quick primer on the city’s top bridges
It’s easy to forget that Columbus Day is more than just a day off from work (which we’re not complaining about), but rather a holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1942. But if you need reminding, look no further than these memorials scattered around New York City.
Take a tour of where to find Christopher Columbus monuments in NYC