History

Featured Story

Features, History, Interviews, People

Bill Wander, McSorley's history, McSorley's, oldest bar in NYC

Undoubtedly, there are hundreds of New Yorkers and out-of-towners planning to stop by McSorley’s Old Ale House today for a St. Patrick’s Day round of beers. But beyond the brews and bros, there’s a deep history rooted in this East Village institution, and we’ve found the man who knows it all.

The official historian of McSorley’s, Bill Wander can give you the full timeline that dates McSorley’s to 1854, making it the oldest bar in the city. He can also fill you in on all the tchotchkes adorning the walls of this Irish tavern, none of which have been removed since 1910. But more important than the textbook facts related to McSorley’s, Bill has an undeniable passion for this watering hole, for both its important cultural history and the unique social atmosphere that keeps the bar a neighborhood mainstay after all these years. We recently chatted with Bill to find out some of the lesser-known details about McSorley’s and what the title of “official historian” entails.

Read our full interview with Bill Wander here

Architecture, History, infographic

25 Epic Buildings That Were Never Constructed

By Diane Pham, Tue, March 17, 2015

antoni gaudi nyc, the unbuilt gaudi, unbuilt gaudi in nyc,lost gaudi design,, Hotel Attraction gaudi, Hotel Attraction gaudi nyc, Hotel Attraction new york, hotel atraccion gaudi

While we all love to ogle the latest and greatest rendering reveals, it’s a shame how quickly we forget about the incredible architecture that could have risen once their plans get scrapped. To give a small consolation to the architects who spent countless hours and sleepless nights scribbling skyscrapers with the hope of transforming the built landscape, Rubberbond has created a nifty infographic showing 25 ambitious projects that today, for better or worse, only live on in drawings. From a pyramid-shaped mausoleum in London designed to hold five million corpses to a Sagrada Familia-like hotel Gaudí fashioned for NYC to a giant Bucky dome that could have covered Manhattan, have a look at all the lost designs ahead and then weigh in—was it a good idea these were dumped or would they have been great architectural additions?

See the whole thing here

Featured Story

Features, History, Meatpacking District

As we all await the opening of the new building of the Whitney Museum for American Art in May, it might be interesting to see what’s underneath it—or was.

There’s an old saying, “To create, you must first destroy,” and so long as it doesn’t specify how much of one and how good the other, the statement generally slips by without challenge. So it was with the Whitney’s new site along the High Line in the Meatpacking District. There wasn’t a lot that needed to be destroyed. There was, however, this little building, the Gansevoort Pumping Station, a small, classically inspired edifice with arches separated by pilasters. It was designed by Michael and Mitchell Bernstein, brothers who were widely known for turn of the twentieth-century tenements. Designed in 1906 and completed in 1908, it was built as a pumphouse for high-pressure fire service by the City of New York and later served as one of the area’s quintessential meat markets.

Read the entire history of the site here

History, infographic, real estate trends

worlds tallest buildings, tallest buildings in usa, tallest buildings in europe, tallest buildings in asia, tallest buildings in north america

From the pyramids of Teotihuacan to One World Trade, here are the tallest buildings of the last 5,000 years.

Slovakian artist and designer Martin Vargic created six infographics that chart the history of buildings across Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania. The infographics, which date buildings (and a few notable monuments) as far back as 2,650 B.C., give a pretty complete look, highlighting the construction’s name, shape, height (which does account for a tower’s spire), the year it was erected, and the years it was its continent’s, if not the world’s (denoted by a red shading), tallest building. The charts also give a good snapshot of the great skyscraper race that took hold in the early 20th century, as well as shifts in global money as seen in the emergence of Asian skyscrapers like Taipei 101 and the Burj Khalifa in the mid-2000s. You can get a closer look by expanding the image ahead.

This way for the complete picture

Featured Story

Architecture, Features, History

art deco elevators

Chrysler Building elevators via Wally Gobetz on Flickr

Earlier this week, we visited the New York School of Interior Design‘s latest exhibit, Rescued, Restored, Reimagined: New York’s Landmark Interiors, which, on the 50th anniversary of New York’s landmark legislation, features photography and information about more than 20 public spaces, known and little-known, that have been designated as interior landmarks. Looking through images of restored Broadway theaters, perfectly preserved coffered rotundas and period furniture, we couldn’t help getting stuck on one often-overlooked element–the elevator.

For most of us who live in a high rise or work in a typical office building, the elevator doors are just another blank wall that we stare at, only paying attention when they open and usher us in. But when the city’s great Art Deco buildings were rising, the elevators were an extension of the lavish ornamentation and geometric details of the façade and interior lobby. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Art Deco elevators in landmarked interiors, which means they’re all publicly accessible so you can check them all out first hand.

Go up in style here

History

Grand Central Terminal lobby, Grand Central Terminal, Grand Central, nyc grand central

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and thereby the Landmarks Law, the city has launched a new educational website, landmarks.nyc, that will grow its content throughout the year. The site offers digital features, a schedule of free- and low-cost events at landmarked sites throughout the city, slide shows from the agency’s historic photo archives, various blog posts, and walking tours.

Read more

Art, History

Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City, Pierre Christin, Olivier Balez

Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs squaring off

Love him or hate him, Robert Moses left an indelible mark on New York City’s urban infrastructure. Most of us formed our opinions on the city’s master planner after reading Robert Caro’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Power Broker.” But if you’re looking for a lighter (in both senses of the word; Caro’s book weighs 3.3 pounds) read on Mr. Moses, you may want to check out the new graphic novel “Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City.” Created by French writer Pierre Christin and Chilean artist Olivier Balez, the “anti-hero comic” is the perfect dramatic portrayal of Moses, both celebrating and criticizing his contributions to the city.

Read more

Featured Story

Features, History, Upper West Side 

Symphony Theater, Thalia Theater, Symphony Space

We were saddened here at 6sqft to hear about the passing last week of Leonard Nimoy, an extraordinary actor, director, poet, singer, and photographer, known worldwide for his role as Mr. Spock in “Star Trek.” Closer to home, though, Nimoy was also known as a dedicated philanthropist who adored the Upper West Side’s Symphony Space. In fact, in 2002 the multi-disciplinary performing arts organization renamed its historic Thalia Theater the Leonard Nimoy Thalia to reflect their patron’s generosity.

Just like the storied career of Nimoy, Symphony Space has its own eclectic past, from its beginnings as a food market funded by Vincent Astor to the Crystal Palace skating rink and, finally, to a neighborhood institution frequented by the likes of Stephen Colbert and Cynthia Nixon.

Learn about this history of Symphony Space here

History, Video

nyc strand bookstore in 1968

It’s hard to imagine New York City without its streets overflowing with people, but this “home video” we’ve uncovered from 1968 gives us an incredible look at the city during one of its most transformative periods. Although the video quality isn’t all that great—the guy or gal filming this is using ’60s technology, after all—the footage captured is pretty stellar nonetheless. Expect to see a near-desolate Soho, a Strand bookstore that amazingly looks exactly like it does today, and a lot of tucked shirts and knee-length skirts. Though there aren’t any protesting hippies or riots in the near-30-minute video, there are signs of the politically contentious times, including a couple of poster boards urging citizens to join the U.S. Marines and Army.

Starting at the Brooklyn Bridge, going up Broadway, and ending at the lake in a very crowded Central Park, you won’t want to miss a second of this fantastic film.

Watch the video here

Bushwick, City Living, History, photography

Meryl Meisler, Tale of Two Cities, Disco Era Bushwick, Bushwick, Disco, Studio 54, Paradise Garage, 1970s, 1980s, Grace Jones, Blackout, Village People, Grand Ballroom

The Village People Stepping Out, The Grand Ballroom, NY, NY, June 1978 (l); Three Amigos, Bushwick (r). By Meryl Meisler.

It’s 2015 and Bushwick is on fire. But instead of being lost to the flames of neglect and destruction, buildings are being sold and rented like hotcakes. Photographer Meryl Meisler’s first monograph, “Disco Era Bushwick: A Tale of Two Cities,” published by Bizarre Bushwick gives us an insider’s view of the streets and scenes of New York City during the glam/gritty 1970s and ‘80s when Manhattan’s iconic dance clubs like Studio 54 and Paradise Garage were in their heyday–and there was no brunch to be had in Bushwick.

See more of a bad and bygone Bushwick this way

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