Jake Dobkin was born in Park Slope 42 years ago, and over those years he’s never left New York City for longer than 10 weeks. In 2003, he co-founded the website Gothamist with Jen Chung, which emerged as a popular culture and entertainment blog about all things New York. In the summer of 2013, Dobkin decided to channel his native knowledge and newsroom snark with the column Ask a Native New Yorker. The first installment addressed a question to make any New Yorker shudder, “Is It Normal For Roaches To Crawl Through My Hair At Night?” Since then, he’s tackled everything from amusing annoyances of city life to more serious issues like homelessness, gentrification, and who deserves a seat on the subway.
Dobkin ultimately adapted “Ask A Native New Yorker” into a book, which was just released a few weeks ago. Titled Ask A Native New Yorker: Hard-Earned Advice on Surviving and Thriving in the Big City, it contains answers to 48 new questions on New Yorker’s minds including if public transit will be messed up forever and why we complain so much. 6sqft spoke with Dobkin on why he started writing the column, how it’s changed over the years, and what’s ahead with a new book and Gothamist under the new ownership of WNYC. He also shares the best place to find a peaceful spot in the middle of the city.
Photo courtesy of CetraRuddy
When Nancy Ruddy and her husband John Cetra formed architecture firm CetraRuddy in 1987, they wanted to “create inspirational spaces and buildings based upon the ideas of craft and the human touch.” Thirty-one years later, and the 100-person firm has achieved this goal and then some, marking the skyline with their soaring One Madison tower, transforming Tribeca’s 443 Greenwich Street into the hottest celebrity residence, and adapting historic buildings by prolific architects such as Ralph Walker and Rosario Candela. They’ve also distinguished themselves by combing architecture and design practices, which was most recently showcased at their designs for the new Time Warner Center restaurant Bluebird London.
Ahead, 6sqft talks with Nancy Ruddy about how all of these successes came to be, where she sees the architectural landscape of NYC heading, and what it was like creating a destination dining space overlooking Central Park.
Hear from Nancy
Closet photo via Flickr cc; Photo of Karin and Marie courtesy of Karin Socci
Between her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” and new Netflix show, “Tidying Up,” over the past five years, Marie Kondo—a diminutive Japanese organizing guru—has changed how people around the world think about decluttering their homes. But Kondo isn’t just another interior designer offering tips on storage. She believes that one’s home has a direct impact on their lives and even their personal relationships. This is why she approaches tidying from the heart and not simply the mind. As she says on her website, “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.”
With so many of us living in homes that are almost as tiny as those in Tokyo where Kondo is based and developed her method, it’s no surprise that New Yorkers have been eagerly embracing Kondo’s advice. It is also likely no coincidence that one of the only certified Master KonMari consultants in North America, Karin Socci, happens to serve the New York City area. 6sqft recently reached out to Socci, founder of The Serene Home, to learn more about the KonMari method and how she helps New Yorkers put it into practice.
Hear from Karin here
“Integrity, vigorous work ethic, and a strategic business approach,” form the platform that Candice Milano and Malessa Rambarran bring as brokers to the NYC real estate world. But there’s no “broker babble” here. The duo–who recently joined Halstead as the Milano-Rambarran Team–consider themselves the “next generation of real estate,” forming important relationships with their new development clients and growing their luxury resale business. But what sets them apart the most is their mission to bring this knowledge of how to use real estate as a wealth building tool to the public, specifically women. They’ve even created their own platform, Women in Residential Real Estate (WIRRE) to foster this community and connect people through their series of curated events. Ahead, 6sqft chats with Candice and Malessa about how their approach, how they got into real estate, and why it’s so important to support fellow females.
Read the interview
Photo by Marc Hermann, courtesy of the New York Transit Museum
Concetta Anne Bencivenga wants you to visit the New York Transit Museum. After coming on as the museum’s director early last year — following Gabrielle Shubert’s impressive 24-year run — she’s become “cheerleader in chief,” in her own words, excited to promote the museum’s exhibits and programming to a wide range of New Yorkers.
With 6sqft she discusses how her diverse background brought her to the Transit Museum and what the past of New York’s public transportation can teach us about moving forward. She also talks about the revamp of an existing exhibit, the introduction of new ones, and her goals moving forward as director. Do you know why the MTA subway system is featured so prominently in early comic books? Keep reading, as Concetta shares the reasons why public transit is so crucial to New Yorkers lives — in both the obvious and more surprising ways.
, Wed, September 26, 2018
As a media sponsor of Archtober–NYC’s annual month-long architecture and design festival of tours, lectures, films, and exhibitions–6sqft has teamed up with the Center for Architecture to feature some of their 70+ partner organizations as part of our Where I Work series.
“Nothing replaces the first-hand experience of a great building or city,” says Gregory Wessner, the Executive Director of Open House New York. And from October 12-14, New Yorkers will be able to experience stepping into building such as 3 World Trade Center and the Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn, along with public spaces like Domino Park and Hunter’s Point South–all as part of this year’s OHNY Weekend.
Wessner joined the organization five years ago, during which time the Weekend has exploded in popularity. Ahead of the big event, he gave us the low-down on what it’s like to plan tour and talks with more than 250 buildings and projects across the five boroughs, his favorite buildings in NYC, and what we can expect from OHNY in the future.
Read the interview
, Mon, September 10, 2018
Immediately after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, sporting events across the country were suspended as the nation grieved, with stadiums used for prayer services and relief efforts instead of games. After a few weeks, commissioners and government officials decided to recommence games, with one of the first at Shea Stadium between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. When former Mets catcher Mike Piazza hit a home run, tens of thousands in the crowd, and even more watching on television at home, truly cheered and celebrated for the first time since 9/11. From then on, sports became something that was okay to enjoy again.
“Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11,” a new year-long exhibit at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, examines the role of sports in helping New York City and the entire nation heal after the attacks. Designed by C&G Partners, the show uses the emotion of the crowd to inspire and guide the narrative, with broadcasts and sports memorabilia from that time. The exhibition chronologically follows what happened in sports in the aftermath of 9/11 with nine sections that look at significant sports moments. 6sqft spoke with Jonathan Alger, the co-founder of C&G Partners, about the strategy behind “Comeback Season,” the importance of the color green throughout the show and the capacity of sports to do actual good.
Learn about the exhibit and hear from Jonathan
Park image via Elliot Scott on Flickr; image of Silver via NYC Parks
Mitchell J. Silver, the commissioner of New York City Parks Department, tells us he’s 58 years old. But with his vibrant enthusiasm and energy for parks, fitness and life in general, it’s hard to believe. Only as he details a list of his achievements and accolades over the years does his age show. Silver, who oversees the management and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of city parks, calls himself the “commissioner of fun,” a title he strives to live up to every day. This summer, Silver launched “Cool Pools,” an initiative to renovate public pools, celebrated making Central Park car-free, and increased accessibility to parks for all New Yorkers. If you want to feel good, follow his Instagram and see him sliding, swinging, running, jumping, swimming, kayaking and more.
Silver is training for his first marathon this November (with his best friend from college) after completing four half marathons. 6sqft jogged beside the commissioner and got his running commentary on the biggest challenges facing NYC parks, what he attributes his success to, what we can expect for the future and where he buys his running gear.
Photos courtesy of Mary French
In a city as tight as New York, it’s no surprise we’ve long struggled to figure out what to do with our dead, from acres-wide cemeteries to those wedged into forgotten slivers of city blocks. The city now boasts 140 cemetery sites, and Mary French has visited them all. Mary is the author of the New York City Cemetery Project, a chronicler of “the graveyards of this great city.” Though cemeteries may come with dark connotations, Mary sees them as prime opportunities to understand the history of New York. As she explains on her website, “For those with a passion for culture and history and a curiosity about the unknown, cemeteries are tantalizing spots that provide a wellspring of information about individual lives, communities, religions, and historic events.”
On NYC Cemetery Project you can read the histories of existing and long-gone cemeteries and the interesting New Yorkers living six feet under, alongside a trove of historic photos and maps. It’s a labor of love (and intense research) for Mary, who has a background in anthropology and library science. With 6sqft, Mary explains what first attracted her to the cemeteries of New York and what it’s like delving into their past. She also explains why she thinks many might be lost to the pressures of development in New York.
Read the interview
Brandon Doughan (left) and Brian Polen (right). Photo © Molly Tavoletti for Brooklyn Kura
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and businesses of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring Industry City’s Brooklyn Kura, New York’s first sake brewery. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
“It was my first ‘oh, my God’ sake which was made in the U.S.A.” said Japanese-born sake sommelier Chizuko Niikawa-Helton when he tasted the product of Brooklyn Kura, NYC’s first sake brewery and one of only 15 in the nation. And this is exactly what co-founders Brian Polen and Brandon Doughan strive for. They’re committed to respecting the thousands-year-old Japanese sake brewing traditions, but they also hope to inspire a new interest in this ancient beverage by using unique American ingredients and engaging New Yorkers in the process at their Sunset Park brewery and tap room.
After meeting at a mutual friend’s wedding in Japan and developing a passion for sake, Brian and Brandon teamed up and got to work on their 2,500-square-foot space in Industry City, which combines the functionality of traditional Japanese breweries with a contemporary Brooklyn design aesthetic. 6sqft recently paid them a visit and had a drink in the tap room (yes, we agree with Niikawa-Helton that the sakes are “so soft, so gentle”), got a look at the sake making process, and chatted with Brian and Brandon about their journey, life at Industry City, and how they’re turning New Yorkers into sake lovers.
Read our interview with Brian and Brandon and see inside Brooklyn Kura