Photographer Berenice Abbott has long captured the imagination of New Yorkers. Her storied career began after fleeing Ohio for Greenwich Village in 1918 and included a stint in Paris taking portraits of 1920s heavyweights. But she is best known for her searing images of New York buildings and street life–her photograph “Nightview, New York,” taken from an upper-floor window of the Empire State Building in 1932, remains one of the most recognized images of the city. Well known is her exchange with a male supervisor, who informed Abbott that “nice girls” don’t go to the Bowery. Her reply: “Buddy, I’m not a nice girl. I’m a photographer… I go anywhere.”
Despite Abbott’s prolific career and fascinating life, there’s never been a biography to capture it all. Until now, with Julia Van Haaften’s work, “Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography.” Van Haaften is the founding curator of the New York Public Library’s photography collection. She also befriended Abbott, as the photographer approached 90, while curating a retrospective exhibition of her work in the late 1980s. (Abbott passed away in 1991 at the age of 93.)
With 6sqft, Van Haaften shares what it was like translating Abbott’s wide-ranging work and life into a biography, and the help she received from Abbott herself. From her favorite stories to her favorite photographs, Van Haaften shows why Abbott’s work has remained such a powerful lens capturing New York City to this day.
Restuarant photo credit: Nicole Franzen; Portrait credit: Kathryn Sheldon
Earlier this month, Nolita restaurant De Maria won the coveted James Beard Award for best restaurant design or renovation in North America. The designers at The MP Shift replicated an artist’s studio, with Soho in the ‘70s and the Bauhaus movement in mind. But it’s not just the space that’s beautiful; Venezuelan-born chef Adriana Urbina‘s dishes, composed heavily of veggies and seafood, look like they were made for Instagram.
Outside of the visuals, however, what sets De Maria apart is Urbina’s socially conscious approach. Not only does she mix her South American heritage with her fine dining background (she started her career as an apprentice at Michelin 3-star restaurant in Spain, Martín Berasategui and was a 2017 winner of Food Network’s “Chopped”), but she’s committed to empowering female chefs and business owners, as well as using food as a way to connect people and raise awareness about what’s going on in the world. 6sqft recently enjoyed an insanely delicious meal at De Maria and chatted with Adriana about her journey, the restaurant scene in NYC, and why this Nolita restaurant is the perfect place to see out her dreams.
Meet Adriana and get hungry!
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Hannah La Follette Ryan shares photos from her “Subway Hands” Instagram account. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
While many street photographers have been inspired by straphangers over the years, Massachusetts- born Hannah La Follette Ryan has taken a very different approach to subway photography: focusing on riders’ hands. Her viral Instagram account, “Subway Hands,” is closing in on 20,000 followers and features nearly 1,000 photos, all shot on her iPhone, of the impossibly varied things people do with their hands on the NYC subway.
Do you spot your hands in any of the photos?
An 1870 newspaper illustration of Elizabeth Blackwell giving an anatomy lecture alongside a corpse at the Woman’s Medical College of New York Infirmary. Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.
One of the most radical and influential women of the 19th century changed the course of public health history while living and working in Greenwich Village and the East Village. Elizabeth Blackwell, America’s first female doctor, established cutting-edge care facilities and practices throughout these neighborhoods, the imprint of which can still be felt to this day in surviving institutions and buildings. In fact, one recently received a historic plaque to mark this ground-breaking but often overlooked piece of our history.
Take a tour of Elizabeth Blackwell’s NYC
Jay Maisel is best known for the incredibly expressive stories he tells through his beautiful photography. But in recent years, he’s become perhaps just as well known for his New York City real estate story where he made the deal of the century when he sold his home, the Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery. What he’s not at all known for, though, are the stories he tells through the hundreds of thousands of memories that fill his home and studio.
Maisel, who may appear gruff on the exterior (at 87 years-old, he still likes to shock), is actually incredibly kind and sentimental. He misses his home and all his toys that once filled the 35,000-square-foot building. Although he was initially intimidated by the size and upkeep costs of 190 Bowery, Maisel grew to love the home and raise his family there for 50 years. In 2015, he sold the building for $55 million and purchased a stately townhouse on Pacific Street in Cobble Hill for $15.5 million. (At the time, it was the most expensive townhouse sale in Brooklyn.) 6sqft sat down with Maisel and discussed his real estate coup, his move to Brooklyn (which is not “the city” in his view) and his most recent New York City photography series, entitled “Jaywalking.”
Hear from Jay and get an inside look at his life and work
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Dutch-Argentinean photographer Richard Koek gave up his profession as a tax lawyer to pursue his passion for photography in New York City. He now splits his time between NYC and Amsterdam, and Lannoo Publishers just released a beautiful photographic tour of the city in his book, “New York New York: A Visual Hymn.”
Koek loves to walk and believes it is the only way to truly get to know a city. And flipping through the pages of his book truly feels like you’re walking alongside Koek (so much so that your feet may get sore by the end!). As photographer Alice Rose George says in the preface, “New York can be frightening just by its size and number of people, or it can be exhilarating for the same reasons… You can see bits and pieces from inside a taxi or the swollen streets as you enter a theater or restaurant, everything at a distance. Or you can dive into its complexity.” 6sqft got Koek to sit down and stop walking for a brief moment to talk about this complexity, his process, and his inspirations for the book.
Hear from Koek and see a selection of his beautiful photos
Washington Square Park via Wiki Commons; Jane Jacobs via Wiki Commons
Jane Jacobs’ birthday on May 4 is marked throughout the world as an occasion to celebrate one’s own city — its history, diversity, and continued vitality. “Jane’s Walks” are conducted across the country to encourage average citizens to appreciate and engage the complex and dazzling ecosystems which make up our cityscapes (Here in NYC, MAS is hosting 200+ free walks throughout the city from today through Sunday). But there’s no place better to appreciate all things Jane Jacobs than Greenwich Village, the neighborhood in which she lived and which so informed and inspired her writings and activism, in turn helping to save it from destruction.
Tour Jane Jacobs’ NYC
Stanley Kubrick, from “Faye Emerson: Young Lady in a Hurry,” 1950. © Museum of the City of New York/SK Film Archive, LLC
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. This week’s installment comes courtesy of a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, “Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs.” Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Before he directed films like “A Clockwork Orange,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Dr. Strangelove” Stanley Kubrick worked as a staff photographer at LOOK magazine, where he developed a knack at storytelling through street photography. Kubrick “found inspiration in New York’s characters and settings, sometimes glamorous, sometimes gritty,” all of which is the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.
“Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs,” tells the story of how a 17-year-old amateur photographer from the Bronx went on to become one of the most revered directors of the 20th century. The exhibit, on view from May 3rd through October, will display more than 120 photos taken between 1945 and 1950, during Kubrick’s time at LOOK, and examine the connections between his photography and film work. Ahead, the exhibit curators share with 6sqft a sneak preview of the photographs and discuss their experience working on the show.
6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring artist Stephen Powers’ Boerum Hill studio and sign shop. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
Walking along Fourth Avenue in Boerum Hill, the storefronts all look pretty similar–pizza shops, laundromats, cute cafes–until you come to the corner of Bergen Street and see the large, colorful collage of signs gracing the side of the little brick building. This is ESPO’s Art World, artist Stephen Powers’ sign shop. But as you can imagine, this space is much more than that. Powers, who painted graffiti under the name ESPO for much of the ’80s and ’90s in NYC and Philadelphia, also uses his shop as a retail store and informal gallery where passersby can walk in and peruse his graphic, pop-art-esque, text-heavy work. Stephen recently gave 6sqft a guided tour of his shop and chatted with us about his transition from graffiti to studio art, why he dislikes the term “street art,” his love for Brooklyn, and where he sees the art scene heading.
Get a look around and hear from Stephen
Photo via CityRealty
It sounds like a dream come true. After a decade of living and struggling to pay your rent as a middle-income New Yorker, you get an email from NYC Housing Connect that says, “Invitation for Interview” followed by the address of the building to which you applied. For a moment, you are ready to break out the champagne and start celebrating the fact that that rent-stabilized, affordable NYC apartment you have always dreamt about living in—yes, that massive apartment that is only a fraction of everyone else’s monthly rent—is finally in reach. But then, like a lot of middle-class New Yorkers, you start to seriously consider whether you’re ready, willing, and able to accept what NYC Housing Connect is actually offering.
Hear from real New Yorkers who have turned down affordable housing