, Today, December 18, 2017
The Rockettes in 1925, courtesy of The Rockettes
For nearly a century, the Rockettes have been an icon of Christmas in New York. From humble St. Louis origins (no, the troupe was not formed in the Big Apple) to performing when Radio City Music Hall was in disrepair and shuttering for weeks at a time, they’ve managed to continue dancing throughout the decades. Not only that, they’ve emerged as America’s best known dance troupe. Here’s the incredible history of this small team of female dancers, who have pulled off astounding, razor-sharp choreography while also fighting for higher wages and the landmarks designation of Radio City. The Rockettes are a New York icon, but only after a hard-fought battle to keep performing in the city.
Keep reading to learn more
Image courtesy of MCR and Morse Development; Photo: Max Touhey.
MCR and Morse Development announced this week the topping out of the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport less than a year after breaking ground on the project. Designed by celebrated 20th-century architect Eero Saarinen in 1962, The hotel is set to reopen in early 2019, when it will become JFK’s only on-airport hotel. Saarinen’s iconic TWA Flight Center terminal building will serve as the hotel’s lobby; at 200,000 square feet, it is thought to be the world’s largest hotel lobby. Hotel guests and passengers will be able to access the hotel through the famous Saarinen passenger tubes that connect directly to JFK’s Terminal 5 as well as through via the AirTrain system.
Find out more about the rebirth of this mid-century modern icon
Photo of the L-train via Wiki Commons
The MTA unveiled on Wednesday its much-anticipated plan for the 15-month shutdown of the L train, set to begin in April of 2019. Hurricane Sandy heavily damaged the 100-year-old Carnarsie Tunnel in 2012, filling it with 7 million gallons of saltwater and forcing a total reconstruction of the tunnel. The 225,000 daily L train riders that travel from Brooklyn through the tunnel to Manhattan will be given alternative travel options, as amNY reported. The MTA’s plan calls for a new bus route that would run between Brooklyn and Manhattan, a busway on 14th Street in Manhattan with a two-way bike lane on 13th Street and increase subway service on nearby lines.
Find out more
The votes have been tallied, and so it’s time to name the 2017 Building of the Year! The winning title belongs to no other than One Manhattan Square, the Lower East Side meets Chinatown skyscraper that will be home to NYC’s largest outdoor private garden when it opens next year. The 800-foot-tall tower beat out 11 other significant NYC buildings in a competitive two-week competition held by 6sqft. Out of 3,782 votes cast, the Extell-developed, Adamson Associates-designed structure took first place with 959 votes or 25.35% of the total.
More on this year’s winner!
All photographs © James and Karla Murray for 6sqft
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 Glaser’s Bake Shop, a 115-year-old German bakery in Yorkville.Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!
In the early 20th century, New York’s German immigrants relocated from the East Village to the Upper East Side neighborhood of Yorkville, which soon became known as Germantown. The community was so culturally rich, that German was spoken more than English in this area. 86th Street was dubbed “Sauerkraut Boulevard” and was lined with German butchers, restaurants, and bakeries. After the dismantling of the Second and Third Avenue elevatrated trains in the 1940s and ’50s, most of the German community moved out, but several of these old-time businesses still remain, one of which is Glaser’s Bake Shop.
When German immigrant John Glaser opened his bakery in 1902, there were half a dozen nearby competitors. 115 years later, the perfectly preserved storefront on First Avenue and 87th Street is the last of its kind in Yorkville, but it’s still filled everyday with new neighbors and long-time residents alike, eager to satisfy their sweet tooths with the extra chocolately brownies, jelly donuts, Bavarian pastries, and their famous black-and-white cookies. Glaser’s is now owned by John’s grandsons Herbert and John, who are committed to keeping their family’s traditions alive. 6sqft recently stopped by to watch Herb work on massive gingerbread village and chat with him more about the baker’s history and how he’s seen Yorkville change over the years.
Get a behind-the-scenes look and hear from Herb
Hanukkah celebration by the Young Men’s Hebrew Association at the Academy of Music in New York City, 1880, via Wikimedia Commons
Hanukkah is engrained into New York’s holiday season, but roughly 100 years ago the Festival of Lights was big news to many New Yorkers. Look at the newspaper coverage back in the day regarding the holiday, and most “took an arms-length approach,” as Bowery Boys puts it. “More than one old Tribune or World carried a variant of the headline “Jews Celebrate Chanukah,” as though there might have been some doubt. A 1905 headline even informed readers that, “Chanukah, Commemorating Syrian Defeat, Lasts Eight Days.”
Such headlines weren’t just the result of ignorance–New York’s Jewish population was low through the 1800s, and even within the religion, Hanukkah has traditionally been a minor festival. But a boom in Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe and a reassertion of religious traditions in a new country completely changed the fabric of New York. Eventually, the eight-day festival of light–which commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks over 2,000 years ago–emerged as an important tradition of the city.
Here’s what happened
© Estate of Fred W. McDarrah
Perhaps no single photographer could be said to have captured the energy, the cultural ferment, the reverberating social change emanating from New York City in the second half of the 20th century as vividly as Fred W. McDarrah. McDarrah got his start covering the downtown beat of the Village Voice in the 1950s and ’60s, as that publication was defining a newly-emerged breed of independent journalism. McDarrah penetrated the lofts and coffeehouses of Lower Manhattan to shed light upon a new movement known as “The Beats” and went on to capture on film the New York artists, activists, politicians, and poets who changed the way everyone else thought and lived.
Through the generosity of the Estate of Fred W. McDarrah and the McDarrah family, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was fortunate enough to add to its digital archive a dozen of the most epochal of Fred McDarrah’s images of downtown icons, including Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Jane Jacobs, and Allen Ginsberg. And just in time for the holidays, you can purchase your own copy (with all proceeds benefitting GVSHP!).
Learn the story behind all the photos
Owner Jeff Friedman works on a neon snowflake for a holiday display that went up in Uniqlo’s Fifth Avenue flagship store
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 the Tribeca showroom and studio of Let There Be Neon, an international supplier and creator of custom neon for signage and artistic applications.
Back in the early ’70s, neon had gone out of fashion, with cheaper fluorescent-lit and plastic signs taking over after World War II. But multimedia artist Rudi Stern was determined to revive the art and make it more accessible. He opened a showroom studio, Let There Be Neon, in 1972 on West Broadway and Prince Street in Soho, and soon attracted a client roster of artists including Keith Haring, Robert Rauschenberg, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He even outfitted Studio 54! By 1990, he’d moved to a charming brick storefront at 38 White Street in Tribeca and sold the business to his long-time friend and employee Jeff Friedman.
Rudi Stern sadly passed away in 2006, but he would be happy to see the legacy that Friedman has maintained and how wildly successful the business is today. Not only does their client list still include a long list of contemporary artists, but they’re the go-to sign restorers and recreators for classic NYC mom-and-pop businesses such as Russ & Daughters and Trash & Vaudeville, and Old Town Bar, and do projects with national companies like WeWork, Soul Cycle, and Uniqlo. 6sqft recently paid Let There Be Neon a visit to see their incredible fabrication work and chat more with Jeff Friedman about the art of neon.
Tour the studio and see how it’s done
The Vessel, topped out; image courtesy of Related-Oxford
The Vessel, a 150-foot-tall climbable sculpture made of bronzed steel and concrete, topped out Wednesday, serving as the public centerpiece of Hudson Yards Public Square and Gardens. Designed by Heatherwick Studio, the $150 million interactive landmark includes 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, nearly 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings. The idea for the project stems from Related Companies’ chairman, Stephen Ross, who called it “New York’s Eiffel Tower.” The final piece of the 600-ton structure will be installed today, nearly eight months after construction began.
See it here
The 1931 tree, via Rockefeller Center
The official website of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree describes the holiday tree as a “world-wide symbol of Christmas,” a statement we really can’t argue with, especially since 125 million people visit the attraction each year. And with tonight marking the 85th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, an annual celebration that attracts tens of thousands in person and hundreds of millions more on television, we decided to take a look back at the tradition’s history. From its start as a modest Depression-era pick-me-up for Rockefeller Center construction workers to World War regulations to its current 550-pound Swarovski star, there’s no shortage of interesting tidbits about one of NYC’s biggest attractions.
More on the history here