6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, award-winning photographers James and Karla Murray return to give us a behind-the-scenes tour of Murray’s Cheese. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Murray’s Cheese was founded in 1940 on Cornelia Street. When Rob Kaufelt bought the business in 1991, he grew the store into an internationally known food destination that now includes educational programs, a full-service restaurant, catering, and state-of-the-art cheese aging caves in Long Island City. Personally, our love affair with Murray’s Cheese began in 1994, when we were newlyweds on a budget, often buying cheese from the small Bleecker Street store to eat with some freshly baked bread purchased from the nearby Zito & Sons Bakery. Plus, with Murray’s being our namesake, we felt an immediate connection to the store.
Just last month, the Kroger Company purchased the equity of Murray’s Cheese and its flagship Greenwich Village location to form a merger of the two companies. As this new era approaches, we decided to capture all the cheesy goodness of the store, restaurant, and caves, as well as chat with Rob, cavemaster PJ, and Murray’s Cheese Bar’s general manager Jake Goznikar to learn about Murray’s history, unique contributions to local and world-wide food culture, and future.
Take the grand tour
When Superstorm Sandy hit the community of Red Hook, thousands of residents were left without power and basic necessities for over two weeks. The neighborhood’s infrastructure suffered substantial damage, with almost all basement mechanical rooms destroyed. In an effort to rebuild Brooklyn’s largest housing development, Red Hook Houses, post-Sandy, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) commissioned a project by architecture firm Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF). Their “Lily Pad” design includes installing 14 “utility pods” that deliver heat and electricity to each building, as well as creating raised earth mounds to act as a flood barrier (h/t Archpaper).
Find out more here
Screen cap via NYT
Just down the street from the now-closed modernist treasure trove and icon that was the Four Seasons in Manhattan’s east 50s is a lesser-known architectural treasure. Philip Johnson’s 1950 Rockefeller Guest House is one of a handful of private residences the architect designed for New York City clients. The house is a designated historic and architectural landmark, but a subtle one that’s easily missed on the quiet street–as the New York Times puts it, “the house doesn’t give up its secrets easily.” Once you spot the home’s brick-and-glass facade, though, it’s hard not to be enthralled.
Find out more and take a video tour
In light of NYC’s recent subway fare hike that bumped the price of a monthly pass to $121, the data jocks at ValuePenguin took a look at public transportation systems throughout the U.S. and ranked them according to affordability, based on the cost of a pass as a percentage of income and the median income of the city’s commuters. Among the findings: New York City’s transit system isn’t the most unaffordable; that honor goes to Los Angeles. Washington D.C. topped the most affordable list among large cities, followed by San Francisco and Boston.
Read on for more insight on the cost of a commute
If this home is, as the listing calls it, “the jewel of this historic neighborhood,” the three-block historic Harlem enclave of Hamilton Terrace is a treasure trove, anchored by the Hamilton Grange home of Alexander Hamilton. Listed at $5,495,000, the limestone and terra cotta mansion at 72 Hamilton Terrace is recognizable by its mansard slate roof punctuated by dormer windows and the original wrought iron fencing that surrounds it. This nearly-5,000-square-foot home offers five stories of newly-renovated modern living, including a finished cellar with restaurant-style bar and a wine cellar. The home’s $5.495 price tag makes it the priciest single-family listing in the neighborhood; if it sells for that much it may be Harlem’s most expensive sale ever.
Step inside and take a look
363 Bond Street, via Lightstone Group
When the Lightstone Group revealed their two-building, 700-unit, $350 million rental project at 363-365 Bond Street, right on the banks of the notoriously toxic Gowanus Canal, president Mitchell Hochberg said it was inspired by a residential project in the Canal Saint-Martin neighborhood in Paris that helped create a “newly hip atmosphere” near a similarly polluted waterway. Despite the area’s Superfund status, the promise of living in a trendy, up-and-coming area surely appealed to many; when the lottery opened for the 86 affordable units at #365, nearly 60,000 people applied. Now, the lottery is opening for the 54 below-market rate apartments at the under-construction #363, ranging from $833/month studios to $1,082/two-bedrooms, available to those earning 60 percent of the area median income.
Find out if you qualify
New York City Architecture firm Oiio has proposed a conceptual skyscraper that would curve at the top and then return to the ground, becoming what the firm believes to be the “longest” building to ever be created. As reported by dezeen, their “Big Bend” proposal challenges Manhattan’s obsession with supertall skyscrapers by substituting extreme height with length—stretching 4,000 feet from end to end. If they are able to design this building, Oiio hopes it could potentially provide a solution to the height limitations imposed by city zoning laws.
See the renderings here
It was July, 1853, and George Crum was working as a chef at Cary Moon’s Lakehouse, an upscale restaurant in Saratoga Springs that catered to wealthy Manhattan families buildings summer escapes upstate. One of his customers sent back his French fries because they were thick and soggy (h/t NYT). After the man (who is rumored to have been Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, though this can’t be confirmed) sent back a second batch of the fried potatoes, Crum decided to get even, a decision that would land him a place in culinary history.
Find out how the potato chip was invented
Automat by Berenice Abbott, 1936
In the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s Automats were a New York City dining staple for a hard-working lunch crowd, a modernist icon for a boundless machine-age future. At their height there were over three dozen in the city, serving 800,000 people a day. And nearly everyone who actually experienced Automats in their heyday says the same thing: They never forgot the thrill of being a kid at the Automat.
Created by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia in 1902, coin-operated Automats were lovingly-designed Art Deco temples to modern efficiency. Sleek steel and glass vending machine grids displayed sandwiches and main dishes as well as desserts and sides, each in their own little boxes, square and even, clean and well-lit. You put a coin in the slot, opened the door and removed your food—which was reportedly quite good, as the founders took terrific pride in their craft.
What was it about the experience that made for such a lasting memory?