On this day in 1884, the country’s first roller coaster opened at Coney Island, sparking Americans’ obsession with amusement rides. Invented by LaMarcus Thompson, the ride, called the Switchback Railway, spanned 600 feet and traveled just six miles per hour. Unlike today’s coasters, the Switchback did not make a round trip loop, and passengers exited at the end of the track. The one-minute long ride cost only five cents.
Adding to its unique character, Extell’s One Manhattan Square will soon be home to NYC’s largest outdoor private garden, detailed in a new video released today by the developer. The proposal, designed by urban planning and landscape architecture firm West 8, includes more than an acre of garden space for residents to both work and socialize, boasting indoor and outdoor grilling spaces, ping-pong tables, a putting green, children’s playground, adult tree house, tea pavilion, and an observatory made for stargazing.
56 Leonard is one of NYC’s most exciting recent architectural additions. Dreamt up by Herzog & de Meuron, the skyline-altering condo tower rises 57 stories with an undeniable acrobatic grace, carefully staggering its floors in a cantilevering Jenga-like configuration that also appears to be in perfect equilibrium. Although the project developed by the Alexico Group and Hines took nearly a decade to build, a new video (h/t The Real Deal) released by the developers fast tracks the long and arduous process, neatly wrapping up 10 years of work into just over 60 seconds.
Robert Moses, the “master builder,” was arguably the most influential individual in the development of New York City’s politics and physical structure. He’s widely known for his hand in creating New York State’s massive parkway network (he built 13 expressways through NYC) and erecting large public housing complexes in low-scale neighborhoods (many of which were segregated), and has therefore been named as the source of many of the city’s gentrification and urban decline issues still present today. Regardless of this criticism, his breath of knowledge and experience was unparalleled (we can also thank him for Lincoln Center, Jones Beach, and countless public swimming pools) and is the subject of this 15-minute television program called Longines Chronoscope that aired in 1953, at the height of his heyday.
Cycling culture in New York City has been a growing trend for over 20 years. However, its popularity and the bike lanes of modern day New York have yet to reach the impressive status of Coney Island’s 1920s bicycle racing Velodrome. The Velodrome was a wooden racetrack that seated approximately 10,000 people, each of whom came to cheer or jeer the area’s best cyclists.
Despite the fact that NYC today has more than 8.5 million residents, the subway system had some of the highest ridership numbers back in the 1940s. In fact, a 1948 record was only recently beat in 2015 when 5.7 million rode the train daily, with annual ridership hitting 1.7 billion–another high not reached since the 1940s. To show just how packed the subway was 60 years ago, 6sqft has uncovered this 1949 film footage of daily subway operations from the New York Transit Museum Archives, which shows the crew working all the angles to keep trains running on time, while crowds jostle and shove to get to where they’re going.
The going rate for a Hell’s Kitchen studio is upwards of $2,000/month, but when now 32-year-old Luke Clark Tyler moved into his pad in 2011, he signed a lease for only $750. This might sound like a bargain, but the freelance designer/architect is living (and working!) in an astonishingly small 78 square feet, which by Sharably’s account is the smallest apartment in America. And when you break that down by price per square foot, he’s actually paying almost twice as much as the neighborhood average. But nevertheless, Tyler is happy to have the extra cash to enjoy the many dance performances in his ‘hood and says that after living tiny for more than five years, “we adapt very easily as people.”
This past May the MTA recorded 50,436 subway delays, 697 of which were caused by track fires that could have been ignited by the 40 tons of trash that are removed from the system every day. To curb this ongoing issue, the agency announced in August “Operation Trash Sweep,” an initiative that upped the frequency by which the 622 miles of tracks get cleaned. At the time, the MTA said it would also employ individually-operated Mobile Vacs that workers can use to quickly suck up trash. Yesterday, the agency released a video of the Vacs being tested, which not only shows their incredible force, but gives an overview of how the Operation is shaping up.
The first New Year’s Eve ball to drop in Times Square in 1907
In 1904, the New York Times moved from the City Hall are to the triangular piece of land at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway, and 42nd Street. People thought they were crazy for moving so far uptown, but this was the same year the first subway line opened, passing through what was then called Longacre Square. Not only did their new Times Tower have a printing press in the basement (they loaded the daily papers right onto the train and got the news out faster than other papers), but it was the second-tallest building in the city at the time. To honor this accolade, the company wanted to take over the city’s former New Year’s Eve celebration at Trinity Church, and since the church elders hated people getting drunk on their property, they gladly obliged. So to ring in 1905, the Times hosted an all-day bash of 200,000 people that culminated in a midnight fireworks display, and thus the first New Year’s Eve in Times Square was born. But it wasn’t until a few years later that the famous ball drop became tradition.
Who knew watching the movements of the New York City subway could be such a relaxing activity. A new data visualization created by Will Geary shows a day’s worth of subway routes in motion in one mesmerizing creation. To build the map, Geary used Processing and Carto software, as well as the framework of another tutorial from Juan Francisco Saldarriaga, pulling data from the MTA and Google Maps to determine the flux. And for some extra fun, the whole thing is set to “Rhapsody in Blue!”
Neil Patrick Harris and hubby David Burtka first made real estate headlines when they purchased a $4 million Harlem brownstone in 2013, setting a neighborhood record. They then spent over a year renovating the five-story residence at 2036 Fifth Avenue to be the perfect family home for their twins Gideon and Harper (now five years old) and two dogs. Last year, the couple invited Architectural Digest in for a tour, showing off their elegant but fun design choices, impressive art collection, and restored architectural features. They’ve now opened up their home again, this time for Vogue’s 73 Questions (h/t Apartment Therapy), complete with Christmas decorations.
If a sparkling new line isn’t cause enough to celebrate, once the Second Avenue Subway opens on January 1st, 2017, millions of New Yorkers will also be treated to several stretches of world-class art while navigating the 96th, 86th, 72nd, and 63rd Street stations. As the Times first reports, the MTA has poured $4.5 million into beautifying the stations with contemporary tile artworks by famed names Chuck Close, Sarah Sze, Vik Muniz, and Jean Shin.
One of the many signs that it’s Christmastime in the city is the sight, sound and scent of the city’s sidewalk tree vendors. The annual arrival of the (mostly) jovial tree purveyors reminds us that bell-ringing Santas, office secret Santas, and bar-crawling Santas aren’t far behind. Each year thousands of trees are sold to New Yorkers to help them deck the halls for the season. But what about the people who sell those trees? A new documentary film, “Tree Man,” gives us a peek at the lives of the city’s tree sellers, many of whom leave families behind to camp out in sometimes harsh living conditions for the sake of their business.
Before the days of Amazon, last-minute holiday shopping actually required putting clothes on and interacting with other human beings. To fully understand just how far we’ve come (and really appreciate the ability to “add to cart”), take a look at this HD stock footage from Critical Past that shows the rush of New York holiday shoppers in 1930. The sidewalks are a sea of black trench coats, with shoppers trying to squeeze their way into stores on 34th Street and buy wares from vendors on what looks like it may be Orchard Street, once the hub of discount shopping.
Donald Trump has already made it clear that he hopes to ditch convention and spend weekends in his Trump Tower penthouse during his presidency (despite the unprecedented traffic snarls and security issues it’ll cause). In addition to sleeping in his own bed, this will allow him to work out of his personal office. The 26th floor space is covered in awards, sports memorabilia, family photos, and an unsurprisingly narcissistic collection of magazines with yours truly on the cover. Business Insider uncovered two videos from last year–one from the Washington Post, one from the Wall Street Journal–where Trump provided tours of the office, and it looks like our next president may be working on international politics with one of Shaquille O’Neal’s sneakers sitting next to him.