Tag Archives: nyc

Vestiges of New York: the taxi light

All cities have vestiges, things that once made sense but over time became obsolete, yet still remain. In my former house I had a small door and nook near the main door where milkmen would once leave milk. Across Toronto you can still see coal doors at basement level, where coal delivery people would shovel in the coal for the coal furnaces.

Elsewhere, here is a great story about taxi signs across New York City that were once used to hail a cab if you needed one. In the days of Uber and Lyft apps, these seem quaint. Just like those apps will seem years from now. Great story, though.

I love the blog that story comes from. It’s full of odd bits of New York, written with love. Well worth diving into.

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Is New York dead yet?

Predictions are hard. Predictions about New York City especially so. This one was written a few years ago, and talks about how gentrification is killing NY: The Death of a Once Great City | Harper’s Magazine.

Now in the midst of the pandemic, that economic costs of that will take a bite out of gentrification, which will be nothing compared to the closures that will occur as this disease hangs over the city and the rest of the world.

Whatever happens to New York, be it 9/11 or gentrification or the pandemic, I think the best and safest prediction is to never count it out. Perhaps some far off day New York will no longer be one of the world’s great cities. Perhaps some day it will die off, like many other great cities have. I think we can predict that day is far away still.

So whenever you read about New York dying of one thing or another, take it with a grain of salt.

(Photo via malteesimo)

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Adafruit goes to war against the coronavirus

That’s a bit dramatic, but Adafruit (a tech company I love) has been deemed an essential service and is helping to manufacture things needed in the fight against it. I am happy to see that.

Here’s a bit from them saying who they are and what they are doing. Awesome!

Adafruit is a 100% woman-owned, loan-free, VC-free. profitable, USA Manufacturing company. Please see our about page and press page to read about us. Our founder and lead engineer is Limor Fried, a MIT Electrical Engineer.

We have paused some operations in NYC due to COVID-19, we are paying all team members, contractors, and more. There are no layoffs for 130+ Adafruit team members.

Adafruit was deemed an essential service to distribute/make some PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) such as face shields, and manufacturer electronics for essential life-saving/preserving equipment and developement which is needed in New York and beyond.

Adafruit Industries located at 150 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013 by Executive Order 202.6, “Essential Business” by New York State:
https://esd.ny.gov/guidance-executive-order-2026

via Adafruit Industries, Essential service and business: NYC – Executive Order 202.6 Capabilities and more #NewYorkTough #NewYorkStrong #adafruitchronicles @adafruit « Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers!

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The limits of wine bars in North America cities as compared to Paris and why this is interesting


We have tons of upscale coffee shops, and wine is more popular than ever in North America, so Eater asks what seems to be a simple question: Natural Wine Is Everywhere in America. Where Are the Wine Bars?

I say “seems” because the answer is long and fascinating for a number of reasons: economic, cultural, and gastronomical. It’s a smart piece. I highly recommend it.

Here’s a snippet of what I mean:

It’s sad to see something so ostensibly simple become another exclusive pleasure, so I keep looking for the neighborhood wine bar of my dreams — which is honestly just a cramped room with bottles of interesting, affordable wine on the wall and, like, a cheese plate? Yet this seemingly simple thing is stupidly hard to find. It’d be sort of funny that cosseted American wine bars struggle to attain the loose charm of Paris, given that France is stereotyped as the place that’s snooty, rules-bound, and tradition-obsessed, if the result wasn’t such a bummer. While yes, there are a lot of rules, France also has a more open culture of public life; you don’t need to make plans to go out to drink wine. And though wine signifies many things in French culture, an air of sophistication because you drink it is not one of them. The appeal of enjoying wine in France, at least as the kind of person who’s moved by wine but still needs bolds on the list, is that French wine culture feels so much less precious than in America.

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What are the most beautiful streets in New York City?


The folks at the Thrillist have a great list, here, including images such as the one above.

It would be great to go to NYC again just to visit some or all of these.

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Photoessay: A Field Guide to New York Workers


This is great: A Field Guide to New York Workers – People in NYC | Topic.

All the people you typically see in NYC. Well worth a look.

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A good maximalist apartment


For fans of maximalism, you can get some good ideas on how to pull it off and still make your place feel orderly by checking out this post: A Book-Filled Manhattan Apartment Where Everything Tells a Story | A Cup of Jo.

If you love small spaces AND stuff, you need to learn to be a good maximalist. (Or buy storage.) That post in A Cup of Jo can help.

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On the super tall and skinny buildings popping up all over New York City

New York City has had skyscrapers for a long time. A new twist on the skyscraper is the super skinny ones popping up all over Manhattan. There’s plenty of reasons for that, and the Guardian well documents that, here: Super-tall, super-skinny, super-expensive: the ‘pencil towers’ of New York’s super-rich | Cities | The Guardian.

I don’t particularly like them, but like all buildings, I am sure they will grow on me over time. They seem too featureless. Their main feature seems to be the thinness. That hardly puts them in the same class as the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building.

Regardless of your thoughts on them, the article in the Guardian is good.

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Crunch time for Barneys


Bad news for Barneys, the premiere merchant in NYC. On one hand they are getting hit with a huge rent increase, and on the other, people’s shopping habits are changing. Could this be the end? It seems so.

See this for more: Bankruptcy for Barneys? Symbol of New York luxe faces uncertain future | US news | The Guardian

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Can cities be affordable?


If you read articles like this, Why Homes in Major U.S. Cities Are Nearly Impossible To Afford – Curbed, it can be hard to believe than any city not on the decline can be affordable. But there are exceptions, and it is good to know about them and why they are. One such city is Vienna, and this piece has a good explanation on why it is.

If you are concerned about cities being affordable, I recommend the piece on Vienna. Affordable cities is going to be one of the big challenges of the 21st century. We need good ideas to deal with this.

(Image via pexels.com)

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Can you work a day job and still make great art?

If you are Philip Glass you can. And likely anyone who has the capacity to make art can as well. It may take you longer, but you can do it. To see how he did it, see this piece: How Philip Glass Went From Driving Taxis to Composing – The Atlantic

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How to travel back in time in NYC


One way would be to go to this place: Barbetta. The New York Times has a fine story on it, here: The Elegant Relic of Restaurant Row. Even if you don’t intend to go, you’d be rewarded just reading the piece.

Love that photo by Dina Litovsky for The New York Times. The sign is “made of opal glass. A forerunner of neon, it is the last of its kind in the city…”.  Fantastic.

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The William hotel in NYC, or how to use bold colour in your home.

I have not stayed at the William, but I don’t need to in order to appreciate the beauty of the place (shown above). Regardless of your travel plans, if you have decorating plans, it’s a great place that illustrates how to effectively use bold colour in your home. For many, using bold colours can be both desirable and intimidating. Some concrete examples can help you achieve your bold colour dreams and overcome your bold colour fears.

For more, see this:  A Bold, Colorful Hotel in the Heart of Manhattan – Design Milk

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The Notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat

I hadn’t seen this before, but for fans of the artist, this is a must view: The Unknown Notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat – The New York Times.

I love everything about NYC in the 80s, and I especially like this.

Why you should visit NYC in winter

If you ever though of visiting New York City in winter, then I recommend this:
A Winter Guide to NYC | A Cup of Jo. After you read it, you’ll want to head there before Spring.

I have been to NYC many different times of the year, and I found being there in December to be one of the best times to visit. In addition, going in January and February would be among the least expensive times to go. If you had planned to go mainly to see museums and shows and do indoor activities, then it could be the perfect time to visit. Of course you don’t just have to do indoor activities, as that lovely photo of people walking in Central Park in winter shows.

New York is great any time of year, but it can be especially so in winter.  You should go.

A peek inside the sublime new NYC residence designed by the great Zaha Hadid

Fortunate souls walking along New York’s High Line can catch a glimpse of the magnificent building pictured above. Now, thanks to Design Milk, you can get to see what it looks like inside by going here: 520 West 28th Condominium Residence by Zaha Hadid – Design Milk. 

Not surprisingly, it is as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside. I would love to live there. Take a peek inside and you’ll see why.

The locked away beauty of the City Hall subway station in New York

The site Hyperallegic has a great piece on the abandoned City Hall subway station in NYC that is worth visiting. Beautiful stuff.

While no longer in use, there seems to be a chance you can tour the station from time to time. Read the piece, then make your plans to see the actual station.

(Images linked to from the piece. Many more great images in the piece you’ll want to see).

Two portraits of a great writer: Robert Caro

Robert Caro

I find Caro a fascinating person and this portrait of him in this Paris Review interview is well worth reading: Paris Review – Robert Caro, The Art of Biography No. 5.

It’s worth comparing it to this piece on him in the New York Times that talks about his routine, including how he goes to a separate office in Manhattan just to work and that he wears formal business attire to do so. A rare life writing about another rare life.

What do you do if you suffer insomnia? If you are Michael Massaia, you make something beautiful

Michael Massaia spends his sleepless hours haunting NYC and Central Park, taking incredible photos. This is just a sliver and doesn’t do his photos justice:

If you can’t sleep and want to see what one person can do in the sleepless hours, see,  Haunting images of New York City’s Central Park from Michael Massaia. His photos are great.

The history of a great collaboration: Philippe Starck, Ian Schrager and the rise of the NYC designer hotel

It seems commonplace now, but the idea of hotels having the same cachet as a nightclub seem to me to come about in the 1980s with the rise of Ian Schrager as a hotelier. While he collaborated with others, the partnership he formed with Philippe Starck resulted in some really fantastic hotels, as can be seen in this post: The 21st Century Interior – Case studies – Philippe Starck/Ian Schrager: Designer Hotels – Blog – APID.

Nowadays many of these hotels have changed, but in the latter part of the 20th century they were opening with all the excitement of a new nightclub, which in some ways they resembled.  I remember hanging out in the lobby of The Royalton as it was just getting ready to open, talking to the staff in their Hugo Boss suits, marvelling over the designs of Starck, thinking of how the blue carpet made one feel as glamorous as anyone in the city. Later on I stayed at the Paramount and Morgan’s, each visit made Manhattan that much better.

Recently the hotels have been changing as they have been upgraded. Only The Hudson seems to have retained that earlier quality, it seems. Soon even that will transform into whatever brings in the guests. I haven’t been to The Hudson yet: I must get their before it is too late.

I am not sure if there is a history of great hotels, but if there ever is, I expect some of these places will find their place in it. Meanwhile, read the post on these hotels, and check out The Hudson in NYC while you can.

(Top photo of the Royalton, bedroom photo from the Paramount. Both linked to from the post, which has more great photos.)

 

It’s not that Brooklyn is getting more expensive: it’s that Manhattan is expanding. Why?

Home prices in some of the city’s neighborhoods have not just climbed over the last decade, they’ve blasted off, landed on Mars and found water.

Why? Well, look at where the growth is, and then look at this map of the NYC Subway:

More than other factors, the price of real estate seems  is tied to how easy it is to get back and forth from Manhattan.

That said, I’d be interested to know the story behind the areas of Manhattan that are stagnating.

NYC is never boring.

Source: New York Home Prices | New York Real Estate Price History

On living in Manhattan, by Zadie Smith (a most wonderful piece of writing)

There is so much good about this piece by Zadie Smith that if I started pulling in quotes from it, I would essentially replicate it.  It’s an effortless read, and yet even as I was reading it, I could feel how great it is. I had the feeling of racing down a high mountain on skis, exhilarated and impressed by the beauty and amazed how fast I am going and then it is done.

So, yes, I recommend you read: Find Your Beach by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books.

 

Armchair travelling: an online visit to the Woolworth building in Manhattan

 Hyperallegic.com has a wonderful photo essay of the Magnificent Lobby of a Classic Skyscraper, the Woolworth building, located in Manhattan. The images are fantastic.

First bookstores, now restaurants being driven out of Manhattan

This Village Voice article has a run down of a number of great restaurants being forced to close due to the price of rent in Manhattan. Restaurants are following bookstores,  which are also suffering from the cost of doing business in this part of NYC.

I suspect low margin businesses like this will move to the other parts of NYC and away from the big rent/big money sections. It will be interesting to see the migration both of the businesses and the people. Compared to the way Manhattan used to be in the later part of the 20th century, this is a better problem for them to have.

For more on the bookstores closing, see this piece in the New York Times.

Fact checks on mosques in New York City

Yahoo/AP has a good run down on some of the statements that have been made about the Park 51 Community Center (“the Ground Zero Mosque”). Well worth a read, whatever you position is on the topic. See FACT CHECK: Islam already part of WTC neighborhood – Yahoo! News

The Metropolitan Opera innovates again


It is ironic that an opera house seems more innovative than many in the pop recording industry: “then” is more advanced than “now”. The latest thing they are going to do is Offer Performances on the Web. According to the NYTimes.com:

‘In the Metropolitan Opera’s relentless quest to exploit all media, the company next Wednesday will start making many video and audio broadcasts available for Internet streaming on demand.

Met Player, as the service is called, will be available through the Met’s Web site, metopera.org. At its inauguration, on the 125th anniversary of the Met’s first show, users will be able to choose from 13 high-definition video performances, 37 standard video recordings and 120 audio broadcasts dating to 1937. The company said it planned to add performances regularly, drawing on its vast historical archives and its continuing high-definition broadcasts.’

The player looks good, but the proof will be in the sound. The Met has a sterling reputation; I am optimistic it will be good.

Who are the most polite people in the world?

New Yorkers, of course!

Having been to New York a number of times, I would say that while New Yorkers can be gruff, I have found them to be some of the most well mannered citizens that I have met. I wasn’t surprised to see that they came out on top.

As someone who lives in Toronto, I was also happy to see us come in third.

The article appeared in the Canadian edition of Reader’s Digest, which may be why there is more of a Canadian angle to the story. But it is global, and it is worth reading.

See How Polite Are We?

(Pointer from andrewSullivan.com)