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  • Underground NYC – Part 1

    Far beneath the streets and tucked away from subway stations, New York is filled with hidden tunnels and underground spaces that are the stuff of legend. We take you to places that will completely change your perspective on what lies directly beneath your feet in NYC. This is part one of our two-part series Underground NYC.

    1) Crown Finish Caves – Crown Heights, Brooklyn
    A brewery first popped up in Brooklyn at the intersection of Bergen Street and Franklin Avenue way back in 1849. The facility had several names and owners over the following decades before eventually taking up the moniker of Nassau Brewing Company. In 1866, the owners added an icehouse to the intersection, and a tunnel to connect it to the brewery. The space is currently being occupied by Crown Finish Caves, a cheesemaker that uses the underground space to age its stinky dairy products. Periodic tours and events are hosted in the space, so if you want to explore one of Brooklyn’s most historic subterranean spaces, keep an eye out for updates from the company.

    2) McCarren Park Pool Tunnel – Greenpoint, Brooklyn
    The now-renovated pool at Greenpoint’s McCarren Park dates back to the Great Depression (it was one of 11 massive pools around the city that were commissioned by FDR’s Works Progress Administration). Hidden beneath the park is a set of access tunnels and drainage pipes that could make any urban explorer foam at the mouth. Several people have chronicled their ventures into the pool’s catacombs, and access to them isn’t exactly legal, but that’s the case for many of the locations on this list.

    3) The Basilica of St. Patrick's Cathedral Catacombs – SoHo, Manhattan
    The 200-year-old Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral (the one in SoHo, not Midtown) sits over ancient catacombs that are usually off-limits to the public. However, an official 90-minute tour can take you through the ghostly subterranean lair. This unique and historic site serves as the final resting place for many prominent New Yorkers, including the Delmonico family, General Thomas Eckert (a confidant of Abraham Lincoln), Honest John Kelly of Tammany Hall and the first resident Bishop of New York, Bishop John Connolly.

    Check out our blog next Sunday for part 2!

  • First Look Inside the Waldorf Astoria’s Condo Conversion

    Frank Sinatra once paid $1 million a year for a suite at the hotel Waldorf Astoria. Now its new owner is banking on the hotel’s glamorous past to sell luxury condos. First pictures of the conversion have now been published.

    It’s been more than two years since the famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel shut its doors in preparation for its transformation into a hotel/condo hybrid, and in that time, much has changed in New York’s luxury real estate market. A one-time mansion tax has high-rollers on edge, and a glut of unsold condos (particularly the more expensive ones) is making developers nervous.

    But those facts haven’t deterred Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese owner of the Waldorf Astoria and the driving force behind its residential conversion; the developer will bring the project’s 375 condos, rebranded as the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, to market in early 2020, and it’s betting on the property’s long history to help sell apartments. The condo residents’ amenities will include a private porte cochere, an 82-foot lap pool, and private entrances separate from the hotel itself.

    The hotel/condo conversion of the famed property has been in the works for several years: Anbang bought the Waldorf in 2014 for a whopping $3 billion, and the hotel closed in 2017 to facilitate construction. In addition to the 375 condos, the Waldorf will have 350 renovated hotel rooms when it reopens to the public in 2021. Anbang is will restore some of the hotel’s interiors—including the West Lounge, formerly known as Peacock Alley, the Grand Ballroom and balconies on the third floor; and the Park Avenue lobby, with its 13 murals and a floor mosaic designed by French artist Louis Rigal—that were designated landmarks in 2017.

  • Watch Out Ice Cream Lovers!

    Ready your camera roll and prepare for a sugar rush: The Museum of Ice Cream just opened in NYC!

    The SoHo flagship opened its pastel pink doors to sugary goodness a couple of days ago. The immersive experience is playground, social media backdrop and sweet shop at the same time.

    If you managed to score tickets ($39), there are a few things to know before embarking on the adventure. For one, you might be inclined to prop your kiddos in the interactive rooms—the rainbow walkway, an ice cream-themed subway car—but let's face the music. Your littles aren't interested in photo ops, no matter how adorable they might be.

    More vigorous than it looks, the playground staple will transport visitors to the "melting caves," a dark yet luminous room that acts as a gateway to the best part of the experience: The playground. Expect swings, ice cream basketball and yes, even a pool. Instead of water, there are giant sprinkles, and you'll debate taking a dip.

    Perhaps an overshadowed portion of the attraction is the ice cream itself, but the flavors are certainly not worth missing. "Cone Up," a crunchy chocolate-vanilla mashup is a sleeper, and you'd be remiss not to indulge in a taste. Other notable options include the honeycomb-flavored "Queen Bee" and the ever-tempting "Churro Churro."

    Happy ice-creaming!
    More info: museumoficecream.com/new-york-city

  • Empire State Building Completes $165M Revamp With New Observatory

    With the debut of a new 80th-floor observatory, the Empire State Building has officially completed its four-year, $165 million redevelopment of the iconic skyscraper. The opening came after unveiling its new mini museum and the new 102nd-floor observation deck a couple of months ago.

    The 80th floor has different new components, all geared towards highlighting the building’s prominent place in the city’s skyline. This includes an exhibit, several binoculars with augmented reality scenes of NYC, etc.

    On the 102nd floor, visitors can soak up panoramic views of Manhattan and beyond from 1,250 feet above street level with floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

    The 10,000-square-foot museum, tells the history of the building from its construction to its prominent place in the city’s culture.

  • Skate The Skyline

    Ice skating in New York City is one of those classic experiences that never gets old. But there’s always room to elevate the rink game. It doesn’t always have to be the Rockefeller Ice Skating Rink — most of the time filled with hundreds of tourists anyway. Our suggestion: enjoy a spin on the ice atop The Rooftop at Pier 17. After its debut last season, Winterland Rink is back and larger in size, serving up more spectacular views of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.

    Price of admission to the rink starts at $15. Besides the great views, you’ve got a couple classy options to warm up. Designed by David Rockwell, The Tank warming hut offers rinkside drinks and bites, or duck inside the R17 luxury bar and defrost next to one of its two fireplaces with cocktails and hearty dishes like Wagyu Beef Short Rib. Or stop by one of the rooftop food trucks serving boozy hot cocoa and cider or wine by the glass, plus bites like salted pretzels, hot dogs and nachos.

    See you on the rink!
    More info: pier17ny.com/winterland

  • Serve a Full Thanksgiving Meal on an L Train? Only in New York City!

    Jodell Lewis, a local comedian, wanted to do something different for Thanksgiving this year, so he and a few friends came up with an elaborate idea: a full meal on the subway.

    After months of planning, they decided to go ahead with it, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner — bird and all — on a Brooklyn-bound L train. Video of the meal surfaced on social media and almost immediately went viral.

    The New York City subway is no stranger to wild stunts, like the annual No Pants Subway Ride or the time a man riding in a car, dressed as a turkey, carved and ate an actual turkey, or when two people set up a Ping-Pong match.

    In videos of the meal, Jordell’s friends and collaborators and surprised strangers shared a meal of turkey, collard greens and macaroni and cheese. “A lot of people haven’t had black Thanksgiving,” Jordell, who is African-American, said. So, the idea, he said, was to “make people feel like we’re inviting you to our home.” Jodell, who works with a group of New York-based comedians and artists, said his aim was to “feed hungry New Yorkers and give back.”

    The entire journey took about an hour, taking the group from Union Square all the way to Rockaway Parkway. There, they cleaned up and gave some of their leftovers to the homeless.

    “It was amazing to provide a classic New York City moment,” Jordell said. “Nothing else can compare to being able to eat Thanksgiving with random strangers on a New York City train,” he said. “That’s what people come to our city for.” LOCALIKE’s comment: ❤️
    Click here to watch a short video about the dinner: youtu.be/pude-VCbI_Q

  • Every Day I Pray for Love

    Explore new work by world-famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama at the David Zwirner gallery on 537 West 20th Street in Chelsea. The exhibition features new paintings, new sculptures, an immersive installation, and the debut of a new infinity room.

    One of the most influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Kusama occupies a unique position within recent art history. Since her early assimilation of pop art and minimalism in the 1960s, she has created a highly personal oeuvre that resonates with a global audience. Distinctly recognizable, her works frequently deploy repetitive elements—such as dots—to evoke both microscopic and macroscopic universes.

    The gallery debuts Infinity Mirrored Room - Dancing Lights That Flew Up to the Universe 2019, which offers an immersive and poetic experience of endless space. The continuous mirroring of the flickering lights ultimately underscores Kusama’s determination throughout her art to convey an “eternal unlimited universe and the eternity of interrelationships.”

    The exhibition also introduces new paintings in the artist’s iconic My Eternal Soul series. Created in a more intimate format on view for the first time in the United States, these works are singular explorations of line and form. Minutely detailed, yet with bold explorations of color, they are at once abstract and figurative. Framed by the paintings and addressing a similar dialectic is a large, new floor-based constellation composed of almost a hundred different stainless-steel elements. Viewers navigate an all-encompassing environment of organic-looking, cloud-like forms whose reflections envelop its audience and reinforce an impression of perpetuity and infinity.

    The exhibition is free of charge and open to the public until December 14th, 2019. No tickets are required—the show is first come, first entry. It is extremely popular. The average wait time is usually more than 2 hours to enter into the exhibition.
    More info: davidzwirner.com

  • Inside The Renovated And Expanded MoMA

    This past June, just as prime summer tourist season was about to kick in, the Museum of Modern Art, the city's third most popular museum with more than three million visitors a year, closed its doors for four months. The reason? A $450 million expansion, construction, and renovation project that not only increased the gallery space by 40,000 square feet or 30% (and "other" public space by 25%), but also entailed a complete rethinking, reorganizing, and rehanging of MoMA's vaunted permanent collection. And now the job is done! On October 21st MoMA is open once again. Here's a first look at the reboot.

    That dramatically-lit canopy jutting out over the entrance on 53rd Street is new, but it's not until you enter the building that you notice how different everything is on the ground floor. The lobby itself is pretty much just a big empty space now, save for a new high tech coat room—there are no tickets; you enter your phone number on the touch screen and get a text with all the necessary info—which the staff says will speed up this most dreaded of all MoMA lines. To the east is a new Member's Desk, and the entrance to the beloved, unchanged Sculpture Garden.

    To the west, there's a large new ticket-buying area, which now includes a bank of electronic kiosks, as well as a few spots to lounge about while overlooking the stylish new subterranean gift shop, which features a two-story "wall of books." Keep going and you'll discover the two new free-to-the-public galleries at the lobby level, called 1 North and 2 North, showcasing emerging artists.

    On floors two, four, five, and six is where the increase in gallery space really hits you. The soaring Atrium is intact but basically everything else has expanded west, and you can tell you're entering new territory whenever you pass through a black-framed entranceway. There are an extraordinary number of (re)discoveries to be made on these floors, especially now that they've included many recent acquisitions by African, African-American, Asian, and Latin American artists, as well as more work by women artists in general.

    There are other new exhibition spaces throughout, including a performance "Studio" (on the 4th floor) that features a wall of windows and an engaging sound installation. Accessible via a separate stairwell or elevator, is the new Terrace Cafe, notable for its outdoor tables.

  • Grab The Train At Grace Jones, Get Off At Yoko Ono: Exploring NYC's New 'City Of Women’ Map

    If you look at a map of the United States, you might think that only men live here. Writer Rebecca Solnit once said, “The peaks of our mountains sound like a board of directors of an old corporation.”

    And nowhere is manscaping more on display than in New York City, where there are 200 plus statues and landmarks named after men in history, including the Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle and Rockefeller Center, to name a few. Meanwhile, the most prominent woman is the Statue of Liberty, which isn’t even based on a real person.

    The lack of women on display sparked the idea behind the “City of Women” map, which renames each of New York’s 424 subway stops after famous women who lived, worked or reveled there. The map was created by Solnit and geographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro.

    “Our map was also designed as a kind of intervention in a conversation that's really picked up steam in the last few years about gender and public space and the ways in which our names and our public spaces do honor and welcome a certain segment of the population that may not feel as welcoming to others,” Jelly-Schapiro says.

    The women on this map run the gamut, Jelly-Schapiro says. In Queens, the subway stop near the U.S. Open stadium is named after Venus and Serena Williams. Out in Bayside, Queens, the map honors the three ladies of seminal hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa.

    “We wanted it to be a mix,” Jelly-Schapiro. “We wanted to have the politicians — the Elizabeth Holtzmans or Bella Abzugs — but also absolutely entertainers, singers, community activists, curators.” Jelly-Schapiro says this map is really so powerful in making women more visible because the map of the subway “is the map of New York City that New Yorkers know best. It's fabulous fun now all the time to think about giving directions or getting around the city by saying, 'I'm going to get on the train at Grace Jones and get off at Yoko Ono,' ” he says.

    The map has had an impact on people of all genders, not just women, which Jelly-Schapiro says he didn’t expect. “It's shown me the sort of the power of representation and the ways in which it matters to see ourselves and people we recognize and admire recognized in public,” he says.

    More information: nonstopmetropolis.com/theposter

  • Architecture and Design Aficionados: This Is For You!

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year, at least for architecture and design aficionados. October is Archtober—or Architecture and Design Month. For 31 days, the City’s design community opens its doors for more than 100 tours, lectures, films and celebrations, offering behind-the-scenes peeks at the buildings that give this metropolis its distinct character.

    Archtober just began, and we’re only a few weeks out from the 2019 Open House New York weekend, taking place October 18-20 across all five boroughs. During the three-day event, hundreds of architectural sites and cultural venues will open to the public, including many that are normally off-limits.

    Among the new sites that have been added to the docket this year include the High Line Spur (the final section of the elevated park), which opened earlier this spring; 277 Mott Street, a retail building designed by star architect Toshiko Mori; Pier 35, a new lower Manhattan park designed by SHoP and Ken Smith Workshop; and 25 Kent, a massive new office complex in Williamsburg.

    There will also be some cool special events, including open access to studios and buildings in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and a day of talks and performances at impressive and newly opened TWA Hotel at JFK Airport.

    You also have two more days to prepare for tours that require reservations; they’ll go live on October 8 at 11 a.m. EST. This year, those tours include old favorites—the Woolworth Building and the United Nations Headquarters among them—as well as brand new sites. You can learn about the recent renovations to Central Park’s Belvedere Castle, or visit the New York City outpost of Swedish photography museum Fotografiska, which is located in a landmarked Park Avenue building.
    But take note: the process of getting reservations is not easy, and tours regularly fill up within seconds of those going live.

    More information: ohny.org

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