• 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

  • Water Towers in New York City

    Water towers have become a ubiquitous part of New York City’s skyline. You never have to look up more than a few blocks to spot one of the roughly 15,000 tanks perched on top of a roof. New York gets its water supply from reservoirs north of the city. The water from these reservoirs is able to travel up to six floors without a problem. As buildings began to rise higher than six floors in the 1800s, it became necessary to add water towers to buildings. The water could be pumped, stored and distributed to floors beyond six stories.

    There are three water tower manufactures in the city – all of which have been in business for at least 100 years. They usually produce circa 400 wooden water tanks every year. The wooden vessels can hold up to 10,000 gallons of water and provide insulation that prevents water from freezing in the winter and stay cooler during the summer. Their natural temperature regulation properties make them more popular than steel tanks. Wooden water towers cost roughly $30,000 and have a life span of 30 to 35 years.

    Fun fact: While most buildings only have one water tower, the new One World Trade Center requires 16 water tanks in order to meet its water needs.

  • A New Beach is Coming to Manhattan

    Over the past 20 years, we have seen Manhattan’s West side waterfront change dramatically with the completion of Hudson River Park, the High Line & the massive development project Hudson Yards. As new architectural marvels have gone up, so have green parks and playgrounds that bring everyday life to the waterfront. And now, Hudson River Park (the second largest park in Manhattan) is set to get another new feature: A beach! It will be a first for the island. Here’s a sneak peak of the new Gansevoort Peninsula Park, which will make its debut in 2022.

    The 5.5-acre park, which used to be the site of a department of sanitation building, boasts different amenities. It will include a sandy beach for lounging, lots of green space, sports fields, a salt marsh, a dog run, and kayaking. The park, which sits right on the water, will provide New Yorkers and visitors with the opportunity to get up close to the Hudson River's increasingly lively ecology.

    Gansevoort Peninsula was designed by James Corner Field Operations, which also developed the High Line and Domino Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

  • The Story Behind Those Charming Gantries

    Throughout the 20th century, gantry cranes were used to transport people and goods to/from barges and ships along New York City’s coasts. At the time that the gantries were built, manufacturing jobs were drawing people from across the world to the Big Apple. As the city slowly became industrialized and more bridges were built, trucks became the main means for moving goods around. Consequently, gantries went out of use by the 1980s.

    Today, you can still spot a few gantries along the city’s waterfront. Two of them are located in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City and were originally built in the 1920s. These particular gantries were used to lift trains that arrived from Long Island onto barges in the East River to supply the rest of the nation with different goods. Another gantry, located at 69th Street on the Hudson River, was built in 1911 and served as a floating bridge that aided in the transfer of trains from land to water. The train cars were then transported from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Weehawken, New Jersey by ferries.

    Over the past years, development projects in the neighborhoods around gantries have led to their revitalization. The most popular ones are in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City and Domino Park in Williamsburg.

    In 1998, the two gantries in Gantry Plaza State Park were repainted black and the words “Long Island” were written across them in bright red letters. The gantries became a main focal point in the redevelopment project along Long Island City’s waterfront, which included the construction of the 10-acre Gantry Plaza State Park. The railroad tracks are still visible in parts of the park, hinting at its history.

    Further south, in Williamsburg, the gantry crane that lifted sugar from ships that arrived from Caribbean plantations was repainted turquoise blue during the construction of Domino Park. The 6-acre park was built on the former site of the Domino Sugar Refinery, which operated there from the 1880s to 2004.

  • The Secret of Coenties Slip

    Most people who have explored New York’s history a bit have heard of The Great Fire of 1835. One of the most devastating fires in the city’s history, it destroyed nearly 700 buildings (including the New York Stock Exchange) in Lower Manhattan, in an area known as the Financial District today. The devastating fire had a huge impact on the city’s development. City planners changed the laws to make new buildings safer, and 23 of 26 insurers at the time were forced to close due to the huge financial losses.

    Located in Lower Manhattan at that time was a now little-known tiny neighborhood called Coenties Slip. It is often seen in drawings or depictions of The Great Fire and was an artificially-created berth for sailing vessels. Old maps reveal what looks like a canal that originates in the East River, where ships and other vessels would load/unload goods and people.

    There were several such slips along the East River, but most of them (including Coenties Slip) were replaced by docks. After the Erie Canal was built in 1825, the slip harbored many of the boats that traveled along the new waterway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes of North America. The land was filled in 10 years later, expanding the southern part of Lower Manhattan. Many new buildings were subsequently built in the area, but were destroyed a few months later in The Great Fire of December 1835. Today, Coenties Slip is located about a block away from the East River.

    But there’s more to this storied corner of Lower Manhattan, which was partly converted into a pedestrian plaza in 2013. You might recognize the area from vintage photographs depicting elevated train tracks between South Ferry and Hanover Square as they unusually wind through Pearl Street in the Financial District.

    During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Coenties Slip became home to a group of now world-famous American artists. These include Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly and Chryssa. These influential artists lived and worked in the old seaport district, which was a great inspiration for the various mediums in which they worked.

  • Manhattanhenge: A Beloved NYC Phenomenon

    Manhattanhenge has become almost as world famous as New York City itself over the past years. If the name doesn’t ring a bell and you are wondering what it might actually be, here’s a little insight. The name Manhattanhenge is inspired by Stonehenge: the circle of stones in England which are believed to have been built to align with the sun’s movement. During Manhattanhenge, Manhattan’s street grid aligns with the sun to create a beautiful spectacle.

    The street grid in Manhattan doesn’t perfectly run north-south and east-west because – everything is rotated roughly 29-degrees clockwise due to the way the city was planned & designed. There are two days in May and July on which the sun shines through its grid as it sets at a 32-degree angle (north of true west). This means that a few weeks before and after the solstice, the sun sets at a favorable angle to Manhattan’s grid, setting the scene for a spectacular phenomenon.

    Manhattanhenge is the island’s most photogenic day and you will notice people descending upon 14th, 23rd, 42nd & 57th Streets to catch a glimpse of or photograph this spectacular phenomenon. The city feels surreal during these moments as everyone turns westward to observe the sunset. It’s a beautiful moment worth witnessing at least once in your life time.

    But while Manhattanhenge focuses on Manhattan, the other boroughs also offer their own dramatic sunsets or “Mini-henges”. So, if you happen to be visiting New York at a different time of the year, you can still witness spectacular sunsets. Using the online tool at NYCHenge, you can calculate where a “Mini-henge” will happen in NYC throughout the year. In the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint, East Williamsburg and Bed-Stuy, for example, the best time to watch the sunset is at the beginning of October. Check out this nifty tool to see where you can catch beautiful sunsets throughout New York City while you’re here: http://go.localike.com/rp2

  • Charming Mini Trips with New York Ferry

    Ferry service in NYC began in 1817 with trips between Staten Island and Manhattan. With 23.9 million passengers each year, the Staten Island Ferry it is the busiest ferry route in the United States and the world's busiest passenger-only ferry system. After 200 years, the city has introduced 6 additional ferry routes and expanded service to all five boroughs. This translates to 4 million more passengers on the East River each year. Though the public ferry can get crowded during the summer months, locals and visitors agree: It’s the most scenic (and sometimes fastest) way to get around and the best $2.75 you can spend while in NYC.

    The public NYC Ferry is very popular with New Yorkers commuting to/from work in waterfront Neighborhoods along the East River. Besides running efficiently and on-time, it offers on-board snacks or drinks, including Rosé on tap – a relaxing treat on a summer evening. Speaking of summer evenings…How does a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline or Brooklyn Bridge at sunset sound as a backdrop for your ferry ride? Most public ferries have an outdoor deck with spectacular, unobstructed views of your favorite iconic landmarks.
    LOCALIKE Tip: Want to enjoy a mini beach excursion? Take the Rockaway ferry from Lower Manhattan to Rockaway, Queens where you will find locals surfing, or frolicking in the sun and the Atlantic Ocean. For more info, visit: http://go.localike.com/toi

  • TWA Hotel Brings 60s Charm back to New York

    One of New York’s most anticipated hotel openings this year was the TWA hotel at JFK Airport. The former TWA terminal, designed by architect Eero Saarinen in the 1960s, has now been converted into a 512-room hotel while retaining its mid-century flair. As of May 15, guests have been checking-in pre or post flight to enjoy this revived New York City gem outfitted with design pieces by the likes of Richard Eames, Isamu Noguchi & Saarinen himself.

    The flight center building, which has been transformed into the hotel lobby, features shops, a reading room, a fitness center and other special amenities. The lobby’s second floor showcases TWA uniforms that were designed by Ralph Lauren & Valentino (to name a few) over the years.

    The main building also boasts two restaurants by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, including the all-day Paris Café. Swanky cocktails and small bites are served in the Sunken Lounge, which is also run by Vongerichten’s team. Also notable is Connie, a cocktail bar located a decommissioned 125-seat Lockheed Constellation propeller airline.

    If sipping on retro cocktails while watching planes take off poolside is more of your thing, this Space Age architectural marvel offers the perfect nostalgic setting to indulge your phantasies. With a quick elevator ride to the rooftop visitors can enjoy a cool new feature that was added during the $265 million renovation: a sleek infinity pool with panoramic views of the biggest runway at JFK. The rooftop also offers an up-close view of Bay Runway, which once served as a backup landing strip for NASA’s Space Shuttle.

  • Celebrating The High Line's 10th Anniversary

    The High line turned 10 this year! Join us as we look back at the history of one of New York’s most cherished parks:

    In the mid-1800s 10th Avenue was branded “Death Avenue” because of the numerous accidents caused by freight train crossings on street level traffic. To address this problem, the city created a 13-mile-long elevated railroad, which became known as the High Line. Between 1934 & 1980, the elevated trains transported meat to the Meatpacking District, milk & produce to factories and warehouses on Manhattan’s West Side, as well as mail to the main Post Office on 34th Street. The tracks connected directly to different factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right into buildings without causing traffic on the street level.

    The original High Line ran from 34th Street (now Hudson Yards) to St. John’s Park Terminal, at Spring Street (now West Village). During the 1960s, the southern section of the tracks were demolished after interstate truck deliveries steadily decreased the need for rail traffic along Manhattan’s West Side. In 1980, the last train ran on the High Line pulling in three carloads of frozen turkeys.

    In the mid-1980s, a group of property owners around the High Line tried to convince the city to demolish the entire structure. Local Chelsea residents, activists and railroad enthusiasts fought the demolition efforts in court for several decades. By 1999, a group called Friends of the High Line was founded by Joshua David and Robert Hammond (residents of the High Line neighborhood) to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as an open public space. After winning a lawsuit challenging the city’s plans for complete demolition of the remaining tracks, the group successfully advocated for the repurposing of the structure and space.

    June 9, 2019 marked the 10-year anniversary of the High Line opening to the public. Within a short time, it has become one of the most beloved parks in the city, and is favored by visitors and New Yorkers alike. The park attained almost immediate iconic status. Each part of the 1.5-mile walk through the park gives you a different view of New York from high above: architectural masterpieces, native plants & greenery, art & sculptures, and occasionally, once in a lifetime performances. The park has also become a gallery for watching New Yorkers, who don’t mind being observed while they go on about their lives at home.

    The beautiful park, which stretches from the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards in Manhattan, is a design collaboration between James Corner Field Operations, Piet Oudolf and Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

    Happy Birthday, High Line Park!

  • New York Hosts Special Guests in its Coastal Waters

    Who would have thought that dolphins, whales and seals call New York home?
    During the summer months, humpback whales on their way to the Caribbean for the winter spend some time in coastal waters of New York. Several environmental initiatives have led to cleaner water off New York City’s coasts, which have becoming inviting for the beautiful water creatures.

    For several years, the non-profit organization Gotham Whale has been on a mission to educate New Yorkers about marine life in the area through responsible whale watching and dolphin adventure cruises. Now visitors can also join in on the adventure as the sightings have become more common. They had a confirmed 272 sightings in 2018. While whale & dolphin sightings are not guaranteed during the beautiful cruise along the waterfront, it is also a great opportunity for seal and birdwatching. You will want to bring along your binoculars for this spectacular family adventure. More info: go.localike.com/ob7

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