Tag Archives: ilovenewyork

  • A Quick Round of Jenga in Midtown Manhattan

    Speaking about skyscrapers these days has become a race in superlatives. The huge buildings are constantly being ranked & compared in terms of their height, value, age or eco-efficiency. 270 Park Avenue, on first sight, might seem like a modest competitor in this arena. The skyscraper, which was completed in 1964, is by no means an insignificant dwarf. Its 52 floors are spread over a towering 705 ft (205 meters) in a Midcentury architectural style with a steel and glass façade. 270 Park Avenue’s claim to skyscraper superstardom is coming into fruition in an unexpected way. It will be the tallest building ever demolished when it is torn down later this year. It’s a rather strange record to set, but a new record nonetheless.

    The building, which is owned by J.P. Morgan Chase, serves as the bank's headquarters. Over the years, the tower has slowly become cramped, with 6,000 people occupying as space that was originally designed for 3,500. But thanks to a recent change in zoning laws in Midtown, Manhattan, the construction of much higher buildings than was previously permitted is now possible. This, of course has been music to J.P. Morgan Chase’s ears. The bank has chosen to keep its footprint and build a taller skyscraper after demolishing 270 Park Avenue.

    The architectural community and concerned citizens alike are criticizing the project to demolish 270 Park Avenue. Besides seeming like the building was injected into the present day from the Mad Men era, 270 Park Avenue is also the only building of this size that was planned by a woman: Architect Natalie De Blois. De Blois worked for the world-famous architecture firm "SOM" at the time it was built. The firm’s name has become ubiquitous when it comes to top projects throughout the city. Their most famous work is Mies van der Rohe's Lever House.

    The renowned architect Norman Foster has already signed on to build J.P. Morgan Chase’s new headquarters. The 70-storey high building will accommodate 15,000 employees. And just in case you're wondering how a building of this size will be demolished in the busy streets of Midtown, Manhattan, here’s a clue: Imagine taking apart a "Jenga" tower piece by piece from above. But hopefully nothing will topple over...

  • MoMa's Upcoming Expansion

    Construction involving any prestigious institution is a rare undertaking. The Museum of Modern Art's ambitious plan by star architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro to substantially extend and convert the current space has been getting a lot of buzz. The idea behind the re-design is to make the museum more open and welcoming; plans include a revamping of the museum's lobby and the famous Bauhaus staircase, expanding gallery space by 50,000 square feet (about 4,600 square meters), and opening up the East hall. MoMa is always worth a visit for architecture and modern art fans, but the completion of the re-design in 2019 will definitely add a layer of urgency to the next visit.

  • Eating For a Good Cause

    Piers 92 & 94 on the Hudson River will be transformed into a foodie mecca when the New York Wine and Food Festival descends upon the Big Apple Oct 10 – 14 with a good cause. The festival has raised 11.5 million this year to feed hungry, with 100% of the net proceeds benefiting the No Kid Hungry campaign and Food Bank For New York City to end childhood hunger – in America and NYC.
    The festival attracts celebrity chefs from across the globe, as well as, local culinary all-star chefs, restaurateurs and purveyors, who host events & competitions and prepare the world-class meals served in their highly sought-after restaurants for lucky ticket buyers. Festival attendees can sample a variety of foods, participate in cooking classes, mingle with other foodies, and feel good about having contributed to a worthy cause. More info & tickets: www.nycwff.org

  • Tips to get around NYC without your phone



    Thanks to the street grid system, finding your way around New York is actually pretty easy. That being said, there are always confusing situations: which way is south and which way is north? East? West? And where in Central Park am I, exactly? We’ve assembled six tips to help you navigate your way around the city like a local.

    1. Central Park is enormous and it’s easy to lose your orientation there. For this reason, the park’s lampposts serve as reference points. Most are marked with numbers that correspond to the crossroads, which are located at the same height on both sides of the park. If a lantern is marked with the number 7304, for example, you’re between 73rd & 74th Streets.

    2. Traffic in Manhattan usually only travels in one direction. On streets with odd numbers (i.e., 17th Street), the traffic travels west. On even-numbered streets, traffic travels east.

    3. Traffic on avenues (i.e. 5th Avenue) travels north and south, almost always in alternating directions (beginning with 1st Avenue, which is north-bound).

    4. There’s a trick that will help you remember the order of the avenues (e.g., Lexington Avenue) in Manhattan: “You can take a CAB back home if it’s Late PM.” Columbus, Amsterdam, and Broadway are on the west side of the city; Lexington, Park, and Madison Avenue are on the east side.

    5. 5th Avenue divides Manhattan’s east and west sides. On each side, the street numbering starts at 5th Avenue. 10 East 36th Street is east of 5th Avenue and is an altogether different address than 10 West 36th Street. The only exception is Broadway, which in some places runs diagonally through the city.

    6. In Manhattan, most of the northbound (or uptown-bound) subway lines can be accessed on the east side of a given street. The southbound (or downtown-bound) lines tend to be located on the west side of the street. Remembering this will save you from having to cross the street at the last minute before taking the subway.

    When all else fails, there is, of course, still Google Maps—or LOCALIKE New York. :)

  • The Mayor

    How many mayors are there in the world? We don’t know, and neither does Google. However, Google does know the name of every single mayor New York has ever had, and that surely means the “Mayor of New York City” is a very significant one. He or she leads an organization that has a budget of over 70 billion dollars and employs 330,000 people. That’s a lot more than in your average city. Until today there have been 109 NYC mayors. Let’s take a look at a couple of exceptional ones from recent times.

    Fiorello La Guardia
    La Guardia’s nickname, “Little Flower,” is derived from his Italian first name and refers to his height of only about 5’2” (1.57 m). His legacy as mayor, however, is one of the most impressive. He was in office from 1934 to 1945. During his term, he primarily concentrated on the reconstruction and maintenance of the then-dilapidated infrastructure. Parks, highways, an airport, and countless apartment buildings for social housing were built from the ground up. At the same time, he was highly successful in fighting the then-notorious corruption and organized crime. His name and accomplishments are remembered with an airport, a street in Manhattan, and a sculpture on that street.

    Ed Koch
    Ed Koch was mayor from 1978 to 1989. His accomplishments were numerous. Like La Guardia, he was responsible for the construction of lots of housing for socially disadvantaged people. He was the first mayor to create laws against the discrimination of LGBTQ employees of the City of New York. However, he wasn’t always on the same wavelength as his citizens. For one, he was an ardent supporter of the death penalty, which repeatedly earned him violent criticism from New Yorkers. The eternal bachelor liked to ride the subway, and he’d often walk up to strangers on a crowded street corner and ask them how they were doing.

    Rudy Giuliani
    Giuliani was mayor of New York from 1994 to 2011. During his term, crime rates sunk at an unprecedented rate. New York City was suddenly one of the safest cities in the USA, which simultaneously made for a dramatic economic and touristic boom. Mayor Giuliani’s zero-tolerance politics, however, did not come without their price, and he certainly wasn’t loved by everyone. Some circles accused him of stifling the city’s spirit. All in all, however, even today most people seem to think he made the city more livable for everybody. In his last year of service, he had to act as a crisis manager in the largest catastrophe the city had ever seen—the attacks of September 11th.

    Michael Bloomberg
    After La Guardia and Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg was the third-ever Republican mayor in the history of the city to win the re-election. As in the case of his two predecessors, his views differed drastically from those of the mother party, especially on social issues. He was mayor from 2002 to 2013. During his time in office, he resigned from the Republican party and became an independent. As one of the richest men in the world, he renounced his salary and worked for a symbolic $1 per year. His time in office was characterized by economic upswing and great progress in quality of life. He has left a visible legacy in the city’s new car-free zones, bike paths, the bike-sharing program Citibike, and many other projects. However, he was often accused of being too closely associated with wealthy circles—it’s not quite clear if all New York citizens profited equally from the economic upturn. Bloomberg also created a law that secured him a third term in office, which earned him lots of criticism.

  • Cats don’t just rule the internet: they also rule thousands of New York shops.

    It’s midnight on a Friday night in New York. An elegantly-dressed couple in a black suit and evening gown, a group of raucus students, and a cat are all in the same room. This could only be one place: a bodega. Peoples’ reasons for visiting these shops may be quite different: the elegant couple may want to buy gum; the students may want beer. And the cat? The cat just lives there. But they’re all in the bodega on purpose.

    Bodegas, also called delis or green grocers, are New York’s independent grocery stores. There are about 12,000 of them in the city, so you’ll find one (or two) on almost every street block. Most of these tiny stores are stuffed to the brim with groceries, soft drinks, beer, cigarettes, umbrellas, cleaning products, toilet paper, light bulbs, cash machines, and many other things that are often needed urgently but don’t in themselves justify a trip to the supermarket.

    Interestingly, bodegas are all comparable in appearance. The aisles are so narrow that there’s hardly room for two people to pass each other; the light flickers; the air is stuffy; the cashier yells down at you from a raised counter, surrounded by more products on display. With a little luck, he (rarely she) is the friendly or quiet type. The chances that he’s grumpy, however, are high. Bodegas have a long tradition behind them, which is probably one of the reasons that national giants like 7 Eleven have long since cleared out of New York.

    The stores, and even more their owners, are symbols of the city’s constant state of flux. Two centuries ago they were all called ‘delis’ and were mostly owned by Jewish immigrants. The word deli is still often used to describe the few of these shops that also sell prepared food. In the first half of the last century, most of them were taken over by Latin American immigrants. Accordingly, people began to call them ‘bodegas.’ A couple of decades later, the Koreans took over the shops and the term ‘Korean groceries’ became popular (though it has since been abandoned due to its inaccuracy and political incorrectness). This variety was best known for its wide selection of fresh vegetables and fruit. At a certain point, both the names of these shops and the wares they sell have been diversified to the point that easy classification is nearly impossible. Recently it’s become clear that small businesses in New York face an uphill battle. Steep rent prices and the sudden interest of international chains in New York real estate have led to a consistent decrease in the number of the city’s bodegas.

    And what do New Yorkers who are otherwise no strangers to change or gentrification think about this trend? They hate it! They notice that the new chains sell neither alcohol nor cigarettes nor lottery tickets. Or they notice that there’s no place to leave the apartment keys for a couple of hours for guests arriving from out of town. Or they miss the skinny, hungry cats that saunter around and lend many of the bodegas a distinctive atmosphere—perhaps because these cats are reminders of the charming fact that New York often sees basic rules broken in broad daylight. Or perhaps because most New Yorkers just don’t like rodents.

  • The Really-Important Packing List for New York

    Optimal Weight
    At LOCALIKE, we generally maintain a very relaxed relationship to calories—after all, we only recommend restaurants that we’ve already tried out ourselves. Considering the city has a good 25,000 restaurants, you should plan to arrive hungry. The variety is difficult to believe. From delicious tacos for $3 to a feast in a world-class restaurant, there’s no cuisine in the world that isn’t represented here. Last year, 99 Michelin stars were awarded in New York. If, on your visit, you like the Big Apple so much that you decide to stay, you could eat at a different restaurant every day for 68 years.

    Scarf
    No matter which time of year you come to New York, it never hurts to bring a scarf along in your suitcase. Our limited knowledge of meteorology prevents an accurate explanation of why this happens, but a large collection of very high buildings seems to create the conditions for spontaneous gusts of wind, even on a mild spring day. And then there are the countless air conditioning systems that can make a room feel positively arctic.

    Dog Treats
    The fact that there are so many people in a limited amount of space in New York doesn’t mean there’s no room for loyal four-legged friends. On the contrary: about 600,000 dogs live in the city. Especially for singles, the “Oh, he’s sooo cute!” line could come in handy. By the way, there are also about a half-million cats in the city. But who has time to win over a cat on their vacation?

    Umbrella
    You’re better off leaving this at home. No umbrella survives for longer than 30 minutes in a real New York storm, and in case you end up in need, you’ll find one for very little money on any corner. No one quite understands how it is that all the umbrella merchants manage to show up within a few minutes of the rain beginning. But it’s very practical.



    Plastic
    This tip goes especially for our European friends: a credit card makes life in New York a thousand times easier.

    Sun Protection
    New York is at about the same latitude as Rome, so the risk of getting a sunburned nose begins as early as April. What’s more, New York has even more hours of sun than Rome does—a whopping 2,535 hours on 269 days, to be exact.

    Curiosity
    Bring along as much of this as you can. Nowhere else on earth has quite as much to discover.



    Charm
    This won’t hurt, either—especially not in New York.

    An Almost Empty Suitcase
    Since we’re on the subject of packing: sure, it’s good to be prepared for everything. At the same time, though, we’d recommend traveling as lightly as possible. In New York there’s no shortage of opportunities to fill up your suitcase for the way home. Some of you may catch the famous/infamous shopping fever; others will just need room to store all the experiences…

  • 10 Tips for a Seamless Transition into New York Life

    LOCALIKE is at home in New York. Visitors often ask us how to avoid sticking out, so we’ve written down important ten things to keep in mind. These tips will help you experience New York like a local.

    1. The sidewalk is really a highway.
    New Yorkers are high-velocity creatures. It seems like they’re always in a rush or running late. Because it’s often fastest to get from one place to another on foot, the sidewalks are sometimes comparable to highways (complete with invisible divided lanes). Accordingly, there are several unspoken traffic rules. So that the traffic flow stays consistent, New Yorkers stay to the right. If they have to stop or change pace, they move to the side and make way for the eternally frazzled ones behind them to avoid being trampled. Another unwritten rule is not to walk side by side when traveling in large groups; rather, proceed single-file. This way, the pedestrians in a hurry can still get by and everyone can get to their respective destinations at their desired tempos—and usually in a zig-zag.



    2. Choose the right shoes.
    New York women are known for their love of high-heeled shoes, but you’ll rarely see evidence of this on the street. Why? New York is a city of pedestrians and many streets are uneven or made of cobblestone. For this reason, women often hide high heels away in handbags and replace them on the sidewalk by flats or sneakers that will get them more comfortably from A to B. As soon as they’ve reached their destination, they change into high heels and restore their trademark New York look. P.S.: if your handbag is too small, we’d recommend taking a taxi or Uber. This way you’ll save yourself both blisters and a stressful trek through the city.

    3. Don’t avoid visiting museums on the basis of their entrance prices.
    Culture is a high priority in New York, and although it isn’t really publicized, the entrance prices at many of the city’s big museums are only recommendations. That means you can often decide what you’d like to pay (even if it’s only a dollar). Before you decide against visiting a museum because of its high entrance fee, it’s worth doing a little research online (or asking LOCALIKE).

    4. Don’t get into empty subway cars.
    It’s rush hour on a hot summer day and every single subway car is packed except for one…score? Afraid not! There’s probably a very good reason the car is empty. The air conditioning might have gone off (the least of all possible evils) or there may be something in there causing an ungodly stench. In any case, don’t be seduced by the generous amounts of space—your nose will thank you. Trust us. :)

    5. Ask for directions.
    New Yorkers can be brash if you get in their way (keyphrase: fast walking), but if you ask them a question they’re usually very friendly and willing to help. Sometimes they’re even proud to show off how NYC-savvy they are, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions or for the best subway connection. Sometimes locals will even come up and offer their help before you even knew you needed any.

    6. Become a master of the MetroCard.
    Visitors often struggle with the New York subway card. How should you swipe it? How fast should you pull it through? Which side should the magnetic strip be facing? We’d recommend keeping cool and getting your card out before you even enter the subway station. Make sure the magnetic strip is facing inward (or left) and pull the card through the reader at a medium, casual pace—like a local.



    7. Exit taxis on the right.
    Always exit taxis on the right-hand side, unless you’d like a bicyclist stuck to your open door.

    8. Keep your celebrity cool.
    New York hosts a high concentration of celebrities in a relatively small space, so the chances of seeing someone famous are quite high. In general, New Yorkers don’t ask for autographs or photos. Smile and walk on LOCALIKE-style. If you’re having trouble containing your excitement, you can always share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    9. Please wait to be seated.
    New York restaurants usually have a “please wait to be seated” policy. While in most European restaurants you can go ahead and pick out tables yourself, in New York, guests should consult the host at the entrance before sitting, regardless of how full—or empty—the restaurant is. The host’s tasks are to bring guests to their tables, to make sure that each server has a more or less equal number of tables, and to prevent general chaos. The latter rarely works ;)

    10. Don’t rent a car.
    New York is not a city for car-driving tourists, at least not when you’d like to be in Manhattan and the surrounding areas—there’s too much traffic and too little parking. What’s more, you’d be surrounded by wild, fearless drivers and unpredictable pedestrians and bike couriers. Do as the New Yorkers do: walk, use public transportation, or flag down a taxi. Finally, try not to spend too much time in Times Square. The “center of the universe” has amazing magnetism and should be a stop for anyone traveling to New York; however, the real city exists in the neighborhoods and on the streets outside of Times Square, in Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, in the restaurants, bars, and parks. Allow yourself to wander away from the crowd. Want to see the real New York? LOCALIKE is a friend away from home. Its on-site experts show you sides of the city that postcards never would. Like a local. www.LOCALIKE.com

  • The cowardly hunter, a revolution on the toilet, and other New York stories

    What would the world be like without New York? Certainly much less interesting. It would also be lacking certain integral symbols of daily life. Did you know these things were invented in New York? We didn’t, either.

    1. The Teddy Bear – This most classic of stuffed animals was invented in Brooklyn by Morris and Rose Michtom. It was inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt, who on a 1902 hunting trip declined to shoot an injured bear. The name “Teddy” comes from “Theodore.”

    2. Air Conditioning– In 1902, Brooklyn resident Willis Carrier invented a machine designed to prevent paper in printing plants from bending in the summer humidity. The machine’s ability to cool off a room was a happy coincidence that went on to revolutionize daily life in America

    3. Toilet Paper– The first modern, commercially available toilet paper was invented in 1857 by Joseph C. Gayetty, who sold the paper in his Manhattan store. It was made of manila hemp and enriched with aloe vera extract. The best (or worst, depending on your perspective) thing about it: every individual sheet was embossed with his name.

    4. Scrabble –Alfred Mosher Butts, an unemployed architect and anagram zealot from Jackson Heights in Queens, invented this beloved board game in 1938. Fun fact: the street where Butts used to live is marked with a sign in Scrabble language: “35t1Ha1V4e1n1u1e1.” This jumble of numbers and letters includes the name of the street (35th Avenue) and the corresponding Scrabble letter values.

    5. The Remote Control– This technology was developed by the New Yorker Nikola Tesla, who invented a radio-controlled boat in 1898. What at the time was almost impossible to believe is today an integral component of daily domestic life.

    6. Eggs Benedict – In 1894, upon returning to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel after a night on the town, the stockbroker and bonvivant Lemuel Benedikt ordered poached eggs, crispy bacon, toast, and hollandaise sauce. The legendary maître d'hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, found this combination so interesting that he added it to the menu and named it after its inventor.

    7. The Hot Dog – The idea of serving a hot sausage in a bun came from the baker and Coney Island, Brooklyn resident Charles Feltman. Feltman sold his hot dogs at the unbeatable price of a dime ($0.10). The invention was a huge hit and made Feltman into an influential investor in Coney Island—at least until his former employee, Nathan Handwerker, opened a shop of his own and began selling hot dogs for a mere nickel ($0.05).

    8. The ATM (cash machine)– The first prototype for a cash machine was designed by Luther George Simjiam in 1939. Citibank was the first bank that volunteered to test the invention over a 6-month trial period. The test was unsuccessful: too few people used the machine, and those that did were mostly prostitutes and casino visitors. 

    The next time you take out money, eat a hot dog, play Scrabble, or change the TV channel, think of New York. 

  • Hudson Yards: New York’s Newest Neighborhood



    A City in a City
    New York is a pulsating city in constant flux. Some things change subtly and invisibly; others take years to develop and alter the city irrevocably. An example of the latter is the megaproject Hudson Yards in Western Manhattan. Between 8th and 10th Avenues and 30th and 42nd St., that is, where Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and Midtown West intersect, a new city district has emerged. It is the largest private construction project since Rockefeller Center was finished in 1939 and the largest in American history. By 2025, 15 skyscrapers will be built over a space of 395 acres (1,6 million m2). Once the construction is completed, the area, which encompasses 45 city blocks, will house 4,000 apartments. On top of that, 100 stores, a public school, a luxury hotel, several restaurants, and a center for modern art will also open their doors. Altogether over 125,000 people will live and work in the skyscrapers.

    How is a project like this possible in a city as densely populated as New York? The Hudson Yards are in a post-industrial section of Manhattan that was long neglected and unattractive. The Long Island Railroad parks its commuter trains here, and there’s also a railway tunnel to New Jersey. Because both the train station and the tunnel must remain in operation, the neighborhood will be built on top of the train tracks thanks to a 10-acre (four-hectare) platform. The construction will be supported by 300 pillars drilled 79 ft (24 m) deep into massive rock. When the Hudson Yards are completed, a mountain of new skyscrapers will leave Manhattan’s skyline forever changed. The project has been the talk of the town for years. There are three particular topics on peoples’ minds: 

    30 Hudson Yards
    When it is completed, the skyscraper 30 Hudson Yards will be the tallest building in the new district and the second-tallest in New York. At a towering 1296 ft (395 m), it will surpass the Empire State Building by 46 ft (14 m). Among the highlights is the highest outdoor viewing platform in the city. The building is scheduled to open in 2019.



    The Vessel
    A public park stretching across five acres (20’000 m2) will be home to 28,000 plants and 200 different tree species. In the middle of the garden, a sculpture called “The Vessel” will act as the heart of the new city district. The main component of the accessible structure, which is reminiscent of a beehive, is 154 interlocking stairways consisting of a total of 2,500 steps. While the diameter of the building is about 50 ft (15 m) on the ground, up on the 15th floor it’s a whopping 148 ft (45 m). The steps of the walk-in sculpture lead to 80 balconies, all of which serve as viewing platforms. The monument was developed by the British star architect, artist, and designer Thomas Heatherwick.



    The Shed
    The Shed will be New York’s most up-and-coming cultural center. The six-floor building was designed by the award-winning architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It’s already clear that the building will be an architectural highlight when it opens. One section of the building can be extended and drawn back in to adapt to cultural events of all kinds. In summer, there’s enough room for large outdoor events, and in the colder months the indoor halls can be used for concerts or other large events. The Shed will host music, art exhibitions, installations, dance performances, etc., and thereby become a new cultural hot spot in New York. New York Fashion Week is already in conversation with the building and plans to move in after the latter opens in 2019.



    This gigantic project will allow for an enriching new attraction in New York City.