men of manhattan
The Awl interviewed Jonathan Van Meter, the man who penned the much beloved/much maligned New York Magazine essay “I Hate Brooklyn” back in 2005. Mr. Van Meter’s essay included a multitude of wonderful zingers, including his thoughts on a visit to Brooklyn Heights: “You can see the entirety of Manhattan across the river, a fact I found both oddly comforting and deeply disturbing. Why can’t we just be over there, in actual Manhattan?”
Battle of the Boroughs
While living in some rundown old industrial building in Williamsburg has a certain appeal, you might be better off renting in Soho if you want to save money, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The acting in Nancy Savoca’s Union Square is so strong it almost makes you forget what a total zero the rest of this undernourished little throwaway film really is. Like another overpraised female director, Lynn Shelton, and her latest chamber-music tedium, Your Sister’s Sister, this lazy little tone poem about two rival and disparate sisters is a talkathon going nowhere. Nothing worth repeating is ever uttered, and nothing worth remembering ever happens. Mercifully, it is over in 80 minutes.
We hate to admit it but what if Mayor Bloomberg is right? The smoking ban, the bike lanes, the soda ban, the mass force-feeding of cruciferous veggies—all of it may already be making us healthier.
The Lancet has provided a shot in the arm to the mayor’s efforts to control every aspect of his constituents’ lives. New research published in British medical journal indicates that New York City’s life expectancy rate is rising faster than anywhere else in the United States. Between 1987 and 2009, Manhattan’s life expectancy rose by 10 years, the largest increase of any county, and New York’s other four boroughs were all in the top percentile.
“I think this is a very important opportunity for this community to back this avenue, which was given to the developers decades ago,” Nancy Goshow said last Thursday night, during a meeting of Community Board 5. “The developers have gotten all the benefits for too long, and it is time we as a community take back these spaces and really push them to be improved and made as nice as possible.”
Ms. Goshow was one of a majority of board members who declared her support for what has come to be known as 6½th Avenue, a Department of Transportation proposal to link a series of arcades and public plazas running from 51st to 57th streets between Sixth and Seventh avenues. The spaces were created through a special zoning district in the 1980s and early ’90s, and are made up of Zuccotti-like privately owned public space, or POPS. In exchange for building the spaces, developers got the opportunity to build bigger buildings.
Last year, the community board, at the suggestion of Friends of POPS, a pro-POPS civic group, asked the Department of Transportation to study ways it might connect these spaces. They are already a popular pedestrian thoroughfare, especially during lunch time and at rush hour, providing a less hectic alternative to the avenues on either side. The board wanted to make the spaces even more inviting.
Parks funding is something of an obsession around these parts, particularly those open spaces The Observer has deemed libertarian parks, spaces ranging from Brooklyn Bridge Park to the High Line, which are either built or maintained with outside funds. On the one hand, these parks might never have been created without private investment.
On the other, it shows a troubling lack of respect and appreciation for the public trust—where would the city be if the same we-just-can’t-afford-’em attitude of today persisted in the past? Central Park, Prospect Park, Pelham Bay Park, even the controversial work of Robert Moses, would any of it have happened if it had been undertaken by private interests?
Hudson River Park, first proposed in the 1980s, launched a decade later and by all accounts the first libertarian park, has been facing funding shortfalls for years now, hindering the ability of parks officials to finish construction of many of the piers and maintaining the ones it has already redeveloped.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
The folks in upper Manhattan have been voicing their concerns lately: residents of West Harlem can’t stand dog doodoo and residents of Washington Heights and Inwood are protesting the lack of affordable housing options. A group of residents and community gathered over the weekend to speak out against Department of Housing and Preservation neglect, DNAInfo reports.
The residents called for more affordable housing in the neighborhoods, citing that only 139 of the 43,922 new units and 1,363 of the 85,299 preserved units under Bloomberg’s administration have been in either Washington Heights or Inwood.
Although the winter months have historically lowered things like mood, libido, energy and rents, at least one of these has proved impervious to the winter gloom this year. Manhattan rents have actually increased this season, bucking a time old seasonal trend.
Last week, The Observer learned with the help of Rutgers economics professor Jason Barr that the reason for the development of Midtown apart from Lower Manhattan, and the skyscrapers both possess, had nothing to do with bedrock beneath these towers, as had long been believed. Call it the uncanny valley, the soaring mountain range that makes the New York City skyline the best in the world.
Having determined what was not the cause of this unique skyline, The Observer thought we had figured out what was, that being the flight of the wealthy north. But it turns out one very influential urban investigator begged to differ: New Yorker architecture critic and Pullitzer Prize winner Paul Goldberger.
Buzzfeed shot this pretty cool video of a bike ride the entire length of Broadway. The 13-mile ride elapses in only five minutes, but it shows a huge swath of architectural and economic diversity.