Slate has a fun four-minute video of Brooklyn’s evolution on screen over the last seven decades—from the borough that everyone was trying to get out of to the borough that everyone was trying to get into, from dump to dog-walkers’ paradise and everything in between.
Speaking of how things used to be… remember the days before the High Line opened and everyone started championing the next and better variation of the High Line? It seems like a long, long time ago at this particular moment, with a new article in The New York Times about the Queensway coming on the heels of this year’s anti-gala fundraiser for the “Lowline.” Though this article does not proclaim the imminent transformation of Queens’ elevated rail, but simply the results of a mostly unfunded plan that the Trust for Public Land developed after months of study. The Queensway could be “an outdoor classroom, a commuter route, a bicycle trail, an arts hub, a showcase for ethnic foods and a verdant balm for a park-starved corner of Queens.” Just add $122 million, $1.2 million of which have been raised.
And speaking of raising things: The Times ponders the topping out of 432 Park this past Friday, from which one might conceivably look down on the Empire State Building. Only, while the view from the top is a luxury that few will have, the rest of the city has to stare at the erection, a state of affairs that developer Harry Macklowe celebrated when he complimented his handwork Friday, referring to it as “almost like the Mona Lisa… except instead of it looking at you, you’re looking at it wherever you are. You can’t escape it.”
Also, an excellently odd quote about 432 Park from Empire State Building rival Tony Malkin, who calls it “medieval” noting “that’s where towers come from, the Middle Ages. The wealthy built them for protection and isolation from the city below.”
Protection and isolation are just what the U.S. government is concerned at the Waldorf Astoria, the popular hotel for presidential visits as well as the home of the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., after its $1.95 billion sale from the Hilton Group to a Chinese insurance company, according to The Associated Press. The government is reportedly worried about security during renovations and, as the AP notes, “routinely warns U.S. diplomats in China about physical and electronic surveillance and tells American citizens in the country to be aware of similar risks, notably in hotels.”
Rats! Researchers at Columbia studied Manhattan street rats and found an abundance of pathogens in the creatures, The Times reports, including Seoul hantavirus and lots of bugs that cause food poisoning.
Is bad subway behavior as impossible to eliminate as befurred rodents? Gothamist asks the MTA why, with all the banana peel dropping, nail clipping, leg spreading and bare feet, we don’t try etiquette posters. Spokesman Adam Lisberg says, “”You can go back in history and see old examples of etiquette posters here and elsewhere. People literally never learn.”
Gary Barnett is in talks with Calvary Baptist to buy its church and the neighboring hotel it owns at 123 W. 57th Street, according to The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Barnett’s intentions are unclear, but he also owns a 15-story building backing up onto the site and a hotel site at 134 W. 58th. Could a third Extell skyscraper be in the works on 57th Street?
Some people won’t quit when they’re ahead. Others won’t quit when they’re behind. Forest City Ratner is trying to sell a development site it owns in Downtown Brooklyn for $185 million, according to Crain’s. Alternately, the developer is looking for a partner to build a residential tower on the site, a task which has not been going very well at nearby Atlantic Yards.
It’s no 57th Street, but could East Harlem be on its way to a tower of neighborhood-setting height? Crain’s says yes, given that a Con Ed engineer spotted with blueprints of the electrical systems in the proposed tower offers “the most concrete sign to date… that Harlem’s tallest tower will rise on the site,” but declines to give his name. What’s more, the paper argues, 125th Street is taking clues from its better-developed sibling West Harlem, citing the topping out of the restored Corn Exchange building and a new streetscape park.