Marvel at New York City in this 1911 documentary travelogue

This film of New York City was shot in 1911, and it is in excellent condition. Everything is in sharp focus. It is as vibrant and picturesque as a Scorcese period film. Almost everyone wears a hat. All the men wear suits and ties. There are all kinds of public transportation - trolleys, cable cars, trains. Lots of horse-drawn carriages, and more automobiles than I would have guessed.

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Cars parked on the mean streets of mid-1970s New York City

Cars: New York City, 1974–1976 collects over 100 of Langdon Clay's creepy shots of cars parked overnight on the streets of New York at its lowest ebb. The scenes evoke Taxi Driver, The Warriors, even a little Snake Plisken. Read the rest

1993 New York City recorded in high-definition DVHS format

This remarkably clear VHS footage of Clinton-era yuppies who are now retirement age will either take you back to a more innocent time, or give you a good glimpse of what yuppie scum looked like back in the day. Read the rest

The man who literally sniffed out the problems in NYC's subway

In the early 20th century, James "Smelly" Kelly used his legendary sense of smell and DIY inventions to find hazards, leaks, elephant poop, and eels that were causing problems in the New York City subway system. Atlas Obscura's Eric Grundhauser profiles the the man known as The Sniffer:

In addition to finding water leaks and plumbing issues, Kelly was also responsible for detecting dangerous gas and chemical leaks. From invisible gas fumes that could be ignited by a random spark, to gasoline draining into the system from above-ground garages, Kelly was there to find them out using his allegedly hypersensitive nose.

The most sensational tale of Kelly’s sense of smell was the time he was called to a 42nd Street station to suss out a stench that had overtaken the platforms. According to Kelly’s own account, the smell was so bad it almost bowled him over, but as he got his head back in the game, he pinpointed the source of the reek as… elephants. Amazingly, he was correct. The station in question had been built beneath the location of the old New York Hippodrome, which had been torn down in 1939. The Hippodrome had often featured a circus, and layers of elephant dung had ended up buried at the site. A broken water main had rehydrated the fossilized dung and subsequently leaked into the subway. Until, that is, Smelly Kelly was able to identify it.

"The Man Who Used His Nose to Keep New York’s Subways Safe" (Atlas Obscura) Read the rest

Pensive film blends wisdom and vignettes of New York with Alicia Keys' music

"You have to be able to put yourself in a place to be able to see things." Alicia Keys' “The Gospel” juxtaposes gorgeous black and white footage of everyday New York with profound insights from those who live there. Read the rest

Video: party with Keith Haring on New Year's Eve 1984

Keith Haring's New Year's Eve party in downtown Manhattan, 1984, as documented by video artist Nelson Sullivan. Those were the daze. (r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)

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Ultra-rich people in NYC demand apartments with (gasp) driveways

The hot new amenity that NYC developers are building into their plans for luxury apartment buildings is a porte-cochère, aka a fancy driveway. In fact, in Manhattan an opulent private drive may actually add more value to a new property than using that same real estate for additional living space. Then again, why choose! From Bloomberg:

The trend towards motor courts has accelerated notably in the last two years, according to Kent Security’s Alon Alexander, who has seen a major uptick in inquiries from luxury developers on how best to incorporate the feature in an architectural brief. They’re driven, of course, by twin concerns: privacy and security.

There’s also a less concrete allure to motor courts: in a city where developers want to wring maximum value from every square foot, there’s an extravagance in leaving such a large space empty. It tacitly telegraphs a developer’s largesse and indulgence, at least according to Alon Alexander’s twin brother, Oren. He is a sales executive for 565 Broome. “A regular developer might squeeze a retail site, or extra amenities like a larger lobby, from that space but a driveway is the definition of luxury,” Oren says by cellphone, “It’s space where you don’t typically get it.” Jasmine Mir, CMO of Corcoran Sunshine, puts its more simply. “Buying a penthouse at the top of a building is one thing, but the sense of extravagance and luxury associated with having space at street level in a congested place like New York? It gives an amazing sense of wow!

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Coming soon to New York, an underground park: The Lowline

Do you like the Highline park in Manhattan? There's a subterranean version coming soon. The Lowline looks like it's going to be amazing.

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Freedom Tower displays pride colors

New York governor Andrew Cuomo released this photo last night of 1 World Trade Center displaying the pride colors.

“From Stonewall to marriage equality to protecting transgender individuals to the first-in-the nation executive action to ban conversion therapy, New York has led the way in the fight for LGBT rights. In this state, we believe that no matter your race, creed, color, gender identity or expression you have the right live your life free from persecution and prejudice.

"This senseless act of terror reminds us that there are those who seek to undermine these very values and the progress we have achieved. We will not let this happen. An attack on one is an attack on all. New York joins the rest of the nation in rejecting this hate, fear and extremism and stands shoulder to shoulder with the LGBT community.

“Tonight, I am directing One World Trade Center to be lit the colors of the pride flag in a tribute to LGBT Americans and the lives that were lost. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest thoughts and prayers to those affected by this horrendous tragedy.”

This gesture will doubtless draw irritated sighs from the New York Times, which published a column by Frank Bruni making clear that the slaughter of 50 people at a gay nightclub by a homophobic terrorist isn't about gay people, who should accept that "this isn’t a moment for identity politics" which "could muddle the significance of the carnage." Read the rest

Iconic NYC record store Other Music to shut its doors

Other Music, my favorite New York City record store, is closing down after more than two decades in the East Village. Other Music was a hub of avant-garde culture both locally and via their phenomenal weekly newsletter reviewing new releases, from experimental electronica to post-punk indie to freaky psych reissues, and everywhere in between. Whenever I visited Manhattan, I made a beeline to Other Music, and loved hearing staff recommendations (and peeking at what other customers were buying).

“We still do a ton of business — probably more than most stores in the country,” co-owner Josh Madell told the New York Times. “It’s just the economics of it actually supporting us — we don’t see a future in it. We’re trying to step back before it becomes a nightmare.”

Business has dropped by half since the store’s peak in 2000, when it did about $3.1 million in sales, said Chris Vanderloo, who founded the shop with Mr. Madell and Jeff Gibson after the three met as employees at the music spinoff of Kim’s Video in the early ’90s. (Mr. Gibson left Other Music’s day-to-day operations in 2001.)

Rent, on the other hand, has more than doubled from the $6,000 a month the store paid in 1995, while its annual share of the building’s property tax bill has also increased with the local real estate market.

Other Music, I will miss you.

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NYC's 'Food Warriors' head to Rockaway on the A-Train for cheap eats, in series finale

“Food Warriors,” the wonderful street food video series created by Rafi Kam, Dallas Penn, and Casimir Nozkowski, just published a wonderful new episode focused on the cheap eats of Rockaway Beach and Far Rockaway.

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Crane collapse kills one in New York City

A huge crane toppled in New York City this morning, killing someone in a parked car and injuring several others. CBS reports that high winds were blamed for the collapse. Read the rest

In “Food Warriors,” NYC subway grub sleuths find A+ ethnic eats in Richmond Hill, Queens

There's a wonderful new episode out from Food Warriors, the delightful NYC street eats web series starring Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, and directed by Casimir Nozkowski.

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ISIS threatens NYC and DC

ISIS, or as they hate to be called, Daesh, released a video online Wednesday threatening an imminent attack on New York City.

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Enjoy this fucking tour of fucking New York City

Makes me want to hop on a fucking plane to NYC right now. (mediocrefilms)

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NYC rats walking upright, holding rodent Burning Man

Pizza Rat was just the most brazen example of the rats that are apparently ravaging New York City this year. Apparently it's a record year for the number of rodent complaint calls that citizens have made to the city of New York.

Manhattan Upper West Side resident Nora Prentice says this about an infestation of hundreds of rats in her neighborhood park:

"It's like the Burning Man of rats," she told the Associated Press. "They're just sitting there in a lawn chair waiting for you."

Meanwhile city comptroller Scott Stringer has noticed that rodent evolution has apparently gone awry: "I've seen rats walking upright, saying, 'Good morning, Mr. Comptroller,'" he said. "It's unsightly to see rats running through neighborhoods like they actually bought a co-op somewhere."

I suggest that the city issue every brave soul a copy of Ike Matthews' 1898 classic book "Full Revelations of a Professional Rat-Catcher After 25 Years' Experience." Read the rest

Jill Freedman's gripping 1970s NYC documentary photography

In the 1970s, documentary photographer Jill Freedman, now 75, embedded herself with New York City firefighters and police officers, capturing the grit, humor, and humanity of those individuals and others she encountered in her travels through the hidden narratives of Manhattan. NYC's Steven Kasher Gallery has a show of Freedman's work opening September 17 and CNN interviewed the photographer about her life behind the lens.

"I wanted to tell stories, and if nobody would send me," she said, "I would just go."

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