WATCH: An insider's guide to NYC's best street food

Strap on your bib and put on your eatin' pants. The Food Warriors are back with a second season of their wonderful web series about good NYC grub, and they begin by taking the A train to 145th St, in Harlem's historic Sugar Hill.

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Shadows from NYC supertowers are a bummer

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Some New Yorkers are upset about the shadows cast by the new supertower skyscrapers near Central Park and other public hang-outs. Above, the shadow of One57, an 85-story skyscraper currently under construction, on Central Park. At a community meeting on the issue, the president of Extell Development, the firm behind One57, responded that "the shadows cast by tall, slender buildings, which is what most of the buildings going up are, are very brief — maybe they're 10 minutes in any one place — and cause no negative effect on the flora or fauna of the park." According to City Councilman Corey Johnson, the apartments in the superpowers "are being sold to foreign investors, who have tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, who are not making this their primary home." Central Park receives 40 million visitors annually. "New Yorkers Protest Long Shadows Cast By New Skyscrapers" (NPR)

The Chelsea Hotel: Warhol, Burroughs, and Nico

Here's a curious clip of Andy Warhol and William S. Burroughs having a chat at the iconic Chelsea Hotel in NYC. The topic is chicken fried steak. It's followed by the lovely Nico singing "Chelsea Girls." The video is from a 1981 BBC documentary about The Chelsea that you can watch in full right here. (via Dangerous Minds)

Stunning photo of NYC's last 2013 sunrise

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BB pal Scott Matthews took this magnificent photo of New York City during the last sunrise of 2013. The view is looking east from Morningside Heights, across Harlem and Central Park, toward the smokestacks at Queens' Astoria Generation Station. Click to see it larger. Scott says:

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Inside NYC's Balthazar bistro

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Balthazar is my favorite restaurant in New York City. Sometimes when I visit, I eat both lunch and dinner at the SoHo brasserie. It's good that I don't live in NYC because I'd be washing dishes there to work off my addiction to their steak frites. Apparently, one in 10 people order the steak frites. I learned this from Willy Staley's fascinating New York Times Magazine article this week, "22 Hours in Balthazar":

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What it's like to live in a 300-year-old farmhouse in New York City

The Vander-Ende Onderdonk House, on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, is the oldest surviving Dutch Colonial house in NYC. It is not just a museum. Real people live in it, too, navigating low ceilings, strange angles, and a creepy cellar full of almost four centuries of artifacts.

Subway Ballet

BB contributor Mark Dery points us to a lovely New York Time video and article about "Subway Ballet." Mark says:

Like breakdancing, parkour, urban climbing, and Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the World Trade Towers, this is my idea of the inspired wedding of art, sport, and what Hakim Bey called "temporary autonomous zones"---brief-lived pockets of anarcho-carnivalesque resistance to…call it what you will: the daily grind, the status quo, the "unitary urbanism" imposed on city life by capitalism.
Subway Ballet

I still love New York, the t-shirt

"I Still Love NY" shirt by Sebastian Errazuriz. Available at Grey Area. 100% of proceeds go to Sandy Relief. Photo by Clayton Cubitt.

New York City in post-storm darkness: photos by Randy Scott Slavin

NYC UNPLUGGED, a series by photographer Randy Scott Slavin documenting the darkness in New York City after Hurricane Sandy caused widespread power outages:

New York City is always bright. Street lights, business marquees, light from apartments and car headlights merge to light every corner of the city streets, even on the darkest nights. It is the night after NYC was decimated by Hurricane Sandy, downtown NYC is in the midst of a power outage that has plunged it into complete darkness. I felt the call to hit the eerily dark streets and show New York as it is rarely seen. Trekking around with my tripod I was able to get the long exposures necessary to see in the dark.

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The crowd psychology of Grand Central Station

New York's Grand Central Terminal, as it currently stands today, was built between 1903 and 1913. But it is the third Grand Central. Two earlier buildings — one called Grand Central Depot, and the other known as Grand Central Station (which remains the colloquial name for the Terminal) — existed on pretty much the exact same spot. But neither lasted nearly as long. The Depot opened in 1871, and was drastically reconstructed in 1899. The new building, the Station, only stood for three years before it began to come down in sections, eventually replaced by the current building.

That's a lot of structural shuffling, and at the Anthropology in Practice blog, Krystal D'Costa explains some of the history behind it. Turns out, the rapid reconfiguration of Grand Central had a lot to do with crowd control — figuring out how to use architecture to make the unruly masses a little more ruly. One early account that D'Costa quotes describes regular mad scrambles to board the train — intimidating altercations that could leave less-aggressive passengers stranded on the platform as their train left them behind.

The problem it seemed was that the interior of the depot did nothing to manage the Crowd—which could resume the same patterns of movement as they did on the street—and believe me, it was just as unruly out there. In the depot, where passengers were confronted with the unbridled power of locomotives, it was necessary to impose some sort of structure to the meeting: the Crowd had to be domesticated.

... A deadly collision in 1902 preceded public demand for an even safer, more accessible terminal. Warren and Wetmore won the bid for reconstruction, and the plan they produced included galleries, which added yet another transition area but, more importantly, rendered the Crowd into a spectacle. This design, which is the one visitors experience today, preserves the Crowd in a central area, providing raised balconies from which there are plenty of opportunities to people-watch. Being placed on display is not lost on the subconscious of the Crowd: what appears to be hustle and bustle are manifestations of many synchronizations happening at once. So what appears to be chaos to the casual observer is actually a play directed by design that makes the Crowd a key feature of the space even as it is minimized by the architectural elements that Grand Central Terminal is known for: the grand ceiling, the large windows, and the deep main concourse. These items add perspective to the Crowd and diminish its psychological power as an uncontrollable mass.

Read the rest of the story at Anthropology in Practice

Image: Grand Central Terminal, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from maha-online's photostream

Fake celebrity pranks New York City in social experiment caught on video

Brett Cohen pranked NYC on the night of July 27th, 2012, and he has video proof: he "came up with a crazy idea to fool thousands of pedestrians walking the streets of Times Square into thinking he was a huge celebrity," and succeeded.

He is not a celebrity—or at least, he wasn't before this video went viral. He's a 21 year old SUNY New Paltz student. Snip from the project description:

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A moveable mosque: One young Muslim woman's daily photoblog (video)

The "30 Mosques" guys are producing some wonderful "30 Days Ramadan" videos this year that really give you a sense of what it's like to be a Muslim person in America. I enjoyed this one, featuring a young woman named Deena who loses her job, then decides chronicle her life through a photoblog. More about the project here. Subscribe to their video channel here. Deena's photoblog is here, and full of beautiful things. (thanks, Bassam Tariq!)

Should you buy an unlimited-ride Metrocard?

Unless you count a three-month internship in college, I've never lived in New York City. But, between friends and work, I've managed to visit every couple years or so and I've nearly always picked up an unlimited-ride Metrocard for my week in town. Turns out, choosing to do so is an excellent example of Maggie not being super great at math. Michael Moyer has plotted out the numbers on unlimited-ride Metrocards. He says the purchase only makes sense if you're riding a lot—averaging 14 rides a week for the 7-Day-Pass or 12 rides a week for the 30-Day-Pass. Any less and you're actually better off paying a la carte.

Space Shuttle Enterprise floats to a new home: New York's Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum (photos)

Photo: C.S. MUNCY

The Space Shuttle Enterprise (OV-101) floated to its "retirement home" today, Wednesday June 6, 2012: the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. The museum's Space Shuttle Pavillion will open on July 19. The arrival of Enterprise was planned for 24 hours earlier, but weather delayed. During its voyage by water, the barge carrying Enterprise moved too close to the Jamaica Bay Bridge and clipped the Shuttle's wing. Ouch. But, you know: sadly, it's not like they're gonna need that wing for space travel now.

Special thanks to photographer C.S. Muncy, who is pretty intrepid himself—we understand these terrific shots cost him quite a sunburn.

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How to: Experience Manhattanhenge

Step 1, naturally, is to be in Manhattan.

I'm in New York City today and Scientific American contributing editor Steven Ashley was kind enough to reminded me that my visit is coinciding with Manhattanhenge—a twice-a-year event when the sun lines up with Manhattan's street grid. This year, there will be a Manhattanhenge on May 29/30 and another on July 11/12.

You'll note that Manhattanhenge does not actually occur on the same day as the solstice—when the Sun is at the highest point in the sky and the length of the day begins to get either longer (winter solstice) or shorter (summer solstice). That's because Manhattan's grid is rotated 30 degrees east off of true north, writes Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Hayden Planetarium website. That's enough to make Manhattanhenge less astronomically accurate than Stonehenge. But it's still awfully nifty and is supposed to look really, really cool.

Tonight's event should start around 8:17 pm (Eastern time, of course). Here's Neil deGrasse Tyson's advice on getting a good view:

For best effect, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible. But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas.

Note that any city crossed by a rectangular grid can identify days where the setting Sun aligns with their streets. But a closer look at such cities around the world shows them to be less than ideal for this purpose. Beyond the grid you need a clear view to the horizon, as Manhattan has across the Hudson River to New Jersey. And tall buildings that line the streets create a vertical channel to frame the setting Sun, creating a striking photographic opportunity.

Read the rest at the Hayden Planetarium website

Check out some reader-submitted photos of Manhattanhenge that Xeni posted last year.

Image: Manhattanhenge 2011 | The Commuter, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 59949757@N06's photostream