kottke.org posts about NYC

Judgmental mapsAug 21 2014

Tumblr of maps of cities with stereotypical labels. For example, NYC, land of Nuclear Industrial Cesspool, Asshole Cops, and Worst Train Station Ever.

Judgmental NYC map

(via subtraction)

Down with Clipboard PeopleAug 09 2014

In the latest installment of his excellent series Ask A Native New Yorker, Jake Dobkin tackles the question of how to react to those people holding clipboards asking if you have a minute for the environment or gay rights or whatever. The short answer is ignore them with "EXTREME PREJUDICE".

This is because Clipboard People are grifters, who, in the name of various causes (Gay Rights, the Environment), have only a single aim: to get your credit card number authorized for recurring payments to a "charity." In fact, the majority of that money does not go to the charity, but goes to pay the salary of the Clipboarder, and the evil canvas organizations that employ them. Even worse, the Clipboarders are themselves exploited-often young idealists from less vicious places, they are brought to New York on the promise of helping a charity they believe in, only to find out they've been dragooned into a commission-based predatory marketing scheme.

Well, good because that's what I've been doing (for other reasons). Instead, give to an efficient charity listed on Charity Navigator.

Milton Glaser, foodieAug 06 2014

Today I learned that iconic designer Milton Glaser co-wrote a column for New York magazine (which he co-founded) about where to find cheap-but-good food in NYC. It was called The Underground Gourmet. Here's a typical column from the October 27, 1975 issue, reviewing a ramen joint in Midtown called Sapporo that is miraculously still around:

Underground Gourmet

Glaser and his co-authior Jerome Snyder eventually packaged the column into a series of books, some of which you can find on Amazon...I bought a copy this morning.

I found out about Glaser's food enthusiasm from this interview in Eye magazine about The Underground Gourmet and his long collaboration with restaurateur Joe Baum of the Rainbow Room and Windows on the World.

We just walked the streets ... When friends of ours knew we were doing it we got recommendations.

There were parts of the city where we knew we could find good places ... particularly in the ethnic parts. We knew if we went to Chinatown we would find something if we looked long enough, or Korea Town, or sections of Little Italy.

More then than now, the city was more locally ethnic before the millionaires came in and bought up every inch of space. So you could find local ethnic places all over the city. And people were dying to discover that. And it was terrific to be able to find a place where you could have lunch for four dollars.

In 2010, Josh Perilo wrote an appreciation of The Underground Gourmet in which he noted only six of the restaurants reviewed in the 1967 edition had survived:

Being obsessed with the food and history of New York (particularly Manhattan), this was like finding a culinary time capsule. I immediately dove in. What I found was shocking, both in the similarities between then and now, and in the differences.

The most obvious change was the immense amount of restaurants that no longer existed. These were not landmarked establishments, by and large. Most of them were hole-in-the wall luncheonettes, inexpensive Chinese restaurants and greasy spoons. But the sheer number of losses was stunning. Of the 101 restaurants profiled, only six survive today: Katz's Delicatessen, Manganaro's, Yonah Schimmel's Knishes Bakery, The Puglia and La Taza de Oro. About half of the establishments were housed in buildings that no longer exist, especially in the Midtown area. The proliferation of "lunch counters" also illustrated the evolution of this city's eating habits. For every kosher "dairy lunch" joint that went down, it seems as though a Jamba Juice or Pink Berry has taken its place.

Man, it's hard not get sucked into reading about all these old places...looking forward to getting my copy of the book in a week or two.

Update: Glaser's co-author Jerome Snyder was also a designer...and no slouch either.

A pickpocket's storyJul 21 2014

Until his recent incarceration, Wilfred Rose was a very successful pickpocket operating on the streets of NYC.

Some of the thieves have a shtick. There is Francisco Hita, who when caught touching someone's wallet, pretends to be deaf, the police say, responding with gesticulations of incomprehension. There is an older man who pretends to be stricken by palsy while on a bus, and then uses a behind-the-back maneuver to infiltrate the pocket of the passenger next to him.

There are flashy dressers, like the 5-foot-3 Duval Simmons, whose reputation is so well known among the police that he says he sometimes sits on his hands while riding the subway, so he cannot be accused of stealing. Mr. Simmons, an occasional partner of Mr. Rose's, said he honed his skills on a jacket that hung in his closet, tying bells to it to measure how heavy his hand was.

Mr. Rose's notoriety stems from how infrequently he has been arrested, and how, at least in the last 15 years, he has never been caught in the act by plainclothes officers.

See also Adam Green's fascinating piece on Apollo Robbins from The New Yorker. Especially the bit about surfing attention:

But physical technique, Robbins pointed out, is merely a tool. "It's all about the choreography of people's attention," he said. "Attention is like water. It flows. It's liquid. You create channels to divert it, and you hope that it flows the right way."

Robbins uses various metaphors to describe how he works with attention, talking about "surfing attention," "carving up the attentional pie," and "framing." "I use framing the way a movie director or a cinematographer would," he said. "If I lean my face close in to someone's, like this" -- he demonstrated -- "it's like a closeup. All their attention is on my face, and their pockets, especially the ones on their lower body, are out of the frame. Or if I want to move their attention off their jacket pocket, I can say, 'You had a wallet in your back pocket -- is it still there?' Now their focus is on their back pocket, or their brain just short-circuits for a second, and I'm free to steal from their jacket."

A day in the life of NYC taxisJul 15 2014

This clever and well-done visualization shows where individual NYC taxis picked up and dropped off their fares over the course of a day.

Day Life Taxi

Mesmerizing. Has anyone done analysis on which drivers are the most effective and what the data shows as the most effective techniques? The best drivers must have their tricks on where to be at which times to get the most fares. (via @dens)

Urban GiantsJul 08 2014

In the early 1930s, Western Union and AT&T built two new buildings in lower Manhattan to house their telecommunications infrastructure. Here's a short film about their construction and ongoing use as hubs for contemporary telecom and internet communications.

Amazing that those buildings are still being used for the same use all these years later...they just run newer and newer technology through the same old conduits.

How graffiti vanished from NYC subwaysJun 27 2014

Nice episode of 99% Invisible on how New York City got rid of the graffiti on all of their subway trains.

For decades, authorities treated subway graffiti like it was a sanitation issue. Gunn believed that graffiti was a symptom of larger systemic problems. After all, trains were derailing nearly every two weeks. In 1981 there were 1,800 subway car fires -- that's nearly five a day, every day of the year!

When Gunn launched his "Clean Trains" program, it was not only about cleaning up the trains aesthetically, but making them function well, too. Clean trains, Gunn believed, would be a symbol of a rehabilitated transit system.

Remember, the train cars used to look like this:

Christopher Morris Subway

Central Park Five suit settledJun 20 2014

NYC and the Central Park Five have agreed to a $40 million settlement that will bring a years-long civil rights lawsuit to an end.

The five men whose convictions in the brutal 1989 beating and rape of a female jogger in Central Park were later overturned have agreed to a settlement of about $40 million from New York City to resolve a bitterly fought civil rights lawsuit over their arrests and imprisonment in the sensational crime.

The agreement, reached between the city's Law Department and the five plaintiffs, would bring to an end an extraordinary legal battle over a crime that came to symbolize a sense of lawlessness in New York, amid reports of "wilding" youths and a marauding "wolf pack" that set its sights on a 28-year-old investment banker who ran in the park many evenings after work.

Ken Burns made a documentary film about this case in 2012. Highly recommended viewing...and you can watch the whole thing on the PBS web site.

1980s NYC subway photosJun 18 2014

You've probably seen Bruce Davidson's photos of the gritty 1980s NYC subway, which were collected into a book published in 1986.

Bruce Davidson, Subway

Earlier this year, Time posted some previously unpublished photos of the NYC subway taken in 1981 by Christopher Morris, an admirer of Davidson's.

Christopher Morris, Subway

How Manhattan neighborhoods got their namesMay 19 2014

While not quite exhaustive in scope, Laura Turner Garrison's piece in Mental Floss about how Manhattan neighborhoods got their names is worthwhile reading.

In recent decades, businesses and real estate agents have tried in vain to clean up the lively reputation of this west side neighborhood by renaming it "Clinton." Gentrification and expansion from the neighboring theater district have certainly helped the beautification cause. Nonetheless, the area spanning 34th Street to 59th Street and 8th Avenue (or 9th, depending on who you ask) to the Hudson River just can't shake the nickname "Hell's Kitchen."

Not included in the piece is the East Village, which was part of the Lower East Side until the 1960s, when the neighborhood's new residents (artists, hippies, Beatniks) and real estate brokers recast the area as the eastern outpost of Greenwich Village. (via digg)

Met puts huge digital image trove onlineMay 19 2014

NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art has made a whopping 400,000 high-resolution digital images of its collection available for free download. You can browse the collection here.

In making the announcement, Mr. Campbell said: "Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain. I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection."

The Metropolitan Museum's initiative-called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC)-provides access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions; these images are now available for scholarly use in any media.

For instance, here's a 12-megapixel image of Rembrandt's 1660 self-portrait...you can see quite a bit of detail:

Rembrandt detail

(thx, fiona)

Update: Wendy Macnaughton on why the high-resolution images released by the Met are such a big deal for art students and art history fans.

For someone who went to art school being able to do this is a revelation. I used to go to the museum with my sketchpad and copy the old masters. I'd get as close as I could to understand the brush strokes, colors, lines. The guards knew who to watch out for and would bark suddenly when we stuck our faces over the imaginary line.

As class assignments we were required to copy hundreds -- literally hundreds -- of the masters drawings and paintings. for those we mostly worked from images in books -- a picture the size of a wallet photo.

Which is one of the many reasons this new met resource is fucking phenomenal.

You can get so, so close -- far closer than one could in real life.

There Will Be Blood with live accompanimentMay 15 2014

The Wordless Music Orchestra will offer live accompaniment of two screenings of There Will Be Blood in NYC in September. The composer of the film's score, Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, will play a musical instrument called the ondes Martenot as part of the performances.

This fall, the Wordless Music Orchestra will once again collaborate with Jonny Greenwood for the U.S. premiere of There Will Be Blood Live: a full screening and live film score to Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 masterpiece, which will be projected onto a massive 50' movie screen at the historic and absurdly beautiful United Palace Theatre: the second-largest movie screen in all of New York City.

For these shows, the film's original score -- comprising music by Jonny Greenwood, Arvo Part, and Brahms -- will be conducted by Ryan McAdams, and performed by 50+ members of the Wordless Music Orchestra, including Jonny Greenwood, who will play the ondes martenot part in both performances of his own film score.

Tickets on sale now. See you there? (thx, gabe)

Free outdoor movies in NYC for summer 2014May 14 2014

NYCgo has an extensive list of all free movie screenings happening around NYC this summer. Most of them are outdoors. Some highlights:

June 22: Coming to America, Habana Outpost
July 9: Jurassic Park, Museum of Jewish Heritage
July 30: The Princess Bride, Riverside Park
July 31: The Hunt for Red October, flight deck of the Intrepid
August 6: The Big Lebowski, McCarren Park
August 8: Groundhog Day, Hudson River Park at Pier 46

Someone should make an iCal/Google Calendar calendar of these screenings.

Update: Tim made a calendar of all the free movie events. (thx, tim!)

Update: And here's a Twitter account you can follow for summer movie reminders: @nycsummerfilms. (via frank)

The New York skyscraper that almost fell overMay 13 2014

You may have previously read about the Citicorp Center. Joe Morgenstern wrote about the Manhattan skyscraper in a classic New Yorker piece from 1995. The building was built incorrectly and might have blown over in a stiff wind if not for a timely intervention on the part of a mystery architecture student and the head structural engineer on the project.

Tells about designer William J. LeMessurier, who was structural consultant to the architect Hugh Stubbins, Jr. They set their 59-story tower on four massive nine-story-high stilts and used an unusual, chevron-shaped system of wind braces. LeMessurier had established the strength of those braces in perpendicular winds. Now, in the spirit of intellectual play, in his Harvard class, he wanted to see if they were just as strong in winds hitting from 45 degrees. He discovered the design flaw and during wind tunnel tests in Ontario learned the weakest joint was at the building's 30th floor.

The whole piece is here and well worth a read. Last month, the excellent 99% Invisible did a radio show about Citicorp Center and added a new bit of information to the story: the identity of the mystery student who prodded LeMessurier to think more deeply about the structural integrity of his building. (via @bdeskin, who apparently factchecked Morgenstern's piece back in the day)

101 things to love about NYCMay 12 2014

101 Things NYC

From the NY Times Magazine in June 1976, a list of 101 things to love about New York City. Some of the list is evergreen:

1. Being nostalgic about things in New York that were never so great.
11. Hating Con Edison.
25. The best water-supply system in the nation.
42. The little red lighthouse still under the great gray bridge.

And other items on the list, not so much:

8. Dialing 873-0404.
24. A broken parking meter.
43. Page 1,029 of the Manhattan telephone directory under "Ng."
57. The personals in The Irish Echo.

Scouting New York has an explanation of some of the items on the list. Apparently 873-0404 was the number for the Dial-A-Satellite hotline; you could call it to get information about satellites passing overhead. (via @mkonnikova)

Louis C.K. seeks cure for the Common CoreMay 01 2014

"My kids used to love math! Now it makes them cry." So tweeted Louis C.K. earlier this week. His opinion of the new math and standardized tests is echoed by a lot of parents who "have found themselves puzzled by the manner in which math concepts are being presented to this generation of learners as well as perplexed as to how to offer the most basic assistance when their children are struggling with homework." Rebecca Mead in the The New Yorker: Louis C.K. Against the Common Core.

NYC fire brigade, circa 1893Apr 25 2014

From the incredible British Pathé archive, film footage from 1893 of the New York City fire brigade rushing to a fire.

Filmed nearly 120 years ago, this is quite possibly the first ever footage of the New York Fire Brigade. The film is very grainy but it clearly shows firemen rushing through New York on horse drawn engines. Behind them, you can see some sort of electric powered streetcar or trolley system with 'Clinton Avenue' on the back.

Cityscapes by Jeremy MannApr 24 2014

Man, I really like these paintings from Jeremy Mann's Cityscape series. Particularly the NYC street scenes, like this one in Hell's Kitchen:

Jeremy Mann

Mann's paintings seem to hold a lot of detail, even up close, but there are also broader strokes visible only from afar. Not sure if that's novel (unlikely) but I haven't seen it elsewhere. (via colossal)

NYC Basic Tips and EtiquetteApr 22 2014

NYC tips and etiquette

Nathan Pyle has written and illustrated a book about the unwritten rules for how to behave on the streets of NYC. It's called NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette (only $6!).

In NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette, Pyle reveals the secrets and unwritten rules for living in and visiting New York including the answers to such burning questions as, how do I hail a cab? What is a bodega? Which way is Uptown? Why are there so many doors in the sidewalk? How do I walk on an escalator? Do we need be touching right now? Where should I inhale or exhale while passing sidewalk garbage? How long should I honk my horn? If New York were a game show, how would I win? What happens when I stand in the bike lane? Who should get the empty subway seats? How do I stay safe during a trash tornado?

In support of the book, Pyle animated a few of the tips and put them on Imgur. Also, the Apple ebook contains the animated versions of the illustrations. You fancy!

Citi Bike swarmsApr 18 2014

Data visualization of Citi Bike trips taken over a 48-hour period in NYC:

Love seeing the swarms starting around 8am and 5:30pm but hate experiencing them. I've been using Citi Bike almost since the launch last year and I can't imagine NYC without it now. I use it several times daily, way more than the subway even. I hope they can find a way to make it a viable business.

Aerial drone video of New YorkApr 18 2014

Drone Week on Kottke continues with this beautiful drone video of NYC from Randy Scott Slavin.

I found two more videos and a bunch of stories about a drone crashing a crime scene last year. (thx, noah)

The type foundry district of NYCApr 08 2014

For the first post on his new blog, Tobias Frere-Jones discovers that most of the type foundries in New York in the 1800s and 1900s were all located within a few blocks of each other in lower Manhattan. Why there? Newspapers and City Hall.

I was able to plot out the locations for every foundry that had been active in New York between 1828 (the earliest records I could find with addresses) to 1909 (see below). All of the buildings have been demolished, and in some cases the entire street has since been erased. But a startling picture still emerged: New York once had a neighborhood for typography.

Gruber beat me to the punch in noting that Frere-Jones' site doesn't use any of the fonts from the company he was recently ousted from but instead a pair of faces (Benton Modern and Interstate) he designed before he formed his partnership with Jonathan Hoefler. Before I discovered Whitney (another Frere-Jones creation), Interstate was my go-to font for graphics for the site. Big TFJ fan, is what I'm saying.

Unleash the maps!Apr 03 2014

Viele Map Close

Last week, the New York Public Library released a massive collection of maps online...over 20,000 maps are available for high-resolution download. An incredible resource.

Design and Violence debatesApr 01 2014

The MoMA is hosting a series of debates on the intersection of design and violence. The first one took place last week and pitted Rob Walker against Cody Wilson on the topic of open source 3D printed guns. The next two center on a machine that simulates the "pain and tribulation" of menstruation and Temple Grandin's humane slaughterhouse designs.

The debates this spring will center upon the 3-D printed gun, The Liberator; Sputniko!'s Menstruation Machine; and Temple Grandin's serpentine ramp. Debate motions will be delivered by speakers who are directly engaged in issues germane to these contemporary designs -- the Liberator's designer Cody Wilson; Chris Bobel, author of New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation, and distinguished professor of law Gary Francione, to name a few. We want them -- and you -- to explore the the limits of gun laws and rights, the democracy of open-source design, the (im)possibility of humane slaughter, and design that supports transgender empathy.

Tickets are still available; only $5 for students!

Death & Co cocktail bookMar 27 2014

Looking forward to this one: a cocktail recipe book from Death & Co, an East Village cocktail joint.

Featuring hundreds of recipes for signature Death & Co creations as well as classic drink formulas,Death & Co is not only a comprehensive collection of the bar's best, but also a complete cocktail education. With chapters on the theory and philosophy of drink-making; a complete guide to the spirits, tools, and other ingredients needed to make a great bar; and specs for nearly 500 iconic drinks, Death & Co is destined to become the go-to reference on craft cocktails.

Fighting the NYC love bluesMar 17 2014

Good advice from Mary Phillips-Sandy on what to do if you love New York but it's bringing you down.

Avoid the following: gourmet cupcake shoppes, Times Square unless you're on a side street and there's a light summer rain falling, Pilates classes, H&M, any place with bottle service, Port Authority, any place where you are likely to feel self-conscious about your outfit, high-end boutiques, people whose default mode of conversation is complaints about New York, people whose default mode of conversation is industry gossip or negativity about other people's career paths or start-ups or book deals or record deals.

Spend as much time as you can with people who are inclined (or willing) to avoid talking about how awful New York is, how hard it is, how much it costs, how it used to be better, how there are no good jobs, how it must be better someplace else. Spend time with the people you moved here to meet.

ICP museum to closeMar 14 2014

Aw man, the International Center of Photography is closing its museum on 6th Ave. The good news is they're planning on reopening in another location.

At our request for an interview, Lubell issued the following statement. "The International Center of Photography has been and continues to be at the center, both nationally and internationally, of the conversation regarding photography and the explosive growth of visual communications. In advancing this conversation, ICP has decided to move its current museum to a new space. This decision reflects the evolution of photography and our role in setting the agenda for visual communications for the 21st century. ICP will announce our future sites this spring. The school will remain at 1114 Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan."

I'm long overdue for a visit...the Capa in Color exhibition looks promising, perhaps I'll stop in this weekend. (via @akuban)

The changes to the SATMar 11 2014

They're changing the SAT and the New Yorker's Cora Frazier has a rundown of some of the modifications made to better reflect "skills they need to succeed in college and afterward".

11. Improving sentences. You receive the following text message: "You're an animal." This is an autocorrection of:

(a) "You're almost at Ludlow."

(b) "Young Leo DiCaprio."

(c) "Do we need eggs?"

(d) No autocorrection.

Bar talkFeb 19 2014

I don't care if all of this vocabulary of NYC's best bars is made up (it sure sounds made up), I still loved reading it. You can totally tell which places are about the drinks, which are about hospitality, which are bitchy, and which are all about the benjamins.

Sipper: A small pour (typically Mother's Milk) gifted to a colleague, loved one, regular, etc.

Amuse-booze (experimental term): A tiny sipper to acknowledge a guest an reassure them they will be served soon.

The Cousins: Affectionate term for other cocktail bars (after the British secret service's name for the CIA in Le Carre's Smiley novels).

Even if it's fake, it's real.

Bike messenger with one legFeb 17 2014

Not sure if he's still out there or not, but Dexter Benjamin has been a bike messenger in NYC for more than 20 years, navigating his bike around the city on only one leg. He lost the leg pushing a boy out of traffic in his native Trinidad. Here's a 2006 interview with Benjamin:

And from the NY Times in 2005, a brief profile.

He came to New York to participate in a marathon, decided to stay, and before long was leaning on a crutch and panhandling in Grand Central Terminal. He spent many nights sleeping in a shelter, and more than one dawn wondering who would stoop to steal a one-legged man's shoe.

Another Trinidad native, Steve Alexis, eventually hired him as a messenger. "He could walk with crutches," Mr. Alexis says. "I figure if he rides a bike, that's even better."

After learning to shift his weight for proper balance, Mr. Benjamin was soon darting through Manhattan streets in a triumphal blur. "I love their reaction when I pass them," he says of others. "They're seeing something impossible."

(thx, porter)

NYC snowboardingFeb 14 2014

This is fucking great and crazy...when the snow hit NYC yesterday, Casey Neistat grabbed his snowboard and went snowboarding behind a Jeep in the East Village.

The motorbike girl gangs of MoroccoFeb 10 2014

Hassan Hajjaj's photos of female motorbike enthusiasts from Morocco are fun.

Hassan Hajjaj Bike

On display at the Taymour Grahne Gallery in NYC through March 7.

And Bloomberg said let there be bike lanesFeb 07 2014

This collection of before-and-after photos of NYC's streets shows how much the Bloomberg administration and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan transformed the city's streets.

NYC streets, before/after

Constructing our cities around cars is one of the biggest mistakes of the 20th century and we're still paying for it. As Kaj Pindal cleverly depicted in his 1966 Oscar-nominated short film What On Earth!, it often seems like cars and not people are the Earth's dominant life form.

(via @anildash)

The Manhattan Winter OlympicsFeb 05 2014

I love this sort of thing: visualizations of Olympic venues plopped into Manhattan to provide a sense of scale. My favorite is the bobsled run in Times Square:

Times Square Bobsled

My son and I were just talking about this and when he asked me, I had no idea how big the track actually was. Can't wait to show him this when I get home tonight.

In other news, the news media has arrived in Sochi and the town doesn't seem to be ready for the Games. Oopsie!

Naturally occurring retirement communitiesJan 31 2014

TIL (today I learned) a new phrase from this article in the Times about a showdown between a McDonald's in Queens and a group of elderly Korean patrons: naturally occurring retirement community (NORC).

The demographic term "NORC" was first coined in the 1980s by Michael Hunt, a professor of urban planning at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He defined NORCs as neighborhoods and housing developments, originally built for young families, in which 50 percent of the residents are 60 years or older and have aged in place. Over time, this threshold definition has been adjusted by communities and policymakers to reflect local residential patterns.

Interestingly, and perhaps surprisingly in an age where government funding of any social program is greeted with derision, NORCs are eligible for funding at local, state, and federal levels to provide support for services for the elderly. For instance, in 2010, there were 27 offical NORCs in NYC.

What counts as a "sizeable elderly population" varies from place to place (and from one level of government to the next), but NORCs are important because once a community meets the respective criteria, it becomes eligible for local, state, and federal funds retroactively to provide that community with the support services elderly populations typically need. These include (but are not limited to): case management and social work services; health care management and prevention programs; education, socialization, and recreational activities; and volunteer opportunities for program participants and the community.

Love this use of funding to support bottom-up behavior. Reminds me of using desire paths to place permanent sidewalks in parks and public spaces.

The best nachos in NYCJan 31 2014

I was just wondering this the other day...where can you get good nachos in NYC? Serious Eats investigates.

Not only are they delicious (when made right, and we'll get to that), but they practically create their own conversation. Everybody has an opinion on how chunky the guacamole should be. We all have feelings about whether chili or beans make a better topping. Who hasn't considered whether or not they'd ever prefer a fresh jalape~no to a pickled one, and who hasn't considered de-friending a friend who dares to express a preference for fresh over pickled? And then there's the ever-raging debate of cheese sauce vs. melted cheese, a subject you might actually consider not broaching in mixed company.

The Godfather shooting locationsJan 27 2014

Great post by Nick Carr on Scouting New York comparing the movie locations in The Godfather to what they look like today.

Because the film is a period piece, The Godfather actually presents a fascinating record of what 1940s-era New York City locations still existed in the early-1970s. Sadly, many of them are now gone. What still remains? Let's take a closer look.

1920s guide to NYC tourist etiquetteJan 27 2014

Gothamist uncovered a NYC guide book from the 1920s called Valentine's City of New York: A Guide Book. Some of the tips include:

Don't take the recommendation of strangers regarding hotels... Don't get too friendly with plausible strangers.

Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable. They are also "smart."

Don't forget to tip. Tip early and tip often.

(via @DavidGrann)

NYC diners in the 90sJan 08 2014

From photographer Greg Alessandrini, a collection of photos of diners in New York City taken in the 1990s. I was pleased to see a shot of Jones Diner, which I ate at several months before moving to NYC:

Jones Diner

It closed shortly before we moved and I never got to eat there again. At the time, word was some condos were being built on the site, but it took ten years for construction to start. What a waste.

BTW, the rest of Alessandrini's site is well worth a look...hundreds and possibly thousands of photographs of NYC from the 80s and 90s. (via @UnlikelyWorlds)

2004: a good food year for NYCDec 31 2013

2004 was a pretty good year for the NYC food scene. Among the openings were The Spotted Pig, Per Se, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Shake Shack.

If there was a movement taking shape, its key players admit they didn't notice until after the fact. And many of them spent the year struggling. Mr. Chang was desperate for customers in the early days at Noodle Bar, and kicking himself for having failed to apply for a kitchen job at Per Se or Masa. "I remember thinking very clearly, 'What am I doing?' " he said. " 'This is stupid. I should be working at Masa!' "

In some cases, 2004 was an outright fight. At the Spotted Pig, Mr. Friedman and Ms. Bloomfield, who had arrived from England, envisioned the vibrant boite as "a really cool bar that happened to have food as good as any restaurant in town," Mr. Friedman said. "Who made the rule that you can't have a real chef instead of someone who defrosts the frozen French fries?"

Stop-and-frisk for white collar crimeDec 10 2013

In a clip from The Daily Show in August, Jessica Williams completely skewers the Bloomberg administration's asinine stop-and-frisk policing by advocating for a stop-and-frisk policy for white collar criminals on Wall Street (aka Business Harlem).

[Deleted the embed because of some reports of autoplaying. Why can't anyone but YT and Vimeo get this right?]

NYC ramen mapNov 25 2013

From All-You-Can-Eat Press in Brooklyn, the New York Ramen Map.

Attention noodle lovers: this is your lucky day! Our third publication-the New York Ramen Map-is here !! It features 33 of New York's most interesting and delicious noodle shops, plus a special glossary and regional map of ramen in Japan.

Not sure I see my favorite place on there. Same folks also do a New York Doughnut Map and a New York Burger Map.

17-year-old Biggie Smalls freestylingNov 19 2013

From Freestyle: The Art of the Rhyme, a short clip of a 17-year-old Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G.) freestyle rapping on a street corner in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn in 1989.

It's all there...the talent, the confidence, the skills. Compare with a 17-year-old LL Cool J rapping in a Maine gymnasium in 1985. (via ★interesting)

Update: Biggie was rapping on Bedford Ave between Quincy St and Lexington Ave in Bed-Stuy. Check it out on Google Maps. (thx, debbie)

The usual?Oct 23 2013

On the occasion of leaving New York, Rebecca Flint Marx writes about one of her favorite New York City places (Russ & Daughters) and a particular counterman there, Paul.

Being a regular is a funny thing in a big city. Outside, you're just an anonymous schmo. But if you come inside often enough, each visit starts to feel like a family reunion of sorts; like the extended members of your biological family, the people you encounter will likely be happy enough to see you, though they probably have little idea of who you actually are as a person. But there's a beauty in deciding how much of yourself to offer as part of the general exchange of money and goods: You can be the thoughtfully curated version of you -- the one who always smiles and never has any problems. The one who is a good person simply because she says "please" and "thank you," exchanges salty banter with the cantankerous counterman, and bakes a cake for the Yom Kippur rush, as I started doing for the staff a few years ago.

What a lovely piece. See also the joys of being a regular.

20 minutes at Rucker ParkOct 18 2013

Flinder Boyd follows streetballer TJ Webster on a cross-country bus trip for an opportunity to play his way onto a team in the prestigious EBC tournament at storied Rucker Park.

Despite his small size and light frame, he carries, like a weapon stashed under a vest, a 38" vertical jump. Along with his self-proclaimed "great" outside jump shot, he knows that during this 20-minute open tryout he'll have to do enough to impress one of the handful of coaches glaring at him from the stands. They represent teams in the upcoming Entertainer's Basketball Classic, an eight-week long tournament and the jewel of New York's basketball summer circuit.

Just two days ago, TJ stepped off a cross-country bus with every penny to his name wedged into the bottom of his bag for a chance to change his life. It's a long shot; he understands that, and so do the other nine players on the court. There are only two ways to make an EBC team, either by reputation or by being selected after your performance in the open run.

Each year, one, maybe two players, at most will be good enough to be granted a jersey and, in essence, a pass inside the halls of the cathedral of street basketball; a chance to feel the nearly religious power of Rucker Park - the same court that has hosted some of the greatest players to ever play the game.

Sometimes dreams are best kept that way.

Soho's food machineOct 18 2013

Here's how Balthazar, one of Manhattan's busiest and most-beloved restaurants, serves 1500 meals every single day.

Roughly one in 10 people who enter Balthazar orders the steak frites. It is far and away the restaurant's best-selling dish, and Balthazar can sell as many as 200 on a busy day. A plate of steak and potatoes requires a tremendous input of labor if you're going to charge $38 for it. At a smaller restaurant, cooks are typically responsible for setting up their own mise-en-place -- preparing food for their stations -- before each service begins, but at Balthazar, things are necessarily more atomized. The fries, for example, go through numerous steps of prep, done by a few different people, before they wind up on a plate.

Step 1 begins at about 6:30 a.m., when Diogene Peralta and Ramon Alvino, the prep cooks in charge of potatoes, each grab a 50-pound case of GPODs, from the Idaho company that sources Russet Burbank potatoes, known for their consistency, and place a massive plastic tub on the floor behind them. This morning, Alvino is flying, his left hand's fingers imperceptibly rotating the potato between upward strokes of the peeler, blindly flipping the naked spuds over his shoulder into the tub. I pull up my phone's stopwatch to time him for a minute, treating each potato as a lap: his slowest is 10.7 seconds, his quickest 6.4. Alvino, a shy man from the Dominican Republic, has been doing this same job for 15 years. "Like anything else, it was difficult at first," he says, but he caught his rhythm after a couple of months. Peralta has been at it for 14 years. Today, they will peel and chip about 600 pounds of potatoes. (Since russet supplies are short in late summer, Balthazar stockpiles thousands of cases of potatoes in a New Jersey warehouse.) Next, they will soak them in water that must be changed three times in order to leach out starch. The potatoes that are peeled today won't be fried, actually, until tomorrow, and then refried -- but that's another guy's job.

What an intricately designed system; even the menu is designed to drive profit.

The sounds of old New YorkOct 17 2013

The Roaring Twenties web site is "an interactive exploration of the historical soundscape of New York City".

The Roaring 'Twenties website is dedicated to that challenge, attempting to recreate for its listeners not just the sound of the past but also its sonic culture. It offers a sonic time machine; an interactive multimedia environment whereby site visitors can not just hear, but mindfully listen to, the noises of New York City in the late 1920s, a place and time defined by its din.

(via paleofuture)

On the gentrification of New YorkSep 24 2013

Jake Dobkin has been doing a series of posts on Gothamist called Ask a Native New Yorker and in the latest installment, he tackles the gentrification of New York City.

All New Yorkers are gentrifiers. Say you're of Jewish extraction: your forebears gentrified some Irish right out of L.E.S. around the turn of the century. Or maybe you're Irish, and your ancestors were responsible for gentrifying the marginal land around the Collect Pond in Five Points. Or maybe your family goes all the way back to New Amsterdam and Peter Minuit, the original gentrifier, who gentrified the poor Native Americans right off Manhattan island. No New Yorker, no matter how long their tenure, has the right to point fingers and say to anyone else "the problem started when you arrived here."

Sign of the times: a lost drone posterSep 19 2013

Looks like someone lost their drone in the West Village:

Lost Drone Poster

Pretty sure that drones falling from the skies in heavily populated metropolitan areas is going to lead to banning.

On the regularSep 18 2013

Former NY Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni writes about the joys of being a regular at your neighborhood restaurant.

What you have with a restaurant that you visit once or twice is a transaction. What you have with a restaurant that you visit over and over is a relationship.

My wife and I eat out at least once a week and we used to travel all over the city to try all sorts of different places, just-opened hot spots and old favorites alike. It was great. But now we mostly go to a bar/restaurant1 around the corner from where we live and that's even better. Bruni covers the experience pretty well, but I just wanted to share a couple of seemingly small aspects of being a regular:

1. Our local is popular and always crowded, especially during the dreaded 7-10pm hours and double especially Thu-Sat nights. But even when I go in by myself at a peak time, when the bar's jam-packed, there's always a seat for me. It might take a bit, but something opens up and they slot me in, even if I'm only stopping in for a drink and they could seat a two-top for dinner at the bar. (A regular in the hand is worth two in the rush.)

2. This is a totally minor thing but I love it: more than once, I've come in early in the evening, had a drink, left without paying to go run an errand or meet someone somewhere else, and then come back later for another drink or dinner and then settle my bill. It's like having a house account without the house account.

3. Another nice thing about being a regular at a place that values regulars is that you meet the other regulars. This summer I was often left to my own devices for dinner and a couple times a week, I ended up at my local. And almost without exception, I ended up having dinner with someone I'd previously met at the bar. Routinely turning a solo dining experience into dinner with a friend is an amazing accomplishment for a restaurant.

[1] Something I read in one of food writer Jeffrey Steingarten's books has always stuck with me. He said there are certain restaurants he frequents that he never writes about critically. Those places are just for him and he would never recommend them to his readers. Having written for so long here on kottke.org, there are certain things I hold back, that are just for me. Having a public opinion on absolutely everything you love is no way to live.

So, no, I'm not going to tell you what restaurant I'm talking about. It's beside the point anyway...Bruni's not trying to persuade you to try Barbuto or Charlie Bird, it's about you finding your own local.

Citi Bike fan fictionSep 16 2013

Paul Ford says that the Citi Bike is the perfect post-apocalyptic vehicle.

Citi Bikes thus also seems particularly well-suited for a sort of Hunger Games-style future: 1) The economy crashes utterly 2) poor, hungry people compete in hyperviolent Citi Bike chariot races at Madison Square Garden, now renamed Velodrome 17.

A trundling Citi Bike would make sense in just about any post-apocalyptic or dystopian book or movie. In the post-humanity 1949 George R. Stewart classic Earth Abides, about a Berkeley student who survives a plague, the bikes would have been very practical as people rebuilt society across generations, especially after electricity stopped working. And Walter M. Miller Jr.'s legendary 1960 A Canticle for Leibowitz, about monks rebuilding the world after "the Flame Deluge," could easily have featured monks pedaling around the empty desert after that deluge. Riding a Citi Bike (likely renamed something like "urbem vehentem") would probably have been a tremendous, abbot-level privilege, and the repair manual would have been an illuminated manuscript. It's gotten so that when I ride a Citi Bike I invariably end up thinking of all the buildings with their windows shattered, gray snow falling on people trudging in rags on their way to the rat market to buy a nice rat for Thanksgiving.

If New York is so great, how come it sucks?Sep 09 2013

Choire Sicha ponders.

But if New York City is better than ever -- and we think it is -- then why does it suck so bad?

The money, yes. And the cupcakes, and the ATMs, and all these apartments that somehow are in clock towers, which are all also just money. Among the young set, it's newcomers' parents paying up at our phantom tollbooth. There is now a class of New Yorkers with the luxury of not just money but also plenty of time. Once you got a crappy coffee at the deli or you didn't get coffee. Now the city is a wonderland of delicious pour-over. Every day is choose-your-own-adventure when you're not dying over the rent. Now there's a substantial population who thinks New York's a lark, or college 2.0, or an indie-lectual Rumspringa, a lazy not so Grand Tour before packing it in to get married in Dallas. Not to pick on the millennials: The olds aren't suffering either. Now a vast number of them pretend to live in the city while gardening at their second homes, in the sweet spread from Germantown to Ghent to Kinderhook. The result: New York has fewer who'd bleed for her. Once the city was for people who craved it with the stridency of a young Madonna. The result was entertainment, friction, mayhem, disaster, creation, magic.

(via @tcarmody)

Trashed in New York CitySep 05 2013

Robin Nagle, the Anthropologist in Residence for the New York City Department of Sanitation, recently wrote a book about the city's sanitation department. Collectors Weekly has an interview with Nagle about the book and sanitation in general.

Waring also dressed the workers in white, and even his wife said, 'What, are you crazy?' But he wanted them to be associated with notions of hygiene. Of course, those in the medical profession wore white, and he understood, quite rightly, that it was an issue of public health and hygiene to keep the street clean. He also put them in the helmets that the police wore to signify authority, and they quickly were nicknamed the White Wings.

These men became heroes because, for the first time in anyone's memory, they actually cleaned the city. It was a very bright day in the history of the department. Waring was only in office for three years, but after he left, nobody could use the old excuses that Tammany had used to dodge the issue of waste management. They had always said it was too crowded, with too many diverse kinds of people, and never mind that London and Paris and Philadelphia and Boston cleaned their streets. New York was different and it just couldn't be done. Waring proved them wrong. Rates of preventable disease went down. Mortality rates went down. It also had a ripple effect across all different areas of the city.

Now, NYC is not the cleanest city in the world, not by a long-shot, but it used to be so much worse. In the early 1890s, the streets were literally covered in trash because the Department of Street Cleaning (as it was known then) was so inept; look at the difference made by a 1895 reorganization of the department:

Before and After: NYC Trash

Bleeding Edge book trailerSep 04 2013

The book trailer for Thomas Pynchon's new novel is either brilliant or the dumbest thing ever.

Fun fact: the phrase "I don't even" was invented to react to this video. (via @GreatDismal)

Bloomberg's stop-and-frisk initiative found unconstitutionalAug 12 2013

A federal judge ruled this morning that NYC's controversial stop-and-frisk practice violated the rights of "tens of thousands" of New Yorkers.

In a decision issued on Monday, the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. Officers often frisked these people, usually young minority men, for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband, like drugs, before letting them go, according to the 195-page decision.

These stop-and-frisk episodes, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment.

To fix the constitutional violations, Judge Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan said she intended to designate an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department's compliance with the Constitution.

This is good news. Treating every young black male in the city like a criminal is not a policing strategy and it's embarrassing it has gone on this long. This kind of thing, along with the recent NSA revelations and other issues, make me wonder if "innocent until proven guilty" is still something the US citizenry and its law enforcement agencies still believe in. (via @beep)

Picasso Baby art video thingieAug 03 2013

In July, Jay Z rapped Picasso Baby at Pace Gallery in NYC for six hours. The fruits of that labor have been condensed by director Mark Romanek into a 10-minute music video that premiered on HBO last night. Here's the film:

The idea of performance art came to mind. I was aware of Marina Abramovic's Artist is Present, even though I was in London shooting 'Never Let Me Go' and didn't get to go. And the idea that Jay-Z regularly performs to 60,000 people at a time, I thought, 'What about performing at one person at a time?' He absolutely loved it. He interrupted me and said, 'Hold on! I've got chills. That idea is perfect.' He thinks, like me, that the music video has had its era. I also wanted to make sure we had Marina's blessing. So she attended the event and took part in the event. She couldn't have been more happy or enthusiastic about us using her concept and pushing it forward.

Also, somehow, I have never heard Jay Z talk before. That's his voice?

Museum HackJul 30 2013

Museum Hack is offering non-traditional tours of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Join this "Museum Hack" tour to turn one of New York's most spectacular cultural institutions into a totally unique experience. We will show you the very best and most intriguing that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has on display.

This is not a boring art history lecture. What we offer is a fun, group-oriented VIP tour experience. You will be entertained... and learn a bit along the way. We strive to offer a brand new view of the Met, one that you wouldn't get by simply visiting the museum on your own.

Great idea. Museum Hack grew out of a smaller effort to Hack the Met.

Toyota donates efficiency to non-profitJul 29 2013

In 2011, Toyota offered to donate their celebrated business management process to The Food Bank for New York City. After some initial skepticism, the donation has "proved transformative" for the Food Bank.

"They make cars; I run a kitchen," said Daryl Foriest, director of distribution at the Food Bank's pantry and soup kitchen in Harlem. "This won't work."

When Toyota insisted it would, Mr. Foriest presented the company with a challenge.

"The line of people waiting to eat is too long," Mr. Foriest said. "Make the line shorter."

Toyota's engineers went to work. The kitchen, which can seat 50 people, typically opened for dinner at 4 p.m., and when all the chairs were filled, a line would form outside. Mr. Foriest would wait for enough space to open up to allow 10 people in. The average wait time could be up to an hour and a half.

Toyota made three changes. They eliminated the 10-at-a-time system, allowing diners to flow in one by one as soon as a chair was free. Next, a waiting area was set up inside where people lined up closer to where they would pick up food trays. Finally, an employee was assigned the sole duty of spotting empty seats so they could be filled quickly. The average wait time dropped to 18 minutes and more people were fed.

Circular NYC subway mapJul 29 2013

A very pretty but almost completely useless circular map of the NYC subway.

Radial NYC Subway Map

There's a London Tube version too.

Hand drawn map of Midtown Manhattan from 1890Jul 26 2013

From 1890, a hand-drawn map of Midtown Manhattan "from 34th Street to 59th Street and from 1st Avenue to 6th Avenue".

1890 Midtown Manhattan Map

After "Lunch atop a Skyscraper", a napJul 15 2013

Lunch atop a Skyscraper

That's the iconic "Lunch atop a Skyscraper" photo taken in 1932 during the construction of the RCA Building (aka 30 Rock) in NYC. Eleven construction workers eating lunch on a steel girder 840 feet in the air. The shot was a PR stunt to drum up excitement around the near completion of the new skyscraper...no one even knows for sure who took the photo because it was likely a multiple photographer situation. On the same day the lunch photo was taken, some of the same men were photographed taking a nap on the same girder:

Nap atop a Skyscraper

The quickening pace of modern life?Jun 20 2013

Ah, the good old days, when people used to talk to each other in public rather than looking at their phones or listening to headphones all the time. Except that's not been the case for awhile as XKCD demonstrates with a series of quotes from various publications dating back to 1871. This is from William Smith's Morley: Ancient and Modern published in 1886.

With the advent of cheap newspapers and superior means of locomotion... the dreamy quiet old days are over... for men now live think and work at express speed. They have their Mercury or Post laid on their breakfast table in the early morning, and if they are too hurried to snatch from it the news during that meal, they carry it off, to be sulkily read as they travel... leaving them no time to talk with the friend who may share the compartment with them... the hurry and bustle of modern life... lacks the quiet and repose of the period when our forefathers, the day's work done, took their ease...

In 1946, a young Stanley Kubrick worked as a photographer for Look magazine and took this shot of NYC subway commuters reading newspapers:

Kubrick Subway Newspapers

The more things change, etc. More of Kubrick's subway photography can be found here.

The world's smallest museumJun 19 2013

Museum is the world's smallest museum, located in a small walk-in closet-sized space in Cortlandt Alley between Franklin St & White St in NYC. Collectors Weekly talked with one of the museum's founders.

In the current season, there's a collection of toothpaste tubes from around the world. There's a collection of mutilated U.S. currencies, money that's counterfeit or real money that's been scrawled on. There's a collection from Alvin Goldstein, who was the founder and editor of Screw magazine, who shared with us personal belongings that have stayed with him throughout the narrative of his life. There's a collection of Disney-themed children's bulletproof backpacks. They're things that touch upon something that's happening in society, things that comment on where we're at and how we're thinking and what we're doing.

How the other half livedJun 19 2013

Jacob Riis came to NYC in 1870 at the age of 21. He had $40 in his pocket, which he quickly spent. Unemployed, he lived for a time in the city's notorious slums before working his way up the social and economic ladder to become one of New York's strongest advocates for reform. Riis also took early advantage of flash photography to steer his camera into the city's darkest corners -- tenements, dark alleys, sweatshops, opium dens, beer halls -- and emerged with photographs that helped shift public opinion on NYC's poverty and slums.

Jacob Riis

Collections of Riis' photography can be viewed at Museum Syndicate and the Museum of the City of New York. Riis included many of his photographs in a book he published in 1890 called How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York. (via petapixel)

Hand-drawn map of Greenwich Village from 1925Jun 11 2013

From a 1925 issue of Quill magazine, a map of NYC's Greenwich Village hand-drawn by Robert Edwards.

Greenwich Village 1925

The recipe for the cronutJun 04 2013

Cronut

Cronuts are donuts made from croissant dough and they are all the rage here in NYC. They were invented by chef Dominique Ansel and they are only available in limited quantities at his bakery in Soho. Apparently people start lining up for them at 6am and all 200 of the world's daily supply of cronuts are gone within minutes of opening. Naturally, a black market has sprung up, with cronuts selling on Craigslist for upwards of $25/item:

Cronut Craigslist

Kevin Roose has some ideas for Ansel about expanding the reach of the cronut, but in the meantime, Edd Kimber replicated the treat at home with a quickie croissant dough.

Since I wont be in New York any time soon I thought I would see if I could replicate them at home, and you know what? They are pretty damn good! Now the dough I'm using isnt a proper croissant dough, its my quick dough made with just 20 minutes active work which, compared to traditional croissant dough is a snap to make.

Update: Pillsbury has gotten into the act as well with a cronut recipe that uses their crescent dough.

Color film of NYC from 1939May 31 2013

This film was apparently shot in NYC in 1939. Features scenes in Midtown, Chinatown, Harlem, and more locales around the city.

(via @UnlikelyWorlds)

Classing up the Long Island Iced TeaMay 28 2013

Ben Crair visited some of Manhattan's fancier joints and ordered a decidedly unclassy cocktail: the Long Island Iced Tea.

11 Madison Park is either a very good restaurant or the absolute best restaurant in New York City. It depends on whom you ask. But don't ask me: I've only had a drink at 11 Madison Park, and that drink was a Long Island Iced Tea. It came in a highball with four perfect cubes of ice and a wedge of lemon. It cost sixteen dollars and tasted just like college.

"I haven't served one of these in six months," the bartender told me. Like his peers at the other fine New York bars and restaurants where I have lately been ordering Long Island Iced Teas, he had repeated my order back to me: "Long Island Iced Tea?" His neck muscles tightened, giving bloom to a gritted smile. That smile said: "The customer is always right." I confirmed the order, and he obligingly prepared it. Later, when we struck up a conversation, he told me the last person to order a Long Island Iced Tea at 11 Madison Park "was definitely not from New York."

True story: the guy who invented the Long Island Iced Tea is named Bob Butt.

List of NYC's outdoor summer moviesMay 15 2013

There are a lot of outdoor movies showing in NYC this summer: here's a listing of the whats, wheres, and whens. Movies include The Goonies, Jaws, Duck Soup, Moonrise Kingdom, Grease, and Blade Runner.

Protected bike lanes = good for businessMay 09 2013

Some interesting data about how protected bike lanes in NYC dramatically increased retail sales of local businesses.

A new study from the New York Department of Transportation shows that streets that safely accommodate bicycle and pedestrian travel are especially good at boosting small businesses, even in a recession.

NYC DOT found that protected bikeways had a significant positive impact on local business strength. After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue, local businesses saw a 49% increase in retail sales. In comparison, local businesses throughout Manhattan only saw a 3% increase in retail sales.

And that's just one of the many tidbits from a NYC DOT report released last November (right around the time of Hurricane Sandy, which is probably why no one noticed at the time); read the whole report here:

Among them: "retail sales increased a whopping 172% after the city converted an underused parking area in Brooklyn into a pedestrian plaza", and traffic calming in the Bronx decreased speeding by ~30% and pedestrian crashes by 67%. (via @lhl)

Debunking criticism of NYC's bike-share programMay 07 2013

NYC is set to introduce their bike-share program at the end of the month. I think it's a great idea and am interested to follow how it does in practice. Many have objected to the share program even before it starts (reminding me of the smoking ban protests, ultimately much ado about nothing) but Sommer Mathis does an admirable job heading them off.

Claim #3: The stations are too ugly for historic neighborhoods, and Citibank's sponsorship is too crassly commercial.

These are just some of the claims behind a series of lawsuits that are already in the works, brought by specific building owners who argue that docking stations don't belong next to their beautiful buildings. They're also worried that delivery truck access may be impeded by the presence of some stations. The lawsuits are being filed within the context of additional complaints that neighbors feel they weren't consulted on the location of some stations, despite the city's department of transportation having held nearly 400 meetings on station locations with community boards and other neighborhood groups. This is a classic NIMBY reaction, and by far the easiest one the city could have predicted. The idea that bike-share infrastructure is somehow uglier or more commercial than any other element of New York's streetscape is easy enough to debunk. But the truth is, one of the best things about the design of the Alta bike-share stations is how easy they are to install and, if need be, later remove. It's entirely possible that small problems with the specific locations of some stations will become apparent after the program launches, and they'll need to be moved around the corner or across the street to better serve users. This has happened here in Washington, D.C., and it'll happen for sure in New York. But that's all part of the bike-share roll-out process. If there's a legitimate problem with the location of a single station, that can actually be fixed within in a matter of hours or at worst, a day or two.

Our neighborhood newspaper went full-NIMBY about the bike-share this week and hit all the major points addressed in this article, including the ridiculous "bike racks are taking valuable parking spots" one. (via @jmseabrook)

NYC's broken food cart systemMay 07 2013

Adam Davidson on the asinine and broken food truck/cart system in NYC. This short paragraph not only explains what's wrong with the food cart biz in NYC but also with American politics in general:

Economically speaking, the problem is a standard one, known as the J-curve, which represents a downslope on a graph followed by a steep rise. Some sensible changes to the current food-vendor system may have long-term benefits for everyone, but the immediate impact could spell short-term losses for those who now profit from the system. A small group of New Yorkers -- particularly owners of commissaries and physical restaurants -- are highly motivated to lobby politicians not to change things. And most of the potential beneficiaries don't realize they're missing out. Many of the rest of us would love to have more varied food trucks, but we don't care enough to pressure the City Council.

(via @tylercowen)

Seinfeld and NYCMay 03 2013

A list of the most New York episodes of Seinfeld.

4. "The Rye" (Season 7, Episode 11)
This episode's titular breadstuff-which Jerry steals from an old lady who refuses to sell it to him, even for 50 bucks-supposedly comes from Schnitzer's, a great New York bakery name if we've ever heard one. The real place was called Royale Kosher Bake Shop. Unfortunately, it's now closed. A Jenny Craig branch stands in its place at 237 W. 72nd St. Also in this episode: Kramer leads Beef-a-Reno-fueled hansom cab rides through Central Park. His skills as a tour guide are questionable, though, as his historical "facts" are impressively inaccurate. For example, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux-not former New York Yankee Joe Pepitone-designed the park.

Already good, Seinfeld got 100 times better when I moved to NYC and got 10 more of the jokes per episode.

The kids from Kids: where are they now?May 02 2013

Caroline Rothstein on how Kids came about and what happened to the young actors who starred in the film.

Two decades after a low-budget film turned Washington Square skaters into international celebrities, the kids from Kids struggle with lost lives, distant friendships, and the fine art of growing up.

New York elsewhereApr 30 2013

The Morning News has a collection of maps showing the neighborhoods that New Yorkers might want to move to in a variety of cities around the world. Probably lots of generalizations to argue about here...have fun!

Prenzlauer Berg = Park Slope. Among the first neighborhoods to be gentrified after the Wall fell, Prenzlauer Berg (the locals shorten it to Prenzlberg, which isn't all that much shorter, but whatever) is populated by the same desperately, tragically hip mothers and fathers as Park Slope. But American yuppies have nothing on their German counterparts, who will invade a coffee shop, block the door with strollers, and turn it into a temporary romper room.

NYC now recycles all rigid plasticsApr 25 2013

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced yesterday that all rigid plastics are now included in the city's recycling program. It's about damn time.

"Starting today, if it's a rigid plastic -- any rigid plastic -- recycle it," said Mayor Bloomberg. "There is no more worrying about confusing numbers on the bottom of the container. This means that 50,000 tons of plastics that we were sending to landfills every year will now be recycled and it will save taxpayers almost $600,000 in export costs each year."

"Today's announcement represents the largest expansion of our City's recycling efforts in 25 years," said Deputy Mayor Holloway. "We were able to take this step because of the major commitment we made to recycling as part of the City's Solid Waste Management Plan in 2006 -- and this commitment continues today and will result in cost savings and 50,000 tons of plastics that we were sending to landfills every year now being recycled."

It looks like the online guidelines have been updated so you can go look at the specific dos and donts. Also mentioned in the press release is the expansion of the pickup of compostable material:

The City will also expand the organics recycling pilot under way in public schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan to residents in the Westerleigh neighborhood of Staten Island next month, to other neighborhoods this fall and to all City schools over the next two years. The food waste composting pilot cut the amount of garbage participating schools sent to landfills by up to 38 percent.

I can't wait until they offer curb-side compost pickup for everyone. (via @eqx1979)

The Central Park FiveApr 17 2013

Caught The Central Park Five on PBS last night and it's one of those films that puts you into rage-against-the-machine mode.

The Central Park Five, a new film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City's Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles The Central Park Jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of these five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice.

The entire film is available to watch on the PBS web site. Tonight, there's a TimesTalk in NYC featuring Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, Times columnist Jim Dwyer, and all five of the exonerated men; the talk will be broadcast live on the web here.

NYC people-watching at 780 frames per secondApr 12 2013

Filmed at 780 fps with a Phantom Flex from the back of a moving SUV, James Nares' Street depicts people walking New York streets in super slow motion.

The film runs 60 minutes (depicting about three minutes of real time footage), Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore did the soundtrack, and it's on display at The Met until the end of May.

Drawing all the buildings in NYCApr 12 2013

James Gulliver Hancock is on a mission to draw all the buildings in New York City.

All Bldg NYC

Hancock's blog has spawned a book and prints are available as well. (via brain pickings)

Hitting the wowMar 25 2013

A long piece in this week's New Yorker by Marc Fisher about more alleged sexual abuse at The Horace Mann School, a prep school in the Bronx. Fisher's piece focuses on Robert Berman, an English teacher at the school for many years.

One group of boys stood apart; they insisted on wearing jackets and ties and shades, and they stuck to themselves, reciting poetry and often sneering at the rest of us. A few of them shaved their heads. We called them Bermanites, after their intellectual and sartorial model, an English teacher named Robert Berman: a small, thin, unsmiling man who papered over the windows of his classroom door so that no one could peek through.

Assigned to Berman for tenth-grade English, I took a seat one September morning alongside sixteen or seventeen other boys. We waited in silence as he sat at his desk, chain-smoking Benson & Hedges cigarettes and watching us from behind dark glasses. Finally, Mr. Berman stood up, took a fresh stick of chalk, climbed onto his chair, and reached above the blackboard to draw a horizontal line on the paint. "This," he said, after a theatrical pause, "is Milton." He let his hand fall a few inches, drew another line, and said, "This is Shakespeare." Another line, lower, on the blackboard: "This is Mahler." And, just below, "Here is Browning." Then he took a long drag on his cigarette, dropped the chalk onto the floor, and, using the heel of his black leather loafer, ground it into the wooden floorboards. "And this, gentlemen," he said, "is you."

The next day, I asked to be transferred. I was not alone. By the end of the week, Berman's class had shrunk by about half. The same thing happened every year; his classes often ended up as intimate gatherings of six to eight. Many students found Berman forbidding, but some of the teachers referred to him as a genius. Boys competed to learn tidbits about him. It was said, with little or no evidence, that he was an artist and a sculptor, that he knew Sanskrit, Russian, and Urdu, and that his wife and child had been killed in a horrific car crash. Though he was only in his mid-thirties, a graduate of the University of Michigan, it was rumored that he had been a paleontologist and had taught at Yale. Administrators told students and their parents that Horace Mann was incredibly lucky to have him, however odd he might be. The boys who remained in his classes were often caught up in his love of art, music, and literature, and in his belief that every moment of life should be spent reaching for the transcendence of the Elgin Marbles, of a fresco by Fra Angelico, even of an ordinary sunset. The boys absorbed the lists he made. "Take this down," he'd say. "The ten greatest racehorses of all time." Or, "This is the list of the ten greatest movies ever made-but you won't find 'Lawrence of Arabia' on it, because it's off the charts!" One day, he mounted a rearview mirror on the far wall of the classroom so that he could stare at the portrait of Milton behind his back.

Tilda Swinton is sleeping at MoMAMar 23 2013

At random and unannounced times throughout the year, actress (and apparently performance artist) Tilda Swinton will be sleeping in a glass box at MoMA.

Tilda Swinton MoMA

It's part of an unannounced, surprise performance piece called "The Maybe" that will be taking place on random days all year. A MoMA source told us, "Museum staff doesn't know she's coming until the day of, but she's here today. She'll be there the whole day. All that's in the box is cushions and a water jug."

Clearly some crowdsourced announcement system is needed...perhaps istildaswintonsleepingatmomaornot.tumblr.com? Also, in keeping with the theme of "my kid could do that" in contemporary art, both my kids slept at MoMA in chairs with wheels on them.

Upstream Color at IFCMar 18 2013

Starting on April 4, Upstream Color begins its run at IFC in New York. Star/director Shane Carruth will be in attendance for post-screening Q&As for several of the shows.

New York DayMar 11 2013

New York Day is a film by Samuel Orr that crams a whole NYC day into about three and a half minutes.

Orr is using Kickstarter to raise funds to make a longer version (~20 min.) of the film. (via @dhmeyer)

Large-format photos of NYC's pastMar 05 2013

NYC Past has hundreds of large format historical photos of New York City. Like this one:

Leo and Benny's

I'm not through all 49 pages yet, but I am getting pretty close.

The rise of BarcadeMar 01 2013

For Polygon, Simon Parkin writes about how Barcade came about and where it's going.

Younger gamers are, in a sense, both the secret to Barcade's success and its great ongoing threat. More than players like Chien and the older pros, Barcade attracts young local patrons typical of the Brooklyn bar scene. For many of these visitors the classic arcade hits of the 1980s were released long before they were born, familiar to them primarily as cultural icons rather than living memories.

"When we opened in 2004, some of these games weren't even 20 years old," says Kermizian. "But now, eight years on, we find the ideal period of nostalgia keeps shifting on us as our customers are a little bit younger. So we've started to go with some early '90s games. You know, we've put Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in two of the three arcade locations and that's our number one most popular game now. People just go crazy playing that."

On a good night a single Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine will see its coin tray filled. "At the end of the night we just dump a bucket of quarters out of the machine, around 50 bucks worth."

All these years on, with prices unadjusted for inflation, the aging arcade still offers a viable business. But time continues to be the greatest menace to the arcade, even in the midst of this repackaged revival. For many, this parade of curios whose bleeps and flashes provide an atmospheric link to the past long gone is little more than a hands-on exhibit, where Space Invaders' and Pac-Man's iconography is not forgotten but made fashionable. But fashions are transient. How long can the business model sustain?

We found our son in the subwayMar 01 2013

File this one under crying at work: a man finds a newborn on a subway platform and he and his partner adopt him and then blub blub blub, I'm sorry I have to go there's something in both my eyes and my nose.

Three months later, Danny appeared in family court to give an account of finding the baby. Suddenly, the judge asked, "Would you be interested in adopting this baby?" The question stunned everyone in the courtroom, everyone except for Danny, who answered, simply, "Yes."

"But I know it's not that easy," he said.

"Well, it can be," assured the judge before barking off orders to commence with making him and, by extension, me, parents-to-be.

Pynchon's next novel is about Silicon AlleyFeb 25 2013

According to Penguin's year-end financial report, Thomas Pynchon's next novel will deal with "Silicon Alley between dotcom boom collapse and 9/11". The title is Bleeding Edge.

We Buy White AlbumsFeb 25 2013

Artist Rutherford Chang only collects first pressings of The Beatles' The White Album on vinyl. Dust & Grooves recently interviewed Chang about his collection.

Rutherford Chang

Q: Are you a vinyl collector?

A: Yes, I collect White Albums.

Q: Do you collect anything other than that?

A: I own some vinyl and occasionally buy other albums, but nothing in multiples like the White Album.

Q: Why just White Album? why not Abbey road? or Rubber Soul?

A: The White Album has the best cover. I have a few copies of Abbey Road and Rubber Soul, but I keep those in my "junk bin".

Q: Why do you find it so great? It's a white, blank cover. Are you a minimalist?

A: I'm most interested in the albums as objects and observing how they have aged. So for me, a Beatles album with an all white cover is perfect.

Q: Do you care about the album's condition?

A: I collect numbered copies of the White Album in any condition. In fact I often find the "poorer" condition albums more interesting.

Chang's collection is currently on view at Recess in Soho, NYC until March 7th. Gotta get down there and see this. (via mr)

Photo from 1948 of a Manhattan Dodge/Plymouth dealershipFeb 07 2013

From 1948, this is L Motors, located at 175th and Broadway in Manhattan.

Dodge Dealership 1948

Can't believe I'd forgotten about Shorpy! Click through for a larger view. The Dodge/Plymouth dealership is long gone; that spot is now occupied by Bravo Super Markets. (via @claytoncubitt)

What if: the Milky Way were visible in NYCFeb 04 2013

It would look something like this:

NYC with stars

That's from a series called Darkened Skies by Thierry Cohen; he photographed various cities (NYC, Paris, Tokyo, SF) and matched them up with starry skies from more remote places like Montana, Nevada, and the Sahara. New Yorkers can see Cohen's work at the Danziger Gallery starting March 28.

See also Imagining Earth with Saturn's Rings.

Grand Central Terminal is 100 years oldFeb 01 2013

To celebrate Grand Central's 100th birthday, The Daily Beast has 100 facts about the NYC landmark.

1. Grand Central Terminal opened its doors at midnight on February 2, 1913.

9. To commemorate the centennial on Friday, shops and eateries will price their goods as if it were 1913. [Ed note: I doubt this applies to the Apple Store.]

39. A secret trap door in the kiosk below the clock leads to a spiral staircase down to the lower level info booth.

50. M42 connects to a secret underground platform at the Waldorf Astoria.

93. In 1978's Superman, Lex Luther's lair is located under the terminal.

Update: Another fact: Grand Central's clocks are purposefully off by a minute.

The idea is that passengers rushing to catch trains they're about to miss can actually be dangerous -- to themselves, and to each other. So conductors will pull out of the station exactly one minute after their trains' posted departure times. That minute of extra time won't be enough to disconcert passengers too much when they compare it to their own watches or smartphones ... but it is enough, the thinking goes, to buy late-running train-catchers just that liiiiiitle bit of extra time that will make them calm down a bit. Fast clocks make for slower passengers.

Ed Koch, RIPFeb 01 2013

Former three-term mayor of NYC Ed Koch died this morning at 88. Worth reading are obituaries by Robert McFadden in the NY Times:

Mr. Koch's 12-year mayoralty encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and municipal corruption scandals of the 1980s, an era of almost continuous discord that found Mr. Koch at the vortex of a maelstrom day after day.

But out among the people or facing a news media circus in the Blue Room at City Hall, he was a feisty, slippery egoist who could not be pinned down by questioners and who could outtalk anybody in the authentic voice of New York: as opinionated as a Flatbush cabby, as loud as the scrums on 42nd Street, as pugnacious as a West Side reform Democrat mother.

"I'm the sort of person who will never get ulcers," the mayor - eyebrows devilishly up, grinning wickedly at his own wit - enlightened the reporters at his $475 rent-controlled apartment in Greenwich Village on Inauguration Day in 1978. "Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I'm the sort of person who might give other people ulcers."

and Ben Smith at Buzzfeed:

Koch, New York City's dominant political figure of the 1980s and the architect of what remains its governing political coalition, stayed politically relevant through his long political twilight, courted aggressively by figures including Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama for his role as a proxy for pro-Israel Democrats willing, but not eager, to cross party lines.

But Koch's later years of quips, movie reviews, and presidential politics remain secondary to his central legacy, which is in New York's City Hall. Tall and gangly with a domed, bald head and a knowing smile, Koch was New York's mayor and its mascot from 1978 to 1989. Through three terms, he repeated one question like a mantra: "How'm I doing?" At first, the answer was clear to observers who had watched the city slide toward bankruptcy: exceptionally well. Koch managed New York back from the brink, drove hard bargains with municipal unions, cut jobs where he had to and reduced taxes where he could. He presided over a boom in Manhattan, and spent his new revenues on renewing the south Bronx.

But as the Koch administration moved its third term, the mayor lost his momentum. As Wall Street boomed in the 1980s, Koch took advantage of the new revenues to double New York City's budget and offer tax breaks to real estate developers. But the largesse couldn't buy him friends: he clashed with black leaders and his old allies among Manhattan's liberal democrats. New York became famous for its racial tensions and rising crime. He courted the Democratic Party bosses of Queens and the Bronx only to be tarnished by the corruption scandals that surrounded them.

Here's the trailer for Koch, a documentary on the former mayor that coincidentally opens today in limited release:

Horn swarms and Manhattan's noisy historyJan 25 2013

During a walk with noise historian Hillel Schwartz, Peter Andrey Smith discovers that parts of Manhattan, which many think of now as quite deafening, used to be even noisier.

"There was a constant flotilla of barges taking construction detritus away from the city, toward the Jersey shore," he said. "All of these Irish tugboat captains probably knew the service staff, and they would be signaling to them, 'Hi, I'm coming by!' But they would be signaling with these huge horns! And they would be signaling late at night, also, to their complement of workers, who were now on shore, drinking heavily in a nearby tavern: 'O.K., time to call it quits!' The number of horns recorded over the course of an evening amounted to thousands. I hesitate to call them toots. They were horn swarms."

Frozen leaky water towerJan 24 2013

Took this from my office window just now. The water tower on the right has sprung a leak and the water has frozen due to the cold.

Leaky Water Tower

Let's build a massive meta McDonald's in Times SquareJan 23 2013

Writing for The Awl, Jeb Boniakowski shares his vision for a massive McDonald's complex in Times Square that serves food from McDonald's restaurants from around the world, offers discontinued food items (McLean Deluxe anyone?), and contains a food lab not unlike David Chang's Momofuku test kitchen.

The central attraction of the ground floor level is a huge mega-menu that lists every item from every McDonald's in the world, because this McDonald's serves ALL of them. There would probably have to be touch screen gadgets to help you navigate the menu. There would have to be whole screens just dedicated to the soda possibilities. A concierge would offer suggestions. Celebrities on the iPad menus would have their own "meals" combining favorites from home ("Manu Ginobili says 'Try the medialunas!'") with different stuff for a unique combination ONLY available at McWorld. You could get the India-specific Chicken Mexican Wrap ("A traditional Mexican soft flat bread that envelops crispy golden brown chicken encrusted with a Mexican Cajun coating, and a salad mix of iceberg lettuce, carrot, red cabbage and celery, served with eggless mayonnaise, tangy Mexican Salsa sauce and cheddar cheese." Wherever possible, the menu items' descriptions should reflect local English style). Maybe a bowl of Malaysian McDonald's Chicken Porridge or The McArabia Grilled Kofta, available in Pakistan and parts of the Middle East. You should watch this McArabia ad for the Middle Eastern-flavored remix of the "I'm Lovin' It" song if for nothing else.

And I loved his take on fast food as molecular gastronomy:

How much difference really is there between McDonald's super-processed food and molecular gastronomy? I used to know this guy who was a great chef, like his restaurant was in the Relais & Châteaux association and everything, and he'd always talk about how there were intense flavors in McDonald's food that he didn't know how to make. I've often thought that a lot of what makes crazy restaurant food taste crazy is the solemn appreciation you lend to it. If you put a Cheeto on a big white plate in a formal restaurant and serve it with chopsticks and say something like "It is a cornmeal quenelle, extruded at a high speed, and so the extrusion heats the cornmeal 'polenta' and flash-cooks it, trapping air and giving it a crispy texture with a striking lightness. It is then dusted with an 'umami powder' glutamate and evaporated-dairy-solids blend." People would go just nuts for that. I mean even a Coca-Cola is a pretty crazy taste.

I love both mass-produced processed foods and the cooking of chefs like Grant Achatz & Ferran Adrià. Why is the former so maligned while the latter gets accolades when they're the same thing? (And simultaneously not the same thing at all, but you get my gist.) Cheetos are amazing. Oscar Meyer bologna is amazing. Hot Potato Cold Potato is amazing. Quarter Pounders with Cheese are amazing. Adrià's olives are amazing. Coca-Cola is amazing. (Warhol: " A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking.") WD50's Everything Bagel is amazing. Cheerios are amazing. All have unique flavors that don't exist in nature -- you've got to take food apart and put it back together in a different way to find those new tastes.

Some of these fancy chefs even have an appreciation of mass produced processed foods. Eric Ripert of the 4-star Le Berdardin visited McDonald's and Burger King to research a new burger for one of his restaurants. (Ripert also uses processed Swiss cheese as a baseline flavor at Le Bernardin.) David Chang loves instant ramen and named his restaurants after its inventor. Ferran Adrià had his own flavor of Lay's potato chips in Spain. Thomas Keller loves In-N-Out burgers. Grant Achatz eats Little Caesars pizza.

Our Global Kitchen exhibition at AMNHJan 18 2013

This looks interesting: Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC.

In the new exhibition Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture, the American Museum of Natural History explores the complex and intricate food system that brings what we eat from farm to fork. In sections devoted to growing, transporting, cooking, eating, tasting, and celebrating, the exhibition illuminates the myriad ways that food is produced and moved throughout the world. With opportunities to taste seasonal treats in the working kitchen, cook a virtual meal, see rare artifacts from the Museum's collection, and peek into the dining rooms of famous figures throughout history, visitors will examine the intersection of food, nature, culture, health, and history -- and consider some of the most challenging issues of our time.

The exhibition is on from November 17, 2012 to August 11, 2013.

Vogue's inappropriate Hurricane Sandy photo shootJan 17 2013

Oh Vogue, who thought a Hurricane Sandy-themed photo shoot with supermodels walking through Far Rockaway dressed in the likes of Rodarte and Marc Jacobs was a good idea?

Vogue Sandy

"...we spent the night on a bridge, then went back in with the National Guard to work on patients." On Iman: Narciso Rodriguez camisole and pencil skirt. On Kloss: Diane von Furstenberg dress. Hair: Julien d'Ys for Julien d'Ys. Makeup: Stéphane Marais.

I guess they were going for inappropriate & provocative but hit inappropriate & idiotic instead? Vogue did raise a bunch of money for storm relief, but still. They should leave the provocative stuff to Vogue Italia and Steven Meisel...they're a lot better at it. (via @alexandrak)

1920s NYC firefighting video with crazy sidewalk drivingJan 02 2013

This is a silent film from 1926 that shows a call coming in to a Manhattan fire station, a first-person POV shot from the chief's car as he responds to a call, and then some firemen fighting a blaze consuming a storage warehouse.

The driving through the crowded streets of Manhattan starts at about 2:10 with the BAD TRAFFIC JAMS FORCE USE OF SIDEWALKS title card coming soon after at 2:51. The film is sped up but still, the chief dodges all manner of roadsters, horse-drawn wagons, trolleys, buses, automobiles, and other assorted conveyances.

See also a trip down San Francisco's Market Street in 1906. (via @djacobs)

Mayor Bloomberg demands action from DC on gunsDec 17 2012

Today NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg urged the President and Congress to take action on gun violence. Here are three of his six specific suggestions:

Pass the legislation of Fix Gun Checks Act that would require a criminal background check for all gun sales including all private sales and online sales

Ban deadly, military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which were previously banned under the now expired Federal assault weapons ban

Pass legislation to make gun trafficking a felony

Mayor Bloomberg: we need political leadership regarding gun violenceDec 14 2012

A statement from NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg on today's events:

With all the carnage from gun violence in our country, it's still almost impossible to believe that a mass shooting in a kindergarten class could happen. It has come to that. Not even kindergarteners learning their A,B,Cs are safe. We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for 'meaningful action' is not enough. We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership -- not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today. This is a national tragedy and it demands a national response. My deepest sympathies are with the families of all those affected, and my determination to stop this madness is stronger than ever.

Hand drawn map of NYCDec 10 2012

Illustrator Jenni Sparks has made an awesome hand drawn map of New York City.

Jenni Sparks Map

Prints are available.

Twitter is a machine for continual self-reinventionNov 30 2012

Matt Haughey wrote an essay called Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook.

There's no memory at Twitter: everything is fleeting. Though that concept may seem daunting to some (archivists, I feel your pain), it also means the content in my feed is an endless stream of new information, either comments on what is happening right now or thoughts about the future. One of the reasons I loved the Internet when I first discovered it in the mid-1990s was that it was a clean slate, a place that welcomed all regardless of your past as you wrote your new life story; where you'd only be judged on your words and your art and your photos going forward.

Facebook is mired in the past.

One of my favorite posts on street photographer Scott Schuman's blog, The Sartorialist, consists of two photos of the same woman taken several months apart.

Sartorialist Kara

Schuman asked the woman how she was able to create such a dramatic change:

Actually the line that I think was the most telling but that she said like a throw-away qualifier was "I didn't know anyone in New York when I moved here..."

I think that is such a huge factor. To move to a city where you are not afraid to try something new because all the people that labeled who THEY think you are (parents, childhood friends) are not their to say "that's not you" or "you've changed". Well, maybe that person didn't change but finally became who they really are. I totally relate to this as a fellow Midwesterner even though my changes were not as quick or as dramatic.

I bet if you ask most people what keeps them from being who they really want to be (at least stylistically or maybe even more), the answer would not be money but the fear of peer pressure -- fear of embarrassing themselves in front of a group of people that they might not actually even like anyway.

For a certain type of person, changing oneself might be one of the best ways of feeling free and in control of one's own destiny. And in the social media world, Twitter feels like continually moving to NYC without knowing anyone whereas Facebook feels like you're living in your hometown and hanging with everyone you went to high school with. Twitter's we're-all-here-in-the-moment thing that Matt talks about is what makes it possible for people to continually reinvent themselves on Twitter. You don't have any of that Facebook baggage, the peer pressure from a lifetime of friends, holding you back. You are who your last dozen tweets say you are. And what a feeling of freedom that is.

Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before PhotoshopNov 30 2012

He lost his head

NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art has an exhibit running until January 27, 2013 featuring over 200 photos employing old timey trickery.

For early art photographers, the ultimate creativity lay not in the act of taking a photograph but in the subsequent transformation of the camera image into a hand-crafted picture.

New York City summed up in one photoNov 30 2012

NYC defined

Some dude next you on the subway falls asleep on your arm and you just go on about your business. That's about right. (via gothamist, photo by molossoidea)

A day without violent crime in NYCNov 29 2012

According to the NYPD, not single violent crime (shooting, stabbing, murder, etc.) was reported in NYC on Monday, "the first time in recent memory" that has happened.

The rare day occurred on Monday, near the end of a year when the city's murder rate is on target to hit its lowest point since 1960, according to New York Police Department chief spokesman Paul Browne.

Browne said it was "first time in memory" the city's police force had experienced such a peaceful day.

While crime is up 3 percent overall, including a 9 percent surge in grand larceny police attribute to a rash of smart phone thefts, murder is down 23 percent over last year, the NYPD said.

Unfortunately, some are crediting the crappy NYPD stop-and-frisk policy with the drop in violent crime. (via marginal revolution)

MoMA adds video games to permanent collectionNov 29 2012

MoMA has acquired 14 video games for their permanent collection. Presumably they paid more than MSRP?

We are very proud to announce that MoMA has acquired a selection of 14 video games, the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks in MoMA's collection that we hope will grow in the future. This initial group, which we will install for your delight in the Museum's Philip Johnson Galleries in March 2013, features...

The games include Tetris, Passage, The Sims, and Katamari Damacy. No Nintendo games on that list, probably due to ongoing negotiations with Nintendo.

NYC's weather weirdnessNov 29 2012

In 2006, New York magazine published a piece by Clive Thompson about what climate change is doing to New York's weather.

Nobody really knows what'll happen more than a week in advance, of course. But if we assemble these major climatic trends, a rough snapshot of New York's future begins to emerge.

First off, El Nino will keep our winters reasonably mild and reduce hurricanes in the immediate future, possibly until as late as 2008, because El Ninos usually last for only one or two years.

Meanwhile, the AMO will remain in its warm phase, charging up storms and hurricanes off our shores, for much longer, probably another twenty years. So while El Nino may be driving a temporary reprieve in our nasty weather, once it dissipates, the long-term trend is back to tumultuous hurricane seasons.

The final ingredient in the mix is global warming. In the past century, the average temperature in New York has risen by two degrees, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. Indeed, the computer models reviewed in the "Metropolitan East Coast Climate Assessment" -- a 50-year prediction of New York's changing climate, developed by nasa and Columbia University -- suggest that the city will continue to heat up by as much as one degree by 2010, two degrees by 2020, and accelerate on a gentle curve until we reach as much as nine degrees warmer than now in 2100. It doesn't particularly matter whether you believe the warming is man-made or a natural cycle (most, but not all, climatologists believe the former). The point is, pumping that much extra energy into the system is bound to have some effect.

The impact on our daily life, though, is the big question. A few degrees of warming won't turn New York into a Miami-class shirtsleeves town. The effect will be more subtle: Climate scientists suspect that a warmer climate will produce more weather volatility. It's not that we'll have more rain overall, more snow overall, or more storms overall. But each event will be more intense than before.

"We're more likely to get hotter heat waves," says Mark Cane, a climatologist at Columbia University. "And increased storminess" adds Cullen. Both effects are due to the additional energy that global warming pumps into the "hydrological cycle," the water and energy that circulates through the atmosphere -- and it's water that creates weather.

As they say, "nailed it". The term "global warming" continues to be a misleading when it comes to the effect of the Earth's increasing temperature on our weather; as Thompson notes, it's not that it's just gonna get a little hotter in the summer or a little less snowy in the winter, the weather's gonna get weirder. Which is a problem...it's difficult for society to measure and talk about "weird".

The changing face of Bleecker StreetNov 26 2012

In their book Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, James and Karla Murray are documenting the changing commercial facade of NYC's streets. A recent post on their blog focuses on a strip of Bleecker St between 6th and 7th Avenues in the West Village. This is Murray's old location circa 2001, before they moved across the street into a bigger space, expanded that space, and opened an adjacent restaurant:

Murrays 2001

I moved to the West Village in 2002 and, after a few stops in other neighborhoods around the city, moved back a couple years ago. Walking around the neighborhood these days, I'm amazed at how much has changed in 10 years. Sometimes it seems as though every single store front has turned over in the interim. (via @kathrynyu)

The Man Who Charged Himself With MurderNov 20 2012

"The man stepped toward him, caught [Trevell] Coleman's eye, and grabbed for the gun. Startled, Coleman squeezed off three shots. The man winced, but didn't make a sound." That was seventeen years ago. Trevell Coleman never knew what happened to the person he shot, but he wanted to find out. From NY Mag: The Man Who Charged Himself with Murder.

The alarming lack of hospitals in lower ManhattanNov 09 2012

Ever since St. Vincent's closed in 2010 (I walk past it every morning taking my son to school and they are ripping the shit out of the building to turn it into condos), lower Manhattan has been short more than a few hospital beds. In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, Manhattan has been left with zero high-level trauma centers south of 68th Street.

Now, the nearest Level One trauma centers for residents of lower Manhattan aren't all that close: New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center is on the Upper East Side at East 68th Street and St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital is on the Upper West Side.

Officials say there's no reason to think that, for now, trauma victims in lower Manhattan will be any worse off than those in other parts of the city. The response speed is still acceptable, they say. And if a trauma victim is in an immediately life-threatening situation, such as a traumatic cardiac arrest, ambulances bring them to the closest hospital, regardless of whether it's a trauma center.

But the fear is that there won't be enough surge capacity at other hospitals if there is a major disaster, or that overworked staff at other hospitals will grow fatigued under the load and patient care could suffer.

Well, I'm sure the free market will sort all of this out. (via @Atul_Gawande)

Posting suspended until further noticeNov 02 2012

Publishing on kottke.org is suspended until further notice. The situation in New York and New Jersey is still dire** so posting stupid crap seems frivolous and posting about the Sandy aftermath seems exploitive. Information is not what people need right now; people need flashlights, candles, drinking water, safety, food, access to emergency medical care, a warm place to sleep, etc.

Anyway, we'll be back in a few days hopefully.

** I say "still dire" because I think the perception among people not in the NY/NJ area is one of "oh, the storm has passed, the flooding is subsiding, and everything is getting back to normal". But that's not what I'm hearing. What I'm hearing is that there are large areas that have been without power for 4-5 days, people are running out of food and gas, food and gas deliveries are not happening, etc. Things are getting worse (or certainly have the potential to get worse), not better, especially for those without the resources to care about which cool restaurants are open or how much an iPhone car service is gouging its customers or which Midtown office they're gonna work on their startup from.

Hurricane Sandy aftermath part twoOct 31 2012

Jason is still without power, but he and family are doing fine.

JFK and Newark are open, but jammed.

ConEd is saying Manhattanites without power will get it back within 3 days. Interactive map of the outages. Long Island could be longer. ConEd map here.

Some subway service should return Thursday, likely north of Midtown. Transit updates here.

With people returning to work, traffic is bad. As power returns, more people going back to work, could make the traffic worse.

NYTimes has a good summary of the storm damage along the East Coast.

AP photo of what's left of Breezy Point after the fire Monday night.

breezy-point-fire.jpg

Collection of Sandy photos from the Boston Globe.

Video of storm from birth to landfall.

Hurricane Sandy aftermathOct 30 2012

(Jason and family are fine, but without power, unsure of when it will come back. Aaron will be updating this throughout the day.)

Hurricane Sandy went through New York City yesterday causing massive flooding and power loss all over the city. While expectations for the storm had ranged across the spectrum, most observers seemed to be caught off guard at the amount of destruction. Here is the Kottke.org Hurricane Sandy link from yesterday and the one from the day before.

Updated Wed 12:15am ET:

22 deaths reported in New York City, 40 total in eight states combined. Several dozen more in Haiti and the Caribbean. This in the NYTimes, talks about two of NYC's fatalities.

Sunday's NYC Marathon will go on.

If you're still without power, it could be 4-5 days before it comes back. And it's not looking great for the subway, either.

Really old skeleton unearthed by fallen tree in New Haven.

David reminded us about how oysters might be able to help with future flooding (and did in the past).

I asked my friend Kevin for a few words on how a new New Yorker rode out the storm.

During the worst of the storm, around 9 p.m., I was huddled in my bed watching Homeland on my laptop, scanning Thought Catalog's surprisingly good Hurricane Sandy Liveblog, and checking Twitter, which was probably in the finest form I've seen it in a long time: a terrific balance of helpful updates, links, GIFs, and personal communication. Even misinformation, which spreads like wildfire via retweet, was quickly debunked, like CNN's report that the NYSE was under three feet of water. My one disappointment was Twitter's fake satirical accounts, which were mostly uninspired, with the bold exceptions of @ElBloombito and @RomneyStormTips (which was mysteriously shut down).

Finally, a rainbow by Noah Kalina.

noah-kalina-rainbow.jpg

Updated Tues 5:15pm ET:

This might be a dark cloud for many New Yorkers still digging out. Disney has purchased Lucasfilm and plans to release a new Star Wars feature film every 2-3 years. Star Wars 7 comes out in 2015. This information is being delivered to Jason by land line telephone, like in the old days.

A list of open New York City restaurants.

Sea level will be at Sandy levels normally by 2200.

Phenomenal illustration of the effect of last night's power outage on the NYC skyline.

I've not been able to find much information about the impact the storm damage in NJ, NYC, CT, and DE will have on the election. Not on the politics of it, which have been interesting, but will people actually be able to vote? I just heard a radio report on All Things Considered that officials in NJ and CT, at least, are assessing the issue now and considering all options such as loosening absentee ballot rules, paper ballots, generators in voting locations, etc. While states have the responsibility of managing the elections, the date of the election is mandated by the Constitution as "the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November." It's unclear whether states have the power to move this date, but preventing citizens from having to vote after most of the votes in the country have been cast is the priority at this point.

A fantastic infographic of storm info/damage from NYTimes.

Updated Tues 2:00pm ET:

Up here in Boston, things seem to be OK. My neighborhood experienced high winds and whipping rain, but fairly low damage. My street, which floods once or twice a year in heavy rain, was fine. There are reports of branches and trees downing power lines around Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, etc, but most friends that lost power got it back after a relatively short period.

New York death toll updated to 15, 10 in the city.

Buses should be up and running by 5PM, on a Sunday schedule, and will be free today and tomorrow.

All of Jersey City and Newark are without power.

New York City specific 'how to help' link.

NBC's Brian Thompson got a pic of the roller coaster at Seaside Heights in New Jersey in the ocean. (via theatlanticwire)

Roller-coaster.jpg

AP photo of cabs underwater in Hoboken. (via theatlanticwire)

Cabs-under-water.jpg

Tappan Zee Bridge, East River Bridges, RFK Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel open
.

JFK should open tomorrow. Laguardia has runways underwater and may take a little longer.

Matt Stopera is walking around providing pretty remarkable photos of other damage in his Twitter stream. Like this one, this one, and this one.

I can't believe these 'boats on shore pictures'. 1. 2.

Watch this transformer explode in Queens.

As of now, there are 9 reported storm-related fatalities in New York. Across the East Coast, the number is reported to be 14 total.

Mayor Bloomberg spoke earlier this morning to update the city. "This was a devastating storm. Maybe the worst that we have ever experienced." (This video seems wonky, you might have to scroll forward to get it started.)

All of the MTA tunnels under the rivers flooded, and, "There is currently no timetable" for when the subway will be up and running again.

As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.

MTA's photo stream shows damage in the stations.

The back up generator at NYU Hospital failed last night forcing hospital staff, firefighters, and EMTs to carry patients down flights of stairs as they were evacuated to other hospitals.

There was an enormous 6 alarm fire in the Breezy Point area of Queens, destroying at least 50 homes. 200 firefighters fought chest-high water to battle the fire and rescue residents. An image of the destruction.

Along with hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, Gizmodo, Gawker, Daily Kos, and Buzzfeed were among many websites which went down after their data-centers in lower Manhattan lost power.

Letterman and Fallon did their shows without audiences last night.

Crazy video of a ConEd plant exploding on E14 and FDR.

Video of flooding at East 8th and Avenue C, especially spooky because the power suddenly goes out at the :40 second mark. (via Gawker)

Almost 6,000 flights were canceled today.

Hurricane Sandy is (almost) hereOct 29 2012

It's about 1:30 pm here in NYC and we're starting to see the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Rivers are overflowing their banks, wind is whipping, and residents are either hunkered down or scurrying around picking up last minute supplies. I'll be updating this post when I can, here and there, during the course of the day.

Updated Mon 7:42pm ET:

Kids are way worse than the hurricane today. FEMA, NYPD, FDNY, need emergency parental evac now!

What to Expect at Landfall in Next Two Hours (WSJ):

The storm's quicker-than-expected forward motion means it will make landfall about two hours sooner than previously anticipated. Landfall is now expected around 6 p.m. this evening, near or just south of Atlantic City, N.J. This doesn't change the forecast much for coastal New Jersey, but it could greatly complicate coastal flooding projections for New York Harbor.

Whoa, it looks like the situation in the Brooklyn subway is getting dire:

Flooded Subway

Twitter has compiled a list of hurricane resources on Twitter.

Here's a close-up photo of that crane that's dangling from that building on 57th Street. CBS has a live view of the crane.

Not from The Onion, but this report on how Williamsburg residents are coping with the storm sure reads like it:

"I just got these kick-ass new stereo speakers and I am going to listen to those until the power runs out," Jim Butler, another Edge resident, said, tugging on the doors of the CVS that is part of the complex-it had just closed a few minutes before 5 p.m. "Then I'm going to read and look at my art books. I'll live by candlelight, get in touch with my 19th century self."

From just now on the TV: Con Ed has taken down the Bowling Green and Fulton electrical networks in lower Manhattan. Likely area hit is "east of Broadway btwn Wall St & tip of Manhattan & from Frankfort to Wall btwn William St & East river."

Water level at the Battery has hit 11.25 ft, breaking a record set in 1821.

Updated Mon 4:08pm ET:

Tweet from Jen Bekman:

[Con Ed] rep on NY1 sayspower shutdown "very likely" south of 34th st. 7-9pm for high tide.

Some common sense tips: how to make your cell phone charge last if the power goes out.

Walked by Joseph Leonard on Waverly Place here in the West Village earlier and it was jam packed.

Want to look at a bunch of good photos of the hurricane? Alan Taylor at In Focus has you covered.

Great story of how Dan Rather hacked up the first radar image of a hurricane shown on TV for Hurricane Carla in 1961.

He took a camera crew to the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) office in downtown Galveston, which featured a cutting-edge WSR-57 radar console. He convinced the bureau staff to let him broadcast, live, from the office. He asked a Weather Bureau meteorologist to draw him a rough outline of the Gulf of Mexico on a transparent sheet of plastic; during the broadcast, he held that drawing over the computer's black-and-white radar display to give his audience a sense both of Carla's size and of the location of the storm's eye. As CBS plugged into the broadcast, that audience suddenly became a national one.

Tappan Zee Bridge closed as of 4pm. And all bridges/tunnels in and out of Manhattan are closing at 7pm...or so I've heard on TV/Twitter. Is that right? Has anyone seen the Batman?

Things aren't looking good on Nantucket. And probably not even close to max storm surge.

Updated Mon 3:47pm ET:

There are reports of a crane collapse at One World Trade but Jake Dobkin doesn't see any evidence of that. (Update: Jake was right...no crane issue at 1WTC.)

Updated Mon 3:11pm ET:

More footage of the 1938 hurricane that hit the northeastern US.

Updated Mon 3:07pm ET:

Is TV news and Twitter whipping everyone into a hurricane-like froth with its incessant coverage of Sandy? Well, E.B. White has similar complaints about radio and Hurricane Edna back in 1954.

The radio either lets Nature alone or gives her the full treatment, as it did at the approach of the hurricane called Edna. The idea, of course, is that the radio shall perform a public service by warning people of a storm that might prove fatal; and this the radio certainly does. But another effect of the radio is to work people up to an incredible state of alarm many hours in advance of the blow, while they are still fanned by the mildest zephyrs.

That awesome photo you saw of Hurricane Sandy? It might not be Hurricane Sandy.

Vintage newsreel footage of hurricanes in 1938, 1955, and 1969.

Piers Morgan spotted a crane that has buckled on a building near CNN HQ in NYC (157 West 57th):

Crane in hurricane

Massive bang and this giant skyscraper crane outside my office just buckled... Scary.

Updated Mon 2:19pm ET:

Lots of people have noted this feed of hurricane-related photos on Instagram.

NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg urges residents to "Have a sandwich out of the fridge. Sit back, and watch the television." I am so there, Mr. Mayor.

The lower level of FDR Drive on the east side of Manhattan is underwater:

FDR flood

The storm surge in New York Harbor is getting serious.

Con Ed just called us saying that they might have to shut off our power. No timeline mentioned.

Climate change has not been an issue at all in the 2012 Presidential election. Elizabeth Kolbert says that's "grotesque".

BTW, Mitt Romney wants to shut down FEMA and have the states fend for themselves. United(?) States of America?

Earlier:

This WSJ comparison of 2011's Hurricane Irene and Sandy really captures just how massive this storm is and why people seem more concerned about it than they were with Irene.

Via Jeff Masters, Sandy is already producing record storm surges:

The National Weather Service in Atlantic City, NJ said that isolated record storm surge flooding already occurred along portions of the New Jersey coast with this morning's 7:30 am EDT high tide cycle. As the tide goes out late this morning and this afternoon, water levels will fall, since the difference in water levels between low tide and high tide is about 5'. However, this evening, as the core of Sandy moves ashore, the storm will carry with it a gigantic bulge of water that will raise waters levels to the highest storm tides ever seen in over a century of record keeping, along much of the coastline of New Jersey and New York. The peak danger will be between 7 pm - 10 pm, when storm surge rides in on top of the high tide. The full moon is today, which means astronomical high tide will be about 5% higher than the average high tide for the month, adding another 2 - 3" to water levels.

The Holland Tunnel and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel will be closing at 2pm today.

The swans are leaving Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn:

Swan Hurricane Evac

Here's a satellite view of Sandy developing near the equator and building in strength as it churns through the Caribbean and up the Atlantic coast:

Here's my post from yesterday with all sorts of hurricane resources, including Jeff Master's WunderBlog, the Wind Map, and check out your flood zone in NYC.

Hurricane Sandy comin'Oct 28 2012

I don't know how much I'm going to be updating this, but here's a few things about the hurricane that's bearing down on the East Coast right now. Mostly NYC centric.

Updated Sun 11:52pm ET:

The main hall of the closed Grand Central Terminal, deserted. Even stranger, the busiest subway station in NYC (Times Square), closed and deserted.

Times Square Closed

The Wind Map will likely be interesting over the next 36-48 hours. (via @panicstreak)

From Jeff Masters' WunderBlog, a more technical view of the storm:

The National Weather Service in Upton, New York mentioned today that the predicted maximum water level of 11.7 feet at The Battery in New York City, which is expected to occur at 8:13pm ET on Monday, would break the record of 10.5 feet which was set on September 15, 1960 in Hurricane Donna.

The storm's barometric pressure is going to be historically low:

Sandy should have sustained winds at hurricane force, 75 - 80 mph, at landfall. Sandy's central pressure is expected to drop from its current 953 mb to 945 - 950 mb at landfall Monday night. A pressure this low is extremely rare; according to wunderground weather historian Christopher C. Burt, the lowest pressure ever measured anywhere in the U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, NC, is 946 mb (27.94") measured at the Bellport Coast Guard Station on Long Island, NY on September 21, 1938 during the great "Long Island Express" hurricane.

Masters says that part of the NYC subway system may flood:

The full moon is on Monday, which means astronomical high tide will be about 5% higher than the average high tide for the month. This will add another 2 - 3" to water levels. Fortunately, Sandy is now predicted to make a fairly rapid approach to the coast, meaning that the peak storm surge will not affect the coast for multiple high tide cycles. Sandy's storm surge will be capable of overtopping the flood walls in Manhattan, which are only five feet above mean sea level. On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene brought a storm surge of 4.13' and a storm tide of 9.5' above MLLW to Battery Park on the south side of Manhattan. The waters poured over the flood walls into Lower Manhattan, but came 8 - 12" shy of being able to flood the New York City subway system. According to the latest storm surge forecast for NYC from NHC, Sandy's storm surge is expected to be at least a foot higher than Irene's. If the peak surge arrives near Monday evening's high tide at 9 pm EDT, a portion of New York City's subway system could flood, resulting in billions of dollars in damage. I give a 50% chance that Sandy's storm surge will end up flooding a portion of the New York City subway system.

But Linsey Lohan urges you not to panic:

WHY is everyone in SUCH a panic about hurricane (i'm calling it Sally)..? Stop projecting negativity! Think positive and pray for peace.

US financial markets were supposed to be open tomorrow but officials now have closed the markets on Monday.

Updated Sun 8:54pm ET:

The Day After Tomorrow, a movie directed by Roland Emmerich in which a super storm hits Manhattan, is available for streaming ($2.99) or to buy ($9.99) on Amazon Instant Video and on iTunes for sale ($12.99).

John Seabrook notes on Twitter:

Full moon at 7.50pm tomorrow, ten minutes before the high point of storm surge. Seems kind of biblical...

Or Mayan. 2012, y'all.

Justin reminds me of a classic New Yorker piece by Joe Morgenstern about a NYC skyscraper that was unprepared for hurricane-force winds.

On a warm June day in 1978, William J. LeMessurier, one of the nation's leading structural engineers, received a phone call at his headquarters, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from an engineering student in New Jersey. The young man, whose name has been lost in the swirl of subsequent events, said that his professor had assigned him to write a paper on the Citicorp tower, the slash-topped silver skyscraper that had become, on its completion in Manhattan the year before, the seventh-tallest building in the world.

LeMessurier found the subject hard to resist, even though the call caught him in the middle of a meeting. As a structural consultant to the architect Hugh Stubbins, Jr., he had designed the twenty-five-thousand-ton steel skeleton beneath the tower's sleek aluminum skin. And, in a field where architects usually get all the credit, the engineer, then fifty-two, had won his own share of praise for the tower's technical elegance and singular grace; indeed, earlier that year he had been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor his profession bestows. Excusing himself from the meeting, LeMessurier asked his caller how he could help.

The student wondered about the columns--there are four--that held the building up. According to his professor, LeMessurier had put them in the wrong place.

"I was very nice to this young man," LeMessurier recalls. "But I said, 'Listen, I want you to tell your teacher that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, because he doesn't know the problem that had to be solved.' I promised to call back after my meeting and explain the whole thing."

Updated Sun 8:22pm ET:

From the excellent coverage at WSJ:

Those living above the 10th floor in skyscrapers may want to find shelter in lower floors. Winds increase with height in a hurricane and could be significantly stronger than on ground level. Be cautious about sleeping near a window on Monday night. Do not walk outside on Monday evening, as there could be significant amounts of airborne debris flying around. Rain totals 4-8 inches.

Not a sight you see that often: Grand Central is closed.

Grand Central Closed

From Quartz, a list of webcams to watch as Sandy approaches.

Updated Sun 8:11pm ET:

BREAKING NEWS! [siren] Powerful Storm Brings Down NY Times Paywall: "The Times is providing free unlimited access to storm coverage on nytimes.com and its mobile apps."

From When There's a Flood: if you're preparing your house for a flood, shut off the water, propane, and electricity.

Just checked Uber in the West Village...about 10 cars less than three minutes away. Usually a lot less inventory than that.

Was rumored that MoMA would be open tomorrow with skeleton crew but word just now from their Twitter account: closed tomorrow.

From the NY Times:

If the surge runs as high as forecast, Con Ed will shut off two electrical networks in Lower Manhattan, known as the Fulton and Beekman networks, the official said.

I looked all over the place for a map that showed which parts of the city are served by the Fulton and Beekman but couldn't find anything. I'm assuming the Fulton station is near the World Trade Center and the Beekman is on Beekman St by Pace University. So way Lower Manhattan?

Earlier:

Subway, bus and railroad services in New York and New Jersey are being shut down starting at 7pm tonight. Probably won't be back open until sometime on Wednesday.

NYC schools are closed on Monday. And probably Tuesday. And if public transit is closed on Wed, schools with probably be closed that day too.

Taping your windows to protect them from hurricanes is "a waste of effort, time, and tape".

Residents in Zone A in NYC have been ordered to evacuate. Check out where your zone is here.

New York City's Hurricane brochure is available here.

The tracking map on Weather Underground gives you the opportunity to "share this storm". Weather.com lets you see "friends at risk." Uhh....

For storm updates in Spanish, be sure to follow Miguel Bloombito:

Did tu packo el vamos bag? No forgeto el casho, los medicatioño y tamponitos.

The WSJ has a great post comparing Sandy with Irene from last year. Sandy is much more potentially damaging in almost all respects.

On Saturday, Sandy became the largest storm in recorded Atlantic basin history, with a diameter of gale force winds of over 1000 miles. Tropical storm warnings were in place Saturday simultaneously for North Carolina and Bermuda, a sign of the storm's massive geographic sweep. Those winds will follow Sandy northward, potentially encompassing more than 50 million people at once from Virginia to New England.

Peter Kafka paraphrasing Bloomberg: "don't be stupid and it will be fine".

Satellite view of Sandy from 2:42 am last night. Massive. This thing is Day After Tomorrow big.

Zones, evacuation centers, webcams, and more on this Google Maps maps.

Chad Dickerson notes that the decentralization of NYC's stores is a plus:

the institution of the neighborhood corner store in NYC comes through for storm prep. decentralization ftw!

Guy Fieri gets burnt in fiery reviewOct 24 2012

Joshua David Stein takes Guy Fieri deep in a biting review of the ridiculous fat-food huckster's new restaurant in Times Square.

It would be disingenuous to claim that Times Square represents anything but a regurgitation of the American dream, monetized, metastasized, made blindingly bright by light-emitting diodes and shoved back down the gullets of those souls unlucky enough to have mistakenly stumbled into the red zone, or worse, like moths to the incinerating flame, have actively sought it out. To deride Mr. Fieri for opening his restaurant there as if he'd taken a dump in the Louvre is silly. He pooped on a pile of bright shiny poop, Jeff Koonsian poop, Guy Debordian poop. But public defecation is still a crime in New York City (Health Code Section 153.09), and his offenses rest not in their location but in their very nature.

Mr. Fieri not only serves truly horrible-tasting food, an awkward origami of clashing aleatory flavors, but he serves this punishing food emulsified with a bombastic recasting of deep-fried American myth. Mr. Fieri's most egregious transgression isn't what he puts into his fellow citizens' stomachs, it's how the cynical slop interfaces with what he puts into their minds.

A visit to the last sensory deprivation tank in New YorkOct 19 2012

Mary HK Choi takes an hour-long journey in the last remaining sensory deprivation tank in New York.

Okay. This is when you realize you had a picture in your mind about an isolation tank, so you're going to be simultaneously bummed out and fully relieved that the tank isn't one of them lock-down joints from "Fringe." This one basically looks like a huge bathtub, enclosed behind an upright sliding shower door that's black and features a handsome wooden handle. There is no lid. The darkness is your lid, just as it's always been. (JK JK, I don't even know what that means!) This is good, because you don't have to worry about suffocating on your own carbon dioxide because you don't experience that thing where your breath breathes back at you because you're panting and watching the intruder from inside your closet that is so very small. :(

The water-"water"-is set at exactly body temp, so don't expect that tingly sensation of sliding into a hot tub. And remember that it's saline solution, so don't get it on your face. It's not that tricky, since you'll slide in so that you're on your back. So your eyes, nose and mouth are completely exposed and floating, as well as your toes, the tops of your thighs and a half-bagel of your belly (or full bagel depending on the day).

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore eventSep 26 2012

To celebrate the release of his new novel, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan is doing two related events at the Center for Fiction in NYC.

Second thing first: At 7pm on Thu, Oct 4, there will be a launch party at the Center for Fiction hosted by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Electric Literature. RSVP here.

But before the party, Robin will be interviewing a variety of people over a 24-hour period and streaming the whole thing online. I am one of the scheduled interviewees and I have no idea what we'll talk about. But because my slot is right before the party starts, after almost 20 non-stop hours of Robin interviewing people, it's possible we'll just change into our sweatpants, split a pint of Cherry Garcia, and spoon on the couch.

Edvard Munch's The Scream at MoMASep 18 2012

Beginning in October, a copy of Edvard Munch's iconic The Scream of Nature will be on display at MoMA for a six-month stint.

Of the four versions of The Scream made by Munch between 1893 and 1910, this pastel-on-board from 1895 is the only one remaining in private hands. The three other versions are in the collections of museums in Norway. The Scream is being lent by a private collector, and will be on view at MoMA through April 29, 2013.

Smoke 'em if you got 'emSep 13 2012

The latest from the Made By Hand video series is about Martinez Cigars on West 29th St in NYC. The cigars they sell are hand-rolled right in the shop.

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