Bike Lanes in NYC: The Good, the Bad, and the Congested

Bike Lanes in NYC: The Good, the Bad, and the Congested

There is a renaissance of cycling across the country, and New York is no exception. More commuters than ever are choosing to bike, a shift that collectively cuts down fossil fuel emissions and keeps urbanites active, if not a bit sweaty. To encourage biking and make room for its growth, many cities are implementing projects to become bike-friendly. In New York City, these have been more divisive than you’d expect.

Car-centric Manhattan has never been biking mecca like Denmark’s Copenhagen and likely never will be. While it did have its boom back in the late 19th century, at which time some major streets in Brooklyn were constructed with bikes in mind, the fad died out before long. After cars became affordable, most of the decades following streets were designed strictly for motorized vehicles. The main island’s narrow streets and heavy traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, have since made cycling a hazard.

Since 1990, biking in NYC has increased by 320 percent, and 68 percent between 2010 and 2014. Now that biking is returning in a big way, the trend has to reckon with cars’ legacy in an increasingly crowded city. Depending on who you ask, modern bike lanes are either a blessing or a curse, as balancing the needs of different types of commuters has proven more difficult than anticipated.

Veteran taxi drivers and residents will tell you how different city streets were just 20 years ago, and their opinions are by and large the same: bike lanes make things worse. While helpful for bikers and good for energy efficiency, they complicate the rules of the road. Drivers get confused, slow down, and traffic gets backed up. Smooth sailing? Not unless you’re a biker, and even then, you might still get hit: biking fatalities number in the hundreds each year, and even spiked in 2014.

Bike lanes should in theory make things safer, but anti-bike advocates have called their implementation “monstrous” and “truly offensive”, with some claiming that the Department of Transportation has vastly overstated their benefits. They take up valuable road space, cut lanes of car traffic from three to two and make it difficult for taxis to pick up customers without getting ticketed. Drivers say that in spite of lanes, many bikers don’t follow the rules.

Those in favor of bike lanes, including Mayor Bloomberg, who made them part of his legacy, argue that they don’t increase congestion and actually stimulate the economy, since pedestrians and bikers are likely to patron local businesses. Further, the implementation of Citi Bikes across the city has enjoyed immense popularity in spite of some problems.

It seems like drivers and bikers will never agree on the merits of bike lanes, but one thing is for sure: the city’s many pedestrians are neutral as long as there are no bikers on the sidewalk.

8 Insider Secrets of The American Museum of Natural History

8 Insider Secrets of The American Museum of Natural History

When you think of the American Museum of Natural History, you might think of taxidermy–still life–but not the spur-thighed tortoise brothers Mud and Hermes who live in the herpetology department, or the famous naturalist who inspired Indiana Jones.

For a museum about natural history, AMNH certainly has a long and storied human history, involving explorers, scientists, donors, researchers, visitors, and New Yorkers–even a turtle or two. The Night at the Museum movies show the exhibits coming alive, but the truth is the museum is already very much alive: pushing research through expeditions, spearheading conservation efforts, planting time capsules, hosting live animals, displaying meteorites and collecting stardust, awarding degrees, and bearing the marks of its city and citizens (as detailed by the Village Voice in its 2008 “Best of” edition).

Here are some sensational stories about one of New York City’s most interesting institutions.

1. A rocky start (pun intended)

Envisioned by Albert S. Bickmore and supported by influential New Yorkers, the American Museum of Natural History first manifested in 1871 as an exhibit in the Central Park Arsenal building. Just five years later, the museum garnered over a million visitors annually. In 1877 the museum upgraded to Manhattan Square in the Upper West Side. However, attendance dropped with the move, and the museum soon found itself in hot water with the purchase of costly collections.

In 1880 the museum nearly shut down, but founder Morris K. Jesup stepped in. Over the course of a quarter century, the museum’s third president grew the museum exponentially in terms of employees, exhibition space, and–crucially–funding.

2. “It belongs in a museum!”

Roy_Chapman_Andrews_50488rJesup also changed the way the museum acquired its artifacts by launching expeditions and sending specialists into the field. One of those specialists may have been the character inspiration for Indiana Jones: naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews. In the early twentieth century, Andrews worked his way up at the museum until he was “leading the historic expeditions through Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, where his team discovered many new mammal and dinosaur fossils, including the first nests of dinosaur eggs, according to the museum.”


The museum participated in and led other groundbreaking expeditions, contributing to the discovery of the North Pole and the mapping of unexplored areas in Siberia, Mongolia, and the Congo. “Though the pace has slowed, expeditions continue to this day. Among 2013’s expeditions were intensive fieldwork on scorpions in Israel and Jordan and finding new bioluminescent underwater species in the Solomon Islands.” The story behind the Whitney Hall of Oceanic Birds, chronicled by Jonathan Meiburg in The Appendix, is an example of one of the museum’s daring, grueling, groundbreaking expeditions turned exhibition.

3. Friends in high places

The museum’s founding was supported by movers and shakers like J.P. Morgan, Andrew Hasswell Green, and Theodore Roosevelt. Civil War general and U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant laid the museum building’s cornerstone, according to a New York Times article from 1874. Naturalist, New York governor, U.S. president, and wild game hunter Teddy Roosevelt donated animals to the museum, including an elephant that is now part of the herd of displayed in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals.

4. Jewel Heist

If you’ve ever thought of museums as stuffy, there may actually be a very good reason for it. A window in the Morgan Hall of Gems that was left cracked open for ventilation afforded acrobatic burglars entrance to the museum, and defunct burglar alarms allowed them to make off with incredibly valuable gems.

On October 29, 1964, after casing the place for a week, Jack Roland Murphy, or “Murph the Surf,” and Allan Dale Kuhn stole high-carat jewels like the Star of India, Midnight Star, De Long Star Ruby and Eagle Diamond. All but the latter were later recovered, and the robbers caught, but the heist made history.

5. The Blue Whale is not falling

According to senior project major Stephen Quinn in TimeOut, the workers who first installed the famous blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life in 1969 played a prank on a concerned manager. This manager used a piece of wood that fit between the floor and whale’s chin when standing. Every day, the manager would use the pole to ensure the suspended whale was not sinking. So workers extended the pole’s length slightly by gluing some sawdust on the end so that the manager would believe the whale was slowly falling.


6. Behind the scenes

At any given time, only about 3% of the museum’s collection (comprising over 30 million artifacts) are on display. If you’re picturing the endless warehouse into which the feds wheeled Indiana Jones’s prize find–the Ark of the Covenant–you’re on the right track. According to a backstage tour documented in a dramatically-scored found footage video by Tech Insider, “The museum’s collection is so extensive that audits have led to the discovery of unknown species sitting right on the shelves.”

The video reveals the skull of a dire wolf unearthed in the LA tar pits, an amber collection featuring a 20-million-year-old butterfly and a 100-million-year-old lizard, and “two prehistoric-looking fish have been sitting in alcohol since the 1950s. Scientists thought the coelacanth went extinct more than 65 million years ago.” If that’s not creepy enough, in an Interstellar-esque twist, the museum basement houses over 100,000 tissue samples preserved in liquid nitrogen, so that “if a catastrophe hit New York tomorrow, these specimens would remain frozen for 5 weeks.”

Mental Floss documented a similar scene behind closed doors, noting that the museum has a rare example of a great auk–a penguin-looking bird extinct since 1844–that was once owned by Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew. A 25-foot long giant squid accidentally caught by a New Zealand fisherman is also housed in the museum, though in pieces: the body is kept in a large tank and the beak is preserved in a jar sitting on the desk of the paleontology curator.

The 21,000-carat gem the Brazilian Princess can also be found at the museum. This jewel was cut in the 70s using specialized equipment, since it was the largest ever cut at the time. According to George Harlow, curator of the division of physical sciences, “‘[…] we had a plan that when the Statue of Liberty had its centennial, a jewelry designer was going to come up with a ring mount to go on the [statue’s] finger.’”

The museum also curates a vast library of over half a million texts.

7. Conservation

Despite its many taxidermied subjects (the museum no longer employs this still-life method), the American Museum of Natural History actively participates in conservation efforts, including launching the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC). “[…] The CBC has conducted site-specific conservation work in British Columbia, working with indigenous groups to preserve native wildlife such as grizzly bears in the Great Bear Rainforest; in the Solomon Islands working to improve land use and protect natural resources; and in inland Southeast Asia, where it discovered previously unrecorded species of amphibians, small mammals, invertebrates and birds.”

8. Continued Learning

The American Museum of Natural History is also the first museum in the country to grant advanced degrees: specifically PhDs in comparative biology. Accredited in 2009, the Richard Gilder Graduate School graduated its first students in 2013.

8 NYC History Buffs You Should Be Following

8 NYC History Buffs You Should Be Following

If you leave New York City for any length of time, you will return to find it familiar and yet endlessly adapted–ruthlessly updated. In the city that never sleeps, that is both timeless and modern, that changes constantly and yet stands eternal, history takes on a special dimension that doesn’t take up any extra square footage.

In an admirable effort, residents and organizations have documented the rich history behind the myth and legend of New York City. Here are eight experts you should follow to keep up with the evolution.  

1. @tenementmuseum

Imagine your apartment building–perfectly preserved and inoculated by time–has reopened by historians. 70 years later, it can now toured by curious visitors. In viewing your perfectly preserved or restored apartment, they try to understand what life was like at this point in history: what has changed and what has stayed the same in this ephemeral city.

Touring other people’s apartments fulfills deep-seated voyeuristic tendencies inherent to New Yorkers, to whom space is a precious commodity. Touring a fellow New Yorker’s apartment removed by the span of several dozen years and a handful of generations is now a unique educational treat, courtesy of the Tenement Museum.

On a mission to document the immigrant experience and New York City’s tenement communities, historian and social activist Ruth Abram and Tenement Museum co-founder Anita Jacobson stumbled across a time capsule at 97 Orchard Street. Just one building on a block of many housed nearly 7000 working class immigrants during its lifespan. Operating from 1863 to 1935, tenants were subsequently evicted and the higher floors shuttered, due to a building code upgrade that never happened.

Discovered in this condition in 1988 and re-opened in 1992, the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side is a fascinating and ever-expanding look into the history of the city, through the eyes of the people who fundamentally shaped it. It documents the struggle and magnifies the story of a movement in microcosm. Perhaps most fascinating for its focus on history through people and stories, the Tenement Museum is very much a living history.

2. @BoweryBoys

The popular Bowery Boys have recorded over 200 podcasts celebrating over 400 years of New York city history.

3. @levysuniqueny

This feed is a window into the vast knowledge of Levys’ Unique New York: “NY’s First Family of Tour Guides,” who can tailor your New York experience like no other.

4. @discovering_nyc

This historian-curated feed is chock full of old photos and depictions of New York City, almost impossible to reconcile with the vividly technicolor, larger-than-life smorgasbord we see and hear today.

5. @nycscholars

The Gotham Center, through the Graduate Center at CUNY, works to make New York City history available to the public for study and enrichment, pooling the resources of “professional historians, amateur buffs, museum curators, archivists, librarians, educators, filmmakers, and preservationists.” The Gotham Center was prompted by an award-winning book: Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. Based on its success, author Mike Wallace established Gotham Center in 2000.

6. @nyhistory

Founded in 1804, the New-York Historical Society showcases a historical collection and culturally-relevant exhibitions about this city’s rich history.

7. @museumofcityny

Founded in 1923 and formerly located in the official residence of the New York City Mayor–Gracie Mansion–the Museum of the City of New York features an eclectic and exceptional cross-section of New York City history.

8. @nypl_labs

New York Public Library’s Labs are focused on harnessing and optimizing the extensive resources at the library’s disposal for the internet’s edification. This effort has led to projects such as the New York City Space/Time Directory, Stereogranimator, and Building Inspector. Also check out the OldNYC app, which places old NYPL photos of New York on the map, literally.

Shake Up Your NYC Plans With These 5 Innovative Dining Experiences

Shake Up Your NYC Plans With These 5 Innovative Dining Experiences

Problem: You’re planning dinner with your friends and you can’t decide what to do. In a city like New York, there are endless dining opportunities to choose from. On the one hand, you can make the evening low-key by ordering pizza or Chinese take-out. On the other hand, you can go out to the local pub for burgers. But that’s so boring, you think.

Solution: You can go one step further by eating your entire meal blindfolded or in front of a movie screen. There are a handful of innovative and unique dining experiences in New York City that will make your night out with your friends a memorable one.

Here are five to start with:

1. Dinner and a Movie at Nitehawk Cinema

Why make separate plans to do dinner and a movie when you can do it all in one place? This movie theatre with a full-sized restaurant menu shows independent films, like a screening of Madonna’s 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour and the classics like Psycho and Robocop. Kick back and relax with a glass of wine and a cheese plate or munch on popcorn flavored with truffle butter or a mixture of Old Bay, Tobasco and lemon butter.

2. Farm Fresh Food at Brooklyn Grange

These days, a lot of us like to know where our food comes from. At Brooklyn Grange, it’s not hard to guess because the food is grown mere feet away from your table! The rooftop farming business grows over 50,000 pounds of organically-grown vegetables each year. With all of those veggies, Brooklyn Grange likes to plan true farm-to-table dinner experiences with the unexpected punch of a city skyline.

At their Sunday “Butcher Paper Dinners,” food is served directly on butcher paper along a massive, fifty-foot communal table. With no paper napkins or disposable cups, the dinner creates virtually no waste. At the end of each meal, everything is rolled up and put into the compost

3. Dinner and a Show at Ninja New York

The interior of this restaurant is designed like a ninja village from the medieval period. The winding hallways are dotted with contraptions to deceive the eyes of an intruder – meaning you! Knives and ninja stars are common along with plenty of enthusiastic screaming from ninjas ready to strike. Diners eat in private rooms and are met with a show of food, fire and fun. Check out restaurant reviewer Zagat’s tour of the restaurant here.

4. Dinner in the Dark at Camaje

Four or five times a month, diners are served multi-course meals with a catch – they must eat them blindfolded! Without sight, the rest of the senses are heightened, which creates a unique experience for your taste buds. The menu for the evening is kept secret until the very end, so guests will have loads of fun trying to guess the foods they ate. Tickets for “Dinner in the Dark” must be purchased in advance.

5. Unlimited [Dessert] Possibilities at Dominique Ansel Kitchen

With only eight seats at Dominique Ansel Kitchen’s U.P. (Unlimited Possibilities), this exclusive dessert-only tasting menu is sure to please your sweet tooth. The menu includes eight courses each paired a wine or cocktail, so drink up!

U.P. serves as an experiment for chefs to push boundaries for desserts in innovative ways. The avant-garde menu changes every six months, with one month in between seatings to let chefs develop the next menu. American Dreams, which just finished in August, showed a century of different American dreams with each course. U.P. will reopen in October with a new theme and menu, so mark your calendar.

The Industry-Changing Tech Used By Real Estate Insiders

The Industry-Changing Tech Used By Real Estate Insiders

Slowly but surely, technology is digitizing the real estate market in ways we may never have guessed possible at the turn of the century. Instead of leafing through hefty paper listings, a new web of opportunities has surfaced at tips of our fingertips. These innovations are changing the game for buyers, renters, agents and developers, for better or for worse.

As it is, 68 percent of real estate agents are under 35, while 32 percent are under 25, meaning over half are millennials. They grew up with technology, and the best among them are utilizing their tech-savvy upbringing to cultivate successful careers in the industry.

Here are some of the top apps and services, born from technology, that are giving real estate insiders — as well as those that buy and rent from them — an edge:

Zillow & The Big Three

bcb property management

There’s a new way to find apartments, and while it sometimes goes by the name of Zillow, it’s a wider spread phenomenon with various names and faces — all of which live online.

“I spent hours on Zillow when looking for my current apartment,” said Brooklynite Jackie of her experience. “The map feature is particularly useful, because it compares costs and physical locations all at once.” Jackie was eventually able to find a great deal in Crown Heights.

Zillow is one of several leading rental-finding websites out there. The company owns StreetEasy, known for its quirky NYC subway ads, and Trulia, another serious force in the market (together, they can be considered the Big Three). Before these crop of startups became popular, Craigslist was a popular go-to for renters especially.

Before finding Zillow, Jackie and her boyfriend Matthew used Craigslist to find apartments to extremely mixed results.

“It’s much dicier,” Jackie says of the process. “People can put whatever they want on there, and it’s not always accurate. My mom was scammed once that way, so I definitely don’t trust it anymore.”

Now, the marketplace is rather crowded. Alongside the Big Three there’s Zumper, Lovely, Movement, and Urban Compass, PadMapper, RentHop, Naked Apartments, and plenty more. Many share the map layout, filters, and other search and listing features boasted by Zillow and its acquisitions.

According to BrickUnderground, even the Big Three differ in their algorithms and approaches, so it’s tricky to know what’s best, or even what’s most accurate. Whatever the case, the diversity of options gives renters an edge in finding what they are looking for, and both brokers and agents can find prospective tenants through the platforms. Other than that, it comes down to taste. Jackie says some of her friends use three or more to compare prices.

Of course, some realtors don’t like these services, and there are good reasons for their reservations.

Samuel Wood, NYS Licensed Salesperson for Island Beach Realty on New York’s Fire Island, does not use Zillow or its ilk. “Most of the information and addresses are incorrect,” he said, adding “I don’t regard any of their advertising impressions or views as legitimate leads.”

For other individuals in development and sales, it can potential buyers find their properties, and gives a sneak peak at the pricing of competitors in the neighborhood.


Paper is becoming increasingly unpopular, and worse, burdensome to the real estate industry. When you have to meet in person to sign or mail a document, that’s an extra barrier to entry.

“If I had the choice between two apartments that were equally nice,” Queens resident Ryan said, “I would definitely choose one that had the option of e-signing.” Ryan works long hours and has precious free time to spend. He also needs to move out of his current apartment and into a new one quickly, and can’t afford a delay.

“Once a landlord wanted me to go all the way to his office in the Bronx to sign a lease. That just seemed so unnecessary,” he said.

He’s not the only one, and many realtors and even landlords know it. It’s also easier for them make a deal if they don’t have to track down parties and deal with messy paperwork, after all. Digital signatures have been shown to improve turnaround-time by 80 percent.

Some of the leading e-sign platforms include DocuSign for realtors and DotLoop for brokers. Once this type of technology is adopted fully, paperwork will become much less of a pain, and perhaps fade entirely into obscurity.

Samuel Wood uses Adobe’s E-Signature for family vacation rentals. “Tenants can execute a lease by signing a document with their finger on a smartphone or tablet,” he said. “We receive positive feedback for making the booking process simple and instantaneous.”

Social Media & Marketing


You may still see flyers and magazines here and there, but by and large advertising real estate and real estate services has moved to the web. Getting listings out to buyers and renters, therefore, needs to happen primarily on the online where it can reach the most eyes.

As cofounder Bennat Berger of Novel Property Ventures wrote on his blog, “Disseminating your advertising onto different digital platforms…ensures that the listing isn’t overlooked. It also means that those browsing will have all the answers they want up front in terms of price and amenities, speeding up the process from first sight to lease-signing.”

For this reason, it’s important to take quality photographs of spaces for sale, writing clean and engaging copy, and even better, establish and maintain an online presence. Building your brand identity on Twitter, Facebook, and other high-trafficked social media platforms can help realtors and developers interact with potential customers and show off their expertise. Marketing teams can be huge assets on this front.

For the prospective buyer or renter, the more they can learn about and trust that the offerings meet their needs, the more favorable the entire experience will be.

It’s most helpful for those on the sales sade, however. According to Samuel Wood, the analytics are what make social media worthwhile. “You can create specific ads that target particular demographics, age groups, locations and interests….Digitally-savvy clientele love to get data traffic feedback from their listings.” Essentially, the analytics from social ads can inform whether to raise or lower listing prices.

It’s certainly true that technology has seeped into the industry for good, and it’s only a matter of time before it fully saturates. While disruptions like this will always have their downsides, industry insiders that follow the lead of digital trends are likely to generate the most leads in the end.

Top 5 Speakeasies in New York City

Top 5 Speakeasies in New York City

To choose the top five speakeasies in New York, it’s probably a good idea to first define a speakeasy, since the term is perhaps too liberally applied to bars throughout the city. Speakeasies arose in the 1920s during the Prohibition era and served dangerously bootlegged liquor. Any alcoholic watering hole needed to be kept hush-hush: thus, the passwords, hidden entrances, and eccentricities commonly associated with speakeasies.

In a voyeuristic city like New York, where one can bird-watch one’s neighbors through the two-way mirror of parallel apartment windows, secrets and exclusivity rare, sought-after commodities. So it’s not all that surprising that, for the past decade or so, modern “speakeasies” have experienced a surge in popularity–so much so that composing a top five list requires setting certain criteria. Below are the best five speakeasies in New York City for history, entrance, location, atmosphere, and drink menu.

The Original: The Back Room
Lower East Side: 102 Norfolk St. between Delancey and Rivington

The Back Room is the real deal, because it actually was a speakeasy open during Prohibition. The entrance is a testament to its history: turn off the sidewalk, descend a staircase, traverse an underground alley beneath a storefront, emerge into a courtyard of fire escapes, climb a back set of stairs and enter a large, dimly lit room, furnished à La Belle Époque. Order a classic cocktail from the bar, which you will drink from a teacup, to give you plausible deniability in case of a police raid.

The bar is laid out in 2 levels: the bar strip is set slightly below a larger platform featuring a fireplace, a piano, bookcases, and cozy armchairs and couches. (And yes, one of those bookcases conceals a hidden room, giving double meaning to the bar’s name.) The Back Room can claim patronage by gangsters, thespians, and movie stars of the day. It has also been featured in Broad City’s “Hashtag FOMO” episode, where Abbi’s alter-ego Val makes an appearance.

Best Entrance: PDT
East Village: 113 St. Mark’s Place

PDT (Please Don’t Tell) is accessed through a phone booth within a Crif Dogs establishment in the East Village. Enter the phone booth, pick up the phone and dial ‘1’ to check in with the hostess on the other side of the wall. If granted entrance, your party will parade through the phone booth, to the confusion of Crif Dog patrons. For Doctor Who fans, just pretend the phone booth is blue and the experience takes on an added dimension: “It’s bigger on the inside!” On the other side, you’ll be treated to high-end cocktails accompanied by most excellent hot dogs – a winning combination.

Best hidden: The Campbell Apartment
Midtown East: 15 Vanderbilt Ave. entrance of Grand Central station

How can a speakeasy be tucked away in one of the most trafficked thoroughfares in New York City? Well, the best-hidden things are often hidden in plain sight. Perhaps you never knew of a gorgeous space located directly above the hustle and bustle of Grand Central Terminal: the Campbell Apartment.

This lofted bar is truly stunning, somehow resembling a medieval hall with its high ceiling, windows, and fireplace, along with the iconography and hieroglyphic patterning seen in the Egyptian wing of the Met. Formerly the office of 20s tycoon John W. Campbell, who had an “in” on high-end office space through his friend Vanderbilt, who financed the station’s construction, this space is a welcome respite from the hectic scene below. Also–and this is important–the Golden Age cocktail is served in a golden pineapple.

Best atmosphere: Gallow Green
Chelsea: Take the elevator at 542 West 27th St. for Gallow Green, or enter at 532 West 27th St. for the Manderley Bar

One thing you won’t usually get in a speakeasy is a view. Gallow Green is one of the most atmospheric bars in New York City: unsurprising, considering the creative forces behind Sleep No More are housed in the same building. Located on the roof of the McKittrick Hotel, Gallow Green boasts a beautiful view of the city and is decorated like an imagining of Midsummer Night’s Dream: a fairy garden complete with fairy lights. There’s also–inexplicably–a train car on the roof.

In the winter, take shelter from the cold in “The Lodge at Gallow Green,” redecorated to resemble a cozy, rustic winter cabin. If roomy rooftop bars aren’t secret enough (though many New Yorkers would beg to differ–a good rooftop bar is hard to find), check out the Manderley Bar a few floors down: a jazzy lounge at the entrance to the interactive, immersive performance of Sleep No More.

Best Cocktails: Raines Law Room
Chelsea: 48 West 17th St.

As a precursor to Prohibition, in 1896 New York City passed the Raines Law, which limited the Sunday sale of alcohol to hotels only. To bypass the law, bars hastily became slapdash “hotels.” Raines Law Room is named for such, but the name isn’t displayed outside the unmarked black door, behind which you’ll discover a sophisticated parlor with armchairs and couches, arranged to accommodate parties and cordoned off with curtains. Pull a lamp string on the wall to summon your waiter and order a delicious cocktail – everything on the menu is excellent.

Coliving in the City: Ancient Concept, New Trend

Coliving in the City: Ancient Concept, New Trend

For many, it seems that “living the college life” is retaining popularity post-graduation.

Through dormitories, college students gain social experiences and a sense of community: they love having a common area in their living quarters to meet new people, live steps away from restaurants or coffee houses, and can being sociable whenever they choose. These perks aren’t limited to the campus anymore, having carried over into the real world through a living arrangement called coliving.

The lifestyle is a mix between student housing and hotels: a community designed to foster relationships while still maintaining a sense of privacy. It’s an ancient concept that, before physical privacy, thick walls and houses became standard, might have been considered plain old “living.” As recently as the late 80s the concept was adopted from Denmark and is flourishing in the United States today. Shared living spaces are becoming increasingly common in major cities across the country such as Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. The trend is also spreading internationally in Seoul and London.

According to James Scott, COO of London-based coliving developer The Collective, this concept is booming is because many people, Millennials in particular, value experiences over possessions. With rental services for transportation, movies and mobile phones, the generation is trading ownership for experiences. This living arrangement is all about the experiences, making it a great fit for young people.

WeLive’s 110 Wall Street in Manhattan boasts fitness classes, an arcade, cleaning services and potluck dinners included in the rent. There is also a digital social network exclusively for the community that can schedule meetups and events via an app. The community is designed for young professionals constantly on the move and features fully furnished, month-by-month apartments with studio, one- and two-bedroom units.

This lifestyle reflects the changing times, as millennials are constantly on the move from job to job. “The way work is changing,” said Brad Hargreaves, founder of Common, a coliving community with many locations in New York. “It needs to be a little easier for people to move without a traditional 12-month lease.”

In addition, millennials are delaying big milestones, such as purchasing property, to later in their lives; little surprise, seeing as they’re saddled with an average of $26,600 in student loan debt. Combine that with job-hopping and the desire for experiences, and you have the perfect storm for young people to flock to these coliving arrangements.

Although many millennials are accustomed to this living arrangement from college, coliving is not strictly for young people, and not only those who’ve gone to college. Depending on the surrounding environment and the nature of its tenants, some communities, such as WeLive and Common, attract older professionals and entrepreneurs. Other spaces are suited for families, singles, and retirees.

The Market Common in Myrtle Beach, S.C. has a mix of residential and commercial space that attracts families and retirees. The urban village features a variety of shops, entertainment and dining experiences while maintaining a sense of community with its residents. There are walking trails, a central playground and playing fields. A co-living community in Berkeley, California has strictly residential space, but fosters a community with shared meals, carpooling, movie nights and shared parenting life. The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” accurately describes life in this Berkeley community.

Whether it’s a high-rise complex in the middle of Manhattan or a small community in a suburb, coliving is starting to become the next big trend in real estate. Since we are now all accustomed to spending time by ourselves in front of a screen, maybe it’s time to get out into the world and experience a new lifestyle. One that encourages us to bond with communities could be the panacea to our digital woes and price concerns alike.

8 Secrets of the MoMA Only Insiders Know

8 Secrets of the MoMA Only Insiders Know

Every landmark has its secrets, and with one as rich as New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, the stories are almost certainly boundless. While the MoMA’s greatest secrets might always be just that — secret —  we’ve rounded up some incredibly obscure and interesting facts about the museum. These tidbits of knowledge, while mostly limited to the minds of curators and tour guides, can help the everyday museum-goer understand the space with new context.

Here are six surprising facts of the Museum of Modern Art that you’d probably never guess at first glance, and how tuning in can enhance your experience.

1. John D. Rockefeller loathed modern art, but the museum was largely founded by his wife Abby.

Abby_AldrichRockefeller’s wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller was largely responsible for the founding of the Museum of Modern Art. You’d think that being the wife of a famously rich man, the job would be an easy one. On the contrary, her husband hated modern art, meaning Abby had to raise the funds without his help.

2. The MoMA is a microcosm of Manhattan itself.


The MoMA has had several homes and various expansions since its opening on 53rd street in 1939. The museum acquired more and more real estate over the years, and in 2002 expanded even further, retaining at its heart its pivotal sculpture garden. What many don’t realize is that the museum reflects the city as a whole.

“The model for MoMA is Manhattan itself,” architect Yoshio Taniguchi told New York magazine for a feature by Alexandra Lang. “The Sculpture Garden is Central Park, and around it is a city with buildings of various functions and purpose. MoMA is a microcosm of Manhattan.”

3. Two of Monet’s “Water Lilies” paintings were destroyed by fire.


One of the MoMA’s most iconic paintings is “Water Lilies” by Monet, positioned in front of a bench for relaxation and contemplation — as was the intent of the painter, who created them while suffering from cataracts as a “refuge of a peaceful meditation.” They were dismissed for many years as the product of a man past his prime.

Then, in 1958, a fire disrupted the art’s tranquility in the museum and destroyed two of the “Water Lilies” painting. The imminently popular triptych on display now was purchased as a replacement from Monet’s son.

4. Before landing at the MoMA, a taxidermied bald eagle caused a host of legal problems.

America’s bald eagle, while a striking symbol, is one not normally physically included in art — largely because it’s a protected species. So when Robert Rauschenberg put a taxidermied eagle in his 1959 masterpiece “Canyon,” it’s fate was relegated to limbo for a while because it was illegal to sell, despite its valuation of $65 million.

The feds agreed to drop the matter so long as “Canyon” be sold where it could be publicly displayed, which is how the work found its home at the MoMa.

5. One artwork, a fur-covered mug, was snuck in years before it was approved


Among the fifth floor painting and sculpture galleries is a fur-covered cup and saucer called Object by Meret Oppenheim. The idea was conceived by the artist while at lunch with Pablo Picasso, who remarked that fur could be put on anything.

This installation has a peculiar history: after debuting in Paris, it was purchased by the MoMA’s director for $50 of his own money in 1936, even though the trustees disagreed with its inclusion. Ten years later the trustees changed their tune; unbeknownst to many it had been in the museum all along labeled as an “extended loan.” Said chief curator Ann Tempkin for TimeOut NY, “It’s one of the great stars of our Surrealism collection; to think that our director had to sneak it in!”

6. A long-term exhibit in MoMA PS1 can only be seen through a floorboard.

The MoMa also has a branch in Queens called PS1, home to more abstract works of art, dubbed “contemporary.” The art of the contemporary is that it’s sometimes easy to mistake for non-art, and often difficult to grasp in meaning.  

Some of these hidden gems, like “Selbstlos im Lavabad (Selfless in the Bath of Lava)” by Pipilotti Rist. Peek through a hole in the lobby floor to view the video, which presents the artist crying “I am a worm and you are a flower!” as she swims nude in an incandescent lava bath. Easy to miss, impossible to forget.

7. You can watch videos privately in the media lounge.

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On the second floor of the MoMA, there’s a space where you can enjoy art in privacy if you aren’t up to walking among crowds. It’s a media lounge in which visitors can choose from the museum’s extensive video collection to view artwork on their own or with a small group.

The Media Lounge is also a piece of art in and of itself. Designed by artist Renée Green, the installation consists of colorful, expandable walls that can be shifted to create a viewing environment that fits the audience. 

8. The only “free” work in the museum is the @ symbol


One of the most peculiar acquisitions in recent history by the MoMA is the @ symbol, a design both ubiquitous and singular, free and priceless. The symbol is public and dates back to the sixth or seventh century, though Ray Tomlinson chose the symbol for the first e-mail, imbuing it with new meaning and creating a symbol of the computer age.

Says the MoMA website, “We have acquired the design act in itself and as we will feature it in different typefaces, we will note each time the specific typeface as if we were indicating the materials that a physical object is made of.” Notes senior curator Paula Antonelli for TimeOut NY, “[The one] we show in the museum is silk-screened on the wall in American Typewriter font. You should think of it as a shadow of the design.”

The Best Neighborhoods for Students in NYC

The Best Neighborhoods for Students in NYC

As evidenced by the plethora of apps and housing services that have cropped up in the past decade, NYC real estate is an industry unto itself. These companies have generated lots of data on a market that changes drastically from year-to-year. So if you’re approaching the NYC apartment hunt from a particular standpoint — for example, as a student — you can hone in on key variables and find the neighborhood that’s right for you.

For students, those key variables tend to include affordability, proximity, safety, subway access, and space. As a student, you may not need to be on campus everyday. Depending on your schedule, you may also be able to travel at off-peak times, which can be good for crowded train lines, but bad for catching an express. Or you may want to stick close to campus, to take advantage of the library, gym, and other facilities. You may be looking for a more spacious apartment if you intend to study at home, or for an area with lots of local coffee shop options. You might strongly prefer to live alone, to make studying easier — or you may be OK living with roommates, which will save money.

Whatever your situation, here’s a place to start — a list of some up-and-coming and tried-and-true neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn:

East Village/Lower East Side

In Manhattan your options are limited, mostly due to price. That said, the most viable downtown spots for students are the East Village and the Lower East Side. The Lower East Side is south of the East Village, but both are marked by older tenement walk-up buildings and a booming bar/restaurant/gallery scene.

While the Lower East Side and the East Village have a rich nightlife and history, compared to other neighborhoods, they lack options for basic neighborhood staples: food stores, gyms, etc. The Lower East side is most easily accessible by the J/M/Z/F/B/D subway lines, and the East Village by the 6/N/R/F/L.

Inwood/Washington Heights

At the opposite end of the island, you have Inwood and Washington Heights. Similarly old pre-war buildings in these neighborhoods provide more space this far north. Inwood is north of Washington Heights, and both are well north of Central Park, which might give some commuters pause. The rest of Manhattan is available by the A express train, however, and there’s nothing quite like the rush of entirely bypassing Central Park during rush hour.

Residents this far north have access to their own green space, and plenty of it. Inwood is quieter than Washington Heights, but both are relatively calm communities.

Clinton Hill/Prospect Heights

Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights are both old neighborhoods located north of Prospect Park–Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park. Clinton Hill is closer to the water while Prospect Heights is more south, closer to the park. Both have history, charm, and great food. Both are relatively quiet and safe and allow easy access to Fort Greene, Park Slope, and other surrounding neighborhoods.

Clinton Hill is slightly less accessible by the A/C/G lines, while Prospect Heights boasts access to the 2/3/4/5/B/Q lines.

Crown Heights/Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bedstuy)

Crown Heights and BedStuy are the Eastern counterparts of Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights, with BedStuy hugging the water and Crown Heights bordering Prospect Park. These neighborhoods are booming: both are culturally diverse and have lots on hand for food and entertainment.

As with Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights, Crown Heights has access to the 2/3/4/5 lines, and BedStuy to the A/C/G lines.


For North Brooklyn, consider Greenpoint. Located above Williamsburg, Greenpoint similarly boasts great food and coffee. The sticking point is the impending 18-month shutdown of the ‘L’ train in January 2019, which will severely inhibit travel to Manhattan. The rest of Brooklyn is accessible via the G train.

Depending on how long your degree takes to earn, Greenpoint might be off the list or might actually be a cheap choice. Williamsburg has seen an influx of renters over the last decade, with prices rising accordingly, but the L shutdown could reverse that trend. Assuming enough viable travel alternatives to Manhattan — bus, ferry, Uber — Greenpoint could end up being a deal in the long run.

This list encompasses just a few of the perennial and newly minted options in Manhattan and Brooklyn, without even covering Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Murray Hill, Yorkville, Bushwick, Flatbush, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge.

This still leaves us Queens, perhaps hottest borough right now in terms of real estate. Beyond Astoria, there’s plenty to consider with Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Woodside, Flushing, Jackson Heights, and of course, Long Island City. Check out Kingsbridge and Riverdale in the Bronx, as well as St. George on Staten Island.

All of these neighborhoods have lots to offer, but it’s best to start out with a list of what factors are most important to you, because the apartment hunt in New York city always demands some sacrifices. Good luck!

Which Blocks in Brooklyn are the Greenest of Them All?

Which Blocks in Brooklyn are the Greenest of Them All?

Featured image from the 300 East 25th Block Association’s Facebook Page

In the spring and summer, Brooklyn’s lush greenery, flowering lawns, and tree-lined streets brighten the borough’s landscape with bursts of color and fragrance. For many of the dedicates Brooklynites that tend their gardens with care, this it’s more than just a hobby: it’s a competition. Every year, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (BBG) holds its Greenest Block in Brooklyn contest to determine which block is the greenest of them all.

So which blocks were the greenest this year? After careful determination, the BBG’s panel of horticulturists and other experts bestowed the residential title upon E. 25th St. between Clarendon Rd. and Ave. D in the Flatbush neighborhood.

300 East 25th Block Association in Flatbush has entered the contest every year for almost two decades. Its residents take great pride in the win they’ve worked toward — and their lawns speak for themselves, too.

The greenest commercial block went to Fulton Street between South Portland Avenue and South Elliott Place in Fort Greene.

The Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest has been a recurring event since 1994. Since, it’s inspired greening activities on over 1,600 Brooklyn blocks, with community growth improving steadily over the years. In its 22 years of existence, it’s estimated that over 600,000 Brooklynites have been involved in greening and beautification efforts.

Community greening brings communities together and demonstrates the transformative qualities that gardening and landscaping can have in any neighborhood. The contest brought neighborhood and block associations back to life and inspired the creation new organizations too.

Blocks are judged on a variety of criteria, which include color, total vision, citizen participation, variety of plants, soil condition, street tree care, and all around best practice. First place winners are awarded a $300 check prize.

Beyond greenest blocks, of which there are second and third places along with honorable mentions for both residential and commercial, other awards include:

  • Greenest storefront: Rose Water Restaurant in Park Slope
  • Best street tree beds: Stuyvesant Avenue between Bainbridge and Chauncey Streets in Bed-Stuy
  • Best community garden streetscape: Pacific Street between 4th and Flatbush Avenues in Park Slope

As the summer wanes and fall draws nearer, these blocks may lose their color for several seasons. If this contest is any indication, however, their community spirit won’t be fading soon.