Posts by danielledowler:

Articles By: danielle dowler

Danielle is a native Northern Californian (San Francisco Bay Area), but New York City has her heart. She is currently pursuing her Master's of Science in Urban Planning at Columbia, while simultaneously exploring the extensive nightlife New York City has to offer. True to her Californian roots, Danielle enjoys anything involving sunshine, avocados, and large bodies of water, but isn't completely sold on the beaches of NYC compared to those of her undergrad days in San Diego. She loves great wine, site plans, pocket parks and hidden alleyways. Follow her on Twitter @danielledowler


Hunters Point, Long Island City is a rapidly changing neighborhood flanking the East River on its eastern bank. Neighborhood history is reflected the design of the neighborhood’s architecture, ranging from primarily industrial uses, heavy rail and freight, to its future of luxury condominiums. Atlas Obscura partnered with the Newtown Creek Alliance to craft a walking tour focused on the modernity of Long Island City’s main corridor, while highlighting its industrial roots.



New York City is known for its impressive skyline, gourmet restaurants, and thrilling theater. However, one overlooked aspect of the City is its plentiful waterfront, as waterways encapsulate all five boroughs. While other cities are lauded for their coastal or riverfront amenities, New York’s waterfront presence is often ignored. The City boasts an impressive 520 miles of shoreline, which is both immense and incredibly diverse; it hosts multiple watersheds, countless species, and is ripe for transformation. Moreover, the City maintains a bustling maritime industry, employing 31,000 workers and collecting $1.3 billion in tax revenue.

In order to focus on bringing more New Yorkers to the waterfront, Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn collectively launched the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES) in April 2010. The initiative spans across city agencies, emphasizing a collaborative effort to establish a sustainable plan for the city’s waterfront. The initiative is two-fold: first, it consists of Vision 2020 which established long-term waterfront goals for the next decade. Secondly, it incorporates the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda which includes 130 projects to be implemented within a three-year span. Projects include improving two miles of city-owned property along the East River Waterfront Esplanade, stretching from the Battery Maritime Building to Montgomery Street and well as Hunter’s Point South, a chrysalis of mixed-use mid-income housing on nearly 30 acres of Long Island City waterfront.

After years of focusing on its avenues and skyscrapers, New York has begun to recognize the waterfront as one of its most vital and underutilized assets. However, as Hurricane Sandy has recently shown, the city also needs to consider the effects that climate change and increased frequencies of natural disasters will have on new coastal developments and communities. The costs of evacuations, rescues, and property damage should be evaluated when allocating land use in waterfront plans.

This article was originally published on our partner site  URBAN Magazine, a production of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning.


Clark Kent used it to change into his iconic alter ego before he launched into the sky to save the world. It’s a mainstay of kitschy tourist photography. The telephone booth is an iconic structure that has captured the attentions of those around the world, through its use in film, or, even simply, as a noticeable streetscape feature. However, with the rise of mobile, and now smart-phone use, the phone booth has become passe in many cities. In some instances, the payphones no longer work, making the rare collect call home infinitely more difficult.


Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish cultural center,  kicked off their fall season with a spectacular panel discussion and gallery opening on September 5th, welcoming the Young Architects of Spain: A Window into the Unknown exhibition. Hosted by Instituto Cervantes, the exhibition is a collaborative endeavor among its host, The Consulate General of Spain, and the Embassy of Spain.

To welcome the exhibition into their gallery space, prior to the opening, Instituto Cervantes held a panel discussion featuring curators Jesus Aparicio and Jesus Donaire, architect Alberto Campo Baeza, Storefront for Art and Architecture Director Eva Franch, the Executive Director of AIA New York Rick Bell, and the General Consul of Spain Juan Ramon Martinez Salazar. The discussion emphasized the importance of Spanish Architecture, and how the country as a whole has produced amazing architects, making architecture a prominent facet of Spanish culture. Through these architects, the panel concurred that one could envision the future of architecture and the cross cultural connections that are already evident throughout the scope of work presented.

An international jury of renowned architects received 700 submissions for entry into the exhibition and ultimately chose 62 architectural firms’ projects to display. Requirements for submission included that all architects must be under 40 years of age, and must be Spanish, although the work could be located anywhere in the world. Initially, the exhibition began in Spain and traveled throughout Europe before making its way across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. Some of the firms are well known on the global stage, such as Andres Jaque Architects, whose IKEA Disobedience was recently purchased by MoMA, and others who are just stepping out in their global debut. All of the work is simply stunning; exemplifying the direction that architecture is heading and displaying the creativity and ingenuity of Spanish architects throughout the world.

Each submission is carefully displayed on an individual panel, highlighting key components of the projects, the architects’ intentions and goals, and renderings depicting their description. The exhibit is at Instituto Cervantes New York, 211 E 49th Street, Manhattan through September 18, 2012. Gallery hours are as follows: Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 8:30 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm. The exhibition is free, making it a worthy destination on your brisk walk home after work, or a Saturday mid-morning excursion.

While polka dots are often associated with 1940s patterned skirts, Yayoi Kusama has dedicated her life’s work to the small spherical shapes. She describes the dots as “(unable) to stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka-dots become movement”¦Polka-dots are a way to infinity.” Who knew that such small dots had such great power?

A compendium of her work is on display at the Whitney Museum, beginning with her phallic protrusions in the 1960s up until her present day polka dot-saturated canvasses. Letters written to various other artists and photographs from her happenings are also on exhibition. One of the most memorable pieces is Fireflies on the Water, on display consists of a mirrored room, covered in multicolored lights, in order to covey infinity. The exhibition continues through September 30th, 2012 at the Whitney. Her exhibition is sponsored by Louis Vuitton, with whom Kusama has recently collaborated with to create a new collection.

Fireflies on the Water, photograph from Robert Miller Gallery [Image Source: Whitney Museum]

Yayoi Kusama was born in Japan to a wealthy, conservative family in 1929. During her childhood, she suffered from hallucinations, often associated with suicidal thoughts. While in school, she studied Nihonga painting, a severe style that she disliked because of the master-disciple system through which it was taught. Since, she has taken on her own style of art, often covering huge canvasses in tiny polka-dots. She has also covered inanimate objects such as shoes, chairs, and suitcases with phallic cloth creations, which have become a signature style of hers as well.

Phallic Boat [Image Source]

Upon her move to New York in 1958, she quickly became a leader in the avant-garde movement. Her close friends consisted of Georgia O’Keefe and Eva Hesse, and although her work was respected, she failed to profit fiscally from her pieces. Kusama became known for her provocative instances that she held in various public places such as Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge, which often involved nudity and her own presence in the subsequent photos taken of the event. In the late 1960s, she would stage live performances and would paint polka dots on naked performers. One of her most famous works of the decade, entitled Narcissus Garden, caused quite a stir when she displayed it at the Venice Biennial, an event to which she was not invited. The stainless steel balls featured in the piece capture the reflection of the audience, holding the visual world captive.

Narcissus Garden [Image Source: Flickr]

In the 1970s Kusama moved back to Japan, and checked herself into the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill, and has lived there since. Initially considered a forgotten artist, retrospectives in the late 1980s and 1990s have since sparked international interest.

Whitney Museum [Map]
945 Madison Avenue

While many may think of Seattle as the capital of ferry boat riding, New York City also has an extensive ferry infrastructure carrying passengers between Kings, Queens and New York Counties, in addition to the close shore of New Jersey. Thousands of passengers rely on this service in order to successfully arrive at their vocations every day. Others view the ferry as a relatively inexpensive opportunity to peer at the New York Harbors while simultaneously taking in the sea breeze.

Most ferries in New York City are privately owned and operated. In fact, the one ferry monitored by the Department of Transportation is the Staten Island Ferry. This one form of DOT’s extensive transportation infrastructure is considered the most reliable, delivering passengers on-time 96% of the time. The ferry is free of charge, and offers spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty.

Staten Island Ferry

Last summer, the East River Ferry joined the ranks of other privately owned ferries and has managed to make quite an impact on ferry ridership. In order to create this route, the New York City Economic Development Corporation commissioned the Billy Bey Ferry Company (through New York Waterway) to run service for three years with a $9 million city backing. While critics of the ferry service were skeptical about its success, the launch of this service in 2011 has been described as quite the success. Servicing Long Island City, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, the east side of Manhattan and Governors Island, the East River Ferry has exceeded the expectations of New York Waterway. In order to compensate for increased ridership, New York Waterway now uses larger boats on the weekends.

East River Ferry

A new highlight of the East River Ferry this year is its partnership with Benchmarc Events, offering tasty treats 7 days a week.   Last summer Brooklyn Roasting Company earned the spotlight with their coffee and in order to further local Brooklyn eateries, a partnership with Benchmarc, McClure’s, was forged. The ferry currently features pastries, cupcakes,  egg creams, and specialty coffee, making the ride that much more enticing.

Egg cream and cupcake aboard the East River Ferry

Ferryboats are often considered synonymous with a New York summer. Riding either to a new portion of the city, taking one to the Far Rockaway beach or even catching the ferry to a baseball game can make a summer afternoon even more memorable.

On game days:

And don’t forget about the Ikea Taxi operated by  NY Water Taxi!

Ferry to Yankee Stadium

Get in touch with the author @danielledowler.