Image by Melissa Hom via Grubstreet
As you can imagine, we are pretty excited to hear (via Grubstreet) that a new donut spot is opening up in a rather unique location: a car wash on the West Side Highway. Underwest Donuts will be at Westside Highway Car Wash at 12th Avenue and 47t Street, a spot next to the former H&H Bagel. Like the recent French bakery, Arcade Bakery, located in a gorgeous office lobby, location was half luck. When Scott Levin, a former sous chef at Chanterelle, was looking for a storefront, it turned out that his father-in-law is an owner of the car wash, and the place in the tunnel was unused. There’s going to be an automatic donut robot to add to the fun.
In Washington Square Park, we ran into Brandon Doman, founder of The Strangers Project, an on-going collection of over 10,000 handwritten journal entries Doman has collected from around the country. The enticing and friendly, “HI THERE!” sign drew our eye and we read some of the fascinating entries while chatting with Doman. He started the idea just on a whim at a coffee shop because he was suddenly curious about all hundreds of people walking by. Using a marker he wrote, “Hi there! Please stop and share your story!” which evolved into the current project.
You know about food trucks, but New York City is full of other types of unique mobile truck businesses. And no, we’re not talking about the NYPD trucks that process delinquents…
“It’s like old New York,” says a happy customer waiting for her kitchen knives to be sharpened Saturday morning near Columbia University. 58-year old Dominic Del Re is from Italy and was a commodities trader in New York City. He decided to get into the mobile knife sharpening business after the stock market crash of 1987. The truck is from his wife’s uncle, a knife grinder in Montreal, who also taught him the trade, which was passed down from his wife’s grandfather. He started in Brooklyn and now goes all over. He doesn’t like photographs, but will jokingly charge you $1 per shot. And he has a strict no weapons policy.
Herald Square seems packed full of retail, department stores, and office buildings today, but there’s a large apartment building at the corner of 34th Street and Broadway that was once the Hotel McAlpin. At its completion in 1912, it was the largest hotel in the world with a Turkish bath on the top floor and two gender-specific floors. Perhaps most of note was the Hotel McAlpin’s restaurant, the Marine Grill, for its terra cotta murals and cast iron entrance gate. In fact, the restaurant originally had a different name but was renamed the Marine Grill, in celebration of the subject matter of the murals–major moments in New York City’s maritime history from Henry Hudson’s arrival to Robert Fulton’s steamship. Thanks to preservationists, the terra cotta murals and the entrance gate are now embedded into the new Fulton Center Transit Hub.
There’s been a lot of hype around the new Fulton Center Transit Hub that opened this morning at 5 A.M. Senator Charles E. Schumer proclaimed that it was a “a metaphor for a revitalized downtown.” MTA Capital Construction President Dr. Michael Horodniceanu effused “Magical wouldn’t be too strong a word” for what officials are calling New York City’s “next great public space.” For years, the MTA had on its website that the Fulton Center hub would “immediately take its place among New York City’s great public spaces” when opened, akin to “a downtown Grand Central.” At the opening, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said “Forget the Grand Central clock. They’re going to come here.”
We took a visit inside the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) again last week, one of our favorite city agencies because it looks just like NASA inside. On the agenda for this visit included a look at the city’s Temporary Disaster Housing Unit which is currently being tested by OEM employees, who live inside one week at a time. It’s actually the nation’s first urban post-disaster housing prototype, a direct response to the challenges faced after Hurricane Sandy.