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Commissioner's Plan 1811-NYC-Library of Congress-003

We all know the famous 1811 Commissioner’s Plan for New York City that laid out the grid system of Manhattan (fairly close to how it is today). There are various scanned versions online and different evolutions of the plan over time, but the original map of 1807 that was submitted to Congress in 1811 is still on file at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. In honor of the 350th Anniversary of New York City on Monday, we spent the city’s birthday in the Library of Congress examining the original map. First thing to note: that map is HUGE! Here were some of our fun map finds: (more…)

We’ve previously taken you through 5 of Manhattan narrowest houses, including the narrowest of them all at 75 ½ Bedford Street. In a lot of places, the 9½ foot-width of the former home of Edna St. Vincent Millay would be considered far from luxurious. But in New York, this rare piece of real estate is a marketable commodity: a whole 999 square feet that sold for $3.25 million last year. The recent video from the Wall Street Journal brings us inside the house for the first time.

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Times Square Municipal Art Society CompetitionMosaic of 6 entry boards for the Municipal Art Society competition. (Credits: William F Schacht & Cassandra Mcgowen, Richard Haas & Judith DiMaio, Gilbert Gorski, Frank Lupo & Daniel Rowen, Lee Dunnette, Jaime Gonzales-Goldstein & Martin Maurin, George Ranalli, Paul Bentel & Carol Rusche)

Now through January 2015, the Skyscraper Museum is presenting the exhibit Times Square 1984: The Postmodern Moment. The exhibit takes visitors back to the seedy, crime ridden, nostalgic Times Square of the late 1970s early 1980s. In 1984, the Municipal Art Society and the National Endowment for the Arts organized an alternative “ideas competition” for Times Square with a $10,000 prize, in reaction to a critically panned proposal by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. The request for proposals drew more than five hundred entrants and widespread press attention. The New York Times recently highlighted this new exhibit in a slideshow highlighting 20 of the boards museum director Carol Willis was able to track down.

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Acumen formerly Pfizer BuildingPfizer plant facade

Among the columned hallways and warehouses of the 6,600 square foot complex that once headquartered pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, an ecosystem of local manufacturing and food production companies is thriving. Sculptors and kite-makers work alongside chocolatiers and whiskey distillers in an environment that breeds collaboration and innovation.

Yet only five years ago this massive structure, located along Flushing Avenue in South Williamsburg, sat vacant following Pfizer’s departure after over 150 years of occupancy. Faced with an uncertain future, battled over by politicians and developers, the plant somehow evolved into the eclectic mix of industries seen today. To capture the plant’s full transformation we must look back to 1849, when Charles Pfizer opened up his company’s original headquarters in Williamsburg. (more…)

biotope-queens-botanical-garden-untapped-001Biotope at Queens Botanical Garden

While summer is winding down in New York City, there’s still plenty you haven’t done outdoors. Before fall events begin and you all go into hibernation, take a trip to one (or four) of  NYC’s botanical gardens and check out some of the events still going on while we can still call it “summer.” When you do go, don’t forget the history of botanic gardens which date back to 16th and 17th centuries in order to study and cultivate medicines and new species of plants from different countries.

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Hunts Point Landing-The Bronx-Greenway-NYCHunts Point Landing, image via Urban Engineers

Far from the hordes of people that crowd New York’s more popular beaches are a host of lesser known parks offering waterfront access and panoramic views. The city published a map of all of New York’s public waterfront space, but we’ve picked out some of the most interesting from each of the five boroughs. Check them out before the summer weather disappears for good.

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