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Even with the scaffolding from current construction, the facade of 5 Beekman Place, previously Temple Court, is stately. But the good stuff is on the inside. The historic 5 Beekman, just off Park Place, is undergoing a long overdue renovation, being converted into hotels and condos with the addition of a 51-story adjoining tower. We’ve been following the space ever since Scouting NY posted interior shots in 2010 but the Wall Street Journal gave the latest update this week. The glass and concrete tower was designed by Gerner, Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects to reflect the turrets of 5 Beekman next door. According to WSJ, the Beekman Hotel will have 287 rooms and 68 units in the Beekman Residences condo tower. GB Lodging took over the building in early 2012, anticipating the resurgence of Lower Manhanttan thanks to the opening of the Freedom Tower and the Calatrava transit hub.

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We’ve been noticing a fun trend recently. Plays, as in theater pieces, particularly about urban history and transformation. First there was The Eternal Space about the demolition of the original Penn Station. Now, the ever creative Jeff Stark behind Nonsense NYC and Empire Drive In movie theater, is doing a site-specific work about the Gowanus Canal. And it’s ever so timely because big changes are coming to Gowanus as it transforms from artist hotspot amidst industrial warehouses to superfund site with a newly renovated subway station at Smith-9th Street, a forthcoming “Sponge Park” and lots of development underway.

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The UWS has restaurant rows on Broadway, Amsterdam, and Columbus.

The UWS has restaurant rows on Broadway, Amsterdam, and Columbus.

The food desert that characterized the Upper West Side restaurant scene for much of its history has been replanted over the last few years with with an amazing array of options. These days you can find most any cuisine and at almost any price level. One result is that restaurants are often packed—on a beautiful evening it’s possible to walk the length of Amsterdam Avenue, for example, coming back up Broadway or Columbus Avenue while spotting nary a single empty table.

We lay out a few of our favorites here, even as we mourn the many that have closed since the last time we did this, with our guide to Eating Well on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: 10 Moderately Priced Restaurants. But know that there are many more. If you get turned away from one, just head next door. We start at the northern fringe at Manhattanville, head through Morningside Heights and down to Columbus Circle, taking an expansive definition of the Upper West Side.

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Academy Award director Steven Spielberg, the man who gave birth to the summer blockbuster and has given us Jaws, Indiana Jones, E.T, Jurassic Park, and many more classic characters and films started production on his 28th feature film in Dumbo this past weekend. Instead of trendy coffee shops and unique boutiques, we saw vintage street signs and advertisements. While we don’t know if Spielberg showed up to block and direct actors, or this was the work of a second unit, seeing the production team remove video cameras and paste advertisements that resembled the time period was a little glimpse at how the magic of movies are made.

The film, a cold war drama (provided with a script co-written by none other than the Coen Brothers) is based on a 1960 U-2 incident when an American spy plane was shot down over Soviet soil two weeks before a summit was to be held in Paris. The U.S tried to cover up their intentions to the Reds but the plot was soon out in the open when the plane and its pilot, CIA Agent Francis Gary Powers was found with photos of Soviet military bases.

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Here’s what the Untapped staff is reading in the HQ today: