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W. Eugene Smith, [Loft interior]. ©1981, 2015 The Heirs of W. Eugene Smith.

The beige building located on 821 6th Avenue in Chelsea’s Flower District doesn’t look like much. It is trumped in height by the skyscrapers surrounding it and partially covered by a green construction scaffold – a seemingly ever-present fixture in New York City. A handbag store, with an orange awning, currently sits on the bottom floor of the building. Without knowing its history beforehand, no one would ever guess that between 1957 and 1965, it was a jazz loft, where music legends like Thelonious Monk and Hall Overton once came together to play.

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nypl-bronx_spuyten-duyvil-library_giorgio-cavaglieri_1971NYPL Spuyten Duyvil branch. All photos by Elizabeth Felicella.

The new exhibit, Reading Room: A Catalog of New York City’s Branch Librariesopened yesterday at the Center for Architecture, featuring photographs by Elizabeth Felicella of all 210 of the New York Public Library branches. The extensive collection totals over 2000 images, ranging from expansive architectural interior and exterior shots to details. The idea, writes the Center for Architecture, is to invite the viewer “to appreciate the intricacy, complexity, and vast scope of these vital and evolving public resources.” The project took a total of five years and the images are organized in the Center for Architecture exhibit by date of the library’s construction.

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hart-island-nyc-potters-field-mass-burial-ground-city-island-bronx-nyc_14The ferry to Hart Island, visible in background across from City Island in the Bronx

In a city where everything seems to be just at one’s fingertips – from a taxi ride to the hope of a better future – there remain a few mythical places that are just out of grasp. The history of New York City is at the root of this, with centuries of policy that pushed undesirable activities and populations to seemingly distant islands. But as development continued, these islands inched closer and closer to desirable waterfront real estate – both industrial and residential. From Rikers Island, where New York City’s largest jail is, to the numerous abandoned islands, the city is simultaneously feeling the impact of this long, isolationist history and actively continuing to practice some of the same ideas to this day.

Hart Island, New York City’s current potter’s field, or mass burial ground, is one of these places – missing off mass transit maps and rarely thought about. Yet, it contains about a million souls, those who died without known family, means, or burial plans. Under New York State law, next of kin may only have 48 hours to claim their relatives, leading to inadvertent burials on Hart Island.

Like Rikers Island, access can be difficult and cumbersome. That being said, we recently visited the island through a coordinated visit via the New York Adventure Club.

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City Island Diner. Image via NY Daily News.

City Island – even to New York locals – feels idyllic, a world away from the commercial and cultural hub we tend to envision when we think of “the city.” The small town getaway and resort, located in the northeastern corner of the Bronx, is considered by some to be one one of the best kept secrets. Its charm may lie in the fact that it gives off a nautical vibe: you’ll notice the standing boats and the abundance of seafood restaurants available. Or maybe it’s just that the rent is actually affordable. Whatever the reason, City Island has piqued our interest.

Here are 10 secrets about this quaint, waterfront neighborhood:

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We’ve been following the Lowline project for several years and the organization is one of our partners in our tour, the Past, Present and Future of the NYC Subway, which provides docent-led access to the Lowline Lab. In July, the Lowline received city approval a little less than four years after the project began. The Lo-Down recently released the 156-page proposal that the Lowline submitted this past February in response to NYCEDC’s Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the former Essex-Delancey trolley terminal site that the world’s first underground park will be located in.

The Lo-Down notes that although the proposal was only supposed to be accessible via applications under the Freedom of Information Act, the Lowline wanted it publicly accessible and allowed for its release with approval from the NYCEDC. You can view the whole proposal embedded below, but first, a few highlights.

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The Feast of San Gennaro, New York City’s longest-running religious outdoor festival. Image via Flickr: Jazz Guy

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