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A few designers in New York are working to reimagine the prosaic window grille, transforming it from a utilitarian security barrier to an element that is both functional and an aesthetic asset, with attractive and original designs. The close proximity between the public and private realm offered by high density urban environments, can be both thrilling and challenging. It’s exciting to step out of one’s home or business and instantly enter into what Jane Jacobs described to as the “sidewalk ballet.”

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brooklyn-queens-connector-streetcar-untappedjpgImage via Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector

In his third annual State of the City address last Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio put forward a $2.5 billion dollar plan to install a public transportation project connecting Brooklyn and Queens along the waterfront. The plan did not propose the incorporation of new buses or subways, instead he wants to bring the streetcar back. Here’s a recap of the history, plans, pros and cons of the streetcar plan. (more…)

flatbush-brooklyn-neighborhood-namesImage via Brownstoner

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NYU Furman Center-Foreign Born-NYC-Map

New York City is known as the “melting pot” of the United States, but just how many foreign born residents are there and where do they live? This is what the NYU Furman Center has tackled in a recently released map, tracking the 37% of New York City residents (from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey) who have come from another country. This is up more than 1% from the 2000 data. Each dot in the map represents 500 residents born in the respective country by Census tract.

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fake book decoration-Grolier Club-NYC-Untapped Cities-Vera PenavicHanging wooden book bindings used as a prop in a school play. 

The Grolier Club, located on East 60th Street in Manhattan, is America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles and graphic art enthusiasts founded in 1884. Once you step inside, the reverent silence, almost library-like, cuts out the noise and bustle that defines Midtown. On the second floor is an interesting new exhibit that showcases “blooks”: book-looking things that can be anything except actual books. The exhibit, titled Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren’t, showcases the wonderful, antique collection of Mindell Dubansky’s book-shaped objects. (more…)

Perpetual complaints about New York City’s transportation system are a significant part of New Yorkers’ love-hate relationship with the city. With Mayor de Blasio’s endorsement of the Brooklyn-Queens streetcar plan yesterday, here are five more transportation system plans that may become part of New Yorkers’ daily commute in the near future, and hopefully not part of their daily rant. (more…)