1-BerlinWall in UN Garden-Untapped Cities AFineLynePhoto via Smithsonian.com

The Berlin Wall…in New York City? You heard that right. And there’s not just one piece, but five. In the early 1980s, artist Thierry Noir began painting the surfaces on the west side of the Berlin Wall, close to his apartment. In an effort to make the wall seem less menacing, other artists joined in, covering various sections of the wall with painted figures and graffiti. The 14-foot tall wall became a huge canvas, giving voice to artists from around the world, and a popular tourist destination.

The dismantling of the Wall was completed in 1991, with more than 40,000 wall sections recycled into building materials used for German reconstruction projects. However a few hundred sections were preserved, sold, auctioned off or given away. Five of these sections are here in New York City.


It’s almost September and we’ve completely refreshed our monthly picks for the best outdoor art installations with all new selections. While many of our selections from summer will still be live, these are new ones to discover during your explorations of New York City.


The Ides at the Wythe Hotel-Williamsburg-Brooklyn-Best NYC RooftopsPhoto via The Wythe Hotel

Summer, and therefore “roof season” has blasted past, and although the weather remains great long past Labor Day weekend, just when it cools off enough to really enjoy the evenings, many of the rooftop bars close. But many don’t! So while you may not have exhausted our list of best off-the-beaten path rooftops for summer yet, we recently asked Leslie Adatto, author of the book Roof Explorer’s Guide: 101 New York City Rooftopsthe first-ever guide to public access rooftops, to share with us her top 10 for fall.

1. Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook

Brooklyn Crab-Red Hook-Waterfront-Rooftop-Best Rooftops-NYCBrooklyn Crab, photo via Brit & Co.

Brooklyn Crab has great views and great food, and when it’s a bit cooler out, they just roll down the clear plastic “windows.” You can take the Ikea ferry over there so it’s a fabulous day out.

FAILE-Times Square-Wishing On You-Wooden Canopy-Brooklyn Museum-NYC

Brooklyn-based street artists FAILE (the duo Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller), have brought a new piece Wishing On You to Times Square, part of the Times Square Arts program. More than just a temporary street art piece, this installation located between 42nd and 43rd Street, is a real thinking piece–a deliberate juxtaposition of traditional architecture and modern iconography. As the artists describe, “Wishing On You is an interactive installation that speaks through the district’s graphic language and invites visitors to explore the contemporary ideas of ritual, myth-making and worship in the commercial mecca that is Times Square.”


NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - AUGUST 14:  A jubilant Amer. sailor clutching a white-uniformed nurse in a back-bending, passionate kiss as he vents his joy while thousands jam the Times Square area to celebrate the long awaited victory over Japan. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

The Kiss. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Today, August 14th, is the anniversary of VJ Day (or Victory Over Japan Day) in 1945 when Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the iconic photograph of the kiss between sailor and nurse in Times Square. The photograph, entitled The Kiss, has been the subject of much debate, across a wind range of topics.

Was it staged? Eisenstaedt himself gives two rather different accounts of how it happened. Who are the people in the photograph? Over a dozen people have claimed to be the sailor or the nurse. Even Eisenstaedt thought he had found her, a woman by the name of Edith Shain, but the claim was debunked by a 2012 book which claimed Shain was too short. Shain.The sailor is identified with a bit more certainty, through photographic analysis, to be George Mendonça. Mendonça identified the nurse as a woman by the name of Greta Friedman, who also came forward as the nurse.

What time did it take place? As reported in Wired, a physicist and his colleagues have determined the precise time over the course of a four year study: 5:51 pm they believe.


Provident Loan Society-19th Ward Bank-180 E 72nd Street-NYCThe Provident Loan Society, in former location of 19th Ward Bank at 180 East 72nd Street. Original photo via Library of Congress.

Pawn shops have long been known to take advantage of a community’s poor and desperate, even with an attempt to rebrand the businesses as upscale “loan offices” to the more well-off in the early 20th century. On the opposite end of the spectrum was the Provident Loan Society, a non-profit pawn shop founded in 1894 with money from the city’s most influential, including Cornelius Vanderbilt, J.P. Morgan, and August Belmont. The architecture of the Provident Loan Society that remains today, deemed by Christopher Gray in his New York Times Streetscapes column “the best-looking pawnshops ever,” reflects a concerted operational strategy to provide access to all New Yorkers in need.