The Atlantic

A piñata hangs from a tree in Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights, Queens. It is decorated with the face of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and by the end of Thursday night it will meet the fate of all piñatas. It is here to celebrate a major victory for grassroots activism in New York City… [Read More]

The New York Review of Books

On a hot mid-summer morning, Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn is blazing. Shadeless and weedy, it is occupied mostly by dragonflies and mockingbirds, along with a smattering of Italian wall lizards whose ancestors, according to legend, escaped from a pet store delivery truck in the Bronx back in the 1960s… [Read More]

The Village Voice

When Target opened its Alphabet City location the week before last, it did more than just add another link in the chain of stores now spreading across New York. For its grand opening, Target created a one-day “brand activation,” a tableau vivant that simulated the life of the city street — the very life that is under threat from overdevelopment and corporatization… [Read More]

New York Daily News

We all know what it looks like. The blocks of empty storefronts, covered in graffiti, “FOR LEASE” signs in the windows for months and years on end. It’s called high-rent blight, and it’s the latest phase of a hyper-gentrification process that has been pushing small businesses out of the city as our streets are taken over by banks, corporations, and a new breed of mega-landlords… [Read More]

The New York Review of Books

I am one of the last tenants of the St. Denis, a 165-year-old building on the corner of Broadway and East 11th Street, just south of Union Square in New York City, that is in the process of being emptied and readied for gutting. It is quiet in my office, early morning before my psychotherapy patients arrive. My four large windows overlook a courtyard and the angled back sides of three buildings, their walls a geometric patchwork of brick. Pigeons purr on a sill… [Read More]

New York Times

Moe’s Meat Market, in Little Italy, hasn’t been a meat market for 40 years. But the floor is still tiled in black and white, the walls covered in porcelain-enameled tin sheets. When the artist Robert Kobayashi, known as Kobi, bought Moe’s and the rest of its building in 1977, he moved in with his wife, the photographer Kate Keller, and installed his studio in the storefront, leaving the walls intact. As a sculptor who worked with tin, maybe he felt an affinity for the sheet metal. Maybe he just appreciated the history… [Read More]

New York Daily News

New York City is in a crisis of over-success. After the so-called “bad old days” of the 1970s and 80s, it is now one of the safest and most popular cities in the world. It is also one of the most unequal, with an income gap as vast as Swaziland’s… [Read More]

New York Daily News

Times Square, from its very beginnings, was an untamed space — a place for vaudeville and burlesque, flea circuses and freaks. For stage-door Johnnys, chorus girls, carnies and swindlers. Bible thumpers and peddlers of sex… [Read More]

Enormous Eye

3:44 AM, East Village apartment: The smell of cigarette smoke wakes me. It’s stale and bitter. My neighbors don’t smoke, but they do Air B&B. Some jet-lagged European tourist is puffing away. I think. Gauloises. Remembering the first and only time I tried the awful French cigarettes because Frank O’Hara put them in the poem “The Day Lady Died.” And then: What if a burglar managed to break in and is sitting now on my couch, smoking a Marlboro? …  [Read More]

New York Daily News

Wherever the towers of big development rise, the rents rise with them. And as the rents hit nosebleed heights, New York vanishes. Neighborhood by neighborhood, borough by borough, this is how you kill a city… [Read More]

New York Daily News

Dear Taylor, Since you were named New York City’s “Global Welcome Ambassador,” you’ve been widely mocked, including by this paper. Sure, haters gonna hate. They say you’re not qualified for the job because you’ve only been in New York for a few months, you live in the luxury bubble of a $20 million penthouse and you don’t eat dirty-water hot dogs… [Read More]

New York Daily News

During the Bloomberg years, New York City lost a staggering number of small businesses, many of them long-lived cultural touchstones, including CBGB’s, Bleecker Bob’s, Bill’s Gay Nineties, the Stage Deli, McHale’s bar, Lenox Lounge, restaurant Gino, Carmine’s at the Seaport, Coliseum Books and the list goes on… [Read More]

New York Daily News

On a sultry day in August, 1972, John Wojtowicz tried to rob a bank in Brooklyn. He needed the money for his transgender wife’s sex reassignment surgery. He failed. He did succeed, however, in entertaining and titillating the entire city, becoming an “only in New York” cult figure, and getting immortalized by Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz gave the movie money to his wife, she got her surgery, and he went to prison—where he styled himself as a Gay Liberation icon… [Read More]

New York Daily News

On the far west side of Manhattan’s middle sits a small collection of horse stables, each made of brick and mortar and built in the nineteenth century. When the weather and the wind are right, you smell the stables before you see them, an invigorating scent of hay and horse manure. Horses in the city remind us that, even in the modern metropolis, we are linked to history. Before you knock nostalgia, keep in mind that numerous studies have registered its considerable worth — increasing feelings of belonging, providing continuity between past and present and giving the sense that life is meaningful… [Read More]

The New Yorker

Years ago, New York City had many stores that catered to avid collectors of movie memorabilia. The most legendary were Cinemabilia, where François Truffaut shopped when he came to town, Mark Ricci’s Memory Shop, and Irving Klaw’s Movie Star News, famous for its bondage shots of Bettie Page. Today, there’s only one store left in the city that specializes in movie photos, and it’s not going to be here much longer… [Read More]

The New Yorker

“Edward Hopper is called a realist,” said Carter Foster, the curator of drawing for the Whitney Museum, one recent morning in his office. “But his real process was about memory, the way it infuses subjectivity, and he focussed on the material memory of the city.” The desk, walls, and shelves of Foster’s office are currently crowded with clues to Hopper’s creative process, all gathered for the Whitney’s current show “Hopper Drawing.” Large foam-core boards stood pinned with reproduced photographs, sketches, maps, and other ephemera, looking like a scene from a detective movie: the evidence laid out for investigation… [Read More]

New York Times

The old-school gentrification of the 20th century, while harmful, wasn’t all bad. It made streets safer, created jobs and brought fresh vegetables to the corner store. Today, however, what we talk about when we talk about gentrification is actually a far more destructive process, one that I prefer to call hyper-gentrification… [Read More]

Salon

Vernacular Typography is the creation of graphic designer and Brooklyn native Molly Woodward, who has spent the past decade taking photos of the city’s “found lettering.” All over the city, and the world, local signage is disappearing and being replaced with mass-produced signs and the brands of global corporations. Molly is trying to preserve it–and she has a Kickstarter campaign to help do that… [Read More]

New York Times

When the first segment of the High Line, the now-famous park built atop an old elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan, opened in 2009, I experienced a moment of excitement. I had often wondered what it would be like to climb that graffiti-marked trestle with its wild urban meadow. Of course, I’d seen the architectural renderings and knew not to expect a wilderness. Still, the idea was enticing: a public park above the hubbub, a contemplative space where nature softens the city’s abrasiveness… [Read More]

The Paris Review

The bookstore, and especially the used bookstore, is vanishing from New York City. Today there are a few, but there used to be a multitude of them, crammed between kitchen appliance shops and Laundromats and thrift stores. They all had temperamental cats prowling their aisles and they all smelled wonderfully of what a team of chemists in London has called “a combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness.”… [Read More]

The Paris Review

It’s the final weekend for Ray’s Pizza, the true original, which has been on Prince Street since 1959, so I head down for a last slice. 3:55 P.M. From the East Village I take a roundabout way, across Houston Street, where the two artists known as Faile (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller) are putting the finishing touches on their giant mural, a comic-booky collage that brings to mind the organic degradation of street advertising and art, layer upon layer, ripped and peeled… [Read More]

New York Times

In 1941, Edward Hopper began what would become his most recognizable work, one that has become an emblem of New York City. “‘Nighthawks,’” Hopper said in an interview later, “was suggested by a restaurant on Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet.” The location was pinpointed by a Hopper expert, Gail Levin, as the “empty triangular lot” where Greenwich meets 11th Street and Seventh Avenue, otherwise known as Mulry Square. This has become accepted city folklore. Greenwich Village tour guides point to the lot, now owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and tell visitors that Hopper’s diner stood there. But did it?… [Read More]

New York Daily News

The media have been working overtime to paint the recession as utterly bleak for New York City. We keep hearing that the bad old days of the 1970s are returning. Rising crime will force us all to go back to carrying Mace in our pockets and barricading ourselves indoors. City services will grind to a halt and the streets will choke with uncollected garbage. Rats, muggers and squeegee men will run rampant, destroying the quality of life extolled by the so-called Golden Age… [Read More]