Category Archive 'New York City'
17 May 2017

Post-War New York City

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Photo by Elliott Erwitt, 1950.

08 Apr 2017

1983 Return of Kong Failed

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3000 lb., 8 story nylon King Kong balloon erected on the Empire State Building in 1983 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the motion picture developed a hole in his left shoulder during inflation and had to be removed and repaired. New Yorkers expressed disappointment. New York Times.

31 Mar 2017

History: New York City’s Professional Nose

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Atlas Obscura recalls a bit of New York City history.

Leaky. Smelly. The Sniffer.

These were all nicknames for one of the more unusual figures in New York City’s history, James Kelly. For decades, “Smelly” Kelly walked the tracks using his seemingly superhuman senses, plus a handful of homemade inventions, to track down hazards, leaks, poop, and eels in New York’s sprawling subway system.

Today New York’s subways are equipped with high-tech machines that sample the air, looking for potential warning signs of dangerous gas build-up, or even biological and chemical agents. But in the early days of the subway, which opened its first underground line in 1904, such detection efforts were left to the keen watch of rough-and-ready subway workers. And there was no one better at ferreting out leaks and problems than Kelly. …

Almost a cartoon of a gruff New Yorker, Kelly was described in the July 26, 1941, issue of The New Yorker as “a hardy, red-faced, Kilkenny Irishman.” His recorded quotes come off in a stern, affirmative staccato. In Daley’s book, Kelly says that all it takes to be a good underground leak detector are “quick ears, good nose, better feet.”

It only took a few years before Kelly gained a reputation for his uncanny ability to locate leaks that no one else could find. As retold in Daley’s [1959] book, [The World Beneath the City,] Kelly was once called to the Hotel New Yorker to investigate a rotten stench. Engineers had located a sewage leak behind one of the walls, but couldn’t pinpoint it. As the story goes, Kelly walked in, confidently announced that he could locate the broken pipe within a half an hour, and got to work. He flushed a staining agent, uranine, down the toilet, and before long, a portion of the wall began to take on a yellow color, indicating the busted pipe was behind it. Daley quotes Kelly as saying, “After that, I was in leaks for keeps.”

Kelly rose to the official position of Foreman in the Structures Division of the Board of Transportation, and was given a small team of assistants (reports differ as to whether he had five or six on his team) who were available around the clock. Kelly and his team were tasked with walking New York’s underground, looking for signs of leaks. Kelly’s exploits soon became the stuff of local legend.

he and his team were said to walk ten miles of track each day, looking for damp spots or other signs of leaks, and using some unorthodox tools of Kelly’s own design to track them down. Kelly was known for a handful of gadgets he had built to help him in his work.

Most notable was the “Aquaphone,” a standard telephone receiver with a copper wire attached to the diaphragm. He would touch the trailing end of the wire to fire hydrants and listen for a hiss that would let him know a leak was near. Another of his creations was a doctor’s stethoscope to which he’d attached a steel rod, which he would touch to pavement to listen for leaks. He is also said to have carried around a map of Manhattan from 1763, which gave him an indication of natural springs and other pre-existing sources of water.

The New Yorker piece shares another common story about Kelly, which was his knack for finding eels and fish that clogged up pipes. In the early 1940s, it wasn’t uncommon for fish to be drawn into the city’s water system from the reservoirs, ending up trapped in pipes and generally mucking things up. Among the creatures Kelly claimed to have pulled out of various parts of the system were a school of 40 killifish that he discovered in a subway bathroom on 145th Street; a two-and-a-half foot eel he’d fished from a sink pipe in a 42nd Street station; and as The New Yorker put it, “a spanking ten-inch trout, which would have been a noteworthy fish, even if it hadn’t been found splashing gaily in a two-foot water main in a Grand Concourse lavatory.

Full story.

24 Mar 2017

Garbo’s Apartment Listed for $5.95 Million

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Garbo’s Kitchen.

Greta Garbo’s former 5th floor coop apartment on East 52nd Street, private elevator, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, with East River views, $9100 a month maintenance, little changed since the star’s death in 1990, only $5.95 million.

Daily Mail

02 Jan 2017

53rd Street & Fifth Avenue, 1915

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St Thomas Church at 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue in midtown, Manhattan.

Photo taken circa 1915, from the H.N. Tiemann & Co photograph collection.

21 Sep 2016

Praising NYC

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18 Sep 2016

Trump Built His Empire on Political Connections

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Look at the expression on Trump’s face!

I rarely agree with the New York Times, but this story has Trump’s record as businessman accurately pegged.

The way Donald J. Trump tells it, his first solo project as a real estate developer, the conversion of a faded railroad hotel on 42nd Street into the sleek, 30-story Grand Hyatt, was a triumph from the very beginning.

The hotel, Mr. Trump bragged in “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” his 1987 best seller, “was a hit from the first day. Gross operating profits now exceed $30 million a year.”

But that book, and numerous interviews over the years, make little mention of a crucial factor in getting the hotel built: an extraordinary 40-year tax break that has cost New York City $360 million to date in forgiven, or uncollected, taxes, with four years still to run, on a property that cost only $120 million to build in 1980.

The project set the pattern for Mr. Trump’s New York career: He used his father’s, and, later, his own, extensive political connections, and relied on a huge amount of assistance from the government and taxpayers in the form of tax breaks, grants and incentives to benefit the 15 buildings at the core of his Manhattan real estate empire.

Since then, Mr. Trump has reaped at least $885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York, according to city tax, housing and finance records. The subsidies helped him lower his own costs and sell apartments at higher prices because of their reduced taxes.

Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee for president, has made clear over the course of his campaign how proud he is that “as a businessman I want to pay as little tax as possible.”

While it is impossible to assess how much Mr. Trump pays in personal or corporate income taxes, because he has refused to release his tax returns, an examination of his record as a New York developer shows how aggressively he has fought to lower the taxes on his projects.

Mr. Trump successfully sued the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch after being denied a tax break for Trump Tower, his signature building on Fifth Avenue. Two decades later, in a lawsuit that spanned the administrations of Mayors Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg, he won a similar tax break for Trump World Tower, a building on First Avenue with some of the city’s highest-priced condominiums in 2001.

The tax breaks for those two projects alone totaled $157 million.

The tax break at the 44-story Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle came to $15.9 million.

No possible subsidy was left untapped. After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Mr. Trump lined up a $150,000 grant for one of his buildings near ground zero, taking advantage of a program to help small businesses in the area recover, even though he had acknowledged on the day of the attacks that his building was undamaged.

“Donald Trump is probably worse than any other developer in his relentless pursuit of every single dime of taxpayer subsidies he can get his paws on,” said Alicia Glen, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, who first battled Mr. Trump when she worked in Mr. Giuliani’s administration.

Read the whole thing.

22 Aug 2016

Flatiron Building

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The Fuller company, famed for its skyscraper designs, purchased a triangular plot in Manhattan on 23rd Street. The space was known as the Flatiron for its resemblance to a household clothes iron. Architect Daniel Burnham designed a building in the Beaux-Arts style, incorporating classical Roman features into a modern building with sculpted decoration. Upon completion in June 1902, the 22-story Flatiron Building was the tallest building in New York.

During its construction, many thought the wind would blow the building down, due to its odd height and shape. Thus, it was nicknamed “Burnham’s Folly.”

Due to the geography of the site, with Broadway on one side, Fifth Avenue on the other, and the open expanse of Madison Square and the park in front of it, the wind currents around the building could be treacherous. Wind from the north would split around the building, downdrafts from above and updrafts from the vaulted area under the street would combine to make the wind unpredictable. This is said to have given rise to the phrase “23 skidoo”, from what policemen would shout at men who tried to get glimpses of women’s dresses being blown up by the winds swirling around the building due to the strong downdrafts.

27 May 2016

NYC Mandates Businesses Recognize 31 Genders

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4chan Genders

MRCTV:

On Tuesday, the New York City Commission of Rights released a list of 31 different gender identities that all businesses must recognize or else they risk paying a financial penalty between $125,000 and $250,000.

When de Blasio originally announced the Gender Identity/Gender Expression Legal Enforcement Guidance in December, individuals such as Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, saw is as a positive step in the right direction.

    “It’s a huge step forward and really catapults New York City to the forefront of the struggle for transgender rights”.

Originally, the guidebook included phrases such as gender, gender identity and gender non-conforming. But the newly released list includes pronouns such as hijra, third sex, non-op, gender gifted, two-spirit and gender bender.

    A “gender bender” is someone “who bends, changes, mixes, or combines society’s gender conventions by expressing elements of masculinity and femininity together.”

The terms include obscure descriptors like, “person of transgender experience,” but also mention well-known terms such as MTF, FTM and transgender. So I don’t see the point of having that one long and entirely unnecessary phrase.

Then again, all these pronouns are utterly senseless.

Just in case you wanted to look up the definition of these various terms, the University of Wisconsin and University of California Berkeley provides them.

Obviously not the sort of law which can practically be universally enforced. To even know what they’re talking about you would have to be deeply grounded in the sexually-perverted subculture as well as educated in the language and vocabulary of Marxist Critical Studies, which demonstrates just how crazy leftists really are. People like de Blasio are not only willing to endorse demands of the pervert class that they do not actually understand themselves, they are willing to go so far as to make the theoretical acquiescence of the general public compulsory.

25 May 2016

A German Visits NYC

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NYC3

On Quora, a German answered the question: What was your biggest culture shock visiting New York City?

My shocks were mostly negative.

I am German, male and 25. I had travelled to the US quite often and had been to a lot of different places there. I love the US, especially the National Parks. I also love US cities regardless wether they are cheap or expensive.

When a few years ago I came to NYC for the first time I had the expectation that NYC wouldn’t differ more than other cities from how they are shown in movies and tv shows. I was wrong.

I expected NYC to be at least somewhat of a modern and shiny skyscraper city. The secret capital of the US – and – maybe the world. I expected something at least iconic.

Now when I landed at JFK moldy carpets and a worn down airport greeted me. I took the train to Manhattan that overpasses ghettos.

I could not believe how loud and shaky the subway was. The awful state of maintenance. How extremely dirty it is. How bad signs are placed. How counterintuitive everything is made.

Everything must have been great some decades ago but was never kept well. There was no good way to get from one part of the city to another. Taxis are stuck and the subway is disgusting. Busses are worse.

The smell. When I think of NYC I no longer think of lawyers in suits on a rooftop terrace. I think of the strong smell of death – of rotten rat meat.

The garbage. Everywhere. On the streets. I mean black sacks full of garbage to be picked up in few hours stinking and leaking.

How unimpressive 5th Av is. Or Times Square.

The skyline is really not so impressive or iconic if you have been to Hongkong or other places.

I was amazed by the the awful German translations on the large signs of the 9/11 sight. I always thought that this was a place of big importance and that NYC would not use Google translator to greet the world when they are visiting to show respect.

You might think that I am exaggerating and describing things that one could look over. Maybe. But I am just trying to justify my disappointment.

The poor quality of life and the huge costs. You can park your car in NYC for a few hours for a couple of hundred dollars. But why would anyone consider it worth it? You can live in a shoebox and do your laundry in a nearby laundromat? What good reason is there to do that? The prices felt very artificial. Now if there was a demand justifying these prices I would shut up. But for good reason there actually isn’t.

NYC was a big disappointment for me. It is just another US city. I did not feel safe. I was simply asking myself why anyone would want to spend so much money for such a bad quality of life.

Read the whole thing.

This German chap is perfectly right. New York City has been declining in governance, liveability, and affordability since WWII. He doesn’t realize, though, that the city is actually cleaner, less smelly, and less crime-ridden since the time of Giuliani.

18 Mar 2016

R.A.T.S.

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'Unlike Anything I've Ever Seen': Mike Rowe Describes His Wild…

"Unlike anything I've ever seen": Mike Rowe describes his wild night with rat-hunting dogs in NYC.

Posted by TheBlaze on Friday, March 18, 2016

01 Mar 2016

That Fabulous Dealmaker Donald Trump

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TrumpGenius

Timothy L. O’Brien explains how Trump blew his biggest real estate deal ever.

Through Trump’s rise, fall and rebirth, there was one major real estate project that he tried to keep. The tale of what happened to that property should be of interest to anyone looking for insight into how Trump might perform as president. It was a deal of genuine magnitude and would have put him atop the New York real estate market. And he screwed it up.

The deal involved Manhattan’s West Side Yards, a sprawling, 77-acre tract abutting the Hudson River between 59th and 72nd Streets and at the time the largest privately owned undeveloped stretch of land in New York City. The Yards were a vestige of the Penn Central Transportation Company, a failed railroad enterprise that, in 1970, filed what was then the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. In the wake of that collapse, Trump leveraged his father’s ties to New York’s Democratic machine and local bankers to acquire pieces of Penn Central’s holdings, including the Yards, in the mid-1970s.

Unable to reach agreements with the city and community groups on how to develop the site, Trump let his option lapse in 1979. His Yards saga began in earnest in 1985, when he bought back the property from another developer for $115 million.

Trump’s plans for the property included office and residential space; a new broadcasting headquarters for NBC; a rocket-ship-shaped skyscraper that would have been the world’s tallest building and cast shadows across the Hudson River into New Jersey; and a $700 million property tax abatement from the city as an incentive to build it. The $4.5 billion project — which Trump called Television City — would have been New York’s biggest development since Rockefeller Center.

Like London’s Canary Wharf, begun a few years later, Television City promised to reshape a significant portion of a major urban center. “It’s an opportunity to build a city within the greatest city, and I don’t think anybody’s ever had that opportunity,” Trump said in an interview at the time.

With the property, financing and plans in place, a large part of what Trump needed to do to make Television City a reality was to bring together different stakeholders: locals (like the late actor Paul Newman) who wanted parks and a less imposing development, and a mayor, Ed Koch, who had his own outsize personality and who was trying to balance the city’s redevelopment with the needs of the area’s longtime residents.

Had Trump appeased these interests, he might have made the project a reality. Instead, the author of “The Art of the Deal” quickly became entangled in an epic, only-in-New-York round of public fisticuffs with Koch in the spring and summer of 1987. The brawl devolved into name-calling — and ultimately helped doom a deal that could have had vastly different results if Trump chose different tactics.

After learning that Koch was going to turn down his request for the $700 million abatement for Television City, Trump dashed off a letter to the mayor.

“For you to be playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with perhaps the most important corporation in New York over the relatively small amounts of money involved because you and your staff are afraid that Donald Trump may actually make more than a dollar of profit, is both ludicrous and disgraceful,” he wrote to Koch.

Koch wrote back to Trump, warning him to “refrain from further attempts to influence the process through intimidation.” Koch then held a press conference, during which he released the letters and said he wasn’t going to give Trump the abatement.

Trump doubled down, holding his own press conference and calling on Koch to resign. The battle played out in a carnivalesque stream on TV and on the front pages and gossip columns of newspapers.

Koch said Trump was “squealing like a stuck pig.” Trump said Koch’s New York had become a “cesspool of corruption and incompetence.” Koch said Trump was a “piggy, piggy, piggy.”

Trump said the mayor had “no talent and only moderate intelligence” and should be impeached. “Ed Koch would do everybody a huge favor if he would get out of office and they started all over again,” he noted. “It’s bedlam in the city.”

16 Jan 2016

Ted Cruz Apologizes to New Yorkers

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15 Jan 2016

“New York Values” Comment Won’t Hurt Ted Cruz

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Ben Shapiro observes that the rest of us understand exactly what Ted Cruz was talking about.

The media of New York City playing dumb on “New York values” while they look down their noses at the rest of the country is the height of ridiculousness.

Mark Twain knew what New York values were: “All men in New York insult you–there seem to be no exceptions. There are exceptions of course–have been–but they are probably dead. I am speaking of all persons there who are clothed in a little brief authority.” That was in 1885. Nothing has changed.

New Yorkers are famous for being rude, socially liberal, in favor of big government, in favor of social leftism – and most of all, convinced of their own superiority. This is why everyone hates Yankees fans.

There are wonderful things about New Yorkers, too. But when people say that someone is “New York” outside New York, everybody knows what they mean, just as if they say that someone is “Texas” outside Texas, everybody knows what they mean.

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Any Iowa Banker knows what Cruz meant.

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