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Thread: Manhattan Neighborhoods

  1. #16
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    Hell's Kitchen (Clinton), Manhattan:


    HELL'S HISTORY


    By MAX GROSS
    May 4, 2006

    "Hell hath no limits," declared Christopher Marlowe's Mephistopheles.
    But Hell's Kitchen is limited from 36th Street up to 59th Street and from Eighth Avenue westward.

    According to James Trager's "The New York Chronology," the neighborhood's name came about in 1882, when a newspaper reporter called a particularly decrepit tenement "Hell's Kitchen" - but the description sounded right for the neighborhood as a whole, which had long been dogged by gang warfare and lawlessness.

    According to another version of the story, the name came when a rookie cop said to his veteran partner, "This place is hell itself." No, the veteran replied, "Hell's a mild climate. This is hell's kitchen."

    The neighborhood was born 30 years earlier, when the Hudson River Railroad opened along 11th Avenue in 1851 and mostly Irish immigrants began putting up shanties.

    "Here they raised pigs and goats, scavenged for food and firewood, hired out as day laborers, and found jobs in the industrialized areas," writes Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace in "Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898."

    During the 1860s and '70s, African-Americans moved in because the neighborhood was within walking distance to the longshoreman and service jobs that were open to them, but the neighborhood remained heavily Irish and saw clashes between Protestants and Catholics - with a particularly bloody dustup in the summer of 1871.

    When New York's Irish-American population finally surpassed its German-American population in the 1890s, one of its greatest concentrations was in Hell's Kitchen.

    During the 1930s, the neighborhood's worst tenements were finally torn down and the elevated train - which was noisy and blocked out most of the natural light - was dismantled. In the 1950s, much of the neighborhood was renamed Clinton, in honor of former mayor and governor DeWitt Clinton.

    Respectability had definitely arrived by 1989 when 1 Worldwide Plaza, a $550 million complex of offices and condos, opened at 880 Eighth Ave. (Those are 1989 dollars, remember.) Since then, everything has only heated up in Hell's Kitchen.

    "Where hell is," Mephistopholes added, "there must we ever be."


    HELL YEAH!
    MIDTOWN WEST SIZZLES AS FLASHY NEW CONDOS AND RENTALS TURN UP THE HEAT WEST OF EIGHTH AVENUE



    By ADAM BONISLAWSKI

    May 4, 2006 -- Go West, young man!" New York newspaperman Horace Greeley wasn't talking about the Manhattan real-estate market when he offered that famous advice, but given the current rate of development along the city's occidental edge, he could have been.

    With a new crop of buildings popping up along Ninth, 10th and 11th avenues in Midtown, Gotham is undergoing its own sort of westward expansion. Instead of log cabins along the Mississippi, though, we've got high-rises over the Hudson. And that's not corn they're growing - those are luxury condos.

    Area resident Karl Miller has seen change sweep over the neighborhood since he moved to the Strand building on West 43rd Street and 10th Avenue three years ago.

    "It's really in a big redevelopment cycle," he says. "That's why I bought here three years ago. I was on the Upper West Side, which is a beautiful area, but it was pretty much done with building new buildings."

    And, in fact, Miller just purchased a new studio in one of the buildings that's been giving the neighborhood much of its buzz - the much ballyhooed Atelier.

    A joint project from the Moinian Group and MacFarlane Partners, the 46-story, 478-unit condo development has drawn notice with amenities like a sun deck and sky-lit indoor pool and a sleek Costas Kondylis design inspired by the many generations of ocean liners that have docked just across the way at the Hudson River piers. With units ranging from studios to two-bedrooms, apartments in the building begin around $600,000 and top out at $1.5 million - which, to Miller's mind, was too good a deal to pass up.

    "I really wasn't even looking to move," he says of his decision to head to Atelier, "but I just really liked the look of the building - the lobby, the basketball courts. It just looked great. I just thought it was a great opportunity."

    A couple blocks away at the Orion building at 350 W. 42nd St., Long Island resident Michael Moloney experienced a similar case of love at first sight. Moloney and his wife had been looking for months for a place in the city to use as a pied-…-terre.

    "We were all over the place," he says, "uptown, downtown. We looked for a good eight to 10 weeks."

    Then, while on the West Side looking at another building, Moloney's broker suggested they swing by the Orion. Taken with features like the 551-unit development's pool, spa, gym, sun deck and housekeeping and concierge services, Moloney pulled the trigger on a two-bedroom right then and there.

    "We put a deposit on it that day," he says. "It was exactly what we were looking for."

    In addition to the building itself, Moloney was sold on the neighborhood - in particular its curious mix of quiet and commotion.

    "We were looking for a place that had activities - shows, restaurants, things like that - but that wasn't right on Broadway. We figured we'd look on the outskirts of areas that were going to be up-and-coming.

    "This is a developing area. I see it being revitalized."

    His eyes don't lie. In addition to Atelier and the Orion, a host of other buildings are going up in the area. A block west of the Orion, a 800-plus-unit condo/rental development from Twining Property, Related Companies and MacFarlane Partners is slated to rise at 440 W. 42nd St. Down the way at 650 W. 42nd St., Silverstein Properties' One River Place already stands - its 921 rental units rising 40 stories above the Hudson - and there are plans for another 53-story condo development, Two River Place, next door.

    Plus, as Moinian Group CEO Joseph Moinian notes, a 900-unit mixed rental-condo building is planned to go up next to Atelier within the next four years. Add to this the developments from the early 2000s like the Ivy Tower rental building at 350 W. 42nd St. and the Zebra rentals at 420 W. 42nd St., and you've got an area where construction has been going gangbusters.

    "What we saw in the late '90s and the first few years after the millennium was an influx of rental construction - large buildings with high-wealth, professional individuals that started to settle and get comfortable there," says Corcoran Sunshine Marketing managing director Daniel Cordeiro, describing the neighborhood's progression. "So, with that, now there's a huge condominium demand from people who have either lived there before or have been exposed to it socially."

    Much of the activity has centered around the 42nd Street corridor, but there's plenty of action to be found moving northward as well. And whether you call the area Hell's Kitchen, Clinton or Midtown West, people are flocking to it.

    Greg Fraser moved to the neighborhood from Philadelphia this March, taking a studio in the new 149-unit Clinton West building at West 47th and 10th Avenue. Thus far, he's found the convenience of Midtown to be key.

    "There are great restaurants in the area, a number of parks," he says. "And I can walk to Penn Station, I can walk to Central Park and I can walk to my office - you can't do much better than that."

    And unlike much of Manhattan, there are many brand-new apartments for renters along with all the new condos.

    At West 52nd and 10th, the Dermot Co. is putting up a four-building, 300-unit rental complex called the Mosaic. The project, which will contain studios and one- and two-bedrooms renting for $2,000 and up, is an environmentally friendly, or "green," development, constructed in accordance with environmental building standards set by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. A few blocks north at 57th and 11th stands another "green" building, the Helena - a 580-unit rental development built by the Durst Organization and Rose Associates.

    The allure of the area is "your urban, traditional New York experience with lots of smaller retail use and a thriving restaurant and arts scene," says Daniel Kaplan, principal with FXFOWLE, the architect for both developments.

    "It's so much different between 57th and 42nd Street than it was five years ago," says Dermot Co. principal Stephen Benjamin. "This is really the last piece of development that hasn't been completed - that 10th, 11th, 12th avenue area over by the river."

    As Atelier buyer Miller says: "This area seems to be getting really built up now. It seems to be the new up-and-coming hot spot."


    Copyright 2006 NYP Holdings, Inc.

  2. #17
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    New York's Newest Suburb

    BY GABRIELLE BIRKNER - Staff Reporter of the Sun

    June 12, 2006

    URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/34220

    Welcome to "TriBurBia."

    That's what the former artists enclave known as TriBeCa is now called by the young families rapidly putting down roots in the neighborhood.

    Baby buggies crowd recently lonely sidewalks, nursery schools are fielding a record number of applications, and a slew of new businesses catering to the under-5 set are capitalizing on TriBeCa's transformation into family-land.

    Less than five years ago, after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Triangle Below Canal just north of the World Trade Center was uninhabitable. Lower Manhattan's future looked so bleak that a state agency gave away $500 a month for up to two years to people willing to move downtown.

    These days, $500 won't put a dent in the rent. The neighborhood now boasts the city's priciest apartments and is establishing itself as New York's most family-friendly neighborhood amid the proliferation of converted residential lofts.

    "Our secret is out," a 39-year-old TriBeCa resident, Karie Parker Davidson, said. "There used to be nobody on the sidewalks, and you knew absolutely everyone in the neighborhood. Now, there are tons of strollers, but chances are you still know everyone." Ms. Parker Davidson, an attorney who moved with her husband to the neighborhood in 1991, has two daughters, ages 4 and 6.

    "It's starting to feel a little crowded," Ms. Parker Davidson said. "The economics are different; the demographics are different. People here have tried to maintain that downtown, artsy feel, but you can't have an edgy, artistic neighborhood without artists."

    Still, it is the enclave's perceived intimacy and the stellar reputation of Public School 234 that convinced a father of 5- and 2-year-old boys, Daniel Gluck, to head downtown.

    "You go into a store, and say, 'Hi Bill' or 'Hi Mary,'" Mr.Gluck, 38, the founder of the Museum of Sex, said. "It's not that it feels just like the suburbs, but there is a sense of community that you don't get on the Upper East Side, or even the Upper West Side."

    U.S. Census data from 2000 shows fewer than 35,000 Manhattan residents lived below Canal Street. While toxic fumes and debris forced some area residents from their homes for weeks and months after September 11, Lower Manhattan's population has since soared past 50,000, according to the chairwoman of the area's Community Board 8, Julie Menin.

    The influx of families is breeding a new generation of schools and family friendly businesses, and many more are anticipated as six new luxury condominiums open in the next few years.

    A 23-year TriBeCa resident who is a local history columnist, Oliver Allen, said he never would have predicted TriBeCa's fashionable popularity and abundant wealth. Mr. Allen writes about neighborhood history for the Tribeca Trib and is the author of the 1999 book "Tales of Old Tribeca: An illustrated history of New York'sTriangle Below Canal Street."

    "When we moved to the area, we thought it would always be a little unusual, a little peculiar, not upscale in any way," he said. "Boy were we fooled."

    A ranking from Forbes magazine shows median home sales topping $1.8 million and $1.6 million in TriBeCa's 10013 and 10007 zip codes. The high prices aren't an impediment to young families enjoying inheritances, Wall Street salaries, and real estate riches.

    "Even with all the money that's coming down here, the people have made a conscious choice to get away from some of the stuff going on uptown - the social ambitiousness," an Upper East Side native who moved to TriBeCa in November 2001, Catherine Greenman, said. "They want a tighter sense of community. It is in danger of getting more crowded but, hopefully, that feeling and that intention will remain."

    While social ambitions may dissipate south of Canal Street, preschool competition only heats up in a neighborhood with few options. Ms. Greenman, a 39-year-old writer and mother of two sons, ages 4 and 2, said she was asked to write three recommendations for would-be students of TriBeCa preschools.

    Neighborhood growth has forced P.S. 234, which is now building an annex, to operate at more than 120% capacity, closing a computer lab to accommodate the overflow and shutting its prekindergarten program.

    The increasingly competitive atmosphere for preschool is a relatively new phenomenon in the neighborhood, the founder and head of Washington Market School, Ronnie Moskowitz, said.

    "It became more of a concerted effort about five years ago," Ms. Moskowitz said, reflecting on the 30 years since she opened a school in her TriBeCa loft. Washington Market now serves more than 300 students in two neighborhood locations.

    With the classes full at the neighborhood's existing preschools, the Montessori School of Manhattan opened three years ago with 22 students. This fall, the Beach Street nursery school will reach its cap of 250 students. It is turning away 90% of applicants, the head of school, Bridie Gauthier, said.

    "I don't see it dying down anytime soon," she said, predicting that the neighborhood's population would continue to grow for at least another 15 years. To meet that demand, Ms. Gauthier said the school - where annual tuition ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 - plans a second Lower Manhattan location in September 2007.

    For older children, the for-profit Claremont Preparatory School opened on Broad Street last year. Enrollment at the school is expected to double to 120 students next fall, the incoming headmaster, Irwin Shlachter, said.

    Another yardstick of TriBeCa's baby boom is the influx of young family-friendly businesses. An indoor activities center for young children and their parents, "miniMasters," opened in April with classes including motherbaby Pilates, art, ballet, and Suzuki-method violin and piano lessons. Parents can get manicures, pedicures, and massages while their children play.

    "It's a wonderful place to hang out with other mothers," a TriBeCa resident with a 2-year-old daughter, Stacy Cadolini, said. "It's a great networking environment."

    Ms. Cadolini said an indoor play space is a delightful departure from the crowded Washington Market Park along the West Side Highway. "It's so busy all the time," she said. "You can't go there during certain hours because it's so crowded."

    The neighborhood's demographic shift also means earlier crowds at Roc, the Duane Street Italian restaurant that Ms. Cadolini and her husband, Rocco, own. "At first everyone was single, and now it seems they've all gotten married and had children," she said.

    Families are the core clientele of the Soda Shop, an old-fashioned milkshake and sandwich shop that opened last fall on Chambers Street. "The number of pregnant women you see - it's unbelievable," an owner of the Soda Shop, Craig Bero, said. "It's a real community down here."

    Mr. Bero said he hopes the Soda Shop will be a first-date place for TriBeCa's youngsters when they hit their teens. For now, he's creating a tree house-themed room for children's birthday parties that will include a cupcake bar, a pinball machine, and a bevy of vintage toys.

    "Living here - it's almost as if you bought a house in a new, family-friendly development in the suburbs," the owner of TriBeCa Girls clothing store, Bryn Asen, said. "There are not a lot of single people, and there aren't many older people." Ms. Asen and her husband, Robert, opened the store ago on Duane Street to serve the proliferation of young "TriBurBans."

    While it's a sure boon for business, the rapid growth is met with ambivalence among old-timers who want to preserve TriBeCa as a lightly populated haven. The neighborhood's crowded Food Emporium grocery store will soon compete with a Whole Foods market slated to open alongside a Barnes & Noble bookstore at the base of a 420-unit condominium complex on Warren Street.

    A TriBeCa resident since 2000, Isabel Rose, said the neighborhood "is heaven if you have kids."

    "There's a total absence, right now, of pretension, of showiness, of gaudiness that's associated with uptown living," Ms. Rose, who is in her late 30s and has a 4-year-old daughter, said. "Outside the preschools here, you don't have the pileup of Town Cars that you might see in front of the 92nd Street Y."

    She said she hopes the neighborhood can strike a balance between development and preservation. "I'm hoping we won't end up with three more Starbucks and a Victoria's Secret - the shops that have turned the Upper West Side into a mall," said Ms. Rose, author of the 2005 novel, "The J.A.P. Chronicles." "I hope that TriBeCa gets the amenities it needs while maintaining its individualistic spirit. I do hope it's not spoiled."

    © 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC. All rights reserved.

  3. #18
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    Post less than $1000/month?

    what neighborhoods have rent for less than $1000 rent/month for a 1 bedroom apt.?
    -Excluding the ghetto
    an area that maintains its distance from manhattan (to keep prices low) but having ample transportation and its own commercial strip? Looking in Queens, Staten Island, or Manhattan itself.
    Last edited by clubBR; January 27th, 2007 at 06:48 AM.

  4. #19
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    Washington Heights, Manhattan:


    New Winds at an Island Outpost



    Inside Los Guarinos bodega in Washington Heights.


    By MANNY FERNANDEZ
    March 4, 2007

    STANDING behind the cramped counter of Los Guarinos, his bodega in Washington Heights, Joel Olivo deals not in big money but in small change. Jolly Ranchers candies, at a nickel apiece, are among his biggest sellers. Los Guarinos also sells cold beer and cigarettes, but on most days it is sweetness that prevails there. Neighborhood children ask for chocolate bars, and an arcade game in the corner fills the bodega with an electronic lullaby.

    In Mr. Olivo’s establishment, in a modest storefront on Amsterdam Avenue near 161st Street, gambling is discouraged. Yet there is a running bet in the store that is a sign of changing times in this neighborhood: How many years will it take for Dominicans, who have dominated Washington Heights for decades, to become the minority there, and for whites to become the new majority?

    Some of Mr. Olivo’s customers and friends say five years. Others predict seven. “I say 10 years,” Mr. Olivo said.

    This is not your ordinary gentrification story. Washington Heights, the densely developed square mile that extends from 155th Street to roughly Dyckman Street, and from river to river, is to Dominicans what Harlem has been to blacks: a cultural capital with deep symbolic meaning. But over the past few years, this neighborhood of five- and six-story prewar apartment buildings has grown wealthier, hipper and better educated.

    As the neighborhood has changed, a growing number of its Dominicans have moved to University Heights, Morris Heights and other neighborhoods in the west Bronx; some have left the city altogether. The wager at Los Guarinos is a lighthearted take not only on this exodus, but also on the questions it raises about the future of Washington Heights as a working-class Dominican stronghold.

    The Dominican migration, powered by rising rents and other costs, is scattering families and friends who lived in the neighborhood for generations. This reshuffling is also fueling an uptown real estate boom, widening the gap between rich and poor, and realigning Dominican political power in the city. The shifts have even inspired an Off Broadway musical.

    Mr. Olivo is confident about his prediction as to the neighborhood’s future. “I know I’ll win,” he said, “because everyone is moving.” But he does not believe that he will be around to collect. “The rent,” he explained, “will kick me out.”



    Washington Heights has welcomed immigrants for a century. The Irish arrived in the early 1900s. European Jews, among them the family of Henry Kissinger, flocked there to escape the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s, around the time that affluent African-Americans like the jazz musician Count Basie migrated up from Harlem. By the 1950s and 1960s, so many Greeks lived in Washington Heights that the neighborhood was known as the Astoria of Manhattan. Even as that label gained currency, Cubans and Puerto Ricans were beginning to move in.

    The ’80s and the ’90s, however, belonged to the Dominicans.


    Bremilde Ramos, a 29-year-old waitress with dark hair and a bright smile, remembers the summers: old men playing dominoes on tables on the sidewalk, the packed streets transformed into playgrounds. She also remembers the scary times, like the day in 1999 when a man was shot and killed inside her building on West 162nd Street. And she remembers that one apartment operated as a makeshift brothel.

    Yet Ms. Ramos, who, like thousands of her fellow Dominicans, immigrated to Washington Heights with her family as a child, also recalls the vibrancy amid the grime. “You felt like you were in your own,” she said. “This was your own little country, you know, so many Hispanics were around.”

    New York has many Hispanic enclaves, but only in Washington Heights did the size, density and visibility of the Latino population create a kind of sixth borough. From this high perch, visitors often wonder if they have accidentally stumbled into the 31st province of the Dominican Republic.

    Those visitors can pass a barbershop on 181st Street and see a customer who happens to be the nephew of Joaquín Balaguer, a former president of the Dominican Republic. They can find not only Dominican merchants, but also Dominican doctors and Dominican lawyers. The red, white and blue Dominican flag flies from fire escapes, streetlights, even Pepsi trucks.

    One morning in 2004, the local streets erupted with noisy political debate as thousands of voters cast their ballots for president. But the focus was not on Bush and Kerry. It was on Mejía and Fernández, candidates for the Dominican presidency. The vote represented the first time that Dominicans living abroad could vote in a Dominican presidential election.


    ‘Rich Folks and Hipsters’


    The recent transformation of Washington Heights is reflected not only on the streets but also on the stage. “In the Heights,” a charming little musical that opened last month at 37 Arts, on West 37th Street near 10th Avenue, offers a snapshot of a neighborhood in flux. “When this whole city is rich folks and hipsters,” a bodega owner wonders, “who’s going to miss this raggedy little business?” The owner of a hair salon announces that she is moving her shop to the Bronx, where rents are cheaper.

    When another character learns that the bodega is shutting for good, he screams: “This is the end of an era!” The line is intended as a joke, but seven miles north of the theater, in the shops and restaurants of Washington Heights, the words resonate less cheerfully.

    Signs of change, many small but telling, fill the streets. You can still get a crispy chicken empanada for $1 at 181st Street and Audubon Avenue, where Jose Castillo has been selling them from a pushcart for nearly a decade, but you can also buy an $8 goat cheese tartine a half-mile away at In Vino Veritas, on St. Nicholas Avenue. While some tenants still pay $600 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, others pay triple that.

    In a sense, the neighborhood is becoming two neighborhoods, even down to its name. Old-timers call it the Heights; newcomers, particularly those who log onto www.washington-heights.us, refer to Washington Heights and its northern neighbor Inwood as WaHI, in a kind of SoHo-speak.

    The corner of 181st Street and Audubon Avenue still bustles noon to night with flashes of rapid-fire Spanish conversations and bursts of merengue blaring from passing cars. But the signs of change are increasingly visible. New residents can enjoy live jazz Thursday nights at Plum Pomidor on Broadway. They can visit the Starbucks on 181st Street. At the elegant Hispaniola restaurant a few doors down from Starbucks, they can dine on miso butterfish with steamed rice for $28.

    Ms. Ramos, the waitress, sees fewer Dominican mom-and-pop stores and more chain stores. Mr. Olivo can now count among his Dominican customers six people who moved to the Bronx. And when Ms. Ramos visits her mother’s building on 162nd Street, she notices more non-Hispanic white faces. Her best friend, who used to live on the same floor, has moved to the Bronx. Others have migrated to Florida.

    “The neighborhood was one way, and now you look and you don’t know anybody,” Ms. Ramos said. “Everybody’s gone.”

    A new set of census-based numbers, prepared by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, illustrates the neighborhood’s gradual change, while offering signs that the Dominican presence remains strong.

    From 1990 to 2000, the Dominican population in Washington Heights and Inwood soared, from about 88,000 to nearly 117,000. But in the following five years their numbers dropped slightly, to fewer than 113,000. During those same five years, the total number of Latinos in the area also fell, from about 165,000 to 155,000, while the number of non-Hispanic whites increased from fewer than 29,000 to more than 30,000.

    Laird Bergad, the center’s director, described the decrease of Dominicans as statistically insignificant, possibly a reflection of a small drop in the area’s overall population. Dominicans, in fact, increased as a percentage of the total population in Washington Heights and Inwood, from 43 percent in 1990 to 53 percent in 2005.

    What the census figures do clearly show, however, is a sharp decline in the number of foreign-born Dominicans in the area. In 1990, 89 percent of Dominicans in Washington Heights and Inwood between 15 and 44 years old had been born in the Dominican Republic. Ten years later, that figure was down to 78 percent. In 2005, it was 67 percent.

    “This is unmistakable evidence that immigration has slowed,” Professor Bergad said, pointing out that this trend casts a shadow on one of the most important roles of Washington Heights — as Dominicans’ main portal into New York. However, with the area buffeted by that shift and by the influx of wealthier residents and the migration of Dominicans to the Bronx and elsewhere, it is hard to surmise what the future face of Washington Heights will be.

    These trends come vividly to life in the experiences of Ms. Ramos. Nearly two years ago, she moved to the South Bronx with her boyfriend and her 8-year-old son. She would have preferred to stay in Washington Heights, but her new home, a two-bedroom brick town house at Boston Road and Third Avenue, cost only $416,000. Half a mile from the building where her mother still lives, a three-bedroom condo was recently on the market for $1 million.

    Ms. Ramos likes her new home. The neighborhood is calm, and there’s a bus stop just two blocks away. But she misses her old place in the Heights, especially the way it used to be. “It’s very, very quiet,” she said of her old building now. “People just pass by you and you don’t even notice them because they keep to themselves.”


    Bilingual Karaoke


    Not everyone sees the changes in Washington Heights as a threat to its Dominican identity.

    One person who is confident that the neighborhood will remain a Dominican stronghold for decades to come is Josephine Infante, executive director of the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation in the Bronx. Although a growing number of Dominicans live in her borough, she notes that they are spread out, and that there is no concentration of Dominican stores, restaurants and hair salons.

    “That’s why everyone goes to Washington Heights,” Ms. Infante said. “There’s an aroma. There’s something there that’s very special.”

    Politically speaking, too, Dominicans in the Bronx are barely visible. Even though the Dominican population, at 213,000, is not too distant from the Puerto Rican population of 300,000, the borough has no elected Dominican officials.

    “You have this kind of Puerto Rican political machine right now in the Bronx that’s pretty formidable,” said Angelo Falcón, president and founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy, a New York-based research and advocacy group.

    But in the opinion of Adriano Espaillat, who has represented Washington Heights since he was elected the first Dominican member of the State Assembly in 1996, the Dominican political base in the neighborhood remains strong despite the exodus to the Bronx. In the 2005 Democratic primary, for instance, the turnout among registered Democrats in the average election district citywide was 15 percent; in Washington Heights it was roughly 24 percent.

    “Our voting power in the Heights is very strong compared to some of the other emerging communities,” Mr. Espaillat said.

    In income, however, Washington Heights looks very different from how it once looked. In 2005, the median household income for non-Hispanic whites in Washington Heights was $56,300. For Dominicans, it was just $32,800. In that same year, 35 percent of non-Hispanic white households earned $75,000 to $200,000, compared with just 12 percent of Dominican households.

    “The old question of class is still present,” Professor Bergad said, “and nothing highlights that better than this question of income distribution.”

    Perhaps surprisingly, these disparities do not appear to be stirring tensions between Dominicans and whites. The sidewalk menu at L’Fonda restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue, for example, which used to be entirely in Spanish, now lists some items in Spanish (“salcocho”) on one side and in English on the other side (“Dominican-style soup”). At Coogan’s, a restaurant and bar on Broadway at 169th Street, Tuesday and Saturday nights feature bilingual karaoke.

    Coogan’s, in fact, has become something of a bridge between the two sides. Owned by a pair of gregarious Irish-Americans, David Hunt and Peter Walsh, the bar is a gathering spot for politicians and even sponsors an annual race called the Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K Run, which this year kicks off, rain or shine, at 9 this morning.


    Battling the Landlords


    But good will doesn’t extend to every corner of the neighborhood, especially when most of its 200,000 residents are renters and relations between tenants and landlords are increasingly strained.

    Raysa Castillo, a lawyer who represents many Washington Heights tenants in housing court, says, as do many housing activists and community leaders, that some landlords make cosmetic improvements to their buildings to justify rent increases, then try to evict those unable to pay. The advocates also say some landlords falsely accuse tenants of violating leases, or drive out tenants by letting their apartments deteriorate. In response, Roberta Bernstein, president of the Small Property Owners of New York, an advocacy group, said that building owners who go to the trouble and expense of taking tenants to court often do so for legitimate reasons. “If they’re dragging tenants into court, it’s because they’re not paying rent,” said Mrs. Bernstein, whose group includes a number of Washington Heights landlords. “I won’t deny that there’s some bad owners, but there’s also some bad tenants.”

    Nevertheless, Ms. Castillo finds the broad housing picture, typical of modern gentrification, to be disheartening. “We are experiencing something totally different than what was experienced by the Greeks, Irish, Cubans and Puerto Ricans who were here,” she said. “The majority of our folks are not leaving because they’re doing better. The majority are leaving because they cannot afford rent.”

    In 2004, for instance, more than 15,000 eviction notices were filed in housing court for tenants in Washington Heights and its northern and southern neighbors, Inwood and Hamilton Heights, said Mr. Espaillat, the assemblyman. The next year, he said, the number climbed to more than 19,000.

    Ms. Castillo, who lives on Cabrini Boulevard at 187th Street, has seen such economic struggles firsthand. The buildings in the few blocks around her home were once full of blue-collar Dominicans, she said, but many of those neighbors have left in search of cheaper housing. As for the Dominican families who remain, she said she knew precisely who they are and where they live.

    How could she know all those names and locations? Because she can count those who remain on one hand. Five.



    The window of Jossy's Photo Studio.


    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

  5. #20

    Default Washington Heights

    Preaching the Gospel of Real Estate

    by Dana Rubinstein | April 16, 2008



    A Washington Heights church has divined the gospel of real estate, selling a portion of its land to a developer, who, in turn, will help build a new church three times the size of the old, dilapidated one.

    Of course, the developer gets something out of this, too – in this case, the land on which to build a 16-story residential high rise with 75 units; 20 percent of which will be affordable housing.

    Rocky Mountain Development LLC is now in contract to buy the land from Rocky Mount Baptist Church in Washington Heights for approximately $6 million. That’s a 4,286 percent appreciation since 1980, when the church bought the spot for $140,000.

    “We had no idea our church was worth that kind of money,” said Rev. Eugene Hudson in a statement. “So when the surveyor told me the news, I was elated, ecstatic, and almost speechless…I really thanked the Lord for that. He must want us to continue to do our good works.”

    As part of the terms of the contract, the developers will replace the existing 5,000-square-foot church with a 15,000-square-foot house of worship on the
    same site, at 37-41 Hillside Avenue.

    Even better, the new housing could prove a fertile ground for new congregants.

    Construction should be completed in 2010.

    Copyright 2008 The New York Observer.

  6. #21

    Default Second Avenue at Eighth Street

    Streetscapes | Second Avenue at Eighth Street

    1880s Features, Unveiled Again


    Left: Byron Collection, Museum of the City of New York. Right: Ruby Washington/The New York Times

    ENDURING GIFTS The German Dispensary and adjacent library on Second Avenue near East Eighth Street, in 1899, left, and as they look today, right, were founded by Anna Ottendorfer and her husband, Oswald.

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
    Published: August 15, 2008

    FOR most of the last half-century, the striking Victorian interior of the German Dispensary, built in 1884 at 137 Second Avenue, near East Eighth Street, was neglected and forlorn. Now, the rich red-brick-and-terra-cotta building has a new owner, and work is under way on uncovering its unusual decoration from 50 years of entombment.

    Kings Notable New Yorkers/Office for Metropolitan History
    The Ottendorfers were philanthropists and owned the influential German- American newspaper New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung in the 19th century.

    Ruby Washington/The New York Times
    The sculptures on the dispensary’s exterior include portrait busts of medical and scientific pioneers.

    Like the branch library next door, the Second Avenue building of the German Dispensary was the gift of Anna and Oswald Ottendorfer, who ran the German newspaper New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung. That journal had great influence in Little Germany, on the Lower East Side around First and Second Avenues below 14th Street. The 1886 edition of Appleton’s Dictionary of New York described an area in which “lager-beer shops are numerous, and nearly all the signs are of German names.”

    The dispensary had been founded in 1857 and evolved into what is now Lenox Hill Hospital, at 77th Street and Park Avenue.

    In the mid-19th century, charitable institutions flourished and dispensaries met the needs of walk-in patients who did not have regular doctors.

    There were hospitals, orphanages and similar institutions for various nationalities and religions, among them Norwegians, French, Swiss, Italians, Jews, Presbyterians and Baptists.

    Of dispensaries, New York had about a dozen, including the Good-Samaritan, DeMilt, Northeastern, Northern, Harlem, Trinity Church and Eclectic Dispensaries. The Germans had a strong presence, and more than one dedicated facility in the area: just a few blocks away, at 78 Seventh Street, there was one called the German Poliklinik.

    Mrs. Ottendorfer was particularly interested in the Second Avenue project and picked the architect herself: William Schickel, who trained in Germany and came to the United States in the 1870s. He worked for Richard Morris Hunt before embarking on his own career, eventually becoming the top designer for the city’s Germans.

    Mrs. Ottendorfer’s gift opened in 1884. Though well received by the German community, it did not win over a critic for the Real Estate Record & Guide, who described an “entirely commonplace” building in a “Germanized renaissance” style, and singled out the porch as “very unschooled and uncouth.” But the writer, who was unidentified, did praise the “charm and precision of the color” of the terra cotta.

    The three-story building, practically incandescent in color, carries on its portico deeply modeled portrait busts of medical and scientific pioneers like Hippocrates, who gave his name to the medical oath, and Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. Just visible in the recesses is the name Löher, most likely a reference to Alois Loeher, a well-known sculptor of the period.

    The frieze of busts at the top of the building is harder to see, but looks to be by the same hand: William Harvey, English physiologist; Carl von Linne (also known as Carl Linnaeus), Swedish botanist; Alexander von Humboldt, German scientist; Antoine Lavoisier, French chemist; and Christoph Hufeland, German physician. Photographs of some of the sculptures are posted at http://gammablog.com/tag/stuyvesant-polyclinic/.

    This was an early period for terra cotta, and there is a fresh innocence to the vigorous, deep carving, quite different from such work in later years, which often looked routine.

    The 1888 Charity Directory said the German Dispensary had treated 28,000 patients in the prior year.

    By 1905 the dispensary had moved out to a new building on the Upper East Side and sold its old building to the German Poliklinik. Both institutions changed their names during World War I, the Poliklinik to Stuyvesant Polyclinic.

    By the 1960s the Germans had been replaced by a younger, quite different generation. Dr. Arnold Bernstein, the institution’s chief psychologist, told The New York Times in 1961 that he treated actors, poets, painters and writers, for up to $1.50 per visit. Most of “these infantile, immature personalities,” the doctor said, have “a very sincere desire to do something useful and creative.”

    In more recent years — until its sale last year — the old dispensary building was part of Cabrini Medical Center. Although hospitals are notoriously hard on historic architecture, the interior of the Schickel building was remarkably intact, if run-down, with intricate stairway ironwork and door enframements, red marble wainscoting and a highly colored tile floor. Views of these are posted at http://curbed.com (search the site for Stuyvesant Polyclinic).

    Now the architect David Mayerfeld is working on an alteration for a future occupant, which he describes only as “a think-tank sort of thing, that works on business problems.”

    He plans to strip the paint from the intricate ironwork stairway railings and columns, and will have to add a sprinkler system throughout to retain the open stair hall. He says that removing half a century of dropped ceilings and tacked-on flooring has been a process of discovery, as bits of tile, tin ceiling and other finishes suddenly appear.

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/re...ref=realestate

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  7. #22

    Default Manhattanville

    Living In | Manhattanville

    At Harlem’s Heart, an Enigmatic Neighborhood

    Andrew Henderson/The New York Times
    WITH PARKING Fairway, tucked under the viaduct at 131st Street, is one attraction of Manhattanville. These days, some residents are disquieted by Columbia University’s plans to absorb a chunk of the area into its campus. More Photos >

    By DEBORAH BALDWIN
    Published: August 15, 2008

    STEP off the elevated subway at the center of Manhattanville and you may wonder if there’s really a there there. The view from the station above 125th Street and Broadway can be disorienting: no little shops and bodegas to say, “This is it.” What you see instead are warehouses, bus depots and factories, as well as unmarked towers and a crosshatch of diagonal streets more reminiscent of the West Village. Yet there’s something slightly magical about the way hills rise up around the area. A recent group exhibition of photographs dedicated to Manhattanville characterized its haunting mix of low-lying back streets, vaulted overpasses, vintage churches and riverfront as “strange, unresolved or unsettling.”

    Multimedia

    Slide Show Living in Manhattanville, New York







    No wonder few people agree on its future — or even, for that matter, whether it exists in the first place. “I’ve considered the whole area Harlem,” said Sarah Martin, who has lived in the Grant Houses complex in Manhattanville since 1957, voicing the dismissive sentiment of some longtime residents.

    Others say you hear the name these days mainly because it’s attached to the controversial plan by Columbia University to transform 17 acres of Manhattanville into an extended campus.

    But there is a there there, insists Eric K. Washington, the author of “Manhattanville: Old Heart of West Harlem.”

    “It’s not a neighborhood that you walk through and all of a sudden you’ve stepped into a Jane Austen novel,” Mr. Washington said. “But it does have a quality of intrigue. It seems to whisper to you, ‘Boy, have I got stories.’ ”

    He described how it was incorporated as a village in 1806, straddling two thoroughfares now known as Broadway and 125th, its streets laid out old-style, pregrid. Some east-west streets still hold onto names like Tiemann Place — “a real cabbie-stumper,” said Mr. Washington, who lived on it for 20 years.

    The 2000 census counted roughly 39,000 residents, 51 percent Hispanic or Latino (of any race), 32 percent non-Hispanic black and 10 percent white.

    Many more people simply pass through, to shop at the sprawling Fairway supermarket on West 131st, line up with the crowds at Dinosaur-Bar-B-Que on 12th Avenue, and rubberneck at the film crews that set up under the arches of the Riverside Drive overpass.

    With more warehouses than town houses, it’s an area that real estate agents like to redraw as part of higher-profile neighborhoods, as if tugging on the corners of a Google map. Though upscale condominiums occasionally come onto the market, the pickings are slim, according to Sidney Whelan, a sales associate at Halstead Property.

    You can hardly blame people for trying to live there, though. West Harlem Piers Park opened this summer near Fairway; there’s a bike path along the river and a strip of hot new watering holes just up 12th Avenue; and the Henry Hudson Parkway is right there, offering a quick route upstate. And where else would a doll factory face an auto-body shop, or a renovated commercial space called the Mink Building — rich people’s furs used to summer there — sit opposite a live poultry shop?


    WHAT YOU’LL FIND
    For an area so small — 122nd to 136th Streets, from the Hudson River to St. Nicholas and Manhattan Avenues — Manhattanville covers a lot of psychogeographical ground. West 125th, home to the Cotton Club, feels like Harlem, while the southwest corner is oriented toward Riverside Park, where “you can stand at the top of the hill and see the George Washington Bridge,” said Linda Mahoney, who lives on Tiemann Place.

    Farther north, on Broadway, you pick up a Dominican flavor. “It’s always been polyglot, unlike Harlem,” Mr. Washington said. “It forces you to rethink where you’re visiting — it’s a bit more complex.”

    Today’s multiethnic mosaic includes Latinos who don’t speak Spanish and Middle Easterners who do, said Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, a member of the local community board who has lived on West 136th since 1964. Holding it together, he says, is not only tolerance but also the residual glue that brought the community together in the 1990s to fight a common enemy: the drug lords who ruled northern Manhattanville’s streets.

    By 2005, the dealers retreated indoors, he said. He credits not only a police crackdown but also newcomers determined to make the area their home. One of them was Judith Matloff, who lives a few blocks north of Manhattanville and has written a pungent memoir, “Home Girl,” about her family’s 2000 purchase of a dilapidated house on a block then ruled by Dominican dealers.

    Ms. Matloff paused during a recent walk around the area to stare at movers unloading a mattress — a once-popular way to transfer cocaine, she noted. Then she rallied, heading toward Broadway and its signs of a gradual upswing. “Ray’s Wines and Liquors is having wine tastings,” she said wryly. “Gallo tastings — behind bulletproof glass.”

    Critics of Columbia’s plans say these signs of revitalization seem natural and organic, in contrast to the university’s buy-and-hold approach. “Even before a shovel has been dropped in the ground, the expansion has caused disruption and a sense of impending loss,” said Tom DeMott of the Coalition to Preserve Community.

    Robert Kasdin, Columbia’s senior executive vice president, argued that rather than disrupt the area, redevelopment would improve its infrastructure. He said the university had taken steps to help preserve and develop housing.

    There isn’t a vast stock right now; apart from plentiful student and public housing, inventory is negligible. But for those who qualify, the public housing comes in the form of “H.D.F.C. co-ops,” referring to the Housing Development Fund Corporation — some in stately prewar buildings.

    Created after the landlord flight of the 1970s, when tenants bought their buildings from the city, these co-ops have buyer income restrictions and caps on sale prices.

    Christa Myers, who lives in an H.D.F.C. building near Convent Avenue and 129th Street and is buying a two-bedroom apartment there, said she was drawn to the building because it was on a quiet block in “a neighborhood that is getting nicer and nicer.”

    “I will say, having been raised in Harlem and seeing gentrification, I have mixed feelings,” Ms. Myers said. “I’m an alumna of Columbia, and I love my alma mater,” but the growth will take place “at the expense of some people.”


    WHAT YOU’LL PAY
    A condo in a former warehouse on St. Nicholas Avenue near West 123rd recently sold for more than $1 million. Such properties are relatively rare.

    The going price for co-ops is about $700 a square foot, said Patty LaRocco, a Prudential Douglas Elliman senior vice president.

    Bellmarc Realty is offering a 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom at 501 West 122nd at $750,000, and Willie Kathryn Suggs, the well-known Harlem broker, valued an apartment she will be listing on Riverside Drive, overlooking the Hudson, at $800 a square foot.

    For those who qualify and do not mind purchase and sales curbs, H.D.F.C. co-ops often go for less than $100,000. (See nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/developers/til.shtml.)

    Renters should expect to pay up to $2,500 a month for a two-bedroom two-bath apartment, and $1,900 to $2,100 for a one-bedroom, Mr. Whelan said.


    THE SCHOOLS
    At the Mott Hall School, serving Grades 4 through 8, 93.9 percent of eighth graders showed proficiency in English and 98 percent in math, versus 43 percent and 60 percent citywide. At Kipp Infinity Charter School, serving Grades 5 through 7, 98.5 percent of the seventh graders showed proficiency in English, and 100 percent in math. At the Kipp Star College Prep School, serving Grades 5 through 8, 54 percent of the eighth graders showed proficiency in English, 95.3 percent in math.

    The High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College, which admits by test only, reported 2007 SAT averages of 576 in reading, 627 in math and 551 in writing, versus 441, 462 and 433 citywide.


    WHAT TO DO
    West Harlem Piers Park extends from West 125th to 132nd Street.
    Fairway opened on West 131st Street in 1995. When asked why there, the owner, Howard Glickberg, said, “There aren’t many places in Manhattan where you can have 40,000 square feet of selling area and a parking lot also.” How true. Don’t miss the meat section, which fills an entire refrigerated room.

    Just north on 12th Avenue are the Hudson River Cafe at West 133rd Street and a restaurant row at West 135th.


    THE COMMUTE
    Midtown is a quick subway ride from the 1, 2 and 3 stop at 125th and Broadway. Switch to the express at 96th; you’ll get there in 15 minutes.


    THE HISTORY
    In the early 1800s, Manhattanville was a port village with a crooked main drag called Bloomingdale Road. In the early 1900s, Riverside Drive Viaduct went up, along with a subway line held aloft by Eiffel Tower-like arches, and the village became part of the city. The New York Times bemoaned the changes. “Quaint Landmarks in Manhattanville Passing Away for Modern Improvements,” read a headline in 1912.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/re...ref=realestate

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
    Last edited by brianac; August 16th, 2008 at 07:30 AM.

  8. #23

    Default

    Streetscapes | 532-538 Madison Avenue

    Four Modest Neighbors and How They Fared

    Left: Culver Pictures. Right: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
    THINGS CHANGE The quartet of high-stoop brownstones built in 1870 at the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and 54th Street — shown in 1914, left, and today, right — was in a fashionable area for a while, but commercial neighbors started to intrude.

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
    Published: August 22, 2008

    IN a city swamped by development, how bad are the chances for four little buildings on a prime Madison Avenue corner in Midtown? Well, maybe not all that grim, despite the big “for sale” sign on one, 534 Madison Avenue, built in 1870 as one of a quartet of brownstones at the northwest corner of 54th Street.


    In 1870, John Sares, a builder, put up four high-stoop brownstone houses on that site, as development began to wash over the area. The houses cost $10,000 each to build; they were ostensibly designed by Mortimer C. Merritt, but they followed the tried-and-true formula for such structures so closely that the amount of designing they required is questionable.

    The group faced Madison Avenue, which was emerging as a fashionable address. Nevertheless, Mr. Sares, like almost every other developer, built in the usual style of the day, even as it was generally derided. In 1869, for instance, The Real Estate Record and Guide bemoaned the city’s “same never-ending high stoops and gloomy brownstone fronts.”

    The arrival of the Vanderbilt mansions on Fifth Avenue between 50th and 58th Streets in the 1880s cast a reflected glamour on Madison, but the Vanderbilts proved to be a transitory presence. After 1900, shops, hotels and crowds began to force householders north of 59th Street, and the four brownstones at Madison and 54th had a less idyllic setting.

    Still, in 1910 the family of Washington E. Connor, a stockbroker, inhabited the corner building, No. 532, along with seven servants. It was around that time that rules against sidewalk encroachments got tighter — at least on the avenues, where automobiles needed more room — and stoops, window bays and other projections were stripped away.

    The disturbance and cost of these alterations caused an instant migration of families; their houses were converted to shops and apartments for residents of much more modest means.

    In 1928, a society woman, Sybil Sellar, opened a gown shop in the old Connor house, “a little jewel box,” she told The New York Times, with the walls and ceiling done in gold.

    In 1930, the census taker recorded, at No. 538, the decorator Rose Cumming, 42. Born to an Australian sheep rancher, she lived in the brownstone with her sister Dorothy, 30, who had been a prominent silent film actress until 1929 but did not make the transition to talkies (perhaps because of her Australian accent).

    In 1936, the Park Curiosity Shop took over No. 536, and the architects Charles N. and Selig Whinston redesigned the exterior “after the fashion of an old London curiosity shop,” according to The New York Times. Old photographs show slate peaked roofs and extensive half-timbering on the facade, although only its pointed roof gables remain.

    In 1957, the restaurant chain Chock Full o’Nuts bought the former Connor house and built in its stead the existing trim, modernist seven-story building of swimming-pool blue brick and plate glass. This little gem was designed by Horace Ginsbern, one of the few architects practicing in the era to cut against the grain of absolute simplicity. In the 1950s, a time of humorless white and buff brick, his choice of blue was unusual.

    Since 1980, the brownstone character of East Midtown, once quite evident, has become as a sand grain among boulders — 40-plus-story boulders, like the building at 520 Madison Avenue built in 1981 on the southwest corner of 54th. Its splayed lower floors make it look like an elephant’s foot. That wave of colossi all but wiped out the dinged-up little brownstones with oddball stores and funny walk-up apartments that once typified the area.

    But, even much altered, the four little buildings on the 54th Street corner still capture some of the flavor of the older neighborhood — back when it was still a neighborhood.

    The most exotic is No. 534, with the venerable Persian Shop, run by the Terzis family for decades. In the 1960s, the shop window was filled with intriguing artifacts like jewelry with secret compartments, intricate metalwork and mysteriously named “poison rings.” But although the shop still has its old-fashioned air and the original 1940s-era black glass storefront, Andrew Terzis says his stock is mostly modern jewelry now. “I have to focus on what sells,” he said.

    The Terzis building has a “for sale” sign over the door; the asking price is $20 million. According to Mr. Terzis, “there’s been a lot of interest, but I can’t really discuss it now.”

    So how has this little outpost of four small buildings survived? Well, the footprint of their entire site — 70 feet by 100 feet — is modest. The broker for 534 Madison Avenue is Paul Massey, president of Massey Knakal Realty Services, and he says the zoning for the site would theoretically allow a 10- or 15-story building. But difficulties with the small lot size make that improbable.

    And it is even more improbable that four different owners would agree to sell, even over time. Evans Cyprus, who owns No. 536, the old Park Curiosity Shop building, says he likes Burger Heaven, the venerable lunch spot he owns at the address, right where it is. “Yeah,” he said, “people have made offers, but where can I get another place for a restaurant in Midtown?”

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/24/re...ref=realestate

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  9. #24

    Default West Village

    45 Grove Street

    The Many Lives of a Village Dowager

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
    Published: October 17, 2008

    EVEN among the oddball buildings of the West Village, 45 Grove Street defies all typology: it is an 1871 apartment building created from an 1830 mansion.

    New York Historical Society
    TALE OF SURVIVAL The structure at 45 Grove Street in the West Village was built in 1830 as a single-family home.

    G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
    The building, at top in 1905 and today, has retained much of its Federal style and original character, including black marble fireplaces, below, and hardwood doors.

    G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times

    G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times

    A new owner is now uncovering the multilayered history of this remarkable structure, just off Bleecker Street, which has ties to both John Wilkes Booth and Hart Crane.

    The house was built by Samuel Whittemore, a well-to-do manufacturer, and the census of 1830 records nine members of the Whittemore family, as well as two “free colored persons,” living there.

    Though it now has four floors, it began life as a two-story structure. The surviving Federal-style lintels on the second floor windows and the rich, molded door surround are of that period. It is not clear whether the house was originally free-standing, but it is now sandwiched in between other structures.

    Whittemore sold the house in 1851, and seven years later The New York Times carried an advertisement calling it “Whittemore House” and extolling it as a “first-class boarding house.”

    Samuel K. Chester, an actor, lived there around the beginning of 1865. According to testimony from Chester published in The Times in May 1865, John Wilkes Booth had gone there to try to persuade Chester to join a “conspiracy to take over the government” and kidnap President Abraham Lincoln, but Chester declined. Booth assassinated the president in April.

    Through the twists and turns of history, 45 Grove became the “Lincoln Home” for destitute soldiers and sailors later that year.

    In 1871, Elisha Bloomer, a hatter, retained the architect Benjamin G. Wells for a most unusual alteration, adding two stories and converting the old Whittemore residence into an apartment house.

    Instead of completely Victorianizing the structure, Wells duplicated the Federal-style lintels on the upper two floors, and carefully retained most of the interior details, at least on the first floor.

    He also enlarged the windows on the first floor, perhaps for store or office use. The tenants in 1890 included a metals dealer and a barber, but in the 1910s the Village underwent a bohemian transformation.

    In 1923, the writer Hart Crane lived on the second floor, struggling to eke out a living, and the 1930 census showed the building filled with artistic types, like the Russian-born Zelda Dorfman, a 24-year-old theatrical manager.

    In 1937, as the Department of Buildings required the upgrading of old apartment houses, the owners of 45 Grove requested permission to retain the hardwood doors to the apartments on the first floor, “as these doors are highly ornamental.” They described the house as “one of the landmarks in the Greenwich Village section.” The department denied the request, asserting that metal doors were required. But the old wooden doors are still in place.

    Somehow, 45 Grove has escaped both demolition and restoration; it has long had the slightly ruined quality that has almost vanished from the rest of the Village: loose wires hanging down from the fire escapes, and tin coverings over the main-floor windows’ wood trim dented and askew.

    Inside, crusted paint swamps the old moldings, but the spectacular plasterwork may still leave a visitor gaping: long intact runs of intricately worked bead, reel, rosette and banded-reed decoration on the ceiling, and lovely three-part Federal over-door treatments, with swags in the center.

    Just inside the front door is a sculpture niche from the Whittemore period, framed by deeply veined marble.

    But there is Victoriana, too: a Minton-type tile floor in the vestibule and heavy molded doors on the outside.

    An unusually delicate door assembly at the top of the stairs at the rear is peculiar for its out-of-the-way placement. It has an intricate fanlight at the top, fluted columns on the sides, and a carved or molded decorative meander, rosette and similar details. It appears to have been moved; if it was the original front door, Bloomer was either thrifty about using salvage or appreciative of the piece’s architectural value.

    One tenant, Beverly Maher, a guitar instructor, has an apartment that is little changed, with the same detailing as in the lobby. In addition, she has two remarkable black marble fireplaces, one with Ionic columns, the other with an iron frieze of the Last Supper — perhaps these are from the 1871 renovation.

    Grove Equities, a partnership, bought 45 Grove Street, which has 15 residential units and two commercial units, earlier this year, and Daniel Lavian, one of the partners, said that they didn’t quite realize what they had acquired.

    They have uncovered the ground floor front window woodwork of 1871 — tinned up for at least several decades — and uncovered a crazy quilt of decayed columns, brackets and cornices.

    “Our first plan was to just do the doorways,” he said, sounding like any renovator swamped by circumstance, “but then we saw all the intricate detail work, and we’re starting to see our numbers going up.”

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/19/re...ref=realestate

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  10. #25

    Default Sutton Square

    A Tiny Enclave’s Changing Persona


    Left, New York City Municipal Archives; Right, John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
    1940 At left, a view of Sutton Square overlooking the East River. The square's town houses are in the center of the photo. Originally brownstones, most had been rebuilt in the 1920s. MODERN DAY Houses on Sutton Square today, at right, are worth $10 million and up, and ownership often is veiled behind various corporate names.

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
    Published: October 31, 2008

    IF few people have heard of the East River enclave Sutton Place, then even fewer know about its tiny adjunct, Sutton Square, a set of six houses at the foot of East 58th Street. Rebuilt in the 1920s from a moldy set of 1880s brownstones, these town houses share a sweeping common garden with the houses on Sutton Place. Now an architectural question mark from the 1970s appears poised for resolution.

    Video: Neighbors on the Neighborhood (Video Courtesy of John Marshall Mantel)



    John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times

    Most of the brownstones in the riverfront block between 57th and 58th Streets on what was then Avenue A faced the avenue, but seven faced 58th Street before it dead-ended at the East River. The seven were 502 through 514 East 58th Street, by present numbering 4 through 16 Sutton Square.

    At the beginning, these high-stoop brownstones were occupied by prosperous businessmen. In 1890, Albert Ludorff, who had a bottling business on 10th Avenue, lived at 508 East 58th (now part of 8 Sutton Square). But the row had a brush with bohemianism — the Ashcan painter Robert Henri lived at 512 East 58th Street (now 14 Sutton Square) in 1901.

    In 1920, the real estate company Webb & Knapp bought the 57th to 58th Street block and worked out a plan to completely remake it and sell off the lots. A 50-year covenant created a large common garden out of the backyards; required that kitchens and laundries face the street, not the garden; and established an architectural review process for the expected new facades. The developers renamed this part of 58th Street Sutton Square.

    The house at No. 4 Sutton Square was made over in 1921 for Henry Sprague, an inventor. The architect he hired designed a simple brick front with a large second-floor triple window topped by an exquisite oval arch. It was removed last month.

    Next door was one of the most ingenious houses in New York or, rather, pair of houses. Joseph Chamberlain, a law professor, and his brother-in-law Edgar Stillman, a physician, together bought three of the old brownstones on the former East 58th Street, and their architect, Murphy & Dana, made the three into two: Nos. 6 and 8 Sutton Square. The architects employed the simple detailing by which old money tends to distinguish itself, reusing brick from the old building “so that an agreeable texture has been preserved,” according to The Architectural Record in 1922.

    On the inside the architects made the buildings interlocking, to stagger the widths of the rooms. Thus No. 8 has, on its second floor, a music room 31 feet wide — but the flanking library of No. 6 is only 15 feet wide.

    In the 1930 census the value of Chamberlain’s house was listed as $100,000.

    Because Nos. 6 and 8 Sutton Square were made from three houses, there is no No. 10. Next door at No. 12 lived Dr. Kenneth Taylor, who had run military hospitals in Paris during World War I. He was the first to renovate on the square, in 1920; Delano & Aldrich designed him an elegant brick and limestone house in the neo-Georgian style.

    At No. 14, Foster Kennedy, a doctor who had worked with the shell-shocked in World War I, left his old brownstone pretty much as is. The last house in the row, 16 Sutton Square, was purchased by Lillie Havemeyer, who also made few changes to the exterior.

    As time went on, this little enclave changed gradually. In 1940, work on the East River Drive required Mrs. Havemeyer to move out while her house was demolished and rebuilt. Aristotle Onassis lived at 16 Sutton Square around 1950.

    In 1963, the Sutton Square owners renewed the 1920 covenant for another 50 years, and in 1973 the investor Neil McConnell, owner of the adjacent Chamberlain and Taylor houses (Nos. 8 and 12), combined them on the inside. Current floor plans are posted on curbed.com.

    On the outside, his architect, Page Cross, created an unsettling hybrid.

    He left the upper two stories of No. 8 intact, so it still matched its twin at No. 6 on those floors. But Mr. Cross rebuilt the plain brick lower floors of No. 8 to match the neo-Georgian Taylor house at No. 12, resulting in a kind of architectural puzzle.

    Houses on Sutton Square are now worth $10 million and up, and ownership is veiled behind various corporate names. It appears that Michael Jeffries, the president of Abercrombie & Fitch, owns the Sprague house at No. 4 Sutton Square, and that Yue-Sai Kan, a television star in China, owns No. 6.

    Bonnard Holdings recently bought Neil McConnell’s old houses, the conjoined pair at 8-12 Sutton Square; the Real Deal reports that the purchase occurred this year for $30 million. Gregory Hayes, a Connecticut lawyer listed as president of Bonnard, would not describe pending work.

    But Evan Blum, the founder of Irreplaceable Artifacts, says that he was asked to bid on salvage in the building, and that he is offering some of the exterior stonework in the new arrivals department at demolitiondepot.com.

    The plans show a more symmetrical, harmonious house, Mr. Blum said.

    That would involve a major change to one or both buildings, promising an interesting time to come on Sutton Square.

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/re...ref=realestate

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  11. #26

    Default 1 Park Avenue.

    Streetscapes | 1 Park Avenue

    History Lessons by the Numbers

    Office for Metropolitan History
    TWO NO. 1'S The Hansel-and-Gretel Gothic-style cottage on the corner of 34th Street, left, was the first to use the address No. 1 Park Avenue in the 1800s. The building was boarded up in 1953, right, and that same year was replaced with an apartment building, now known as 7 Park Avenue.

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
    Published: November 7, 2008

    REUBEN ROSE-REDWOOD has made a specialty of studying the street layout of New York and has now tackled a subject essentially ignored: how buildings in New York and elsewhere were numbered.

    Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
    The current No. 1 Park Avenue is at 32nd Street.

    An assistant professor at Texas A&M University, he devoted his Ph.D. thesis to the subject, going back to the British imposition of numbering in the 1770s to keep better tabs on the civilian population during the occupation of the city.

    He also chronicles how directory publishers were the biggest backers of house numbering, often doing it themselves, and how the city established Fifth Avenue in 1838 as the dividing line between east and west numbering on the side streets.

    House numbering is not just a bureaucratic footnote in the life of the city. One of Dr. Rose-Redwood’s cases is that of Martha Bacon, who in the 1920s fought a tenacious battle out of her peculiar Gothic house at 34th and Park Avenue — until the 1 in her No. 1 Park Avenue was taken away from her.

    Park Avenue came into existence in the 1850s when the city built a landscaped mall over a deep railroad cut that ran through Murray Hill along Fourth Avenue.

    The new Park Avenue designation began at the first of the malls, at 34th Street.

    The broad boulevard attracted development, and in 1857, Margaret Ten Eyck built a Hansel-and-Gretel Gothic-style cottage at the northeast corner of 34th and Park. She appears to have been the wife of Peter Ten Eyck, a doctor who used the address 65 East 34th Street. At that point, street numbering on either side of Park Avenue was not yet firmly established.

    In 1860, Mrs. Ten Eyck sold the house to Charles W. Kearney, a Washington Street paper dealer listed in the city directory at “E 34 c Fourth,” c being the abbreviation for corner. Later it was occupied by Augustus Berrian, a shipwright, who used the address 101 East 34th, and in the 1880s by Edward Keyes, a doctor and the first owner to use the address No. 1 Park Avenue.

    In 1897 Martha and Robert Bacon, a partner at J. P. Morgan & Company, bought the house. The New York Times described it in 1905 as “embedded in vines” and looking “more the residence of an artist than of a millionaire financier.” The 1910 census found the Bacons there with four children and three servants, but Mr. Bacon died in 1919, and in 1920 the new widow was in the house all alone, except for nine servants.

    In 1923, Henry Mandel, a developer, bought the east side of Fourth Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets, operating in the name of the “One Park Avenue Corporation.” He successfully lobbied the Board of Aldermen to extend Park Avenue to 32nd Street, which gave his building Mrs. Bacon’s number.

    She joined with the Murray Hill and the Fifth Avenue Associations in petitioning the aldermen to rescind the name change, which they did by a vote of 62 to 3. But Mayor John F. Hylan vetoed the bill.

    Mrs. Bacon continued her fight, and in January 1927, The Park Avenue Social Bulletin called the name change a “glaring piece of class legislation.” That November, the appellate division of the state Supreme Court struck down the change. Mr. Mandel’s new No. 1 Park Avenue was thus left with the humdrum 461-477 Fourth Avenue.

    The court scorned the politics behind the change, noting that the number had been taken away for no real public purpose, but because the new corporation coveted it. Park Avenue, the court said, was named for the park in the middle, and there was no park south of 34th.

    But in 1928, the developers again took the case to court, and this time Mrs. Bacon lost. An editorial in The New York Times decried the decision, saying it ran against “common decency and respect for ordinary human rights.” It endorsed a proposal to call the disputed section Park Avenue South, and suggested that a “graceful act” by the developer would be to adopt that address. But no such grace was forthcoming.

    Mrs. Bacon surrendered, changing her listing in the Social Register to “Park Avenue at 34th.” A further indignity came in 1930, when an 18-story apartment house went up, surrounding her corner plot. She died 10 years later, at age 80.

    A 1953 photo shows the Bacon residence boarded up like a dust bowl farmhouse. That year the gingerbread survivor was replaced with an apartment building, now known as 7 Park Avenue.

    Park Avenue South came into being in 1959, but the name change would not have satisfied Mrs. Bacon: Park Avenue South begins at 32nd Street. She would have winced as she passed her nemesis, with her old address, One Park Avenue, carved over the doorway.

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/09/re...ref=realestate

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  12. #27

    Default West End Avenue

    Streetscapes | West End Avenue

    Homage to the Humdrum


    Photographs from The Museum of the City of New York except left; Librado Romero/The New York Times

    ARCHITECTURAL STANDOUTS Much of West End Avenue is lined with post-1910 apartment buildings, including, left to right, No. 565, at the corner of 87th Street; the Umbria, at 82nd Street; No. 640, at 91st Street; and the Dallieu, at the corner of 101st Street.

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
    Published: November 21, 2008

    A NEIGHBORHOOD coalition, the West End Preservation Society, has proposed the designation of the entire stretch of West End Avenue from 70th to 107th Street as a historic district, with the support of the preservation group Landmark West.

    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    The building has a distinctive drive-through entrance.


    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    The 1913 Cleburne building, at 924 West End, rises at the northeast corner of 105th Street.

    This comfortable boulevard, which epitomizes the West Side’s easygoing character, is lined with mostly humdrum apartment buildings of the 1910s and 1920s, but a handful stand well above the architectural mean.

    West End evolved into an apartment street after 1910, when the first tall apartment buildings went up, mostly replacing the roomy brownstones that had sprung up in the 1880s. By the end of the 1920s, only isolated corners remained unimproved, and in a 1931 issue of The Saturday Review of Literature, Christopher Morley called West End “incomparably the most agreeable and convenient” of New York’s large streets, in part because of its unexceptional architecture, “just even bulks of masonry,” as he put it.

    The avenue in the 70s is notable at 75th Street for Neville & Bagge’s richly colored Esplanade of 1916, a very competent urban palazzo, its warm orange brick facade richly festooned with balconies and relief sculpture. At 78th Street comes the rear of the magnificent Apthorp apartments, really a Broadway building.

    The architect George F. Pelham Jr. struck an unusual note of modernism at the southwest corner of 80th. Built in 1936, the interior of 411 West End marked a departure from the apartments of the 1910s and 1920s: stepped-down living rooms, glass-enclosed tubs and highly colored tile bathrooms.

    The bulk of the facade is typical of its period. It is the stainless steel icicle-like trim at the upper floors that makes it amusing to look at.

    At the northwest corner of 82nd Street stands West End’s most architecturally singular apartment building, the Umbria, built in 1911 by Harry Schiff and designed by D. Everett Waid in light brick and terra cotta.

    As with most of its cohort, Schiff gave the Umbria all the bells and whistles: wall safes, filtered water, cedar closets, a mail chute and central vacuum cleaning. The apartments, from 7 to 12 rooms, rented for $200 to $375 per month.

    Another Depression-era apartment building stands out at 87th Street, the only full-blown Art Deco work on the avenue. Designed in 1936 for the developer Mose Goodman by H. I. Feldman, 565 West End had apartments as small as three rooms, marking a new era for the avenue, which had hitherto been mostly family-style. The striped orange and black brickwork on the first floor gives it a luscious chromatic presence.

    A sleeper building is 640 West End, at the northeast corner of 91st, designed in 1912 by the veteran West Side architect Ralph Townsend for a syndicate of which he was a member. Its simple Renaissance styling and large windows in broad wall surfaces give it a dignity beyond the usual shoebox peppered with rectangular holes. This repose seems a minor touch until you see how few other architects achieved it, although it should be noted that Townsend had only two apartments per floor to work in.

    The Dallieu, at the southeast corner of 101st Street, is one of George and Edward Blum’s exceptional designs, built for the Tishman family in 1913. It has lost its original windows, rich cornice and, recently, its intricate lobby doors — each disappearance a little tragedy — but its recessed brick joints and hypnotic patterns of masonry and terra-cotta decoration still make it one of the great apartment buildings of the West Side.

    The Dallieu, like its brethren, served the prosperous — brokers, diamond importers and wholesalers. Of the 45 families recorded there by the 1920 census taker, 39 had live-in cooks.

    The Blums’ frequent competitor, Gaetano Ajello, got a plum commission from the Paterno brothers, with his triplet 885-895-905 West End Avenue, flanking 103rd Street and built between 1913 and 1917. These are competent individually but imposing as a group, a comprehensive effort rare for New York.

    The 1913 Cleburne, 924 West End, rises at the northeast corner of 105th. It is also by Harry Schiff, here working with Schwartz & Gross. The exterior and the lobby have an Arts and Crafts character, but what is most interesting is the great drive-through entrance, on the 105th Street side.

    Does West End itself rise to historic-district quality? On the East Side, the certifiably famous Park Avenue has been included in historic districts only incidentally, and most of its length above 78th Street is unregulated.

    Central Park South is not designated, nor the Grand Concourse. Perhaps the greatest claim to prominence West End Avenue can offer is that it is, as Mr. Morley said, supremely “discreet and undemonstrative.” If it becomes a historic district, it will perhaps be because it makes no fuss better than any other comparable street in New York.

    E-mail: streetscapes@nytimes.com

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/re...enue%20&st=cse

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  13. #28
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default New York by the Numbers

    January 11, 2009
    New York by the Numbers

    Neighborhoods, Up Close and Personal

    By SAM ROBERTS

    EVEN if the latest economic slump stunts the explosion of New York’s population before the end of the decade, you can count on the fact that the city’s proverbial changing neighborhoods will keep changing.

    Detailed census figures released last month and analyzed for The New York Times by Andrew Beveridge, chairman of the sociology department at Queens College, reveal just how vividly many neighborhoods have changed since 2000.

    Through 2007, more whites moved to Harlem.

    More young children live in Lower Manhattan, the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side.

    In Flatbush, 40 percent fewer residents lacked a high school diploma in 2007 than in 2000.

    The rich got richer: In 2000, the richest neighborhood was the Upper East Side; in 2007, it was the bottom tip of Manhattan. The poorest, both years, was the South Bronx, which got even poorer.

    The Rockaways registered the biggest percentage gain in population. Coney Island had the biggest loss.

    The number of blacks in southern Staten Island grew by half; Elmhurst lost 1 in 3. Asians recorded the greatest gains in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and Hispanics in Bay Ridge.

    Among people who don’t speak English at home, the Upper East Side lost the largest share, while southern Staten Island gained the most.

    The accompanying graphic shows other highlights of how each neighborhood has changed since 2000. The districts correspond to the community districts created by law in 1975; a few are combined because the data were released by the Census Bureau for areas of at least 100,000 in population. All percentages have been rounded off to the nearest whole number.




    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/ny...ty/11intr.html

  14. #29
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    Default Hudson Square

    Room for the new, and the ‘creaky charm’ in Hudson Square

    By Josh Rogers

    Hudson Square is a neighborhood of contrasts. Bordered by a state highway and one of the most congested streets in the city, it’s also home to Holland Tunnel entrances, making it difficult for pedestrians to navigate. Yet it is increasingly becoming the choice destination of creative and new media firms.

    Workers and residents often cite the lack of retail as a neighborhood drawback, yet it is also home to a diverse mix of small restaurants.

    City Winery, a high end music venue and wine making club, opened in the neighborhood last year, but no-frills concert spaces like Jazz Gallery, S.O.B.’s and Don Hill’s are still able to carry on at a time when similar spaces in other Downtown neighborhoods have closed.

    Ellen Baer, president of the new Hudson Square Business Improvement District, said she thinks there will always be room for the small shops and less expensive music spaces because of the mix of small and medium size retail spots.

    “We are every bit as interested in the venues with the creaky chairs,” Baer said in an interview last week. “That is part of the charm of this neighborhood. We’ve got City Winery and we’ve got the Jazz Gallery.”

    The local music scene has caught the attention of the College Music Journal, a nationally-based series which schedules concerts around New York City. C.M.J. began highlighting a neighborhood last year, directing its members to Lower East Side restaurants and other businesses with passes. At the end of next month, Hudson Square will be the featured neighborhood for the festival.

    And the neighborhood also got a pharmacy two months ago. Even more noteworthy, Baer believes Hudson Square Pharmacy is the first store to use the neighborhood name.

    “We wanted to make a mark in the new neighborhood, be a landmark, a pillar,” said Al Solman, owner of the drug and convenience store at Hudson and King Sts.

    Solman also owns King’s Pharmacy in Tribeca and said he is glad he has more space to stock additional food and other items on Hudson St. because demand is high in the Square. Recently he solved a crisis at CBS Radio when a frantic ad employee came down in a desperate search for a Rubik’s Cube. “She said you make our dreams come true,” Solman said.

    Baer said “if a store in 2009 thinks that having Soho as their designation is valuable, I’m hoping that by 2010 and 2011, they’ll think having Hudson Square has value to them. I understand that it’s a business… Yeah, I’d like to see those stores say Hudson Square, but I also understand it is incumbent on us to make that a valuable designation.”



    The Hudson Square BID is beginning to work on ways
    to solve the neighborhood’s traffic problems including
    the area around the Holland Tunnel.


    Once the center of the city’s printing district, the neighborhood has a mix of offices (many owned by Trinity Church), converted condos and small hotels. Baer said officially there are only a few hundred people living in the neighborhood but she knows that there are many people quietly living in buildings that are not zoned for residential uses and is quite certain the real number is much higher.

    The neighborhood is home to architectural and creative companies, many media firms including Newsweek, WNYC Radio and Community Media, owners of The Villager and Downtown Express. Large firms like Edelman public relations and Corbis photography have also moved into the neighborhood. Development projects have slowed as they have throughout the city but work continues on the skyscraper being built by Donald Trump and partners. Though it is situated at Spring and Varick Sts., the condo-hotel will be called Trump Soho.

    Baer and many say one of the biggest problems is traffic, and she admits one of the first steps to beginning to solve it will be a Band-Aid approach. Actually it’s much less an admission than it is the name for the first phase of the plan.

    “The Band-Aid approach is: let’s just improve enforcement,” she said. “Let’s get some people out on the street who can communicate with one another about how traffic is being routed and moved.”

    She said one of the BID’s duties is to work with all of the parties in charge of traffic — the First Precinct, the N.Y.P.D.’s traffic division, the Port Authority, which controls the tunnel, and the state and city Departments of Transportation.

    Longer term, she and her staff of three will be working on things like improving the streetscape. Hudson Square’s side streets have many loading docks and blank street walls, making it uninviting to walk east or west. Baer noticed that often workers and residents on Hudson St. are not aware of stores on Varick Ss., and vice versa, and she thinks improving the look of the streets and sidewalks will begin to change that.

    The BID will also be hiring a traffic consultant to develop new ideas and sift through existing proposals to improve the safety.

    “I have 4 million ideas [that have been suggested] but I’m not a traffic expert,” she said. She said there will be many public meetings with Community Board 2 and others as the ideas are developed.

    The BID will be able to sell bonds to help finance projects to change street patterns and perhaps add more plaza space, and will also look for federal transportation and environmental funds as well.

    Baer is also beginning an effort to promote “sustainability” throughout the neighborhood. She says it’s a word that is used so much it is losing its meaning, but the effort will extend beyond green policies and will also encourage philanthropic initiatives — the sort of things that attract new firms and youn employees to an area.

    “Whatever that new new thing is,” she said, “I hope it finds a home at Hudson Square.”

    http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_33...forthenew.html


    Some older articles about Hudson Square:

    http://www.thevillager.com/villager_...kisnotdry.html

    http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_282/hudsonsquare.html

    Map from the Downtown Express article above:


  15. #30
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    Default

    Living In | Hudson Heights

    An Aerie Straight Out of the Deco Era

    By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS




    HEIGHTS IS RIGHT The George Washington Bridge as seen from Castle Village, a five-building co-op complex
    described as an “anchor” of a neighborhood with a distinct architectural appearance


    Castle Village




    Castle Village wall collapse 2005


    Hudson View Gardens




    Corner of 181st Street and Fort Washington Avenue




    Cloisters

    More Photos >

    LOOK down: The names of New York neighborhoods are not carved into the sidewalk. As an area begins to gentrify, a new label often pops up to match the rising property values. A southern piece of Harlem was recently rebranded SoHa, and Park Slope, Brooklyn, keeps creeping south into territory once known as Sunset Park.

    Usually, these nicknames are the invention of brokers trying to sell the area’s new feel. But in Hudson Heights, which makes up the northwest corner of Washington Heights, a community group founded in 1993 to fight neighborhood decline claims the credit.

    “The Hudson Heights Owners Coalition, H.H.O.C., came up with it,” said Simone Song, a principal broker at Simone Song Properties, “though the real estate brokers got blamed for it.”

    Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, the owners group president, said, “We didn’t set out to change the name of the neighborhood, but we were careful in how we selected the name of the organization.” To try to give their neighborhood a boost, members lobbied city officials, invested in area parks, and organized events.

    “It’s a phony name,” countered Andrew S. Dolkart, the director of Columbia University’s historic preservation program. “It was Fort Washington — that’s the historic name of the neighborhood.”

    Whatever you want to call it, this microneighborhood has always had a look and feel that set it apart from the larger area in which it nestles. For one thing, there’s the architecture. The area was developed in the 1920s and 1930s, later than the rest of Washington Heights, so it has a significant concentration of Art Deco buildings.

    The cultural makeup of Hudson Heights sets it apart as well. The larger neighborhood has an enormous concentration of Dominicans, while Hudson Heights is more diverse. According to figures from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, just over half of the population of Washington Heights and Inwood is Dominican; 62.9 percent are Hispanic.

    Hudson Heights had an influx of Dominicans, Mr. Dolkart said, “but it didn’t become as heavily Dominican as areas to the south and to the east.”
    According to him, the 1980s brought another wave to the area: “what I call refugees of the Upper West Side and Park Slope. Prices were relatively low compared to other areas in Manhattan.”

    Though real estate prices have gone way up in the last 20 years, a dollar still takes you much further in Hudson Heights than it does downtown.
    Steven Benini and his wife, Ana Rodriguez, who rented in Hudson Heights for 10 years, bought a two-bedroom last winter. He declined to say how much they had paid; these days, two-bedrooms generally start at $400,000.

    “We can actually get eight people at our dining room table,” Mr. Benini said. “That’s not something you can normally do with a Manhattan apartment. And quite frankly, farther downtown, we would not have been able to afford it.”

    This affordability pulls in a lot of young families with children — the neighborhood is full of strollers and toddlers — but it also attracts retirees.
    Frank Garcia and his wife, Clare, both grew up in Washington Heights. After spending more than 35 years in New Jersey raising a family and three years in a rental at Peter Cooper Village, they’ve just moved back, settling in a one-bedroom co-op on West 190th Street, which they bought for $425,000.

    Mr. Garcia cited the affordability as a factor in their return, but another is the area’s dynamism. It has always been a neighborhood of immigrants, he pointed out, so it’s always changing. Mr. Garcia, who is of Puerto Rican descent, and Mrs. Garcia, who is of Irish origin, say they also appreciate the diversity. “It’s New York,” was how she put it.

    WHAT YOU’LL FIND


    Geographically, Hudson Heights is set apart. The Hudson to the west is as clear a barrier as one could find, and Fort Tryon Park — home to the Cloisters — caps off the northern edge. The eastern boundary is more contentious, though most often it is said to be west of Broadway. And while many people consider the southern tip to be at the George Washington Bridge on 181st Street, others suggest that the neighborhood now stretches down to J. Hood Wright Park at 173rd Street.

    The area feels more residential than most of Manhattan. The only commercial stretches are on 187th Street, which has small shops, and 181st, which in addition to local stores has chains, like the Starbucks on Fort Washington Avenue.

    “It’s not as relentlessly urban as other parts of Manhattan,” said Alexis Higgins, who has lived in the area for five years. “I would even say this neighborhood is like the semi-burbs.”

    Ms. Higgins, along with her husband, Scott, and their 2-year-old son, lives in Castle Village on Cabrini Boulevard, a five-building complex overlooking the river. They have a two-bedroom one-bath co-op, which they bought in 2005.

    Built in the 1930s for renters, the five X-shaped towers went co-op in 1986. Along with Hudson View Gardens, a 1920s Tudor co-op complex across the street, they are among the largest buildings around.
    “Architecturally, they’re great,” Mr. Dolkart said. “They’re anchors of the neighborhood.”

    Castle Village received a lot of attention in May 2005, when part of a 75-foot-high retaining wall below the complex collapsed onto the West Side Highway.

    According to Gerald Fingerhut, the president of the co-op board, repairs cost $26 million. The co-op is still involved in litigation — with parties ranging from insurance brokers to engineers — to recoup a portion of the costs.

    But Castle Village is also known for something else: children. When Ms. Higgins, who is pregnant with her second child, told her old obstetrician that she now lived in Castle Village, she said, “Oh, you live in kid village.”

    The complex has private gardens, but there are public parks throughout Hudson Heights. In addition to Fort Tryon and J. Hood Wright Parks, there is Bennett Park, on 185th Street between Fort Washington and Pinehurst Avenues. According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, its small patch of grass and playground is the highest point of land on the island of Manhattan, clocking in at 265.05 feet above sea level.

    WHAT TO DO

    There are restaurants and bars, but not many. Neighborhood life revolves around the parks, but there are also community events open to the public.
    “Aside from the baby brigade, myself included,” Ms. Higgins said, “there are a ton of artists and creative people. It’s not going to become a cultural wasteland with that kind of demographic.”

    There is a monthly chamber music series called Concerts in the Heights, and classical music at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church. There is a film club and a speed-walking group, which marches through Fort Tryon Park three times a week.

    There is an annual Harvest Festival in Bennett Park and, in the summer, an Uptown Arts Stroll, with visual and performing arts. Fort Tryon also hosts the city’s annual Medieval Festival.

    WHAT YOU’LL PAY

    Much of the housing stock in Washington Heights is rental, and there are rentals available in Hudson Heights as well. A one-bedroom runs about $1,200 to $1,700 per month.

    But another factor that distinguishes Hudson from Washington Heights is the abundance of owner-occupied housing, most of it in co-ops.

    According to brokers like Ms. Song of Simone Song Properties and Gus Perry of Stein-Perry Real Estate, one-bedrooms run from $260,000 to $400,000 and two-bedrooms from $400,000 to $650,000. Apartments in Castle Village, which has doormen, large gardens and sweeping views of the Hudson and the Palisades, can be a bit more.

    “Like every other neighborhood in the city, we’ve been affected,” Mr. Perry said of the last year’s decline in real estate values. “But we’re probably less affected than other neighborhoods.” He estimates that prices have come down 5 to 10 percent.

    THE SCHOOLS


    At the combined elementary and middle school known as No. 187 Hudson Cliffs, on Cabrini Boulevard, 70.7 percent of fourth graders met state standards in English and 88.2 percent in math. Of eighth graders, 72.6 percent satisfied requirements in English and 88.4 percent in math.
    The closest public high school is Gregorio Luperon Prep, on 165th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Its SAT averages last year were 340 in reading, 370 in math and 347 in writing, versus 435, 459 and 432 citywide.

    THE COMMUTE

    The A train runs through Hudson Heights, traveling express from 125th to 59th Street, and reaching Midtown in about 25 minutes.

    THE HISTORY

    The 1930s brought in a flood of Central European Jews. One famous son is the statesman Henry Kissinger, whose family settled in Hudson Heights after fleeing Germany in 1938.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/re...livi.html?_r=1

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