NYC

Boatel

I have a bad track record with boats. I actually love being on the water and usually find myself on a boat at least once a vacation. But (you guessed it) I’m also prone to seasickness. I’ve had an episode (or near episode) in almost every country I’ve visited. And it’s not just limited to sailing. I even got seasick while snorkeling in Nicaragua–which I didn’t think was possible!

Despite that, I’m still tempted to visit the Boatel. Now in its second summer, the Boatel is a floating art and sound installation in Far Rockaway. A group of artists souped up 16 boats, each with a playful theme:

a boat that sings, a patchwork treehouse, a Victorian-era naturalist’s laboratory, a hillbilly kama sutra honeymoon suite.

And, true to its name, you can spend a night in the vessel of your choice–rates start at just $55. (Not bad for an NYC hotel, isolated as it is!) You just bring your swimsuit, food and booze and spend an evening swimming, grilling and watching planes take off and land at JFK before hunkering down for a cozy night in your boat.

That sounds like a perfect summer evening, to me. For the experience alone, I think I might be able to deal with the seasickness!

Would you stay at the Boatel?

(Photos via the Boatel)

1940s New York

I’m a big fan of all things NYC, both new and old. And since I’m also a spreadsheet-enamored, data-appreciative geek,В I’m really loving Welcome to 1940s New York, a new, interactive map that CUNY’s Center for Urban ResearchВ launched this week.

AsВ Gothamist describes it, the map is:

a slick mash-up of 1940s Census data, web maps and a rare 1943 book calledВ NYC Market AnalysisВ found byВ then-graduate student Steven Romalewski in 1997В and painstakingly scanned and placed onto a map of the city…Using newspaper and census data (including info from the Times, the Daily News, The Daily Miror, and the New York Journal American) the site gives you a peek into the “City of a Hundred Cities,” with each neighborhood getting a clickable description with photographs, block-by-block rental breakdowns and population statistics.

Of course, I went straight to my ‘hood, Washington Heights. The pop-up window showed me a few photos of different blocks from 1943. (The corner of Cabrini Boulevard and 181st Street doesn’t look too different!) It also has a color-coded key to apartment prices from that year. AndВ since all of us New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate, that’s pretty awesome.

Rent in my apartment building ranged from $75 to 99 a month. And since I live in a studio, I can safely assume that my rent would have been $75. It’s scary how much more I pay for the same space less than 100 years later!

P.S. More old-school photos of NYC.

(Image via Gothamist)

A Globe for New Yorkers

As a native New Yorker, I can’t help but think that my city is the center of the world. And now, via NY Mag, I’ve found an artifact that confirms my belief.

Globee, a U.K.-based company,В makes a globe where NYC spans across the entire planet. Instead of countries and oceans, neighborhoods (like Chinatown and Little Italy), landmarks (the Brooklyn Bridge, Washington Square Arch, the Empire State Building) and the Hudson and East Rivers cover the entire world. (Though I’m doubtful that Globee included my ‘hood, way-uptown Washington Heights, in their design.)

For non-New Yorkers, Globee makes a number of other city-centric globes including a Sydney globe, a San Fran globe, a Boston globe (as a former Boston reporter, that one makes me laugh) and, of course, a London globe.

(Image via NY Mag)

NYC Rooftops

NYMag.com has an awesome slideshow of photos from a new book, Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces. Architect/photographer/pilot Alex MacLean shot more than 200 buildings from the air, giving viewers a glimpse of the city from a rather elusive vantage point.

There’s definitely aВ voyeuristic appeal to looking into/upon buildings–I’m guilty of scoping out other apartments’ swank terraces and covetable outdoor spaces from high-up windows. (A girl can dream, right?) So I’m definitely planning to check out MacLean’s book.

In the meantime, a few of my favorite images:

MoMA, 11 W. 53rd Street, Manhattan, NY 10019

300 E. 34th Street, Manhattan, NY 10016

Brooklyn Grange, 37-18 Northern Blvd., Queens, NY 11101

(Photos via NYMag.com; more on Up on the Roof here)

Old School NYC Photos

In last week’s NY Mag “Approval Matrix,” an item in the Highbrow/Brilliant quadrant caught my eye:

870,000 city photographs–some 150+ years old–are now available at nyc.gov

Curious about what kinds of photos were online, I went to the siteВ and learned this:В Between 1939 and 1941, and again between 1983 and 1988, the city photographed every building in the five boroughs for tax purposes. You can now purchase prints–or just sift through the online archives of 35mm photos taken in the 1980s.

I clicked on the Manhattan photos and searched for my current Washington Heights apartment. The archive contained photos of neighboring residences, but not mine.

Then I looked up my second-most recent address, also in Washington Heights. This time, a snapshot of my old building came up.

I’ll admit that the result didn’t wow me. The building is from 1929 and looks pretty much the same now as it did in the ’80s.

So I decided to go way back. I clicked over to the Queens photos and typed in the street where I lived from when I was born until I was 10. As the photos appeared, I instantly recognized old neighbors’ homes. And there was the house I grew up in, looking exactly how I remembered, with my family’s blue Volvo and my dad’s black van in the driveway.

I haven’t lived there in nearly two decades, so seeing the house exactly as it was felt surreal–a pretty cool (and slightly creepy) discovery!

(Photos via nyc.gov)

Fear of Falling Objects

falling

I had to laugh when I saw the first “Intelligencier” item in this week’s NY Mag because it addresses a distant worry that’s always in the back of my mind: being injured/maimed/killed from a falling object while I’m walking down the street.

I’ve had that fear as long as I can remember. And I always attributed it to growing up in NYC. Off the top of my head, I can recall dozens of stories–starting from when I was a kid–of freak accidents having to do with falling objects. There was the relative who dropped an air conditioner out a second story window; a man who committed suicide by jumping off a building and landing on a sidewalk near pedestrians; numerous scaffolding and crane collapses; Central Park tree branches that crushed people; ice chunks breaking off buildings and konking people on the head…you get the idea.

ApparentlyВ I’m not alone–and my “irrational” fear might not be that irrational, after all. The NY Mag piece describes it as:

an ambientВ New York fear: In a city full of air conditioners hanging out of windows and gargoyles disintegrating twenty stories up, the pedestrian is ever at risk of being bonked from above.

And then they provide a nicely packaged statistical sampling of such incidents. Check it out here.

I’m curious–is this something you’ve ever thought about, too?

(Top image via Pinterest, infographic via NY Mag)

Sleep No More

Last Tuesday, Reen and I had an extra special hobby night.* Instead of meeting for our usual happy hour, we saw Sleep No More. (And right in time, too. The show closes at the end of June.)

We’d heard nothing but good things about the production, which is basically MacbethВ set in a 1920s hotel–but the audience doesn’t just sit and watch. Clad in beaked masks and forbidden from speaking, they follow individual performers who run, dance, strip and act out key scenes in various floors of the hotel.

Going into it, I had no idea what to expect. Would I become a sweaty mess from running around? Or be able to follow the plot since I barely remembered Macbeth, despite reading it twice, years ago? And would it really be as amazing as everyone said it was?

I had the answers to my questions within a few minutes. After a drink in the hotel’s jazz bar, we were given masks, ushered into an elevator and dumped out on a random floor. From there, we wandered through the dimly lit rooms until a performer–who we later identified as one of the witches–ran by. We took off after him.

He led us to all the performers who congregated, three times during the night, at a key banquet scene in the ballroom. Once they dispersed, we latched on to Macbeth and ran after him around for the next hour. We watched him murder Duncan (or at least, we assumed it was Duncan), wash blood off his hands and romp around with Lady Macbeth. We saw Birnam Wood advance, watched Lady Macbeth go crazy and noted when the witches predicted Macbeth’s imminent fall. We also ate sketchy candy from jars in a sweets shop and stumbled upon a naked rave. I never quite picked up the plotline or figured out exactly who every performer was–but that’s not the point. Sleep No More is all about the immersive, voyeuristic experience.

I’ll admit, there were times when running–literally sprinting–after performers did get tiring and tiresome. (And sweaty!) I felt a little weary of the gimmick toward the end. And at a few points, when there were too many other masked viewers around, I wanted to push my way through them and scream “I want to see!” so I could actually catch a glimpse of the performers.

They truly made Sleep No More such a cool experience. Sure, the dramatic lighting, intricate sets, eerie music and overall production values were top-notch. But the performers were amazing. They were clearly seasoned dancers. (I later read that all but three had serious training.) And the conditions they had to perform in were incredibly difficult–dimly lit rooms filled with props and just inches away from all of us bumbling, masked viewers getting in their way. Yet, they were fearless. They lept, turned and threw themselves over furniture and onto each other. I never once saw anyone break character. And all for little reward, too. At the end of the show, there’s no applause or bow–the audience simply files out in (stunned) silence. But I imagine that for them, just being part of such a unique experience is gratification enough.

(Top photo via Sleep No More’s Facebook page; middle photo via NYMag)

*hobby night = drinking after work on Tuesdays.