It’s been a mild winter so far in New York, and with the first onset of below-freezing temperatures, city folk are donning their heavy jackets and gloves. And while the winds whipping around the glass and steel towers of Manhattan might feel as if it’s as cold as it’s ever going to be, consider a century ago when temperatures were low enough to freeze the East River from the banks of Brooklyn to the Manhattan waterfront, still two different cities at the time, providing thrill-seeking pedestrians with an instant new crossing years before the Brooklyn Bridge was built.
The above view was engraved in 1871 and titled, “Crossing the East River on the Ice Bridge,” depicting dozens of New Yorkers walking across what would normally have been a busy maritime thoroughfare. While such a natural feat seams unlikely today, Gothamist has collected clippings to show that the phenomenon was known to occur around once a decade on the East River during the 19th century and there have been reports of similar frozen-river bridges along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as well. For instance, in 1851, an estimated 15,000 pedestrians, horses, and sleighs crossed the frozen river.
The lights on the Loew’s Kings Theater’s marquee have been dark for over 35 years since the last showing of Islands in the Stream in 1977. In fact, the entire king-size, 3,200-seat, French-Baroque movie palace is looking quite dim these days, much of its ornate plasterwork worn, damaged, or missing from years of decay and neglect and its terra-cotta facade in need of cleaning. City officials had to string ropes of temporary construction lights through the still grandiose, if a little shabby, lobby, just to make the announcement on Wednesday that Brooklyn’s largest indoor theater is coming back to life in a big way thanks to $93.9 million in new investment from public and private sources.
Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum and adjacent maintenance building have been quickly rising between the High Line and the Hudson River in Manhattan, topping out on December 17, 2012. Now, the Whitney has condensed the entire construction sequence from its groundbreaking in October 2011 up through January 14 into one easy-to-watch time-lapse video. And if you just can’t get enough of the Whitney under construction, you can watch live on this webcam or take a virtual fly-through of the new museum here. [Via Curbed.]
Preservationists who have waged a battle against Foster + Partners’ planned renovations of the New York Public Library received bad news Tuesday: The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the library’s application for changes to its Beaux-Arts exterior, mostly on the side facing Bryant Park, in a six-to-two vote.
The $300 million renovation calls for removing seven floors of stacks beneath the famous Rose Main Reading Room to accommodate a large workspace and the collections from the Mid-Manhattan and the Innovative Science, Industry, and Business Libraries. This might be a major step forward for the library, but the approval process is not yet over. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Landmarks Commission can only vote on changes proposed to the landmarked exterior—the decision about the stacks is out of their hands.
The Cloisters museum and gardens, the Metropolitan Museum’s outpost for Medieval architecture and art in northern Manhattan, faces the tree-lined cliffs of the Palisades across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The view is picturesque, uninterrupted by the built environment—nary a single building in sight. But soon, a 143-foot-high office complex designed by HOK could rise above the treetops, a change some say will spoil the idyllic natural view. The New York Times reported that LG Electronics USA’s plan to build an eight-story headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has sparked protests from environmental groups, the Met, and Larry Rockefeller—whose grandfather donated four acres of land for the museum and park in New York and purchased 700 acres along the cliffs on the other side of the river to keep the view unmarred.
Manhattan’s far west side is about to become one of the busiest construction sites in the country. Last Tuesday morning, officials gathered at the corner of 9th Avenue and West 33rd Street to celebrate the second major groundbreaking in the Hudson Yards District, Brookfield Properties’ trio of new SOM-designed towers comprising the Manhattan West development to be built over a large rail yard serving Penn Station. The $4.5 billion project’s first phase, construction of the north portion of the railroad-spanning platform that will eventually support development, is now underway, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the second half of the platform could be underway in coming months. Excavation has been ongoing since the fall of 2012.
Congregation members of the Lincoln Square Synagogue stepped inside their new $50 million facility this weekend. It is the first new synagogue to be built from the ground up in New York City in five decades according to DNA Info. The four-story structure, designed by Cetra Ruddy, has a 450-seat sanctuary, a large ballroom in the basement level, classrooms, an in-house kosher catering company, and a prayer space. Senior Rabbi Shaul Robinson told DNA Info that the old synagogue “didn’t age well” and “was cramped and restrained.” There will be no dearth of space in this new 52,000-square-foot facility.
Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge
It seems as if a day can’t go by without a new announcement from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Brooklyn Paper reported Tuesday that park planners are pushing for a free bouldering wall to be built beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The proposal calls for a ten to 12-foot-tall climbing wall at Plymouth and Washington streets. This fits within a larger vision to develop the park area by Main Street by expanding lawn space, designing a new entry plaza, and relocating the dog run.
This news comes right after philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz announced he was abandoning plans to build a velodrome, a complex for cyclists, in the park. As planners delved into the project, they found that the mounting costs of construction exceeded Rechnitz’s $50 million budget and growing concerns about flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy added another layer of complexity to the design. Rechnitz, however, is still on the hunt for the right location for his velodrome in New York.