When New York’s East River Froze Over

East
Friday, January 25, 2013
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"Crossing the East River on the Ice Bridge," 1871. (Courtesy New York Public Library)

“Crossing the East River on the Ice Bridge,” 1871. (Courtesy New York Public Library)

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.

Restoration of Brooklyn’s 3,200-Seat Loew’s Kings Theater Underway

East
Thursday, January 24, 2013
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Inside Loew's Kings Theater. (Courtesy NYC Mayor's Office)

Inside Loew’s Kings Theater. (Courtesy NYC Mayor’s Office)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Video> Renzo Piano’s Whitney Museum Time-Lapse Construction Along the High Line

East
Thursday, January 24, 2013
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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.]

FEMA Says No to Houses of Worship.  (David Sundberg / ESTO) Churches and synagogues are among the structures that suffered considerable damage from Hurricane Sandy, and while several non-profit organizations qualify for federal disaster assistance grants, houses of worship will not be eligible for aid because of a constitutional separation of church and state. A group of Jewish organizations is not giving up and continues to apply for grants. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman has presented an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy recovery appropriations bill to add houses of worship to the list of eligible organizations. (Photo: David Sundberg / ESTO)

 

Foster’s Exterior Changes Green-Lighted at the New York Public Library

East
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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Rendering of Foster + Partners' proposed renovation of the New York Public Library. (Courtesy Foster+Partners / dbox)

Rendering of Foster + Partners’ proposed renovation of the New York Public Library. (Courtesy Foster+Partners / dbox)

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.

Revamping New York Airports: Mogul Puts Up Cash To Lobby For Infrastructure Upgrades

East
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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LaGuardia Airport circa 1940. (Courtesy Boston Public Library / Flickr)

LaGuardia Airport circa 1940. (Courtesy Boston Public Library / Flickr)

Joseph Sitt, a frequent flyer and the founder of Thor Equities, has channeled his frustrations with New York City’s congested and out-of-date airports into a new venture called the Global Gateway Alliance. The advocacy group is dedicated to improving operations and service at Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark Liberty International airports. Sitt hopes the group will be able to press the government and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to address the problems, such as the failing infrastructure, deteriorating terminals, and delays, that plague the three major metropolitan airports. Sitt, who will act as the Chairman, has jumpstarted the group with $1 million of his own money.

Proposed Development Threatens Historic Palisades Views

East
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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Rendering of HOK's design for LG's New Jersey headquarters. (Courtesy LG)

Rendering of HOK’s design for LG’s New Jersey headquarters. (Courtesy LG)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

Abandoned Power Plant on the Hudson River to Become Hotel, Convention Center

East, Newsletter
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers. (June Marie / Flickr)

Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers. (June Marie / Flickr)

It has been nearly five decades since the Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers, New York closed its doors, but developer Ron Shemesh has plans to transform this four-building complex on the Hudson into a hotel and convention center. The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Shemesh, a plastics manufacturer from the area, bought the property from investor Ken Capolino for $3 million. The project will be costly, however. Mr. Shemesh will need to raise around $155 million to redevelop the plant. In December, the Mid-Hudson Economic Development Council gave Mr. Shemesh a small economic boost with a $1 million grant to preserve the sprawling complex.

A few photos of the interior after the jump.

Manhattan West’s Railyard-Spanning Platform Breaks Ground

East
Monday, January 21, 2013
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Manhattan West. (Courtesy Brookfield)

Manhattan West. (Courtesy Brookfield)

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.

Continue reading after the jump.

New York City’s First New Synagogue in Five Decades Opens in Manhattan

East
Monday, January 21, 2013
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The newly completed Lincoln Square Synagogue. (Courtesy CetraRuddy)

The newly completed Lincoln Square Synagogue. (Courtesy CetraRuddy)

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.

EVENT> January 24: New Practices Finale with The Living + Google

East, Newsletter
Thursday, January 17, 2013
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TheLiving-LivingLight(1)

Framed:Interfaces, Narratives, and the Convergence of Architectural and Internet Technologies
Thursday, January 24
6:00pm-8:00pm
AIA New Practices New York
29 Ninth Avenue/Axor NYC Showroom

The Living, which sounds like an indie band but is actually one of the 2012 AIA New Practices New York winners, will conclude this year’s New Practices conversation series with a bang.

The firm has gained recognition for developing futuristic forms through new technologies and prototyping, and for “Framed: Interfaces, Narratives, and the Convergence of Architectural and Internet Technologies” The Living’s David Benjamin, who also directs the Living Architecture Lab at Columbia’s GSAPP, will sit down with Jonathan Lee, a designer at Google UXI, that company’s design think tank. Following what promises to be a lively presentation and conversation, a reception will celebrate the conclusion of the New Practices series.

The January 24 event, which is co-hosted by The Architect’s Newspaper, will be held at Axor’s NYC showroom. Free of charge with AIA CES credits provided. RSVP here.

Another Announcement at Brooklyn Bridge Park: Rock Climbing Wall Could Rise Under the Manhattan Bridge

East
Thursday, January 17, 2013
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Manhattan Bridge. (Courtesy of Dock Drumming/Flickr)

Manhattan Bridge. (Courtesy of Dock Drumming/Flickr)

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.

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