5 Architectural Styles That Define NYC

In a city that’s constantly changing, one only needs to look up to see hallmarks of the past. Home to a range of personalities, it’s no surprise that New York’s stylistic diversity extends to its buildings. Here are a few of the more prominent examples of the architectural movements that have found a home in New York City over the years.

 

Beaux Arts

The Beaux Arts-styled Woolworth Building

There might not be an architectural style more closely associated with New York City than Beaux Arts. Built on the foundation of classical architecture, this style combined French Baroque and Rococo influences onto the heralded Ancient Greek framework. Beaux Arts was the preeminent style from the late 19th to the early 20th century, when many of New York’s iconic buildings were taking shape. The Woolworth Building, Grand Central Station, and the New York Public Library on 42nd street are just a few examples of this regal style.

 

Art Deco

NYC's Art Deco Chrysler Building

Born in Paris, Art Deco took the entire world by storm in the early 20th Century, and New YOrk was no exception. This distinctive style most closely associated with the futurism of the 1920s and 30s survives today in a few NY landmarks like the Verizon Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and most famously, the iconic spire of the Chrysler Building. Outside of Manhattan, Brooklynites can spot Art Deco stylings on the outer pillars of the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

 

Italianate

The Italianate storefronts of SoHo

This style, inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture, came to be in early 19th century England and eventually came to the U.S. in the 1840s. Italianate design, found in mansions and ornate halls in Europe, was instead incorporated into low-cost rowhouses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, thanks to newly refined techniques allowing for ornamentation in cast-iron and stone that was previously reserved only for the most luxurious homes. These qualities prominently feature in the building facades seen in SoHo’s Cast Iron district, as well as the brownstones of Brooklyn.

 

Postmodern

NYC's iconic Modernist Lipstick Building

The Postmodern style is hard to nail down, but it’s often described as a response to the uniformity of prefabricated, “modern” buildings of the first half of the 20th century. Works under this genre feature expressive shapes and features, with flourishes of personality aimed at representing the building’s use and location. Some NYC-based examples of this style are the Sony Building on Madison Avenue, said to resemble a Chippendale cabinet and the so-called “Lipstick Building” of Midtown East.

 

Deconstructivism

41 Cooper Square in NYC

A distinct style of the 20th and 21st Century, the Deconstructivist approach often takes the form of buildings that push the idea of what a large-scale structure can look like to the limit. Shapes beyond the traditional, allowed by cutting-edge building materials and techniques are transforming cityscapes worldwide, and NYC is no exception. 41 Cooper Square, home of Cooper Union’s School of Engineering, and Frank Gehry’s 81 Spruce Street are two examples, both built in the last ten years, of this style that adds a future-facing touch to some of the old world streets of New York City.

 

From Prewar to Junior 4: NYC’s Top Apartment Styles

From Prewar to Junior 4: NYC’s Top Apartment Styles

In New York City, no two apartments are created equal. Whether you’re new to the city or relocating within the 5 boroughs, you may have found yourself a little overwhelmed by all the variety of living options. Read on for a guide to some of the more popular choices for apartment living in NYC.

Studio

While not unique to this city, these one-room apartments are particularly attractive here for newcomers looking to live in trendy neighborhoods without breaking the bank. A studio apartment’s main quarters consist of one room; if you want partitions, you’ll have to supply your own. Creatively decorated studios can be made to resemble a more expensive multi-room place at a fraction of the cost.

Prewar/postwar

While these names strictly refer to the period in which they were built, prewar (pre-1945) and postwar (1945-c.1970s) apartment buildings have their own distinct qualities. In general, prewar buildings are known for their hardwood floors, non-standardized floor plans and classical architectural touches like crown molding, so they’re considered to have a little more personality. Postwar buildings, on the other hand, built during a rise in housing demand, are more cookie-cutter in some respects but will have more modern amenities like central heating and air conditioning.  

Garden Apartment

These bottom-floor dwellings can differ wildly by floorplan, but they get their distinction from access to a backyard or garden, generally in the back of the building. A rare amenity for an NYC apartment, these spaces can be found at a premium thanks to the excess of greenery you’ll find in them. Be warned, though, that their low placement can be an issue in flood conditions, and they’re more likely to contain pests that won’t make their way to higher floors.

Railroad

Similar to the “shotgun” houses found in New Orleans, these apartments follow a straight-line floorplan, with every room arranged in a row. This means if you’re in the back bedroom, you’ll be walking through your roommate’s stuff every time you come home. This may be a negative for some people, but that means you’ll be able to find a good deal on these places if you’re willing to live with it.

Lofts

These highly-sought after apartments are mostly found in converted warehouse space but have become popular enough that many purpose-built loft spaces exist. They’re distinct for their high ceilings, elevated spaces and frequently, exposed brick walls. Prized among artists in formerly rundown areas, lofts have become prized living spaces and are now among the higher-priced options in the market, though those high ceilings generally make them worth it.

Junior 4

These smaller apartments are named for their four rooms: bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a smaller, usually windowless room that can be used as a dining area, a smaller bedroom, or an office (don’t worry, there’s a bathroom, too). While technically one-bedroom apartments, that extra room can be pretty versatile. While it’s not exactly a full bedroom, it’ll allow you to get creative with your living arrangements for less than a full-fledged two-bedroom.

How to Work Around Subway Delays (Until the MTA Fixes Them)

How to Work Around Subway Delays (Until the MTA Fixes Them)

As noted by anyone who’s attempted to use public transportation in New York these past months, the subway situation is problematic, to say the least.

Especially frustrating, challenging, and persistent are the train delays. According to the New York Times, the delays are due to overcrowding and are worse at rush hour, and in Midtown (no surprises there).

But New Yorkers are nothing if not persistent, and creative, which means there are ways to work around the subway delays. Until a concrete solution to overcrowding is implemented, there are several ways commuters can take the matter into their own hands — and smartphones, as it were.  

First, try the basics. Use a trip planner.

Despite its faults, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is trying to help. There is a trip planner available on its website as well as a (clunky, alas, and bug-filled) mobile trip planner.

It’s fairly simple to use, and once a commuter enters starting and ending point multiple routes are presented as options.

While every New Yorker who’s a regular rider thinks they know all the options and routes, in today’s packed-cars and station-under-repair world it’s good to check with the Authority.

Stay on top of delays.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. There are, in fact, multiple apps, but Transit is well-reviewed and seems to have a particular drive to help New York subway riders.

The team at Transit recently began to translate the M.T.A.’s “The Weekender” (a list of all the trains and stations undergoing weekend service changes) into data that their app can use, so weekend trips can be as hassle-free as possible.

At the very least, travelers should check with Google Maps or similar. While the real-time information isn’t always as up-to-the-minute as desirable, some information is better than no information.

There’s also the old-school but still effective local news option. In an era of 24/7 coverage, serious problems or delays will be broadcast as soon as a reporter can make the announcement and get a quote from an official or an irritated rider.

Get seriously creative.

Given that the delays are worse during standard rush hour times, it might be time to renegotiate job and work parameters. For instance, does the possibility of telecommuting several days a week exist? It also might be possible to change schedules, maybe working a 4/10 (ten hours a day, four days a week), or even changing “standard” work hours from, say, 9 to 5 to 7 to 3, or 10 to 6?

Ride sharing is another option. As problematic as Uber has been at the top, the ability to coordinate with neighbors, or colleagues on your route, and schedule a shared vehicle can be cost effective and relatively convenient. Savvy Manhattanites are also turning to Via, a relatively cheap subway alternative that zips along the avenues for as little as $5 a ride.

For a longer-term ride sharing options, check out companies like Skedaddle. While it promotes itself as a service that gets groups of people to parties, concerts, beaches and tourist destinations, creating a “regular route” is do-able. According to the website, anyone can create a public route, from the Upper West Side to Wall Street, for instance. As long as there are at least 10 reservations for that route, it’s a go. Because Skedaddle users can view public routes, the need to coordinate a group is eliminated.

Finally, if the frustration and anger all become too much, there’s always the option of joining the group Buddhist Insights which suggests that a meditative “street retreat” is possible anywhere—even a crowded subway platform.

The Best Chefs You’ve Never Heard of in New York City

The Best Chefs You’ve Never Heard of in New York City

You probably wouldn’t be wrong if you said we’re living in the golden age of restaurants in New York City. Every week there’s seemingly another new must-try place with an intriguing gimmick or back story. Celebrity chefs are popping up faster than we can keep track of them. To be a serious eater in New York means keeping up with all the latest comings and goings in the industry.

Despite all this, there are still some hidden gems around Manhattan and Brooklyn. These 6 chefs might not have their names in the marquee blogs and magazines, but they undoubtedly will be before long. If you want to be ahead of the curve, here are the names (and the restaurants) you’ll need to know.

Emily Yuen – Bessou

Emily’s Bessou on Bleecker Street serves up the comfort food of her mother’s native Japan with a modern aesthetic. Growing up in Vancouver, she started her career early, pounding rice alongside her sister for their mother’s sumptuous dumplings. After perfecting her craft worldwide, from London’s Le Gavroche to Vue de Monde in the heart of Melbourne, Emily has come back stateside to bring the home cooked meals of her family kitchen to NoHo.

Florian Hugo – Maison Hugo

Another young up-and-comer with a wealth of experience, Florian cut his teeth in the bistros and brasseries of Manhattan before opening his own classic French eatery Maison Hugo on the Upper East Side. A protege of the legendary Alain Ducasse, Florian’s expertise in French cuisine comes through in must-try dishes such as his pork chops cooked on the plancha and his homemade pasta with braised artichokes. Book a table now, before midtown finds out.

Roxanne Spruance – Kingsley

She might be young, but Roxanne is far from a newcomer. After becoming a restaurateur at the ripe age of 22, Roxanne has moved on from her resort town Wisconsin bistro Sopra to bring her expertise to Alphabet City. Kingsley serves up locally sourced French-American fare and craft cocktails that have earned the out-of-the-way joint a robust local reputation. If you’re into fine dining without the pretension,  Kingsley is sure to become an instant favorite.

Olivier Palazzo – Loosie’s Kitchen

Born in the Ivory Coast, Olivier cut his culinary teeth in Paris under the legendary Cyril Lignac at his le Quinzieme before setting off around the globe. After stops in St. Tropez, Abu Dhabi, and Marrakesh, Olivier landed in the Big Apple. Working for Jean Georges at ABC Kitchen was all the local education he needed, and his Loosie’s Kitchen on the southside of Williamsburg shows the breadth of his experience without losing his unique personality. Casual but exceptional, Loosie’s is far enough from the hoity-toity crowd that you can enjoy Olivier’s creole fare without elbowing your way past a crowd (for now).

Jaime Young – Sunday in Brooklyn

Another Williamsburg favorite, Sunday in Brooklyn’s New American menu and attached market make the place a must-see, worth the trip from anywhere in Manhattan. A veteran of TriBeCa’s high-end Atera, Executive chef Jaime has curated a more relaxed space where one can take in an unpretentious meal of old favorites just a stone’s throw from the Williamsburg Bridge. Once you’re done enjoying the food, you can pick up some of Jamie’s ingredients in the downstairs market and try your best at home.

Angie Mar – The Beatrice Inn

Angie might not be a big name yet, but she’s got the pedigree for it. The niece of Seattle legend and restaurateur Ruby Chow, she has made her own name after leaving her corporate job and apprenticing under Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec, perfecting her take on the art of butchery. Incorporating her European and Asian influences without overwhelming the meat, Angie runs the kitchen at The Beatrice Inn in Greenwich Village with an undeniable flair. Angie has already garnered some acclaim, so get the “the Bea” soon if you want to be the first on your block to take in her masterfully prepared steaks and duck dishes.

Is AI the Next Frontier for Property Management?

Is AI the Next Frontier for Property Management?

Own, or rent? If you live in a big city, odds are you do the latter. In the last decade, we’ve seen the largest gain in housing history as nine million households have become renters, with 60% of residents in cities like New York and San Francisco choosing to rent instead of buy.  

But with more rentals comes more multi-home property management, and with demand comes innovation. Artificial intelligence is one technology that appears on track to disrupt property management, and the outlook seems positive both for industry insiders and tenants.

The real estate industry is an old one ripe for reinvention, and a variety of new startups are providing the software to do just that. Artificial intelligence, in theory, could streamline communication between tenants and property managers, using smart software for rent payment, issue reporting, lease negotiations and more.

Zenplace is a prime example of this theory in action. The company, according to Forbes, “features an AI-powered service that works using chatbots and through devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which makes it effortless and convenient for tenants to pay rent easily, extend their lease and report issues with the property 24/7.”

Though only a human plumber can fix a leaky pipe, reporting the issue to AI when management office is closed could save everyone time, trouble, and even money. Since Zenplace is marketed toward owners who live away from the properties they manage, this convenience makes perfect sense.

Zenplace uses machine learning technology to let property managers find new tenants, locate cost-efficient vendors, and proactively recommend maintenance and management tasks. As Engadget details: “Using machine learning, Zenplace gives a heads-up to the owner that 47% of tenants typically will have an issue with the garbage disposal, and including a $5 wrench could avoid the otherwise inevitable $100 service call. Not only does that mean ease and simplicity for owners, it also means higher returns for owners and better maintenance of the property.”

The deal appears to be just as sweet for tenants, who, aside from paying rent and reporting problems, can manage bills (including TV and the Internet), manage security, and solve other property-related issues. The software is simple to use on both ends through a sleek app with a modern and intuitive design.

For renters that have historically had to deal with distant, over-worked landlords, adding some AI into the equation could be just the ticket to blissful living in big cities and beyond. And as tech-driven startups continue to change the game, competition in this department could be afoot sooner rather than later. 

How Refugees Help Revitalize New York Communities

How Refugees Help Revitalize New York Communities

Much ado has been made about the global refugee crisis, as well as the policies aimed to either help or bar refugees from resettlement. While the Trump Administration has done its best to limit refugee resettlement in the US, there are some regions of this country that remain hospitable— and given they have the real estate to fill, and benefits to reap, why not?

According to the New York Times, regions in New York state have reported that in influx of refugees have helped to revitalize communities by filling empty homes and storefronts and stimulating suffering economies. Of the 5,000 refugees New York accepted last fiscal year, 95 percent settled in upstate communities. Their gravitation to these areas was fortuitous for the refugees, who found low prices and jobs waiting; at the same time, their relocation has been a salve for cities suffering from population crises.

Buffalo, which has placed 100,000 refugees, has lived up to its nickname “The City of Good Neighbors” for this very reason. Burdened by an exodus of residents after losing keystone businesses, cities like Buffalo have been revitalized by newcomers, who make up a strong and stable immigrant population.

It’s true that an influx of refugees, some up-front costs follow in terms of government spending on immediate assistance. But economists estimate that the long-term gains make up for this quickly, as refugees are likely to stay rooted and contribute to the economy. For places facing population decline, the facts are clear: refugees are more of a boon to economic development than a burden.

Of course, in bigger metropolises like New York City population decline is not an issue. But NYC is not a stranger to immigrants or refugees. In 2015, Mayor De Blasio pledged to work with local institutions to place incoming refugees. Since the 2016 election, companies like Airbnb are filling empty real estate with refugees in need in NYC and beyond—once again, to mutual benefit, in this case to the company’s PR.

It seems clear that refugees are not only in need, but have value to provide, especially in areas with real estate to fill and jobs to spare. But if the new administration’s agenda proceeds as planned, it may be that cities like Buffalo continue to stagnate or decline.