New York City bike lanes, circa 2002
New York City bike lanes rated Rate a C for experienced cyclists, but a F for new people on bicycles -- Clarence Eckerson of BikeTV
New York City bike lanes rated Rate a C for experienced cyclists, but a F for new people on bicycles -- Clarence Eckerson of BikeTV
No commuters today would describe the experience of traveling underneath the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York as exceptional. But that's exactly how newspaper writers of the day described a then-miraculous train trip in 1909.
This system of iron-clad tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey, a progressive transit project finished during the first decade of the 20th century and overseen by builders, engineers, and statesman such as William Gibbs McAdoo, was "one of the greatest railroad achievements in the history of the world," transforming an often frigid 10-minute journey across the water on ferries into a three-minute, climate-controlled run.
Passengers arrived at the original Pennsylvania Station, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece that was greeted with "exclamations of wonder" when it opened in 1910, and observers from London were awed by the superior transport system. The Holland Tunnel, devised by master tunneler Ole Singstad, was opened in 1927 by President Coolidge in an elaborate ceremony using the same ornate golden key that played a role in the opening of the Panama Canal.
Summing up all of the infrastructure built during that period to connect the island of Manhattan to the burgeoning populations of Brooklyn and New Jersey, the New York Times asked the rhetorical question, "How much better off are the young men of this hour than their fathers?"
"These kids have grown up with computers. They have been downloading movies and music since they were 10 years old, so it's not much of a leap to download credit card numbers."
"Brooklynites get the North Fork, period."
-- Sheri Winter Clarry, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group Real Estate on the North Fork in Southold, also attributed the uptick in buyers from Brooklyn to the region's "laid back, chilled vibe" and its growing status as a family-friendly second-home haven for foodies and oenophiles.
The magnets that draw city dwellers include the area's burgeoning farm-to-table movement, new craft breweries and distilleries, wineries, farm stands, antiques shops and seasonal agri-tainment activities like apple-, berry- and pumpkin-picking. Niche farms offer locally raised meat, goat cheese, organic greens and hops for making beer.
"Farms have upped their game like crazy, vineyards have upped their game, restaurants have upped their game," Ms. Clarry said. "It's really translated into the North Fork coming into its own. The food industry has helped people not just day-trip, but fall in love with it and move out here."
RolPal's president, Dièry Prudent, and it's easy to understand the roller's genesis. Mr. Prudent, a personal trainer who lives in a featured-in-interiors-magazines 1870s brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is the sort of exacting guy who bristles if you refer to the roller as a tool. "Tools are for carpenters," he said. "This is an instrument."
When a reporter arrived for a demonstration breathless, late and sweaty, Mr. Prudent, 53, handed over a glass of water and gestured toward a platter of Paleo-diet-friendly snacks: strips of bresaola, the meat as intricately folded as origami, so uniformly spaced it looked as if a ruler had been involved. "Relax," he said. "This is supposed to be an experience."
Mr. Prudent, who destroyed his right knee playing basketball on Bedford-Stuyvesant blacktop and then as a running back on his high school football team, was always on the hunt for a better rehab tool, ordering everything he could find off the Internet. About 12 years ago, he even concocted his own, made of steel pipes, foam pads and bicycle handlebar grips. It looked like a medieval torture device.
His wife, Mariza Scotch, an accessories designer and the chief creative director at Skagen, a Danish lifestyle brand, was unimpressed. Ms. Scotch can't stand "visual dissonance," he said, so he worried he'd have to rescue it from the trash or the recycling bin, like some of his other projects.
Ryan Jensen, a stay-at-home father and part-time photographer with a second child on the way, was priced out of East Williamsburg and now rents a three-bedroom in Bushwick that is about a 15-minute walk from the L train. "We're the leading edge of gentrification," he said. "We're the people willing to be in these areas where there isn't transportation, or where our kid may be the only white kid in the school, or where there aren't amenities. We have delis, and that's about it."
Many Brooklynites, priced out of Williamsburg, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, are heading farther in. They are turning to neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Crown Heights, Bushwick and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, bringing a willingness and an ability to pay more for housing than the waves of residents who came before them.
"What many clients have told me is that they like the old Brooklyn vibe of these up-and-coming areas," said Kristen Larkin, an agent with TOWN Residential. "They like the sense of community, friendliness of the neighbors, and the mom-and-pop shops that come along with it.
"You're not a failure if you decide to leave Brooklyn," Ms. Ghiorse said. "People move to New York with a plan, a dream, and sometimes it doesn't work out that you can live that lifestyle. It takes a lot of money."
As a server at Marlow & Sons, the nose-to-tail temple in Williamsburg, Ms. Ghiorse said she loved being surrounded by "that unbelievably saturated population" of creative influencers, like James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem.
While she savors the space and mental calm of the suburbs, she finds herself looking hopefully for signs of creative ferment. "We've found it in pockets," Ms. Ghiorse said. "Once in a while, you'll think, 'This place gets it,' because they have a Fernet Branca cocktail on their menu."
The signs are there, if you know where to look.
On a visit to Hastings on a recent gray Tuesday, a stroll down the snow-flecked sidewalks of Warburton Avenue, a main drag, revealed more than a few glimpses of "Portlandia" popping up in an otherwise "Mayberry R.F.D." tableau.
The gluten-free bakery, By the Way, sits across the street from Juniper, the farm-to-table restaurant that wouldn't look out of place on Smith Street, the restaurant row that cuts through Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Nearby is Maisonette, a home-décor shop that sells felted-wool gazelle heads, for those who prefer their antlers cruelty-free. The owners are Maria Churchill and Kevin McCarthy, recent refugees from the East Village.
The fact that there is a main street to stroll is a big draw for former Brooklynites who find sprawling, car-culture suburbs alienating. These pedestrian-friendly towns, filled with low-rise 19th century brick buildings and non-chain shops, offer a version of village-style living that Jane Jacobs, the Greenwich Village urbanist, would have approved of.
"Walking to pick up milk, to nip over to the farmers' market, is priceless," said Helen Steed, a creative director in fashion in her early 40s whose family moved from Brooklyn to Irvington four years ago. "It's more familiar, less suburban."
Indeed, the sturdy, retro, all-American character of the river towns fits well with the whole Filson/Woolrich heritage-brand aesthetic. People who set their cultural compass to the Brooklyn Flea appreciate the authenticity.
"Hastings-on-Hudson is a village, in a Wittgensteinian sort of way," Mr. Wallach said. He added, "We are constantly hearing about the slow-food movement, the slow-learning movement and the slow-everything-else. So why not just go avant-garde into a slow-village movement?"
Indeed, in the era of artisanal chic, a move up the Hudson feels like Back to the Land Lite. Brooklyn locavores settle in comfortably at The Village Dog in Tarrytown, which serves a salmon boudin hot dog, with sustainable fish sourced from Pierless Fish in Brooklyn; or at Harper's, a bar and restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, where Clark Moore, the bartender, barrel-ages cocktails on the premises.
No wonder Marco Arment, the former lead developer for Tumblr who recently moved to Hastings from Park Slope, said he no longer needs to run off to the country every three-day weekend.
Of the many things he learned from his grandfather, snobbery was not one of them. "He said to me at one point, 'I wrote for my friends, and my friends aren't intellectuals,' " Mr. Ben Smith, 36, editor in chief of BuzzFeed, said. "I kind of worshiped him growing up." He and his wife, Liena Zagare, cite a distaste for elitism as the prime reason they fled Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood for the less trendy Ditmas Park. "We got tired of being criticized for keeping our kid on a leash," Ms. Zagare, the publisher of Corner News Media, a local news site, said at the Hastings book party.
Mr. Smith is less a political enthusiast than a product of his upbringing. As a child, he was exposed to years of political debate between his father, a conservative Republican who was a partner at Paul Weiss, and his mother, a liberal Democrat who tutors learning-disabled children. "It's a good background for somebody who's not going to have incredibly strong political opinions," he said, refuting the pro-liberal bias he is sometimes accused of.
His grandfather was Robert Smith, a novelist in the 1940s who later turned to writing books about baseball, including "Baseball: A Historical Narrative of the Game, the Men Who Played It, and Its Place in American Life." His grandmother was Janet Smith, a Mark Twain scholar and editor of a 1962 collection called "Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race."
The district, newly configured and renamed as a result of the 2010 Census, stretches through the spine of Brooklyn and spills over into Queens. It takes in the poor and working-class housing projects of Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie and Coney Island but also middle-class and increasingly affluent brownstone areas like Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, as well as the stouter homes of Manhattan Beach, Marine Park and Howard Beach. Both candidates are African-American in a district that is 53 percent black, but the outcome of the primary may hinge on the reality that the recent redistricting has introduced large pockets of white voters (22.4 percent) and Hispanic voters (18 percent). The district also includes large Jewish enclaves.
Brownstones are desirable.
The area has long been populated by members of the working and creative classes, joined recently by professionals.
Doug Bowen, a resident and senior vice president of CORE real estate, said the average house price last year was $975,000 or $395 per square foot, virtually unchanged from 2010. Andrea Yarrington, a vice president of the Corcoran Group, said houses took an average of 136 days to sell, versus 347 in 2010.
Ms. Yarrington added that 15 condos sold in 2011, for an average of $452 per square foot. A search on Streeteasy.com showed four co-ops, three condos and three town houses on the market.
If you ask 10 people where the BEST meal they've ever had was, 9 out of 10 will say their Grandmother's house and the odd man out will say his Mother's. Only some asshole from the yelp generation is going to say Per Se. For lack of a better comparison... Some of your friends like tall skinny meatpacking types who look like geometry problems #PerSe. Some of your friends like strange Asian women from Williamsburg who wear men's shoes #FattyCue. Then there are the guys like myself who like girls with the 40 oz bounce #PiesnThighs. 4-star, 1-star, $25 and Under... Like Pokemon, I just want to catch em all.
Eddie Huang tribute to Sam Sifton
In the usual suspects of Hudson Valley exurban revival, like Beacon, Cold Spring and Hudson, in cities like Kingston and Poughkeepsie and smaller communities like Tivoli, Red Hook, Accord and High Falls, you can find something similar.
Call it the Brooklynization of the Hudson Valley, the steady hipness creep with its locavore cuisine, its Williamsburgian bars, its Gyrotonic exercise, feng shui consultants and deep clay art therapy and, most of all, its recent arrivals from New York City.
Jenifer Constantine and Trippy Thompson, bartenders in Williamsburg, found the adventurous loft life there a bit too precarious after the birth of their first child in 2007, and moved to New Paltz to open their own minimalist, Brooklynesque bar and restaurant in Rosendale, Market Market, with a locavore menu and weekly spoken-word slams.
Dave Lerner, a musician, found the Brooklyn life getting claustrophobic and moved to West Saugerties, a placed that seemed different but part of a familiar universe, where there was music and culture but you could bike, hike and breathe.
John Friedman, a lawyer who lived in Greenwich Village, fell in love with Hudson and went from making mostly telecom deals in Manhattan to making mostly agriculture deals in the Hudson Valley.
Kate Doris left her hometown of Kingston as it skidded downward after I.B.M. left in the '90s. Now she's back, plugged into the local art scene, amused at the number of her Brooklyn friends who have also moved up.
"It is an oxymoron," Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, conceded in an interview last year when the pilot project was being considered. "But boardwalk has become eponymous, in the way Kleenex is for paper tissue. It is a generic term for an elevated oceanfront walkway, and other communities use concrete."
About three weeks ago, the community board voted 21 to 7 against the latest compromise: running a 12-foot-wide concrete lane down the middle of the 50-foot-wide boardwalk to accommodate the wear and tear of garbage trucks and police cars. The remaining sides would be built out of planks made of recycled plastic that cost about $110 a square foot and last for years.
He also remembered that the Coney Island Boardwalk -- officially known as the Riegelmann Boardwalk for the borough president who built it as a way of offering the public greater access to the beach -- withstood storms like Hurricane Donna in 1960 relatively unscathed, while a concrete esplanade in nearby Manhattan Beach was mangled.
But concrete had its advocates, like Mila Ivanova. Ms. Ivanova, a Ukrainian immigrant to Brooklyn from Odessa on the Black Sea who also walks the Boardwalk every day, said: "It's very good -- wood -- but it's old. It is shaking. Sometimes nails come up and you fall. Personally, I like everything new."
JUST after 4 o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon, as a dozen people clicked away on their laptops at the Atlas Café in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
ET on the corner of Havemeyer and Grand Streets, and flooded with light from two walls of windows, Atlas Café, which opened in 2003, looks like a combination of worn trattoria and late 1990s Seattle coffeehouse. The name reflects its wall-sized map of the world (there are also a mobile of hanging globes, and flourishes of décor inspired by someone's travel to the Far East). The soundtrack is a mix of old country and folk (Dylan, Willy, Cohen and Cash), classical, bebop and French ballads.
A makeshift milk station sits in the center of the 750-square-foot room. To the left is a long bar of dark stained rustic wood, where people order food and drink (proper espressos for $1.50, excellent panini, salads and deadly little chocolate-filled Italian doughnuts, $3), as well as the windowless, orange washroom. There are three stools at the bar, and beside them a table of reclaimed timber pressed against a cozy window bench. According to two signs, this little corner, perhaps one-sixth of the cafe, is designated a laptop-free zone.
Everything beyond is Laptopistan: two rows of old church pews formed into an elongated L, each fronted by small wooden tables and chairs. Scattered along the pews are tattered blue tubular pillows, for lumbar support. Windows run along the walls, flooding the computer zone with natural light during the day, creating a fishbowl effect for those inside looking out, and for passers-by, who frequently stop and stare at the tableau.
Entering Laptopistan is a task in itself. The floor presents an obstacle course of power cables snaking their way around coffee cups, over chairs, and around table legs, eventually finding a home in one of two power strips that look as though they came from a Soviet coal refinery. Whenever a plug is inserted, the outlet sparks, and certain movements can cause all the plugs on a given strip to simultaneously eject.
A quick glance around shows I have brought my laptop, a month-old MacBook Pro, to its nesting ground. Diversity here means the odd white MacBook or old black PowerBook scattered amid the silver MacBook Pros. Throughout the week I will see only a handful of PCs, each looking sadly out of place, like they have arrived at a black-tie affair in a corduroy blazer.
I worked for a few hours, and quickly learned the principal laws of Laptopistan:
Silence Is Golden. There is no prohibition on talking, of course, but, as one Atlas regular of several years, Joelle Hann, explained, "there's almost a code that people aren't going to talk loud." When people's phones ring, they run outside as fast as possible to take the call.
"If someone's on Skype or having a conversation, people make an effort to chill out their conversations with looks," said Ms. Hann, a yoga teacher and a freelance journalist and textbook editor. "When they don't stop, you can feel the tension." Shushing conversations is equally verboten. "No one wants to be the librarian," Ms. Hann added.
Respect Personal Space. While any open seat is technically available, it is forbidden to set up your computer on a table with a computer already on it; doubling up is allowed only when all tables are taken. At the same time, people bounce from table to table throughout the day, chasing the sun, the shade or their own feng shui.
Mind Your Neighborhood. When you get up to take a call, get coffee or use the washroom, you need only to look at a neighbor, make eye contact, look back at your computer and nod. The deal is sealed without a word: You watch my MacBook and I'll watch yours.
MOST Laptopistanis -- Laptopistanites? Laptopistanians? -- at Atlas are in their 20s, 30s or early 40s, split evenly between men and women. The dress is casual, with both sexes wearing T-shirts, sweaters and jeans, though a few women seem dressed for "work" with button-down blouses, blazers, even a dress or two. Most Laptopistanis work alone, though occasionally I spotted a group collaborating at a corner table. Socially, Laptopistan is a conservative society; outward displays of emotion are frowned upon. Most people hide behind their screens.
While our analysis was by no means scientific, our goal was to recreate the type of decision a hypothetical family of four earning $175,000 a year might encounter. We chose an upper-middle-class income because that's generally what our family needs to earn, conservatively, to afford a median-price home in Park Slope, a section of Brooklyn that is family-friendly, has good schools and is generally more affordable than Manhattan.
The two-bedroom, one-bathroom co-operative apartment that we're using as a model in Park Slope is listed at $675,000, close to the median price for the neighborhood, as calculated by Zillow.com.
We stacked that against a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home in South Orange, N.J., just a 30-minute train ride from Manhattan, where the two parents work. The house is selling for $595,000.