One of the crown jewels of Manhattan, the grand dame of New York City, is turning 100. We are talking, of course, about Grand Central Terminal. A century ago, on February 2, 1913 – after a decade of construction – the building that would revolutionize commuter train travel opened its doors.

There isn’t anything to say that hasn’t been said before about the building’s grandiose and tumultuous history. So, we offer something else to commemorate one of the most amazing buildings in the city: a 360 look at Grand Central. Part of a larger project photographing iconic landmarks in glorious 360 degrees, we teamed up with Shots 360 and photographer Thomas Erh, the man behind the lens of interactive 360º panoramic photography, to document some of our favorite Old New York places.




A few days ago I went to Queens to see a friend at Jamaica Hospital and I happened upon an old car repair shop. Living in Manhattan, car ownership (let alone car repair) never really crossed my mind, yet I fell in love with the beautiful signs from Mallard (Jamaica Avenue and 133 st.)

The hand-painted BMW and Mercedes logos caught my eye and I absolutely love the broken "A" in the "auto repair" sign.


The White Mana Diner - New Jersey Edition

Once upon a time, the World's Fair was a prognosticator of the future showcasing innovations and the promise of a Jetson's future. Case in point? The cooky ruins of the 1964 World's Fair in Queens.

Decades before at 1939 New York's World's Fair, visitors were invited to experience the diner of the future, with its u-shaped counter and built in grill that ensured that the waiter/cook would never have to walk more than a few steps to cook a burger, pour a soda, and wait on customers.

The diner of the future is still in business today and it can be found in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, in a shabby thoroughfare between the Holland and Lincoln tunnels. It's called the White Mana and it's the original 1939 structure (with some newer add-ons) and as all things futuristic it's open 24 hours a day.

The inside still features the circular counter and the super awesome geometric floor tiles. The domed ceiling is a Formica-covered sight to behold. Not only is the building a throw back to another time, the prices are also reminiscent of another era, too. When I was there last, the special was 3 cheeseburgers, fries and a soda for $6.50. Super friendly service, super awesome diner.

The White Mana Diner
470 Tonnele Avenue, US Route 1 and Manhattan Avenue


Happy Grid Anniversary - or something like that

200 years ago today, the map creating the street grid of Manhattan was certified by the city's street commissioners. It set forth the familiar geometric street pattern we see today, calling for the creation of symmetrical lots and the addition of landfill to create the Manhattan we know today. As you probably can guess, the existing streets in the Village were exempt of the boxiness of the north (and thus continue to confuse tourists and the directionally challenged to this day).

There is a really interesting article in the NYT, and also additional historical info here.


Mark The Painter

We first met Mark when we created the launch video for Buvette. Mark was there painting all the signs and we ended up shooting a lot of material with him. He is a super talented and fascinating guy who does some amazing work around the city. If you live in New York, there is a good chance you've seen some of his artwork and signs.

Here is a small clip of Mark (more to come).


Happy (belated) St. Patrick's Day - a post about beer.

To me, St. Patrick's Day means beer - good beer, not green beer. I'm beyond the time when green beer seemed like a delectable beverage instead of the horror show it actually is. But I digress.

New York City has a rich beer-brewing past. Not only is it the site of the first public brewery in the county (established in 1633) but in the late 1800s and all the way up to the start of Prohibition, the city was home to hundreds of breweries, including some of the country's largest.

Before the advent of bottles, beer was usually consumed in bars, pubs or taverns. In my research, I found out that up until 1920 patrons would get a free lunch with beer purchase.

Unfortunately none of the breweries survived the combination of Prohibition, refrigeration and cheap rail transportation - something that made it possible for a brewery far away to become Anhauser-Bush. And while the breweries are gone, many of the original buildings (and the brewing tradition) remain.

To commemorate what we hope will be a sporadic series on New York City beer (and to celebrate St. Paddy's Day), I'm brewing up a batch of home made beer - inspiration and ingredients found at Brooklyn Brew Shop. Making your own beer has to qualify as an "Old New York" activity and don't let the 4 easy steps fool you - making beer is hard work (as evidenced by the photos below).


Nostalgia gone too far?

Sure we all bemoan the "good old days" one way or another, yet sometimes I think this nostalgia can go a bit too far. Not all things new! and improved! are necessarily bad and not all changes are for the worst. There are things that belong in the past and should stay there, safely tucked away. Case in point? Pick pocketing. Yes, it's a skill and yes, if you look at it purely as such it's pretty impressive. But do I wish it would be more wide spread? Absolutely not!

NPR recently did a story about the dying art of pickpocketing, and while it's super interesting in an Ocean's 11 fashionably-retro sort of way, I really hope it stays in the archives of history and not make a comeback to the front pages of the NYC tabloids.


Paczki Day – Fat Tuesday in Greenpoint

There are many reasons to take a trip to Greenpoint even if it means enduring the always flakey G train, but one of the best I can think of is Paczki Day (pronounced Poonch-Key). Paczkis are a tradition brought from the Old World by the Polish immigrants and kept alive in several Polish-American neighborhoods across the country.

Despite their complicated name Paczkis are a simple donut-like deep fried pastry filled with jelly. They are typically eaten on Fat Tuesday to usher in the 40 days of Lent – nothing like marking days of moderation with a super calorie bomb that ensures you won’t want to eat anything sweet for weeks!

Best I can tell, Paczkis are available year-round in Greenpoint, which is not the case in everywhere. So should you be in need to a sugar shock, hop the nearest G train and get yourself to a Polish bakery, pronto!