Watch a Stunning Visualization of Midtown's Growth Over the Last 150 Years

Categories: Manhattan

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It's hard to believe, but not so long ago you could stand on Central Park South and see the horizon in every direction. Cube Cities has thrown together an animation of how fast the city south of 59th Street went from crowds of squat buildings and farmland to a region with one of the highest concentrations of tall buildings in the world. See the video after the jump.

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Manhattan Apartment Sales Are at Their Highest Levels Since Before the Recession

Categories: Housing, Manhattan

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Photo Credit: jonfeinstein via Compfight cc
There aren't many places in the U.S. where people are unfazed, even titillated by the possibility of living next door to monster rats, but apparently Manhattan is one of them. Yesterday the Douglas Elliman Real Estate Report revealed that apartment sales in Manhattan have reached a level not seen since before the start of the Great Recession. The report states that sales were up 18.8 percent in the second quarter of 2013 over last year's second-quarter numbers, with over 4,000 new contracts signed between April and June.

The logical next question is, who is buying what kind of homes? The short answer is exactly what you might expect: the wealthy seizing on the luxury home sector, which now dominates the market in New York's richest borough. But before anybody gets too smug, the fact is that, both Queens's and Brooklyn's markets are increasingly luxe too.

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Brooklyn is No Longer the "Budget-Savvy" Alternative to Manhattan

The second-most expensive hype in all of the U.S.A.
A few months back, we here at the Voice reported that Manhattan's rent was at its highest rate ever, clocking in somewhere around $3,418 a month, on average. Awed by this, I delved into the conundrum that is the Manhattan real estate: if you have to pay an arm and a liver to live on this island, why would you? 

Naturally, the answer is in the name: it's Manhattan, stupid. With its metropolitan charm and the prestige that comes with the phrase, "I live in Manhattan," the conundrum becomes a race to acquire that conversational living title rather than the thought that, wow, the rent is definitely too damn high.

With that in mind, it's no surprise that Manhattan tops the list of the most expensive places to live in America. As an option, I mentioned that you could venture out into the outer boroughs: Queens still offers lower prices in up-and-coming hot spots, like Astoria and Long Island City, and there's always Brooklyn. Turns out I have to bite my tongue a bit.

Yesterday, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Brooklyn is coming in at number two on that godforsaken list. The study was put together by the Council for Community and Economic Research in Washington; in it, Brooklyn received a score of 183.4 out of 300 and Manhattan scored 233.5. Sorry, but the idea that neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Fort Greene and a handful of others provide you with a lower hit on your wallet is as old as Madonna. 

In other words, Brooklyn has been Manhattan-ized.
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A Breakdown of the NYC Bike Share Map

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http://a841-tfpweb.nyc.gov/bikeshare/station-map/

The bicycles are comin'! The bicycles are comin'!

Yesterday, the New York City Department of Transportation released the initial 420 bike share station locations for the program that will unleash (eventually) 10,000 bikes onto the already crammed streets of New York by 2013. Influenced by NYU's much-smaller program and approved by at least 64 percent of New Yorkers, the bike share saga begins in late July. Created and argued by City citizens, the scattered spots across the Big Apple are just the first round of stations to be built; the end total will be something around 600 stations. 

But this primary bike blueprint is missing alot. Although plans are in the work for stations in the Upper East/West Side, Cobble Hill, Park Slope and Sunnyside in Queens, the one we have now leaves out enormous chunks of New York City and puts the bikes in more-than-obvious places. Here's what we've got:

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After Angry Birds Incident, Scott Stringer Writes Letter to Ray Kelly

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via rovio.com
Angry Birds, a central player in this local politics story.
This is a story about Angry Birds and a Manhattan pol who is probably going to run for mayor in 2013.

More specifically, this is a story about an Angry-Birds-inspired police raid that prompted Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to write a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

On November 8th, 2011, the NYPD conducted raids on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown to stop the sale of counterfeit merchandise related to Angry Birds -- you know, the addictive game where you slingshot little birds at little pigs. Well apparently, the NYPD got wind that some vendors in these Manhattan neighborhoods were selling merchandise related to the Angry Birds franchise and responded with a raid.

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NYU Expansion Proposal Scaled Back, Scott Stringer Says Compromise is Hard

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via NYU 2031
No one's going to get exactly what they want. But that's the essence of compromise!

This was part of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's message today when he officially announced his support for a scaled-back version of the controversial 20-year expansion plan for New York University.

This latest news is part of an ongoing urban development saga where not-in-my-backyard advocates have clashed dramatically with a powerful university that hopes to grow in the Village, its homebase neighborhood. Elected officials like Stringer have been caught in the middle of the fight, forced to navigate competing interests of preservation, development, and education. For the borough president, who is expected to run for mayor in 2013, taking a stance on NYU is more than an opportunity to influence a project that could fundamentally change the Village -- it's also a chance to start building a platform for his bid to replace Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

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Support for Majority Latino Congressional District Grows; Mayoral Hopefuls Like It

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Sam Levin
Electeds and advocates rallying for a new Latino congressional district earlier this month.
As delays and uncertainty persist in the redistricting process in Albany, support is growing for a new majority Latino congressional district in New York City.

Pols and advocates have been rallying this month in an effort to pressure the state to draw a majority Latino district that would include parts of upper Manhattan, the west Bronx, and Corona and Jackson Heights in Queens. Advocates say this district would unite communities of interest and give a stronger voice to the city's Latino population which has grown dramatically over the last decade. (Latinos make up the city's largest minority group at 29 percent of the total 8.1 million population).

On Friday, public advocate and likely mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio sent out a statement in support of this Latino district -- which would be the third in the city.

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Spaceworks Transforms Vacancies Into (Affordable!) Artist Studios

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NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
Vacant spaces will be transformed into artist studios through new initiative.
Governors Island just got a little bit cooler.

While lots of exciting activities and new projects have been popping up on the little-island-that-could -- which the city finally took over in 2010 -- there are still many unused, vacant spaces on the 172-acre plot of land just south of Manhattan.

But if a new city initiative goes as planned, those vacancies -- and some at the Brooklyn Army Terminal -- will be converted into affordable studio and rehearsal space for artists.

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Students Rally Against DOE's Proposal to Shut Down Legacy High School

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Yesterday, four electeds who hope to be mayor in 2013 rallied on the steps of City Hall to criticize the current mayor for his policies of closing failing public schools. And last week, a group of electeds -- alongside angry parents and students -- rallied around a new report that says Mike Bloomberg's school closures hurt students and do not solve larger problems in the system.

Yup, it's rally season, folks. This is the final week of hearings before the Panel for Education Policy votes on proposals to close 25 schools on Feb. 9. (Given that the PEP has never rejected a city proposal and the political theater that unfolded last year, we can guess it'll be a colorful event).

Timed with a hearing tonight about Legacy High School, near Union Square, students are rallying this afternoon to protest the potential closure of their school.

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City Planning Approves St. Vincent's Redevelopment; Advocates Push for AIDS Memorial

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Nearly two years ago, St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village shut its doors in the face of millions of dollars of debt. The closure strained other hospitals in the city and also paved the way for a large rezoning and redevelopment process on the site.

Today, that development project took a big step forward, earning the approval of the City Planning Commission -- the second to last step in the lengthy public review process required in New York City for projects like this.

The project, under Rudin Management, is a proposed mixed-use development on 7th Ave. between 11th and 12th streets. The buildings, according to City Planning, would contain approximately 450 residential units, around 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, 20,000 square feet of medical offices, and, notably, 17,000 square feet of public open space on the triangular parcel of land located west of the East Side.


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