Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map: John Randel Jr., and the Manhattan grid

Measure of Manhattan.jpg

Much of Manhattan was made long in the past--or long enough ago that its boundaries are often seen as acceptable and natural, while the people who live on the fringe (read: above 96th Street) are easily forgotten when defining the character of the city. (This tendency became briefly regretful when, during Superstorm Sandy, word got out that people in Washington Heights were taking hot showers, getting drunk, and enjoying a day off while everyone downtown stumbled around in the dark). Certainly there are exceptions; Columbia's expansion into West Harlem, and its disruption of neighborhood borders, gets lots of coverage from uptown blogs like Harlem + Bespoke, which are both agents and critics of gentrification.

More »

Wildlife Rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath Talk About Their Work In the City And Famous Hawks

Courtesy of the Horvaths
On Monday the New York Daily News reported the on the death of Lima, New York City celebrity hawk Pale Male's mate. Often when stories -- both happy and sad -- of New York's leash-less animals pop up, we hear from wildlife rehabilitators Bobby and Cathy Horvath. The two have been rehabilitators for 25 years, but they work as volunteers. They both hold down what you might call day jobs -- he as a fireman and she as a veterinary technician -- while living with a host of animals in need of care. Currently, Bobby told Runnin' Scared, they have 50 or so animals in their home. We called up the married couple to get their reaction to recent news about Lima and other high-profile New York birds, and to learn more about what it's like caring for the city's wild creatures.

More »

Kissena Park Steps Up Efforts Against Poachers and Foragers

Kissena Duck.jpg
This Kissena Park duck is not dinner.
A crew of Prospect Park squirrel and bird poachers was nabbed earlier this summer to much media fanfare about the city's hunter-gatherer "trend," pitting conservationists against urban foragers of all stripes. This particular band of hunters stirred a small debate among our commenters: Were the poachers victims of our harsh economic times, homeless and hungry and fending for themselves in this unforgiving city, Survivor-like? Or were they cruel hicks, with raw squirrel meat stuck in their fangs as they littered willy-nilly?

Writ large, to higher questions of the relationship between human and what passes for nature in New York: Why would you do this? As in, eat anything from a New York City pond or field that has been peed on by countless dogs, or hunt adorable animals, or help yourself to or destroy public property? On the other hand, why would you not? What could be more "sustainable" and locavorish than making a salad from young dandelion greens harvested from a nearby park?

More »

East Village Backyard Spaces You Can Use for a Pittance (That Aren't 'Timeshares')

Steve Cannon.JPG
Steve Cannon's backyard
It might be tempting to fork over $350 for the right to grill and party (but not imbibe) for four hours in an urban "backyard timeshare" like the one we wrote about earlier today. If, however, you're looking for more recession-friendly options in the neighborhood, we've compiled a few of our own local favorites in the $25 to $50 range.

More »

On the Lower East Side, People Are Selling 'Backyard Time Shares'

Recall the summers when you were a child, blessedly free of school, living somewhere other than the Lower East Side of Manhattan, when you would wile away hours lying in the grass and watching butterflies pass overhead? You weren't in Tompkins Square Park, and you weren't tripping on acid. Remember? Perhaps you do, perhaps you don't. Maybe this didn't even happen. But the collective consciousness of New York City seems to feel that "backyards" are nice, probably because so many of us don't have them, and so, some entrepreneurial party people in the city are trying to make money off of that. It's true -- 3,200 square, grass-covered, feet at 145 Ludlow will be rented out for $50 an hour, starting August 11. This is being called a "backyard time share," and can be booked through for barbecues, hammock-reclining, pogo-sticking, or whatever you want to do in a backyard.

More »

Tony Avella, State Senator, Wants the City to Pick Up All Raccoons, Not Just the Scary Ones

In Queens, raccoons are invading homes, and local lawmakers have had enough. State Senator Tony Avella of Queens proposed a bill on Monday that would change the way New York City handles raccoons. At present, the city will only pick up a raccoon if it is sick, dangerous, or hurt, and Avella's bill would change that so that the city will pick up a raccoon if a resident requests it.

More »

Mountain Lion Traveled 1,500 Miles Cross-Country to Get to Connecticut

Like many an aspiring New Yorker, the mountain lion that was recently sighted wandering about Greenwich, Connecticut -- the lion that was later, sadly, killed by an SUV on the Wilbur Cross Parkway -- had headed east from far, far away. On Tuesday state officials reported that the animal had come all the way from the Black Hills of South Dakota, and, according to genetic testing, had also been in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It had traveled more than 1,500 miles to get to Connecticut. This, the New York Times reports, "is more than twice as far as the longest dispersal pattern ever recorded for a mountain lion."

More »

City Says No to Dressing Up Union Square's George Washington Statue; Man Sought for Seagull Murder; Ray Kelly for NYC Mayor?

• Leon Reid IV, the artist who'd wanted to dress Union Square's George Washington statue up like a New York tourist -- with camera, I Heart NY hat, and the like -- in a project called "Tourist-in-Chief," has been denied his request to do so by the New York City Parks Department. Reid had accrued more than $3,000 on Kickstarter for his project. [DNA Info]

• A new poll from Quinnipiac University reveals that 23% of city voters would pick Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as their choice for the next mayor of New York City. However, he has given no indication of running. [NYDN]

More »

In New York, Even the Owls Have Herpes

Herpes. O Rly?
When an enormous great horned owl was found dead on the ground in Inwood Hill Park last month, the Department of Environmental Conservation promised to find out what laid the noble beast low. Today, the results of the autopsy were announced and -- there's really no way to sugarcoat this -- the owl died of herpes. Bird herpes.

More »

Animals Eating Popsicles

In response to a question that has long racked the world's collective brain -- how do animals stay cool at the zoo during a heat wave!? -- MSNBC has a long-awaited answer. Tigers eat popsicles made out of blood! "It's kind of gross, but they like it," said Diana Weinhardt, who supervises the Northern Trails exhibit at the Minnesota Zoo. Others get mouse popsicles! How adorable! Additionally, most zoos have some sort of air conditioned area for the animals, as well as outdoor pools. Zoo animals: Just like us, if we had really bad taste in food. [MSNBC/Video from Urlesque]