The Night Heron was an invitation-only bar built illegally inside a Chelsea water tower in New York City that was open for just a few weekends this spring. Despite the arcane, timepiece-based invite process, Atlantic Cities and The New York Times both made it there. Here's how a guest would find her way to this spot, according to Atlantic Cities:
The entrance tickets ... are in the form of a pocket watch -- which can only be obtained as a gift -- with a reservation number and instructions inside advising against high heels and to be ready for a bit of climbing … After squeezing through a trap door, you are welcomed into a candlelit wooden cylinder outfitted with a bar, drink tables, and chandelier, all made from upright piano parts. You sip an aromatic amber concoction made by a dapper proprietor and survey this cedar jewel box, seemingly constructed by a pauper of exquisite taste.
Here's what that felt like:
All this was possible because, even in a city of gentrifying neighborhoods and investment, there are still building owners who don't pay much attention to their property.
Here at Grist, climate change is our bread and melting butter. But this month, we’re feeling especially hot and bothered. As part of our in-depth look at the warming planet, we’ve compiled a list of the U.S. cities that we think will be in the hottest water as the mercury rises -- in some cases, up to their foreheads.
A quick note about New Orleans: It’s hard not to include a city that’s already lost so much, but the Big Easy’s new $14.5 billion, state-of-the-art levee system is finally up-and-running just eight short years after Katrina. Some warn that the new system, designed to stop a once-in-a-century storm -- the kind that seem to be coming about every other Thursday these days -- is already out of date. But it’s better than nothing, especially when compared to the rest of the country, so we're giving New Orleanians credit as most-improved. That said, here we go!
Garcetti, a Rhodes scholar and L.A.’s first Jewish mayor, has big shoes to fill: Will he carry on current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s celebrated efforts to combat L.A.’s image as a smog-choked, car-worshipping, freeway-entangled sprawlsville?
So far, the signs point in that direction. Some have criticized Garcetti for being too friendly to business interests, but he sees working with developers as a necessary component of the smart-growth strategy he’s pursued to revitalize once-blighted areas of Hollywood, Echo Park, and Silver Lake, his home turf.
He authored the nation's largest green building ordinance, the nation's largest local clean water initiative, and legislation making L.A. the nation's largest city with a solar feed-in-tariff. He nearly tripled the number of parks in his district by finding innovative ways to create 31 new neighborhood parks. He led the effort to pass the plastic bag ban and Low Impact Development Ordinance.
Amtrak fans in the House of Representatives have finally stumbled onto that age-old marketing principle: "If you want people to use a service, fill it with animals." (I assume that's what they teach in marketing school, and if they don't they should.) Four House members have introduced a bill that would require all Amtrak trains to have at least one car that accommodates animals. Technically all the animals will be in kennels, but I'm going to cling to my fantasy of being whisked through the countryside in a pile of cats and dogs.
Farragut Square is a classic, austere Washington, D.C., park with much landscaping and statuary but few amenities for actual people. It does at least have a lot of benches, which come in handy during the typical weekday. Come noontime, hundreds of local office workers swarm, blinking, into the sunlight, desperate for sustenance, and run headlong into bounteous providence: a veritable armada of food trucks.
It varies by the day, but Farragut typically has among the densest truck congregations in the city. When I visited last, in the space of 50 feet I could choose between a half-dozen curries, steak sandwiches, tacos, Korean barbecue -- and kebabs, lots of kebabs.
But these trucks may not be here for long. The D.C. City Council is currently considering new regulations that would curtail, potentially drastically, the number of trucks allowed in much of the district.
It’s a familiar story. Similar fights have unfolded in severalothercities. But this time some Big Name Conservatives have spied an opportunity to get young, urban voters onto the anti-government bandwagon. (Mitt Romney losing 18- to 29-year-old voters by 24 points would tend to focus the mind.) As they see it, these humble taco-delivery systems are just the thing to demonstrate the tyrannical, hungering grasp of Big Government.
“What they need is for people to see this and say, 'I’m on the side of the people that the government is messing with,'" none other than Grover Drown-The-Government-In-The-Bathtub Norquist told National Journal.
Climate change is expected to boost homicidal heat waves in Manhattan, while cold snaps in the densely packed borough should become slightly less deadly.
Researchers from Columbia University and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention used climate models and two emissions scenarios to project seasonal patterns in temperature-related deaths in Manhattan. In all 32 of the scenarios developed by the researchers, the spike in summertime heat-related deaths was forecast to more than outweigh the decline in deaths caused by cold weather.
Have you ever sat on the subway across from a hot guy or girl holding the book you just finished, trying to peek at their left hand and wondering whether it's kosher to start a conversation? The organization that runs the subways in Prague has a plan that will end these awkward deliberations for good. The company, ROPID, "wants to set aside carriages on some or all of its trains for singles seeking a soul mate," Reuters reports. It'd basically be like Amtrak's quiet car, except instead of sitting in silence, everyone will be scanning the car like they would a bar on a Saturday night.
Fueled by the recent fascination with all things DIY, community gardening -- like brainstorming clever uses for Mason jars and eating like a caveman -- has been popular lately. But on a large plot in inner-city Baltimore, gardeners have been working the land for almost 25 years. The Duncan Street Miracle Garden, a lush rectangle crisscrossed by grape arbors and trellises, sits in a desolate patch of East Baltimore where 44 rowhouses once stood. On a recent spring day, the blue sky was visible through the empty shells of neighboring buildings and birdsong competed with police sirens.
"I call it 'God's little acre,'" says garden manager Lewis Sharpe, 74. The garden is in fact nearly an acre, and it owes its existence to a core group of dedicated gardeners. In 1988, with Baltimore in the throes of the crack cocaine epidemic, a local men’s group cleaned up what had become a dumping ground after the city razed a stretch of crumbling rowhouses. The gardeners then convinced the city to close the alley to traffic. Decades later, it is dotted with trees, including a mulberry that Sharpe likes to nap under, and row upon row of flower, fruit, and vegetable plants.
A few -- the "fruit cocktail tree" and the "strawberry tree" -- do sound vaguely miraculous. But the biggest miracle is that the garden is here at all.
A chain-link fence surrounds the plot, though it does nothing to thwart the rats, the garden’s worst pests. Instead, it was built some years back to deter a two-legged nuisance: drug dealers. "At one time they was running through here with police chasing 'em," Sharpe says. "Now they ain't got time to go over the fence. They go around it."
Sharpe joined the farm in 1989, and as founding members passed away or began to garden less, he became its self-appointed manager. He -- like famous Milwaukee urban farmer Will Allen -- grew up on a farm, in his case in rural Virginia. "During the summer, grandma got us up at 6 a.m. and gave us a hoe or a shovel," Sharpe says. "We'd go out there and cut the rows, put the seed, put fertilizer down."
Health problems have kept him from retiring to his ancestral home, so Sharpe has done the next best thing: create an urban facsimile. "It keeps me busy," he says simply.
It's easy to get paranoid when you're riding a bike alongside drivers who, despite commanding vehicles much bigger and faster than yours, seem uninterested in your safety or survival. Sometimes it feels like they're out to get you. Or at least like they'd be happy if you got hurt.
And apparently, that paranoia is not entirely unjustified. In the U.K., for instance, one driver bragged on Twitter about knocking a person off his bike with her car:
In this case, bike activists who monitor social media for anti-cycling comments alerted the police, who told Way to report having being in a collision. (We can just imagine her whining "but I did report it! I told everyone on Twitter he deserved it!") But it is creepy that anyone would be so excited about potentially injuring another human being.
Back in 1897, a structure called the California Cycleway came very close to beautiful existence. The elevated structure would have provided a smooth, flat, uninterrupted ride for the nine miles from Pasadena to downtown. (You can see a Google map of the proposed route here.) Man, bike infrastructure proposals were so much better when bikes were the only game in town.