Opening last Friday with the first of eight Jay-Z shows, the Barclays Center is now an official Brooklyn landmark. This means that Brooklyn bus tours include it on their route, tourists come to take pictures, and on Tuesday Archtober invited a small group of architects and architecture geeks to take a peek. Once inside the arena itself, the color scheme is so monochrome it’s like taking a black-and-white photo, in keeping with the Nets’ colors and to create a subtle, streamline transition from the exterior. Of course, that excludes the exclusive VIP areas and suites, where gold prevails. Most exclusive of all is The Vault, the Jay-Z inspired suite with a gold wall of Armand de Brignac Champagne bottles at the bar.
DIRECTIONS: 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, R or Q subways to Atlantic Ave/Barclays Center. LIRR to Atlantic Avenue Terminal
…Because they have been since 1899 when this clock was embedded on the corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane. This part of the Financial District used to be devoted to watchmakers and jewelers, and William Barthman is the last one remaining to date. As well as being decorative and functional, the clock was also smart way for William Barthman to advertise right outside his store. The clock has had several refits over the years, but the bezel is apparently original.
DIRECTIONS: 2, 3, 4, 5, A or C train to Fulton St.
Supreme Chocolatier on Staten Island celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year, and its history is the epitome of the American dream. The founder, Emmanuel Katsoris, was a Greek candy maker who migrated to the States in 1901 with just $10 to his name. Ten years later he had opened “Port Richmond Square Candy”, selling chocolate and ice cream to Staten Islanders, and the family-run business grew from strength to strength. The factory is open on weekdays for tours or chocolate purchases.
DIRECTIONS: S46 or S96 bus from the St. George Ferry Terminal
Surprisingly, it’s not just Italian food at the Little Italy 11-day Feast of San Gennaro. There are Asian hot dogs, ribs, and stacks of classic American fairground goodies like funnel cake and cotton candy. San Gennaro was the patron saint of Naples, which hints at the origins of the early waves of New York Italians 86 years ago. The sweet highlight of the Feast also hints at another wave - the Sicilians, who brought with them sweet, fresh, ricotta cannoli. The Feast runs until 23 September.
DIRECTIONS: D, B train to Broadway/Lafayette
This full-scale model on the Lower East Side will give you a taster of what to expect - an underground 1.5-acre park in an old underground trolley terminus, which once served streetcars coming over the Williamsburg Bridge. The park will use fibre-optic cables to provide plants and trees light, and will be the first underground park in the world. Organisers put completion at about five years from now - watch this space! The exhibition runs until 27 September.
DIRECTIONS: F to Delancey or J, M, Z to Essex St.
…And see how many times you are asked for cheap watches, handbags, sunglasses (on this trip I counted 5, 5 and 3 respectively). Running the length of the isle of Manhattan, Canal St. is a chaotic and colourful shopping strip famed for its knock-off imitations, tourist bottlenecks and slightly shifty-looking sellers who are always on the lookout. The street however has some hidden surprises for those who brave the bustle - from the modernist One York Norten tower to the serenity of the historic Canal Park in the far west, far from the maddening crowds.
DIRECTIONS: 1, 2, N, R, J or 6 trains all serve Canal Street
Built in 1886 and a NYC Landmark since 2008, the revival-style Webster Hall clad in terracotta bricks almost takes up this entire block of East 11th Street. In its 126-year history, one rich in activism and the avant-garde, the space has hosted everything from union rallies to marriages of the elite, masquerade balls and concerts with names ranging from Louis Armstrong to Sonic Youth. It is also a mainstay destination for NYC’s fashion week.
DIRECTIONS: N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6 or L train to Union Square
…Because that’s exactly what Brooklynite Jonathan Lopes did! Using only standard lego pieces and putting them together in his Boerum Hill living room, Lopes has created Brooklyn in miniature. The detail is mind-blowing, from the window parapets to the masonry. If you head to the Boerum Hill neighbourhood, the above piece is on show in the unlikely location of a Dry Cleaners at 391 Pacific Street, where Lopes is apparently a customer.
DIRECTIONS: A, C or G to Hoyt-Schermerhorn
Not the grey spotted seal which showed up in Manhattan in 2011, but the bronze-fiberglass seals of sculptor Gerry Augustine Lynas. This seal playground and fountain, tucked between the FDR drive the East River, brings an otherwise nondescript piece of parkland to life, especially in summer when the spray fountains are flowing free. Constructed in 2001, the park contains almost 20 seals, some with just their heads peeking out of the ground, along with bronze turtles and crabs.
DIRECTIONS: J, M, Z trains to Essex St. and head to the East River
Follow the end the of the 3 train to discover an unexpected superlative - the largest affordable housing project in New York City. The Nehemiah Spring Creek development, named after the Old Testament prophet who rebuilt Jerusalem, is the work of Architect Alexander Gorlin. Known for his rich colors, bold lines and elegant design, these multicolored two- and three-story family homes are 21st century townhouses, and were all fully assembled seven miles away in the Brooklyn Navy Yards, down to the kitchen sinks.
DIRECTIONS: 3 train to New Lots Avenue