Boat transport in Saint Petersburg, Russia

When I started telling friends that I was moving to Rockaway Beach, Queens earlier this year, it was frequently met with some variation of ‘Why? It’ll be under water in just a few years.’ Well, it’s not like I’m buying a place, I’d respond, or joke: then I only have a few years to enjoy it! …


One of the factors that helped make London’s 1854 cholera outbreak so devastating — people living in incredible proximity to each other — is one of the same things that led to the eventual discovery of the illness’s cause. London in the middle of the 19th century was a grand experiment without historical precedent: the largest, densest colony of humanity on the planet. …


Eliminating the broker fee will help renters, owners — and brokers

Ever since the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act was signed into law last summer with the energy of the progressive new class of Albany lawmakers behind it, New York City’s once untouchable real estate industry has been at turns shocked, defensive, aggressive and defeatist. Renters, brokers, developers, rights groups and even lawmakers themselves have spent the better part of a year digesting the legislation and trying to parse out just how sweeping it is.

By now, the main points are clear: drastically reduced application fees and security deposits…


Phoenix, 2013

Last month brought an extraordinary confluence of three Koch Brothers-related events — a busy month even for a pair of plutocrat-cum-political boogeymen that have been flagrantly undermining democracy and exploiting capitalism’s weaknesses for decades.

The first was that David Koch died. This is significant for a closely held family business that has no discernible next-generation successors.

The second was the release of an exposé called “Kochland” by Christopher Leonard, the business journalist whose earlier work ripped open the seamy trade secrets of the meat industry. …


I love Sweetgreen. I love the rotating menu boasting seasonal ingredients. I love the window into the prep area and the blackboard listing the local farms from where their produce and cheese are sourced. And I love the quick, friendly service and ample seating I always find at the location I frequent on the Upper East Side.

But I decided to stop eating there after reading about several cities’ attempts to ban merchants from declining to accept cash.

I was originally all in-favor of the cashless store trend. I never carry cash and it made me feel futuristic — checking…


One of the big real estate events this month will be the opening of One Manhattan Square, the condominium megalith at the foot of the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge (Manhattan squared?).

Anyone who’s seen or read about the project is likely to notice two things: 1) it’s immense scale and bravado in a neighborhood of relatively diminutive scale and interest, and 2) the dizzying list of in-house amenities available to its well-heeled residents. These two things are related.

The project’s developer, Extell (prolific purveyor of showy and pricey Manhattan condo towers) needed to make up for its location…


New York City, from a HQ2 loser’s perspective

Rock-climbing in Long Island City, Queens

Since Amazon announced last November that it would be splitting its second headquarters operations in suburban Washington D.C. and the Queens borough of New York City, there has been no shortage of voices from within New York City opining on the move, the implications for the neighborhood, and — especially — the tax credits on the table for the company. But I wanted to know what those cities who lost their bids for the tech behemoth had to say about New York City, not only as a winner in this particular economic…


What color is change in New York City’s most conservative district?

In 1652, Dutch traders “purchased” from local Indians a plot of what would eventually be a part of south Brooklyn on New York harbor just inside the narrows. Just like the mythical purchase of Manhattan island, the story comes to us framed not as a white colonizer annexing a foreign land and brutally displacing its inhabitants, but as a rational real estate transaction, a fitting origin story for a city that would come to be obsessed and defined by its financial prowess.

Last week I met a friend for…


Back in March, when Craigslist announced it was removing its personals section in reaction to a new federal law that makes it easier for websites to be held accountable for sex trafficking, I joked with a friend about the sad demise of the “missed connections” and “casual encounters” pages. No more browsing through poorly lit dick pics or expertly worded love letters!

But now some months later I’ve begun to reflect on how significant the loss is for queer people and our relationship with the city, online and off. After meeting a potential mate at a karaoke bar last weekend…


It’s been almost five years since I moved out of the somewhat charming fourth-floor walk-up in Bed-Stuy. It was a big, wood-floored 1-bedroom flooded with light from a series of north- and east-facing windows. It had that marker of old New York urbanity, that seldom-fulfilled promise of impromptu summer gathering: the fire escape.

It was my first apartment out of grad school, and it’s where I would start learning to play grown-up: cooking, paying for cable, walking to the subway to go to work in the morning. …

Alexander McQuilkin

On money and the land

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