A Much Needed Breath of Fresh Air: Summer Streets 2017



It’s that time of year once again when, on its best days, the public transit system is relegated to a crude pneumatic tube belching hot air through the bowels of the city. We can add to that the now frequent occurrence of trains being delayed or stalling for prolonged periods of time. And then, of course, there were the three frightening derailments that have transpired since March. The truly incredible obsolescence of this integral system has been laid bare, the ugly truth plain for all to see. And no amount of half-measures–duct tape or bubble gum–can fix the mess. Andrew Cuomo’s “Summer of Hell” is in full swing.



New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

And that’s precisely why Summer Streets, now in its 10th year, is such a breath of fresh air. The Department of Transportation’s eagerly anticipated program offers residents and visitors the opportunity to travel on a car-free route from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park for three consecutive Saturdays in August. The event’s purpose, according to the NYC.gov website, is to provide “space for healthy recreation.” But it also “encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation.” To ensure no one chokes on a drink at that statement, it should be noted that the MTA, not the DOT, is responsible for the transit needs of New York City’s 8.6 million population.

Along the route this year, participants will find the usual unobstructed lanes for cycling, running and walking. There are also Rest Stops with booths and installations from innumerable city agencies, organizations, and companies offering free activities, information, demonstrations and products. Highlights include the LG sponsored Quadwash Water Park, a 165’-long, 30’-high zipline ride, free workouts at the Health and Fitness Zone, Citi-sponsored Food Sessions, and the Vita Coco-sponsored Beach and Beach Slide.



New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

We ventured out to Summer Streets early this past Saturday morning despite the ominous forecast of heavy rain and thunderstorms. Fortunately for us, it never quite materialized. Our pictures might have a New York City-meets-The Walking Dead feel to them, but we were otherwise unaffected. (Though it’s quite an interesting contrast from our outing last year.) It was great to get the blood flowing and breathe some fresh air. Summer Streets offers a little something for everyone, whether it be families, sports enthusiasts, community advocates, or amateur photographers. There are still two Saturdays left, so don’t miss out!

You can find additional details, including route information, here. Certain activities require registration, have limited availability and are scheduled at designated hours. It’s recommended participants sign up ahead and show up early.

Dates & Hours: August 5, 12, and 19, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m



Pair it with:

Brunch at Atla

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

New York City Summer Streets 2017 - Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Many participants of Summer Streets start downtown and work their way up to Central Park. The idea is to continue their “healthy recreation” in the park or, perhaps, to end the morning with a picnic on that gorgeous lawn. And sure, we get that. But Lynn and I have a different strategy. And that strategy is best reflected by this question: Would one be more likely to find food of the best quality and variety uptown or downtown? Exactly! And that’s how we ended up in NoHo at Atla, which is located directly on the Summer Streets route.

Atla is an all-day cafe offering contemporary Mexican bites in a bright, open, relaxed space. It’s another example in an increasingly crowded field of high-end chefs making moves at the casual end of the restaurant spectrum. In this case, it’s Chef Enrique Olvera, well known for Mexico City’s Pujol and the highly regarded New York City restaurant, Cosme. We found the trio of dishes we ordered simple, fresh, and tasty: the scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and chilies served with fresh corn tortillas, the huevos rancheros smothered in a smoky-sweet salsa, and the creamy, mildly tart whipped coconut yogurt with fresh blueberries dressed with just a touch of olive oil. It was the perfect meal–not too heavy, not too light–after such an early morning and so much walking.

Location:
372 Lafayette St

Hours:
Monday to Friday 8am – 4pm, 5pm-11pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm, 5pm-11pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm, 5pm – 10 pm

– J.

Exploring Fulton Center via Open House New York



When a girl gets married, she’s supposed to wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue for luck.  Have you ever wondered where that comes from?  According to wedding planning site the knot, it originates from an old English rhyme.  Something old is meant to represent continuity, while something new offers optimism for the future.  Our Open House New York weekend experience captured those sentiments perfectly.  We were able to glimpse back into the past with our visit to a church constructed in 1875, and look to the future with our tour of a fairly new transit hub on which eleven subway lines and 300,000 passengers converge daily.  I’m speaking, of course, of Fulton Center.

Fulton Center Open House New York - Mad Hatters NYC

Fulton Center Open House New York - Mad Hatters NYC

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since our Instagram feeds first blew up with pictures of Fulton Center.  And when you’re standing in the atrium of the transit hub, it’s easy to see why the images were so prolific.  The Sky Reflector-Net and the louvered glass oculus creates an effect that is mesmerizing.  It manages to conjure the one word no one associates with mass transit: light.  This, of course, is no accident.  It’s just one of the many carefully considered design elements.

Fulton Center was one of the “Open Dialogue” sites, which offered on-site talks and tours led by architects and designers.  Ours was led by Christian Hoenigschmid-Grossich, an associate at Grimshaw Architects.  He moved to New York City in 2003 specifically to work on the Fulton Center project.  (Yes, you read correctly: it took 11 years to complete.)  When Grimshaw bid on — and won — the project, the mandate was simple: ease passenger flow.  And that was no easy feat.

Fulton Center Open House New York - Mad Hatters NYC

Fulton Center Open House New York - Mad Hatters NYC
The perforated ceiling panels diffuse noise and the circular vents bring in fresh air
Fulton Center Open House New York - Mad Hatters NYC
The original tile faces the platform, while the new light blue tile faces the atrium

Grimshaw wanted the new Fulton Center structure to pay homage to its surroundings, blend in seamlessly with its neighboring structures, and still feel contemporary.  And having toured the facilities, we think they succeeded on all fronts.  The futuristic design sometimes made you feel like you were on the Death Star and an army of Stormtroopers was going to march by at any moment.  And yet, you might turn a corner and find you’ve transitioned into a 100-year-old building.  There are perforated ceiling panels designed to diffuse noise, which can be individually lowered for access.  The doors between the subway platform and the atrium serve the dual purpose of limiting sound as well as controlling temperature.  Each detail, from the flooring materials to the color of the tile, was meticulously considered to prolong its lifespan and ease maintenance.  Form and function marry beautifully here.

If you’re dashing through the station at rush hour, it might be difficult to take a moment to savor the details.  So I’ll leave you with this impressive time-lapse video of the installation of the Sky Reflector-Net, the sculpture that has come to define Fulton Center:

Location:
200 Broadway



Pair it with:

A meal at Nish Nush

Fulton Center Open House New York - Mad Hatters NYC

Fulton Center Open House New York - Mad Hatters NYC

We haven’t been shy about our love for hummus and falafel.  So whenever we find ourselves in Lower Manhattan, we take the opportunity to pop into one of our favorite places to indulge: Nish Nush.  Nish Nush makes its hummus and falafel fresh daily, and the falafel is gluten-free.  We find the roasted red pepper falafel a little on the spicy side for our tastes, but we could eat copious amounts of the classic green falafel or the spinach and mushroom falafel anytime.  The falafel platter is our go-to, which comes with hummus, a selection of salads and pita bread.  And I’m not embarrassed to admit that there’s not a lick left when we’re done.

Location:
41 John St

Hours:
Mon – Fri 11am – 9pm
Sat – Sun 11am – 8pm

– L.