Fulton Mall

Along Fulton street is the seemingly never-ending string of stores. From jewelry and clothes to fast food and phone carriers; this place has everything you could ever need in a mall but I always tend to ask myself “is it really a mall?” it didn’t look like a the average American mall that we all saw portrayed on television. It also didn’t look like an outlet mall either; since I always had this connotation that a mall should be more cohesive but detached from everywhere else, like it was proving its exclusivity to its customers. Fulton Mall was different, like the term “mall” was born and raised there due to popular demand. There was something so natural and beautiful about it, similar to the beauty of an overgrown tree wrapping itself onto the side of a building. I still get goosebumps whenever I go to Fulton Mall; partly because of how powerful and overwhelming it can feel and it also reminds me of back-to-school shopping.

I have spent countless hours at the old mall in my childhood, toting around my mother’s shopping bags, quietly sighing to myself because she had said the “…. Just one more store.” line three too many times. Exhausted and bored, I never stopped to fully analyze all that the dreaded mall was; all I knew was how badly I wanted to go home and forget the preparation for the imminent and brooding fall semester.

The name Fulton derives from a man named Robert Fulton who was responsible for creating the steamboat in 1814. He pioneered such a great connection between Manhattan and Brooklyn long before any bridges were in place. The long street of Fulton became known to many, due to the steamboat connection and is the main reason why there is a Fulton street in both Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Similar to a previous post on Union Square, by 1900 Fulton Mall had become a popular shopping hub for New York City, gaining foot traffic like the stores and boutiques in Manhattan.

There is now 130+ shops along the Fulton Mall strip. Storefronts and even more stores above; the small shops brave all types of financial storms just to please their customers. 

Beautifully growing and everlastingly changing, Fulton mall has the transportation hub and mass of Times Square and Union Square but also obtains those deep cultured roots of Brooklyn.

The Oculus

The start of a new month has begun; September, bringing forth days of cooler temperatures and fall foliage. For many New Yorkers it also brings retrospective thoughts of the tragedy that happened on September 11, 2001. It, surprisingly, has been sixteen years since the disaster took place but New Yorkers still vividly remember its havoc that struck us so deeply. As the memorial approaches, I thought it would be nice to pay homage to a piece of architecture that subtly reminds us of this terrible day, honors the strong survivors and first responders, and supports the loved ones subjected to an overwhelming loss.


Something most don’t know about the after effects of 9/11, is how determined and reactive New York was to rebuild. By 2002, many proposals had flooded New York City from all around the world, in the hopes of helping with the process of rebuilding. Something that was not a part of the overall plan was the remastering of the the PATH train station. But in 2004 the city concocted a plan with Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, to create a partial above and below ground transportation hub. He soon proposed a project named the “Oculus” which was supposed to embody “… the release of a bird from a child’s hand…” Calatrava named it the Oculus since on September 11th the skylight is supposed to be exactly positioned for a bright beam of sunlight to shine through the hub; similar to the Pantheon’s oculus in Rome. This sentimental effect takes place from 8:00 to 10:28; the time that the World Trade Center was struck.

Once the proposition was accepted, its progress and popularity only went downhill. The budget was exceeded by large proportions and constant variance of financial obstruction and waste was brutally thrown at the project; making the construction near impossible. Hurricane Sandy in 2012, alone, eradicated millions of dollars worth of material and other structural elements. The overall design was constantly amended to save money and time. A major change being how the extended columns were supposed to be automated and move with the available sunlight; the tight budget kept this feature from coming into fruition.

After years of dedication, amendments, and withstanding negative media from disbelieving New Yorkers, The Oculus was completed and opened to the public on March 4, 2016; taking about 12 years to produce. The opinions were very mixed about the transportation hub since some were amazed by the respectful design, it’s potential for bringing tourist/revenue, and the methodology of transporting people from one place to another. Contrastly, others thought it was a waste of additional money and didn’t quite see the beauty in the hub.

I, personally, think Calatrava’s Oculus is beautiful and is a great way to show respect for that critical day of New York City history. The pure white wings extends 96 feet in the air from where the unfortunate rubble once laid. Delicately and valiantly, it rises; gracing its viewers with a glance before it releases itself to Freedom Tower. At night, its light illuminates between the columns making the Oculus visible from great lengths which shows us how important it is to let the light and positivity shine through our streets, course through our veins, and beat ever so heavily in our hearts because it is our duty, as New Yorkers, to prevail over any type of circumstance.

Humans Of City Tech

“I’m 23 Years old, born and raised in Brooklyn NY. At age 7, I didn’t speak a word of English. In 1997, my parents decided to go back home (to Egypt) forever. I attended Pre-K and Kindergarten in Egypt. 3 years later, they changed their minds and we traveled back to the States. At age 8 I was in 2nd grade. At 13, I transferred Junior High School from public to private school (which was probably the worst investment my parents did). At 18 I graduated High School; I wasn’t popular but I received a Gold Medal in Digital Media and Technology. For the popular kids though, poking fun at a short fat hijabi really tickled their fancy. I’m still insecure, #thanksguys. In 2012 I majored in Graphic Design at City Tech. 2 years later I became a Peer Mentor for Freshmen students and an Executive member of Sigma Alpha Pi, NSLS Honors Students Organization. In 2015 I was Senator of Technology and Design of Student Government Association and a Design Intern at Faculty Commons. A year after I was promoted to be Social Director. I will be graduating with my Bachelors this Spring, 2017. You see, I climbed this latter, never alone though. Never think that you can do everything on your own. Be kind to one another, because Kindness always wins. And if you’re different, that’s good, because it’s better to be different.”

Loubna Aly

Photo credits: @rasheediscool


Brooklyn City RailRoad

In the 1880’s a new roadway system was born for Brooklyn, it was called the Brooklyn City RailRoad (BCRR) and was the oldest and largest railway system of its time. The old headquarters resides on the corner of Furman Street and Old Fulton Street and is still a prominent building although the line’s discontinuance in 1930. Now, the tracks are still partially visible through the cobblestone streets; showing what was there prior to the rise of other means of mass transit. Although the trolleys stopped running, the history of the archaic system remains engrained into the current culture of transit. Just by looking at the rails you see something more than random exposed metal. You are greeted by New York City, they tell you a story in this greeting. “We are strong and resilient,” they elucidate. “Regardless of the harsh winter blizzards, the extreme heat waves of the summer, the constant trampling by FedEx trucks, or people jay-walking passed us, here we lay, as we always did, with pride and tenacity. Like a weed that can never be plucked or a bird that will never cease to grace us with its musical whistle, we stay here to watch as life moves on around us.”

On July 3, 1854 the first route began its loop, the Myrtle Avenue Line ran from the Myrtle Station to a stop adjacent to the Fulton Ferry. The system started as a modified railway for the time; in that particular time space it was called a horseway since the trolleys were horse-drawn. This horsecar trolley ran along the same line that is now the B54 MTA bus. By 1867 there were twelve different routes and approximately twenty-two million people used the transit system. According to a 2015 government data overview, about twenty-two million people use the MTA in just two business days as opposed to the 1867 review. As time progressed, the use of horsecars slowly declined and the rise of streetcars prevailed. By 1897 there were 27 railways that were stationed in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn.

Because of the proximity of the railways, the BCRR headquarters resided along Fulton Street (or as we know it, Old Fulton Street). The building was built in the early 1860’s and controlled/managed the railways. Offices filled the walls, behind the red brick exterior. The molded cast-iron was styled in a neo-classical style, vying to portray the nobility, control, and power that it held in the community. Somewhere along the years of the Depression the business lost its control, commercial use, and patrons and the BCRR eventually declined in popularity to the public.

In 1975 the BCRR was used as a factory until architect, David C. Morton II, took on the project to make the space residential. As of 2009 the building was named a New York Landmark and is currently still used as dwellings.

Some of the rails are still visible through the cobblestones and concrete. If you are interested in seeing it for yourself take a walk down to the corner of Furman Street and Old Fulton Street to see the headquarters, then walk to the corner of Main Street and Plymouth Place to see the old rails that sprout, bevel, and vine their way through the streets; just keep in mind that they are over 150 years old.

Humans Of City Tech

“The skills, gifts and potential of City Tech students is considerable. Finding, exploring and sharpening those abilities involves focused engagement and the active development of talent while in our First Year Program (FYP). I’m really fortunate to work with outstanding faculty, staff and students to help so many students.   I have a professional passion to help FYP students as they will become leaders in our community.  I’m also lucky to train and oversee so many amazing student peer mentors who assist in the growth and development of our programs that catapult careers and generate campus leaders.”

Ilia Silva

Union Square Park

When I was around the age of six, I picked out my very first favorite place in Manhattan. It was the first time that I can recall myself creating an instinctual memory of a place; that I knew how to get there from home and what it was called. It wasn’t so much of the architecture that made me like the space so greatly, it was this feeling of the surroundings; like everyone was important and we were all connected. Bias of race, gender, or culture played an inferior role in this particular environment; in fact, New Yorker’s differences were highly embraced and even emphasized. To my young mind the place was my own version of kid-heaven; pets, books, music, diverse cuisine, and other shops were all within walking distance from each other; it was fun, challenging, and I always went home with something new. Although I would loudly and quickly state that my architectural taste has gotten more refined from my childhood, somehow I always find myself in my old favorite spot, Union Square.

The origin of the name, “Union Square”, comes from the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811. Which was a very detailed plan of the roads, streets, and avenues of Manhattan that we still use today. The plan was completed with the help of John Randel, a surveyor, who joined the project in June of 1808 and worked on the development for the next thirteen years. Throughout the years of observation, the creators of this plan coined the name by explaining the intersection of Broadway and Fourth Avenue (previously known as Bloomingdale Road and Bowery Road) which creates an irregular square that no one wanted to build upon so it was decided to make the space a public park. The area was then utilized for social assemblies and trading. The space was formerly called “Potter’s Field” and was later changed to better fit the social aspect of the area; making a union between both roads and people.

The Union Square Park that we know of, officially opened on July 19, 1839; the roads paved, paths created for foot traffic, and the landscape planted to suit the people.

By the 1870’s the Ladies’ Mile shopping district began to form which was a term to describe the long strip of commerce, art, and theater that lined the streets from Union Square Park to Madison Square Park that is on 23rd street (which I mentioned in a past post for the Flatiron Building that resides juxtaposed the Park).

Throughout history Union Square became a meeting space for people to voice their opinion; whether it be in the form of a speech, protest, or gathering. This is the place that people met with each other to show support and respect. In 1861 about two hundred-fifty thousand people gathered on the Square to show their respect after the fall of Fort Sumter (notable Civil War sea fort); this would be the largest gathering of its time. This aesthetic didn’t depart from New York approach. After 9/11, New Yorkers gathered here in response to the crisis; it showed a large caliber of support and condolences; for some time, it was known as a grieving area.

As I walk through Union Square Park now, I still feel the same vibe that I fell in love with as a child. Music, dance, and other artistic performances taking place on the regular; almost as if something is always happening and if you don’t experience it, you are destined to feel an acute absence of what could have been seen, felt, and cherished.

Morphous by Lionel Smit. A South African sculptor who got his piece to be displayed in Union Square from June 13, 2016 to April 30, 2017.

This Sculpture was made with bronze like the Statue of Liberty.

The Dream House

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were looking for random places in New York City to explore. After some online research, I stumbled across a place called “The Dream House.” It was a little bit sketchy, there wasn’t a lot of information, and the concept was hard to understand, so of course we went. We were very surprised, weirded out, and kind of interested in what we found. The Dream House is an interactive art installation that takes place on the top floor of a small building in SoHo. The closer we got to finding this place, the sketchier it seemed, but it’s completely legitimate. It’s a public art installation that gets it’s funding from New Yorkers who visit to keep it alive. So it’s free (but be nice a tip a little if you end up going). To get to the point, it’s just a giant room that continuously plays a loud white noise. The windows are covered by color gels, and there a colored spotlights hung up on the ceiling, so the room is an intense pink/purple color. The experience was weirdly relaxing, all you do is sit, lie down, sleep, and/or meditate. There were a handful of people in this room all doing those things. Visitors aren’t really supposed to talk or take pictures, but I did both. Although, laughter isn’t really talking. My friend and I weren’t laughing in a mocking or disrespectful way, we were laughing because we really didn’t know what we got ourselves into. But the experience was really memorable, nonetheless, and that’s all that really matters to me. I actually wouldn’t mind again, it feels like a whole different dimension. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any pictures with my DSLR camera, so I snuck a few with my phone. These photos are completely unedited, but they stay true to how unique the experience was. Their website has some more information.

Humans of City Tech

“My name is Elsabeth maximin I am a freelance makeup artist located in Brooklyn, NY. This all started from when I was in middle school and someone put eyeliner on me and I came home and my sister started yelling “mommy Elsa has on makeup” I thought I was going to be in big trouble but when my mom saw me and didn’t care I don’t think she realized the storm that was coming. So I started to use money that she gave me for makeup and that was a big mistake because of my carribbean background my mom didn’t play that. The money she gave me was for food and food only she told me “nah bodda waste my hard earned money on crap” so this taught me how to get my own so I used the little bit of makeup and practiced and practiced being self taught from YouTube and really little of makeup it was hard but I pushed myself and learned because I was always a creative person taking visual arts and photography in hs wearing my creations on my face was one thing I would love to do. Eventually I got to a point where people started asking me to do theirs and my first client was one of my close friends but it was a start of something much bigger I did her makeup for her sweet 16 and it started clientele for me I posted the picture of her makeup I did and other people wanted me to do theirs also. Over time I got a lot better and was doing people’s makeup and got jobs to feed my makeup addiction. Now I have a full collection in my vanity at home. So I didn’t want to stop at just doing people makeup because I felt I was a little limited when clients come in very few give you creative control depending on the event they have they they have a certain look they want to go for and I have always had dreams of starting a YouTube channel being taught from those videos so after years of saying “im Gonna do this” I finally invested in it I said if I’m going to do this I’m going to put my best work out there because this is a representation of me and I bought all the equipment and started on filming my graduation makeup it was a look I named Egyptian but crease which now has over 1,000 views on YouTube starting my YouTube channel has given me massive amounts of confidence and pushed me as a creator looks that I have done for YouTube I would have never tried on a daily basis I have looks of turning myself into a crazy cute clown with ripped cheeks yet she looks so innocent, I turned my brother into scar from lion king, I also do wearable looks so anyone from beginner to makeup junkie can enjoy my channel and I’m so glad that I have because it’s the thing that makes me the happiest in this world without makeup without my YouTube channel putting my content out into the world for anyone to see and not being scared of what anyone thinks seeing me with no makeup at the beginning to full face at the end and feeling beautiful with it without that’s the confidence I got from doing this and I don’t know where I would be without that.”

Elsabeth Maximin

Photo by: @rasheed

Rockaway Beach

I’m not sure if the tradition of observing Easter Sunday which is followed by a trip to Coney Island is just a Brooklyn ritual but this custom goes far back into the years before my birth. Over the break, I listened to my Grandmother talk about the favored trip to Coney Island like it was so ordinary and usual; “It was normal,” she said “go to church, then go to Coney Island.” She recalled, in a retrospective tone. “Or at least that’s what I did with my kids.” she said reminiscing  about my Mom and Aunt. As a kid I loved the beach; it was always sunny and the water was always cool, but after a while the easy accessible, Coney Island Beach got to be too dangerous. It was consistently polluted with garbage and debris; the worst thing possible to ruin a day at the beach would be to see an empty bag of potato chips pass you by as you wade in the water. For a stint of my childhood that was what Coney Island Beach reduced itself to. Although the beach is a lot cleaner now, whenever my family and I want to go to the beach we jump on the A line and take a short trip to Rockaway Beach.

I have spent years feeling like a bad Brooklynite for being enticed by the peacefulness and cleanliness of the prestigious Queens beach. Of course I have and will always love the Coney Island area, but when you are looking for a little piece of suburban life in the midst of the hustle and bustle of urban New York City, Rockaway Beach is the place to be.

Just as the Canarsie Pier, in the 1600’s the Rockaways were ruled by a Native American tribe until the Dutch exiled them in order to take over the land. Rockaway translates to “sandy place” or “place of our people” in their language. Although different wealthy people tried to proclaim the land as their own and name it after themselves, the term Rockaway reluctantly stuck and is what we call the area today. In the late 1800’s tracks were laid down for a steam railroad and is still used today for the Long Island Rail Road and the A/S MTA lines. The Rockaway Park station opened on August 26, 1880; it closed in 1955 and reopened in 1956 as Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street.

As we all know, Hurricane Sandy stripped the publicly adored boardwalk which ultimately forced the concrete rebuild of the boardwalk. Although the new boardwalk is a masterpiece all in itself, no one can quite forget the feel of its wooden predecessor.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the Holidays or just basked in the pleasant warm weather. As the good weather trend continues, try out Rockaway Beach for a trip away from the hectic New York life or go to Coney Island for family fun; both are amazing and are the best places for unforgettable memories.

Join the conversation, What is your favorite beach in New York? What makes it your favorite?