Shake Shack in Brooklyn, New York, adds public art installation to their menu

shake shack new york opens public art installationA public art installation has been added to the space that will soon house a Shake Shack in the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, New York. Earlier this year, Shake Shack reps heard about the Before I Die installation in New Orleans, Louisiana, and decided that they wanted to do the same thing as it seemed true to the Shake Shack spirit.

The installation is comprised of a giant chalkboard where people can write down things that they wish to accomplish before they die. According to Amanda Kludt of the New York Eater, some of the current postings include “Make Mariela proud of me”, “Change the world”, “Inspire like Steve Jobs did”, and “Hug you heart to heart”.

While the installation has been successful so far in creating a dialogue with their new community, the idea is purely for the Brooklyn location and will not be brought to other Shake Shacks.

Six ways to enjoy Madison Square Park

Manhattan has a lot of great parks – but a handful tends to hog all the attention. Central Park is what it is; there’s just now way to compare it to anything else. Bryant Park has live performances and exhibitions (not to mention a starring role in Fashion Week) and is only a block from Times Square. And, there are others that would come to mind before you work your way down the list to one of my favorite open spaces in the city: Madison Square Park.

Don’t be misled – this park is nowhere near the “garden” of the same name. It sits between East 23d Street and East 26th Street and between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, in a small pocket of New York that most visitors tend to skip. So, catch the R or W train to the East 23d Street stop, and get ready to enjoy Madison Square Park in six different ways.

1. Take care of two buildings at once
The uniquely shaped Flatiron Building is right across the intersection from the southwest corner of the park, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway meet. What you may not realize, though, is that the northwest corner of the park (East 26th Street and Fifth Avenue) provides a great view of the Empire State Building. Crowds tend to form, for some reason, during morning rush hour (which sucks for the locals). Also, avoid lunch hour and evenings, as people who work nearby will get in the way of your shot.

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2. Watch some television – live
It’s not unusual to find camera crews in and around Madison Square Park. Plenty of shows shot in New York use the space. So, while you wander through, you may be lucky enough to bump into one of your faves.

3. Go to the bathroom
If you aren’t fortunate enough to spot a celeb, drink some water. This will have the predictable effect and send you to one of only a handful of self-cleaning public toilets in the New York City. It’s on the southeast corner of Madison Square Park, and a quarter buys you 15 minutes. That should be plenty of time to take interior photos of the device that guest-starred on CSI:NY.

4. Enjoy some art
There’s always a public art display of some kind in Madison Square Park. Right now, it’s Markers, an installation by Mel Kendrick, a Boston-born artist who’s now a resident of New York. This project consists of five pieces reflect the “rippling surfaces contain the fossil memory of the actions taken over time.” Like almost all the public art in Madison Square Park, Kendrick’s installation is definitely worth a look.

5. Grab a bite
Sure, it’s tempting to head over to the storied Shake Shack in the southeast corner of Madison Square Park (near the toilet/TV star/murderer). But, if you’re looking for a substantial, enjoyable sit-down meal, go up to Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse, a few blocks north on East 28th Street and Fifth Avenue. Definitely make the ribeye your meal (it was amazing), but you’d be nuts not to start with the seafood platter. Take your time, and rest your feet for a bit, especially if you’ve been wandering around the city all day. The staff is attentive and accommodating, and they will not rush you. This is a great alternative to the long waits and hope-you-can-pull-it-off reservation situations at the steakhouses in mid-town. And, the dark-wooded interior drives home the insider feel that makes any steak dinner in Manhattan complete.

6. Grab a cigar (for those inclined)
For many, the only way to finish a hefty steak dinner is with a cigar. Go local with a stick from Martinez Cigars, a few blocks away on West 29th Street and Seventh Ave. Grab a maduro, and go back to the park (while you can still smoke there). If nobody’s around, chill for a bit on the new pedestrian area just west of Madison Square Park.

Undiscovered New York: Going underground

Welcome back to Undiscovered New York. If New York was a human body, with Times Square as the heart and Central Park as its lungs, the city’s subway system would certainly be its veins and arteries – unnoticed yet vitally important.

No public transportation system could possibly encompass as many hyperboles. The smelliest. The slowest. The dirtiest. The most confusing. The hottest in the summer and coldest in the winter. The most entertaining characters and crafty schemers. The greatest human spectacle in the entire world. The most beloved.

To experience the New York City subway is literally to experience New York itself. It is at once a microcosm of the city’s dense, layered history and wildly diverse cultures, full of interesting stories, entertaining and annoying performers and people-watching at its finest. Since it first opened in 1904, the subway system has expanded to include over 460 stations, carry around 5 million riders per weekday and become the only metro system to run 24 hours a day 365 days per year.

But aside from being wildly confusing for first time visitors (express lines and construction anyone?), the New York City subway is more than simply a way to get from Point A to Point B. It’s an unsung tourist attraction in its own right. Among the hundreds of stations are world-class works of art, amazing hidden stations and a fascinating history that dates back over a hundred years. Want to learn more? Click below as Undiscovered New York digs into the secrets of the New York City subway system…
Underground Art

New York is one of the world’s great cities for art, with institutions like the MoMA, Guggenheim and The Met. But did you know some of New York’s best artwork is underground? New York’s MTA “Arts for Transit” program is dedicated to beautifying the city’s many subterranean spaces, adding bright tile mosaics and wild installations straight out of your imagination. Make sure to check out a couple of our favorites:

  • 81st Street Museum of Natural History – a favorite of both locals and tourists alike, the 81st Street Stop on the B and C trains features amazing artwork suited to the collections at the American Museum of Natural History directly above. You’ll find the stations walls covered with life-size dinosaur bones, coral reefs and unique wildlife.
  • Atlantic/Pacific stop, Brooklyn – in February 2009, New York’s MoMA launched a new project in this Brooklyn hub, installing around 50 reproductions of masterpieces from the museum’s collection including works by Picasso, Warhol and van Gogh. A great way to absorb some culture while you wait!
  • Houston Street Stop, Manhattan – though not necessarily the most famous, the 1 train stop for Manhattan’s Houston street certainly boasts one of the more interesting themes. The station is decorated with a surreal tableau of “subway under water” mosaics, including an octopus and some turtles that have taken over the station.

Underground Secrets
With a system of underground lines that stretches back more than a century, the New York City subway holds its fair share of secrets, myths and hidden history. Brooklyn is a particularly rich area for New York subway lore, including a hidden underground tunnel that runs along the Borough’s Atlantic Avenue. The man who rediscovered the hidden space, Bob Diamond, now leads regular tours sponsored by the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association. Sign up to get a unique look at some of the city’s fascinating history.

One of the most interesting aspects of the subway is that many stations are abandoned. Just below New York City Hall is the beautifully preserved City Hall station, a beautiful remnant last open to the public in 1945. The New York Transit Museum offers occasional tours – check the website and you may get lucky.

Anyone looking to get a further taste of the New York subway system’s rich history should stop by the New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn, which in addition to many exhibits on the evolution of the city’s mass transit system includes vintage subway and elevated train cars.

San Jose to Spend $1.1 Million on Mural at Airport

The San Jose city council recently approved an art project with an $1.1 million dollar price tag. A huge mural will be installed at Mineta San Jose International Airport on the side of a newly constructed parking garage. Impressive? It will be San Jose’s largest piece of public art (62 feet high, 76,000 square feet). The mural is inspired by a high resolution photograph of different hands making different gestures. (No, I assume the gesture you are thinking of right now is not a part of the picture. But I can’t say for certain).

San Jose is not a new city, but its growth over the past couple of decades has been explosive. While it might be a nice place to live, many visitors find it sterile and lacking in atmosphere. This is especially the case if you compare it to nearby San Francisco. Perhaps a mural, even a million dollar one, is a good idea. At the very least, you’ll be able to chuckle as you try to find double meanings for those hand gestures.

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Labor Day themed sculptures: Hammering Man in Seattle and beyond

Outside the Seattle Museum of Art is a kinetic sculpture called Hammering Man. The man who lifts and lowers his hammer four times per minute is one of several Hammering Man sculptures by artist Jonathan Borofsky.

Through his Hammering Man statues, Borofsky’s aim is to pay tribute to the workers of the world, as well as, indicate that the world is linked together through our labors. The sculptures hammer away at the same time.

Borofsky’s sculptures, in a way, are an artist’s version of what Matt Harding demonstrates with his dancing. The same dance, but the location changes. (Read Jerry’s Talking Travel interview with Matt here.)

The Seattle version is the second largest of Borofsky’s Hammering Man creations. The largest is in Frankfurt, Germany. You can also see outside sculpture versions in Dallas, Texas; Seoul, Korea; and Basel, Switzerland. Other versions are in wood and are located at various museums.

Last summer, when we went to Seattle on the way to Montana, we passed this sculpture on a Seattle Duck’s tour of the city. At the time, I didn’t know that the piece was part of a larger concept and could not view the whole sculpture from where I was sitting. In order to see it, we drove back to the museum.

As Borofsky says about this particular work, “At its heart, society reveres the workers. The Hammering Man is the worker in all of us.”

The statue, and the others like it, seems fitting for a Labor Day shout out.