They thought that they’d found the perfect New York apartment. They weren’t alone.
Shamir is 15, bored and broke and balancing right on the edge.
A profile of DJ Larry Levan, whose sets at New York’s Paradise Garage in the 80s had an almost religious appeal.
On the life and death of Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic boy who disappeared in October after walking out of his New York City school.
Previously: Robert Kolker on the Longform Podcast.
Memories of the old neighborhood, before everything changed.
A profile of former club kid Michael Alig, who is approaching release after serving 17 years in jail for murder.
The riotous private sector life of former New York senator, Al D’Amato.
Notes from a Black Panther fundraiser on Park Avenue.
Exploring the vast underground world of New York City with three of the people who know it best.
The homeless population of New York City is higher than it’s been in decades. Nobody seems to notice.
“They cruise the city in chauffeured cars, blasting rap, selling pot to classmates. How some of New York’s richest kids joined forces with some of its poorest.”
A terminally ill young woman arrives in New York to spend her last months.
"Outside, the spring wind rippled the silk across Sabrina’s skin and as she tilted her face up, the sun drew freckles across her nose and cheeks. She felt lighter than she had in weeks. It had been a strange irony that even as she was losing weight, she’d felt leaden; it was the loss of energy, of course, but it was more than that, too. It was as if the knowledge inside her was quantifiable, which meant it was diminishable, too. She hadn’t wanted to hand pieces of her diagnosis to those she knew, those she loved—but what a relief to give a sliver of it away."
The benefits of getting sick in New York.
“Morning and night the hordes of clerks and stenographers and business men who fill the offices of down-town New York have poured across Newspaper Row and City Hall Park with scarcely a glance at the labor progressing underfoot that is going to bring them so many minutes nearer their work in the morning, and at night so many minutes nearer their play.”
In 1802, horse rustler George Washington Loomis rode into Oneida County and built a mansion adjacent to an impenetrable swamp perfect for storing thieved goods. It was the beginning of the saga of the largest organized crime family in 19th century America.
Aaron Greene and Morgan Gliedman were young and in love and pregnant and partial to heroin and living in a Village apartment with a lot of heavy weaponry lying about. Then they were arrested, and their stories started to change.
A profile of Frank Lucas, whose life was the basis for the film American Gangster, decades after his days as a kingpin.
On Queens’ stubbornly unchanging Roosevelt Avenue, where immigrants pay $2 a song to grind against hired dancers and shuttered houses of prostitution have given way to rolling brothel-vans.
A mystery writer moves into an apartment where a grisly crime was committed.
How the museum-quality 55,000 film collection that an East Village video store gave away ended up in a small, possibly mob-run village in Sicily.
A profile of Salvatore Strazzullo, who represents celebrities, whether major or minor, who get themselves in trouble in Manhattan after dark.
The director on Obama, the state of black cinema, the Knicks, the Nets, the tragedy of public education in America, gentrified New York and why he lives on the Upper East Side.
Visiting his daughter in San Francisco, the author longs for food delivery in Manhattan.
A profile of Hector Xavier Monsegur, aka Sabu, a hacker star of Anonymous and resident of a New York City housing project.
The author reflects on his mayoral run with Norman Mailer against John Lindsay.
At the bar one night a couple of weeks after the primary, I looked up from a drink and saw my face and Norman's face floating across the screen on the NBC First Tuesday show. It is a network thing, and they did a 20-minute look at our campaign. The show reinforced my opinion that Norman and I had some of the most terrific lows in the history of anything that ever took place in this city. And, perhaps, a couple of highs that could be recognized as time passes a bit. Like maybe colleges for years will be using the things Norman Mailer was saying out in the streets.
On the trade school’s business model and its founder, a former movie producer named Jerry Sherlock.
The toll of being a cop on the most successful force in the country.
A profile of 25-year-old Lena Dunham, showrunner and star of HBO’s Girls.
"Opium does not deprive you of your senses. It does not make a madman of you. But drink does. See? Who ever heard of a man committing murder when full of hop. Get him full of whiskey and he might kill his father."
A journey into New York’s turn-of-the-century opium dens to find out who gets hooked and why.
A profile of the artist.
"Unfortunately, death is a fact of life. I don't think it's happened to me any more unfairly than to anyone else. It could always be worse. I've lost a lot of people, but I haven't lost everybody. I didn't lose my parents or my family. But it's been an incredible education, facing death, facing it the way that I've had to face it at this early age."
Afternoons with Altman and Allen.
For a year or two during the mid-1970s, living in New York, I was a moviegoer. I was in my early 20s then, working off and on, driving a cab, setting up the stage at rock shows, writing occasional pieces for The Village Voice. But there were also long empty spells. I tried to write some fiction and couldn’t, tried to read and could—but only for so long. I ended up going to the movies.
An investigation into the events surrounding Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s May 2011 arrest for sexual assault.
Rule #5: “Be unflappable.”
In that first New York City apartment, not once but twice, cops came to bust brothels operating on our floor. When they attempted to batter down our door instead of our neighbors', we opened up, pointed them in the right direction, and explained cheerily, "Oh, we're not hookers!" To our great satisfaction, the mystery of why that man was always washing sheets in the shared laundry room had finally been solved.
On the death of a high school basketball star in New York City.
Life, and debt, in New York.
I've historically been pretty good at getting by on what I have, especially if you apply the increasingly common definition of "getting by," which has more to do with keeping up appearances than keeping things under control. Like a social smoker whose supposedly endearing desire to emulate Marlene Dietrich has landed her in a cancer ward, I have recently woken up to the frightening fallout of my own romantic notions of life in the big city: I am completely over my head in debt. I have not made a life for myself in New York City. I have purchased a life for myself.
In 1972, James Wolcott arrived in New York armed with a letter of recommendation from Norman Mailer. He hoped to land a job at The Village Voice. Excerpted from his memoir, Lucking Out.
How lucky I was, arriving in New York just as everything was about to go to hell. I had no idea how fortunate I was at the time, eaten up as I was by my own present-tense concerns and taking for granted the lively decay, the intense dissonance, that seemed like normality.
Love advice from a beloved aunt.
I try to call my Great Aunt Doris every day. She's ninety-years old and lives alone. I love her desperately and as she gets older, especially of late as she becomes more feeble, my love seems to be picking up velocity, overwhelming me almost, tinged as it is with panic -- I'm so afraid of losing her.
Recently discharged, an undocumented immigrant discusses his treatment.
In a city with a large immigrant population, it is not rare for hospitals to have one or more patients who, for reasons unrelated to their medical condition, do not seem to leave. At Downtown, where a bed costs the hospital more than $2,000 a day, there are currently three long-term patients who no longer need acute care but cannot be discharged because they have nowhere to go. The hospital pays nearly all costs for these patients’ treatment. One man left recently after a stay of more than five years.
When a writer’s daily routine gets out of control.
One morning, as I gobbled my doughnut and slurped my coffee, thinking to myself, "What a fantastic doughnut, what an amazing coffee," I realised that I had not just thought this but was actually saying aloud, "What a fantastic doughnut! What a totally fantastic experience!", and that this was attracting the attention of the other customers, one of whom turned to me and said, "You like the doughnuts, huh?"
How a town of 29,000 on the Hudson River came to be “one of the most dangerous four-mile stretches in the northeastern United States.”
Portrait of a Chinese-American family living in New York.
A look at the artists and writers who drive for a New York cab company. The story that inspired Taxi.
An abridged history of violence in "America's first suburb."
Note: Elon Green is a contributing editor to Longform.
Dreaming of the perfect apartment.
Should anyone ever choose to remake and bastardize Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I propose an opening sequence re-imagined to reflect more contemporary preoccupations. The revised opening scene should be filmed against the backdrop of an early evening in Brooklyn. The throngs of suits coming home from their nine to five grinds in Manhattan would be emerging from the subway stairwells like ants from an anthill, rushing off down various streets towards their various homes and families and dinners. All except for the would-be protagonist who, as the crowd rushes past her, makes her way to the closed-for-the-night real-estate storefront opposite the subway station. Somewhere, “Moon River” might still be playing, as if it had never stopped. Disheveled, lugging her purse and gym bag, she pauses for a number of minutes to read listings she has already read, and which she committed to memory weeks ago: a studio on Pineapple Street; a loft on Gold Street; a townhouse on Argyle Street; a two-bedroom coop on First Place; a one-bedroom condo on Carlton Avenue; a brownstone on Henry Street. It’s fall and the leaves blow in eddies on the sidewalk. She gets cold and turns away from the window to walk off down the street just as dusk begins to arrive in earnest. The occasional “For Sale” sign swings on its hinges, and the story of the day ends only to begin again in the morning.
It smells of truck exhaust and fish guts. Of glistening skipjacks and smoldering cigarettes; fluke, salmon and Joe Tuna's cigar. Of Canada, Florida, and the squid-ink East River. Of funny fish-talk riffs that end with profanities spat onto the mucky pavement, there to mix with coffee spills, beer blessings, and the flowing melt of sea-scented ice. This fragrance of fish and man pinpoints one place in the New York vastness: a small stretch of South Street where peddlers have sung the song of the catch since at least 1831, while all around them, change. They were hawking fish here when an ale house called McSorley's opened up; when a presidential aspirant named Lincoln spoke at Cooper Union; when the building of a bridge to Brooklyn ruined their upriver view.
If the memory of the Twin Towers now belongs to the world, the story of how they have been replaced is entirely of New York: a tale of power, capital, shifting allegiances, and hallowed ground.
On the world’s longest foot race, which takes place entirely within Queens, N.Y.:
Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.
Over the last several weeks, dozens of lawmakers, strategists and advocates described the closed-door meetings and tactical decisions that led to approval of same-sex marriage in New York, about two years after it was rejected by the Legislature. This account is based on those interviews, most of which were granted on the condition of anonymity to describe conversations that were intended to be confidential.
A brutal story from the Times’ cub Metro reporter:
''We're dying,'' he said. ''Why is this happening? Is it because we loved each other too much or not enough?"
On the soul of the commuter:
A commute is a distillation of a life’s main ingredients, a product of fundamental values and choices. And time is the vital currency: how much of it you spend—and how you spend it—reveals a great deal about how much you think it is worth.
TM The only other time I saw you was in Bleecker Bob’s in the ‘70s. You walked in eating pizza and wearing aviator glasses and Bleecker Bob showed you an Ian Dury picture sleeve and you said, “I don’t listen to music by people I don’t wanna fuck.” PS (laughter) Yeah, that was me.
Louis C.K. has a deal unlike anyone else’s on TV: his network, FX, has no approval rights and offers no notes. He is also the show’s lone writer, editor, director, and star. A profile.
On recommitting to the Knicks after “a decade of dysfunction and delusion.”
The author came late to basketball. A profile of his favorite player:
He creates a sense of danger in the arena and yet has enough wit in his style to bring off funny ideas when he wants to.
How Craigslist dealers do business in New York City.
Ramón González’s middle school is a model for how an empowered principal can transform a troubled school. But can he maintain that momentum when the forces of reform are now working against him?
What a century and a half of piled-up housing reveals about New Yorkers.
A New Yorker finds an unlikely house guest on Craigslist.
A conversation on the Times Square of the ’50s and ’60s.
On the mysterious relationship between a major New York State power broker and a Brooklyn family. “The Turanos are variously described by friends, neighbors and colleagues as the senator’s social acquaintances, lovers or surrogate relatives.”
On the dilemmas facing a (very famous) working mother in New York City. “It is less dangerous to draw a cartoon of Allah French-kissing Uncle Sam—which, let me make it very clear, I have not done—than it is to speak honestly about this topic.”
The father: an Oscar-winning songwriter. The son, a college dropout and partier around downtown New York. Their alleged crimes; serial casting-couch rape (the senior) and a drowning murder in a Soho House bathtub (the junior).
A look at the legislative lobbying efforts of Michael Bloomberg’s $7 billion-per-year company. While the mayor has no specific day-to-day role at Bloomberg LP, he maintains “the type of involvement that he believes is consistent with his being the majority shareholder.”
Cathie Black, former magazine executive, currently Bloomberg’s hand-picked Chancellor of New York City schools
A history of entrepreneurship in New York City, starting with shipping magnate Jeremiah Thompson’s big gamble in the 1820s: scheduled departures.
Yes, 311 helped solve the mysterious case of the maple syrup smell. But with the data from more than 100 million calls, it’s primed to explain far more.
A rare co-mingling between Hasidic Jews and their Crown Heights neighbors within Brooklyn’s ‘Basil Pizza & Wine Bar.’
In 1906, Enrico Caruso was arrested for molesting a young woman inside the Monkey House of Central Park Zoo, paving the way for the first celebrity trial of the 20th century.
A mid-boom critique of New York City’s high-priced, mostly glass condo buildings.
The rise and fall of the Seven-Seven - stationed in the war zone of 1980’s Crown Heights, Brooklyn - and how an idealistic young recruit became part of cash-snatching, drug-reselling, renegade clique of cops
If you walk into New York’s best restaurants without a reservation, what does it take to get a table?
Alex Haley interviews the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s number two - Malcolm X - in a Harlem restaurant.
In the early 1960s, Middle Eastern guys in Brooklyn introduced America to Arabic rock-and-roll.
Jacob Riis, writing in 1899, on how a childhood spent in New York City’s tenements led a 15-year-old boy to be convicted of murder.
Vignettes of the residents of South Elliot Place.
War stories from the world of Manhattan real estate, written during an era when everybody knew the Internet would completely change the business and nobody quite knew how.
April Savino, a teenage homeless runaway, lived in Grand Central Terminal from 1984 until 1987 when she committed suicide on the steps of a nearby church.
The lonesome death of Arnold Rothstein, notorious gambler, inspiration for a the character Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby, alleged fixer of the 1916 World Series, opiate importation pioneer, mobster and Jew.
In a windowless room just outside of New York City, overworked air traffic controllers manage the world’s most-trafficked piece of sky—until all those blips on the screen become too much.
The author wanted to give up her day job but keep her lifestyle. So she turned to Seeking Arrangement, a site that pairs rich, older men interested in “companionship” with 20-somethings interested in “gifts.”
Lenny makes $5,000 a week selling coke. It was easy to get into the business after finishing prep school. Getting out and going legit after his final score is proving much more difficult.
Lance Stephenson, the latest in a long line of Coney Island basketball prodigies, carries a burden none of his predecessors did: restoring New York City’s reputation as the hoops capital of the world.
In the days after 9/11, a photo of an unknown man falling from the South Tower appeared in publications across the globe. This is the story of that photograph, and of the search to find the man pictured in it.
Over a scotch a few months after his underdog Jets won Super Bowl III, a 26-year-old Joe Namath told Jimmy Breslin what he’d done the night before the game: “I went out and got a bottle and grabbed this girl.”
How do you handle an infestation when you live on the Upper East Side and bedbugs could hurt the value of your apartment? With discretion.
In 2008, a Brooklyn cop grew gravely concerned about how the public was being served. So he began carrying a digital sound recorder, secretly recording his colleagues and superiors.
Working from a tiny shop in Chinatown, Sister Ping helped thousands of Chinese immigrate illegally by boat. By the time one of her ships ran aground, the F.B.I estimated her total profits at $40 million.
Hipsters vs. Hasids in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A skirmish over a bike lane becomes a battle for a neighborhood.