New York City’s new math: 100 years, $4.5 billion, 3 subway stops.
New Year’s Day 2017 saw the ribbon cut on the first phase of the Second Avenue subway, the locally-mythic train touted to alleviate the overburdened east side subways since the late 1920s. A Great Depression, a world war and a City bankruptcy interfered with its execution. After nearly 10 years of actual construction and neighborhood misery, three airy, clean and art-filled stations opened for business. [Read more…] about Take a Train: The Q – NYC’s new subway extension is airy and full of art
The role that industry played and continues to play in molding American society was a hotly contested topic this political season. While talk mostly centered on workers and the economic forces that engulf them, little was mentioned about the actual factories where they work and how these structures shape our cities. The interconnection of factory buildings with urban landscapes and the position they hold in the lives of cities are topics that Nina Rappaport, an architectural historian, curator and educator tackles in her latest book, Vertical Urban Factory (2015, Actar Publishers, New York). In nearly 500 pages and 400 photographs and illustrations, she investigates the history of the factory building, manufacturing processes and the integration of industry within cities. [Read more…] about Vertical Urban Factory — A Review
The latest phase of the park on Governors Island opened to the public this July—20 years after planners voiced vague ideas for its development and 20 years before future visitors assumed the landscape had been there forever. [Read more…] about Day Tripping on Governors Island
The long-anticipated WTC Transportation Hub designed by Santiago Calatrava had a “soft” opening at the beginning of March. Shoe-horned next to the WTC Memorial, the Hub’s steel wingspan has loomed over the active construction site for years, promising big things to come. In fact, the opening was so low-keyed that the main entrance was still unfinished and signs showing how to enter were non-existent. The building itself is surrounded by cyclone fencing with no obvious way of getting inside. Ask a stranger how to enter, and the only response was “I don’t know, but I know it cost $4 billion!” [Read more…] about Quick peek at the Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub
The oldest river crossing in New York City is now the newest. The 1848 High Bridge that spans the Harlem River and links upper Manhattan to The Bronx has recently emerged from a multi-year, $61.8 million renovation. It re-opened to the public on June 9th. Whether the initial enthusiasm of using this restored public space can reenergize a neighborhood will take years to find out, however, for the moment this project is bringing tourists and residents to an area that was previously known only to locals and intrepid urban explorers. Will it spur new economic activity to an ungentrified area? Is that indeed what is wanted or needed? Questions to be answered later. [Read more…] about The High Line? No, The High Bridge!
One of my former bosses would gleefully proclaim that “life is change” as if that phrase answered all our issues. Although I thought it a bit flippant at the time, I’ve come to realize that it embodies more truth than we wished to acknowledge. Nowhere is this axiom more accurate than the waterfronts of New York City, where change continues to engender theoretical confusion and unusual alliances. [Read more…] about West Side Story
Everyone loves parks. The dirty little secret is that no one loves them more than real estate developers. As a way to get someone else to invest capital to create development opportunities, parks, once assumed to be drains on city coffers, are now seen as a way to jump start property values and create chic new neighborhoods. [Read more…] about The New Eldorado?
The month of June saw the opening of a major exhibition on the works of Le Corbusier at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the signing of a contract for a $2.2 million apartment in Lincoln Towers, about 20 blocks north of the museum. What, you may ask, do these events have to do with each other? [Read more…] about Towers in the Park—Unsafe at Any Income?
Sometimes overnight sensations take a long time. As with chanteuses, so it is with city neighborhoods. Belleville, Paris, is the perfect example. Located in the 20th arrondissement, Belleville was once a sleepy working-class backwater dotted with Chinese, North African and Jewish enclaves. Artists have been gradually moving into the cheap housing and former factories on its steep-sloped streets that provide extraordinary Parisian panoramas. Sharing the fate of other artist frontiers, this neighborhood has now been “discovered” and integrated into mainstream Paris. [Read more…] about The Portes Ouvertes of Belleville