Saturday, November 5

The Power Broker- Chapter 29

photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority

photo courtesy of the New York Public Library Picture Collection

photo courtesy of the New York Public Library Picture Collection

photo courtesy of the New York Parks Department

photo courtesy of the New York Public Library Picture Collection

photo courtesy of the New York Parks Department

photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Wednesday, November 2

notes on 'urbanized'

amanda burden--nyc city planning

mumbai--one toilet for 600 people

santiago, chile--half a house for $10,000--bathtub vs. water heater

ellen dunham-jones--georgia tech--suburbia and sprawl, how to retrofit

baron haussman and the remaking of paris--the boulevards

noah chasin--bard college--city beautiful, garden city

brasilia--oscar neimeyer--23 churches and i'm an atheist--defends rational layout

bogota--the mayor and his subway like bus system, bike lanes, democratic planning--who is this guy? can we get him to run this city?

copenhagen--homo sapiens on the veldt, 100 meters square as our natural periphery and thus natural size of our public spaces

nyc--james corner and the high line--zoning mentioned here but what about finances?

moses v. jacobs--burden very critical of the former

phoenix and the defense of suburbia--let's be honest, i like my 3/4 of an acre and my pool

detroit--one third its former population, community gardens, hamlets springing up within the depopulated city--self-organized urbanization

beijing and the cctv building--rem koolhaas--what is he saying, exactly?

brighton england--energy use street graphics

rio--the center of operations, a screen bigger than nasa, that's what i like--security in the favelas--lighting and open spaces

new orleans and the ninth ward--it's like a california beach town, great houses but where's the plan--that movie star, what's his name?

candy chang--artist of the vacant storefront and the construction wall--'i wish this was…."--can also see her work on fulton street in brooklyn

stuttgart 21--ripping up the downtown to get the city on the high-speed paris-kiev train line--the permits were legally obtained, but in the meantime the citizenry changed its mind

closing shot--the good ol' g train at fifth and ninth--but it doesn't stop

Creating Co-operative Housing On the Lower East Side

In 1938 Robert Moses was assigned by La Guardia to a committee that would advise him on slum clearance and housing. By 1942 he was named to the City Planning Commission and played a major role in passing the Redevelopment Companies Law (a sate act that made it easier for the city to condemn land and sell it to private investors); by 1946 Moses was named City Construction Coordinator and by 1948 he became chairman of the Committee on Slum clearance, with all these positions under his belt Moses dominated housing policy and discourse until the 1960s

Under Title I of the National Housing Act in 1949  Robert Moses led the committee on slum clearing and in partnership between 1949 and 1960 Moses developed seventeen Tiltle  I projects. On the Lower East side of Manhattan Moses became involved with Abraham E. Kazan and together they produced a number of urban renewal projects that  creating mixed income and public housing. 

The Hillman Houses were Kazan's first project of cooperative housing , their planning was initially rejected by Moses  who who in meeting with Kazan recommended the plan be scaled back to four blocks and clear 65 tenements. Construction was completed in 1950 and in its three twelve- story structures provides 807 units of housing. The structure still stand today on Grand Street Between Kazan Plaza on Lewis Street on the LES.

Abraham E. Kazan, founder of the United Housing Foundation nicknamed "father of the U.S. Cooperative Housing"
Photo Credit: Cooperative Village

The Slum Clearance Plan for East River Housing  known in the planning stage at Corlears Hook was the first project in NYC to receive funds form the Title I  National Housing Act.
Photo Credit: Cooperative Village

Deconstruction around Grand Street to make way for East River Housing site
Photo Credit: Cooperative Village
According to the Cooperative Village "Thirteen acres of slums, south of Lewis Street to the FDR Drive and fanning out from the Williamsburg Bridge to Cherry Street were cleared to make way for the East River Housing site."
1950 Plan of Action for the East River Housing Project; Final effort to clear slums and remaining tenements from Corlears points (roughly known today as the intersection of Cherry and Jackson street along East River Drive).
Photo Credit: Cooperative Village

A view of East River Housing today as it still stands as a part of the Cooperative Village 
Looking at the East River from the walk way the hugs FDR drive

A sign for the public housing situated amongst the Cooperative Village housing.
Today the part of the Lower East Side that situates along the edge of the East River is a mix of public housing and private housing. A vast area of super-blocks with thousands of units provide housing for a population of mixed incomes and races. Those who held on to the housing Moses and Kazan built had an ownership option and were also given the option to sell at market price (a great deal more than what it was worth in 1956 at its completion).

Sara Delano Roosevelt Park

The Sara Delano Roosevelt Park (previously regarded as the Chrystie-Forsyth Park), is a park in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The park is named after Sara Roosevelt, the mother of the 44th United States president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

In 1934, the construction of the park was the largest park project on the Lower East Side. At 7.85 acres, the park stretches from north and south between East Houston and Canal Streets, east and west between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets, but is interrupted at Delancey (pictured above) and Grand Streets.

Although the purpose of creating the park was to widen Chrystie and Forsyth Streets and building low-cost housing, it was later set aside for "playgrounds and resting places for mothers and children." As a result, there are three areas throughout the park exclusively for playgrounds.

Many playing surfaces are offered including 6 basketball courts and 3 soccer fields made available for youth and adult intramural soccer leagues throughout the year.

Parts of four streets are also interrupted including Hester, Rivington, Stanton and Broom Streets where public bathrooms are located.

During weekday afternoons and weekends, the park is packed with Lower East Side residents, mainly made up of Asian, Hispanic, and African Americans.

Many recent additions include the Wah-Bei Bird Garden, the Golden Age Center for senior citizens (pictured above), and a vendors market.

Stuyvesant Town - Peter Cooper Village

Covering 80 acres along the east side of Manhattan, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village stretches from 1st Avenue and 14th Street over to Avenue C and up to 23rd St and the FDR. It houses over 25,000 people in over 11,000 apartments.

Construction spanned from year 1942 to 1947, with the complex opening its doors in 1947.

The first few years following its initial opening, the complex had strict rules preventing racial and ethnic diversity amongst its tenants.

Much of the 80 acres comprising Stuyvesant Town - Peter Cooper Village is devoted to green space and parks with playgrounds and basketball courts. Additionally among all of the walkways connecting the buildings are small grass-covered areas.

The complex has for its center a large lawn surrounding a notable fountain.

Stuyvesant Town - Peter Cooper Village contains an enormous amount of real-estate along East Manhattan.

Robert Moses's Triborough Bridge

Construction began on this bridge in 1929, however, when the Triborough project’s outlook began to look bleak, Robert Moses resurrected the project and the bridge was opened to traffic on July 11, 1936. 
 (Photo By Library of Congress)
Although the original play was to have a two-deck roadway, the bridge’s engineer, Othmar Ammann, made the bridge into one, requiring lighter towers, and lighter piers.  These cost-saving revisions saved $10 million alone leaving the total cost of the bridge at over $60 million.  Considered one of the largest public works of the Great Depression, Robert Moses’s Triborough Bridge cost more than the Hoover Dam.
Connecting Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, the bridge’s mere size and proportions are enough to rave about.  Robert Caro, Robert Moses’s biographer wrote about the bridges immense size in his biography The Power Brokers.
“Here was a project to kindle the imagination.  In size, its proportions were heroic… Its approaches, the masses of concrete in which its cables would be embedded would be as big as any pyramid built by an Egyptian Pharaoh, its roadways wider than the widest roadways build by the Caesars of Rome.”
Caro also notes the amount of factories that benefitted from such a large project.  He writes about how constructing the anchorages and paving those roadways “would require enough concrete to pave a four-lane highway from New York to Philadelphia, enough to reopen Depression-shuttered cement factories from Maine to Mississippi.” To make the girders in which the concrete would lay on, “an entire forest would have to crash on the Pacific Coast on the opposite side of the American continent.”  Caro adds, “The Triborough was not really a bridge at all, but four bridges which, together with 13,500 feet of broad viaducts, would link together three boroughs and two islands.”
Photo of bicyclist pushing his bike across the R.F.K. Bridge.
 (Photo courtesy of the NY Times)
Yielding large sidewalks, all three legs of the bridge have paths designated for bicyclists.  Even with these sidewalks however, bikers are supposed to walk their bikes across the bridge, due to the low railings that block off the edge of the bridge.  Although there are signs stating this requirement, they are usually ignored by bicyclists.
            In November of 2008, after 72 years, Robert Moses’s Triborough Bridge – connecting Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx – was officially renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.
            At a large ceremony in Astoria, Governor David Paterson, former President Bill Clinton, Mayor Bloomberg, and other city officials and members of the Kennedy family paid tribute to Kennedy on November, 19, 2008 – the day the bridge was officially renamed.
            New York Times quoted Mr., Paterson, the official who signed the bill renaming the bridge, calling it “a fitting tribute to the man and his legacy.”  He then added, “Robert F. Kennedy was a champion of social justice and human rights and his spirit is kept alive by his family’s continued commitment to those causes.”
            The move to rename the bridge had the support of the whole Kennedy Family and Mr. Paterson signed the bill that summer.  There were doubts, however about how many drivers will actually use the new name.  Some questions the use of $4 million in state funds just to create new signs for the bridge.

Jonesin' For the Beach

image from

Jones Beach, while terribly inconvenient to visit by public transportation (a quick google maps search told me that I would have to take a train and two buses to get there from my Bushwick apartment) is one of the more popular New York Beaches. Since it’s conception in 1929 the beach has had an estimated 500 million visitors.
Today the beach lacks the grandeur of Robert Moses’ original vision of the 6.5 mile strip of Long Island beach, when it opened employees wore sailor suits and even the trash cans matched a nautical theme. Now the beach is known for summer concerts at the Jones Beach theaters and rumors of Fire Island-like debauchery in the sometimes nudist friendly field 6.
In 2005 Jones Beach was given protected historical status, providing much needed funds for refurbishment and eliminating a scandal-inducing “Friendly’s” sign near the West Bathhouse. In an un-Moses-like turn, some developments have been abandoned due to cost restraints however. Mahogany railings for the boardwalk and safety hazard reflection pools can no longer be found at the park, but a historic interest in Art-Deco style has led to the repair of mosaics and clocks on the bathhouses. The director of Long Island state parks, John Norbeck, told The New York Times in 2005, "We have tried to save as much as we could, but Moses had an unlimited budget and everything was hand-made and custom-designed."
Most reviews of the park are filled with complaints of over crowding, long lines, not enough shade, and run-down concession stands, “Where's the fun in long lines to the paid parking lot and dirty beach bathrooms?” Eva Z complained.
Jones may not have the mass appeal of Coney Island or the vodka soaked sights of Brighton Beach, and Robert Moses might weep at the sight of it now (if only for his apparent dislike of the public) but it is filled with zealous fans of public beaches and art deco architecture. 

The Central Park Zoo: Then & Now

Central Park Zoo in the 1930's 
Though the Central Park Zoo has been around since the 1860's, it was Robert Moses who truly took it from a small menagerie to a large public attraction, comparable to that of the Bronx Zoo. In 1934, Moses was a city planning tycoon and transformed the zoo located right off of 5th avenue. Before he took over, the zoo primarily only had had two species, polar bears and sea lions, but Moses brought a slew of new species including lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my! Moses enlisted the help of architect Aymar Embury II, who also designed the Triborough bridge. Rich in neo-Georgian brick and limestone, Embury's most acclaimed work was the quadrangle round sea lion pool, which featured advanced architecture for the time.
Top:Sea Lion Park in 1934
Bottom: Sea Lion Park today

Since Moses' massive expansion, the Central Park Zoo there was some major work done throughout the 80's when the New York Zoological Society assumed management. After major demolition and reconstruction, the zoo featured more natural exhibits verses the former vintage menagerie cages. While some of the original buildings were reused, most spaces were enlarged in hopes of being truer to their natural habitat. However, the Central Park Zoo insists "Visitors can see vestiges of the old Zoo preserved in the new."

Perhaps, the most major change since the The Central Park Zoo's modernization, is that the zoo is no longer a free public attraction. While back in Moses' day it was available to parkgoers free of charge, the zoo now charges admission. The park currently charges adults $12.00 and Children (Ages 3-12) $7.00.

Modern Day Central Park

A Walk in Riverside Park

The Evolution of The Prospect Park Zoo

The Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn's only zoo, began as a small menagerie in the late 1800's.  It officially became a zoo in 1935 under the direction of Robert Moses, and the design of Aymar Embury II.  At it's very center was this statue of a lioness and her cub. Despite the many drastic changes to the Prospect Park Zoo, this statue has remained to this day, a remnant of past, present, and future. The statue has moved only slightly, shifting position due to Robert Moses' concern that children would use the statue as a slide.

The Center of Prospect Park Zoo

The Zoo in its original 1935 design.
The zoo today.
Stairs have been added on both sides of the preserved center walkway. A restroom is on the left, a refreshment center to the right.

Seals, and Security
The original zoo design consisted of elevated cement platforms and large, intimidating fences to protect visitors. Here, visitors interact with a polar bear. In 1987, an 11 year old boy, Juan Perez,  would sneak into the zoo at night, scale the fence to the Polar Bear pit, and be mauled to death( furthering sentiment that the facilities were weakened and larger animals would have to be moved from the zoo).

The current seal display offers an intricate, wide bar separating seal and visitor. Seals are known to come to the very edge  to greet visitors.
The original seal pool, offering elevated platforms, and closer visitor/seal interaction.

A seal rising up to greet a visitor.

Bricks, (Jungle) Books, and Conservation

The zoo was once home to many large animals, including Asiatic bears and lions.  These large animals were transferred to other zoos when the park closed in 1988. The renovated park re-opened in 1993, housing much smaller animals but still retaining trademark qualities, like the brick and Jungle Book inspired drawings.

One of three buildings today surrounding the main area: 'Animal Lifestyles'(formerly the Elephant House), Animals in our Lives(formerly the Lion House), and the World of Animals building. For each building, the red brick with limestone trim and a scene from The Jungle Book remain.

Writer Erik-Sanberg Diment once deemed the Prospect Park Zoo the 'rattiest in New York---in a literal sense of the word'. Large animals like elephants and bears often had little to live with, and had major issues with public interaction and sanitation. In 1980, a fifty year agreement was reached with the Wildlife Conservation Society to revitalize the Prospect Park Zoo, and transform it into the zoo for smaller, unaggressive species.

Tribute is still paid to the former residents of the Prospect Park Zoo. Above the restrooms and the refreshment centers  hang multiple Elephant head statues. The lioness and elephants of old remain a vital spirit of the current Prospect Park Zoo.