The name Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) is legendary in urban planning and in the last year of her life, Jacobs had a prescient warning about the future of our waterfront in Brooklyn. Her 2005 letter about plans to develop the local waterfront is so timely that it seems like it could have been written today.Jacobs was a revolutionary urbanist and activist whose groundbreaking writings championed a community-based approach to urban development and renewal. Although She had no formal training as a planner, her seminal 1961 work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” is considered something of a bible amongst urbanists. In the book, Jacobs proposed novel ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail, that were groundbreaking then, but today seem obvious to generations of architects, urban planners, politicians and activists. Once a year in May, her contributions to cities are recalled on Jane’s Day when people around the world organize walks in cities.
In 2005, shortly before her own death, the legendary urbanist weighed in on the renewal of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront in a letter addressed to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She advocated for the adoption of a community-sponsored development plan that was ultimately not adopted. In her letter, she warned that developers outside the community would take advantage of the rezoning of the East River waterfront to serve their own interests by building high rises and by gentrifying the area so that working class people would be pushed out. Jacobs’ letter contrasted the local community’s plan for the area versus the developer-friendly rezoning that ultimately was adopted. 13 years later her warnings have proven valid. It is amazing how timely Jacobs’ letter still feels today. Continue reading →
Beginning at around 9:00 p.m last, night neon blue bursts of light turned the New York City skyline into a pre-apocalyptic backdrop while sending ripples of speculation and awe throughout the city. Con Ed initially said a transformer explosion at the Con Ed power plant in Astoria, Queens (known as the Astoria Generating Station) was the source of the flickering lights in the night’s sky and fortunately, no fatalities resulted.
ADVISORY: The lights you have seen throughout the city appear to have been from a transformer explosion at a Con Ed facility in Queens. The fire is under control, will update as more info becomes available. Follow @fdny, @NYPD114pct and @conedison. pic.twitter.com/fdzQKs1wVV
I love this time of year when Fall starts trickling in and warm sunny days are tempered with a little bit of crisp in the air. So last week, when Mother Earth granted us a couple of these perfect days, I decided to work outside and stepped into Transmitter Park, where I was met by a gargantuan illustration of a girl donning traditional Polish socks, in peaceful repose, holding daisies that have lost a few petals that are blowing away. The image though large, blends in unassumingly with the quiet midday scene of the park and is reminiscent of an idyllic innocent childhood. At times like this, it’s hard to remember that just a few years ago, this part of Greenpoint was slammed by Hurricane Sandy and we have been experiencing some erratic behavior with the weather since.
You don’t need to study scientific evidence to know that climate change is real. However subtle or extreme it is in the way it manifests itself in our daily lives, its presence is often like an elephant in the room and we carry on with the same habits even after being shaken up by a natural disaster. I wonder if Transmitter Park will recede with rising sea levels and the days of dipping out of the office to soak in the sun and enjoy the cityscape are numbered. I think about unusually warm winter days and how it felt unsettling. Appreciation of the moment’s beauty sinks in and I gain a renewed sense of urgency that something needs to be done. Continue reading →
It wouldn’t be a summer weekend without a whole boatload o’ stuff to do, now would it? Here are some music events to check out, plus we catch up with the latest songs, videos, and offerings from local artists. Continue reading →