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Thread: Utopia in Queens

  1. #16

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    You’ll likely still find workers in the apartment buildings:





    Like Forest Hills, an eclectic mix of styles: Art Nouveau, Arts-and-Crafts, folk-tinged Medievalism:



    How the paradigm looked --way back before the 20th Century ladled on the Art Nouveau, the Arts-and-Crafts and the rural folksiness:


    Freiburg, Germany, from SSC.


    Freiburg.


    Wekerle.

    Wekerle Estate is connected to the center city by rail transit. Most of Budapest is a whole lot more urban, however:



    Though it also has a subway, you could think of it as the streetcar capital of the world:





    Streetcars penetrate even the suburban wilds:


    Street lights uncannily resemble New York’s.


    * * *

  2. #17

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    Towers with an obvious shared heritage:


    Wekerle.


    Forest Hills.


    Freiburg


    Wekerle.


    Wekerle.
    (Most above photos of this neighborhood by Aniko Kern.)



    Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes
    There beneath the blue suburban skies
    I sit, and meanwhile back.

    Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes
    There beneath the blue suburban skies
    Penny Lane…

    …a global idea
    (but perhaps insufficiently applied).


    Why are Forest Hills and Wekerle Estate not the current models for Transit-Oriented Development?




    In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
    Of every head he's had the pleasure to have known.
    And all the people that come and go
    Stop and say hello.

    On the corner is a banker with a motorcar,
    The little children laugh at him behind his back.
    And the banker never wears a mack
    In the pouring rain, very strange.

    Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
    There beneath the blue suburban skies
    I sit, and mean while back

    In penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
    And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen.
    He likes to keep his fire engine clean,
    It's a clean machine.

    Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
    Full of fish and finger pies
    In summer, meanwhile back

    Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
    The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
    And tho' she feels as if she's in a play
    She is anyway.

    In Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer,
    We see the banker sitting waiting for a trend.
    And then the fireman rushes in
    From the pouring rain, very strange.

    Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
    There beneath the blue suburban skies
    I sit, and mean while back.
    Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
    There beneath the blue suburban skies,
    Penny Lane.

  3. #18
    The Dude Abides
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    Splendid tour, ablarc (as usual). Thanks!

  4. #19

  5. #20

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    Thanks, fellas. Pianoman, I never before knew you to be at a loss for words,

  6. #21
    The Dude Abides
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    Well, now that you mention it...

    I had been meaning to ask you about what could explain the shift in American planning practices from the more flexible European model, which held sway early in the 20th century, to the more rigid, formulaic model that started to take hold in the 1920s. I think I'm quite well-informed about just how strongly the European models (especially the decentralized German zoning acts and the English Town Planning Act of 1909) influenced planners like Olmsted, George Ford, Nelson Lewis, and others who participated in the drafting of our first municipal zoning regulations. So, when you write:

    As is too often the case, the earliest examples were also the best. The suburb never got any better, but it sure got plenty worse; truth is, Forest Hills’ biggest legacy was the American automobile suburb. Though Forest Hills was conceived for the car-less proletariat, and though it’s head-and-shoulders better than today’s suburbia, it’s not hard to see that codification of some of its elements could lead to the formulaic junk that stifles American life today and threatens global ruin.

    As it developed over the succeeding decades, Forest Hills itself lost its breathtaking creative inspiration, as the small-minded took over and reduced it to the familiar nostrums now enshrined in zoning –quaint in the belief that inspired planning could be numerically codified.
    ...how could we make sense of this shift? I can't accept the loss of creativity and flexibility was simply the result of planning by the government versus planning by private developers and consultants. Doubtless many who had been working in the private realm were hired for their expertise to assist governments in this new arena of lawmaking. So was it simply the vastness of the task at hand? Was it that more technocrats (lawyers, engineers, and the like) were now involved, and overpowering the input of the others? Or was it something not entirely as predictable - something like the birth of the car or the rise of Modernism? And how much was the zoning law of New York to blame for all this?

    I realize these are loaded questions, and I may have started biting off more than I can chew. But it's something I'd like to learn more about, and from as many different perspectives as possible. I've already gotten some from historians and political/legal scientists, but not yet one from an architect.

  7. #22

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    There's not much theorizing to do. The masses in 1950 did not want to live in a place that looked like something out of Hansel and Gretal. Not when you're being promised flying cars.

    -----

    At the Mall in 1959. This is what we wanted. Nothing needs to be changed here.... except of couse instead of an Edsel you might have an Oldsmobile...er uh...Plymouth....I mean a Toyota:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Fabrizio; June 4th, 2007 at 10:02 AM.

  8. #23

    Thumbs up Exquisitie Photo Essay!

    Each time I think that you have reached your peak in photo essay presentation, you present a new one that eclipses all...

    I'm around there often, and you captured something so special that even the French don't have a word for it.

    Face it, you are a romantic!

  9. #24
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Cool

    One of the best awesome essay photo tours I have ever seen! Certainly a wonderful place in Queens. Thanks for all the information and the photos!

  10. #25
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    Fantastic. I've walked through Forest Hills Gardens many times, but I learned a tremendous amount from your insightful eye for detail. Thank you.

  11. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    ...how could we make sense of this shift? I can't accept the loss of creativity and flexibility was simply the result of planning by the government versus planning by private developers and consultants.
    Well, developers then as now preferred freedom to regulation. You won’t find them volunteering to be handcuffed. Nor architects.

    Doubtless many who had been working in the private realm were hired for their expertise to assist governments in this new arena of lawmaking.
    Phony experts. You can be an expert in what is, and you can codify it by reducing it to numbers; but who can be an expert in what might be?

    So was it simply the vastness of the task at hand?
    You can make a labor of Hercules of anything, or you can make small work of it.

    Was it that more technocrats (lawyers, engineers, and the like) were now involved, and overpowering the input of the others?
    Planners. They’re the culprits. They’re planners because they’re not designers. They can’t actually design something, so they tell those who can how to do it --and for ever more. And the clueless politicians rubber-stamp their nostrums. The result is called zoning, and it grows more Byzantine as it becomes more Baroque.

    Ask Norman Foster what he thinks of zoning.

  12. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    There's not much theorizing to do. The masses in 1950 did not want to live in a place that looked like something out of Hansel and Gretal. Not when you're being promised flying cars.

    At the Mall in 1959. This is what we wanted. Nothing needs to be changed here.... except of course instead of an Edsel you might have an Oldsmobile...er uh...Plymouth....I mean a Toyota:
    Can you spot the beginnings of retro in that Edsel?

    Oh, that's right ... it failed.

  13. #28
    The Dude Abides
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    Well, developers then as now preferred freedom to regulation. You won’t find them volunteering to be handcuffed. Nor architects.
    True. I've read a bit about how complex and vast certain private developments were around 1905-1915, especially when tied in to trolley extensions. Developers would literally create entire neighborhoods - places that, ironically, motivated future planners to replicate by law in the interest of spreading utopian living conditions.

    Phony experts. You can be an expert in what is, and you can codify it by reducing it to numbers; but who can be an expert in what might be?
    But what other way is there for government to implement it? I guess it's a rhetorical question...

    You can make a labor of Hercules of anything, or you can make small work of it.
    The Zoning Survey of New York took months to complete, hundreds of pages of data, many people practically volunteering their time away for a noble cause. They interviewed hundreds of experts to prove that New Yorkers were suffering neurological disorders from all the congestion and tall buildings. Engineers established precise formulas for how tall and wide a building must be, in relation to its street's width, so that a healthy amount of sunlight would reach the sidewalk. And the lawyers...there was legal precedent to surmount!

    Planners. They’re the culprits. They’re planners because they’re not designers. They can’t actually design something, so they tell those who can how to do it --and for ever more. And the clueless politicians rubber-stamp their nostrums. The result is called zoning, and it grows more Byzantine as it becomes more Baroque.
    Thing is, "planner" is such an ambiguous historical term. From what I've read, there truly were "planners" - in the closest sense of the original meaning - who sought to nurture the type of garden communities they were seeing in Europe and, occasionally, in the US. Their main goal was aesthetics, design by Beaux-Arts, landscape architecture by Olmsted et al., a venerable Utopia indeed.

    I think I know the answer to the puzzle: it was the lawyers who subverted their goals. Ironically, in trying to solve the problem of zoning's (il)legality, they required that these laws be ever more codified, clarified, and - always, always - relating back to a vision for the entire city. No piecemeal planning here.

    Ask Norman Foster what he thinks of zoning.
    Don't have that luxury, but I think he would have echoed your words. Thanks, ablarc, for your valuable insight.

  14. #29

    Talking Ablarc, when I first saw your topic name...

    ... I thought it was going to be a photo essay on Queens' Utopia Parkway:


    (The black line I drew is Utopia Parkway.)

  15. #30

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    ^ Utopia is wherever the world is perfect.

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