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Thread: Cooper Square - Astor Place reconstruction

  1. #16
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Artist Fears Astor Place Redesign Will Destroy Mosaics

    The city has not committed to preserving the public artwork of Jim "Mosaic Man" Power in Astor Place.

    By Patrick Hedlund







    slide show

    EAST VILLAGE A longtime neighborhood street artist who has covered dozens of light poles in colorful mosaics is worried some of his highly visible work will be wiped away under a city plan to redesign Astor Place.

    For a quarter of a century, Jim "Mosaic Man" Power has decorated everything from neighborhood lampposts and street planters to bus benches and building entryways with his signature tile-encrusted mosaics.

    His work featured recently on the cover of a Time Out New York issue about the East Village stands out prominently in the neighborhood and has earned Power international recognition for his medium.

    But Power's guerilla approach to the craft he does the work without funding or permission from the city has left his designs vulnerable to change over the years.
    Now, about half a dozen of his mosaic-covered light poles and planters in Astor Place may be threatened by a large-scale redesign plan for the area that seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly experience by closing streets and creating more public space.

    "No politician ever gave a s**t about that island except for me," said Power, 63, of the current Astor Place plaza, which is bisected by East 8th Street. "That's my land."

    The artist, who's struggled with chronic homelessness over years as his health deteriorated, says he created the city's first 9/11 memorial in the form of tiled planter he set atop an unsightly pothole in Astor Place.

    Other planters and light poles in the area also bear Power's mark, including tributes to local landmarks like now-closed music venue CBGB and Billy's Antiques and Props, as well as the NYPD and FDNY.

    "This isn't just a thing on a light pole," he said, pointing to a picture of President Obama he found online, showing the commander-in-chief next to one of Power's lampposts in Astor Place on a trip to New York.

    "I'm at a big turning point here," he added, "and I do feel like I'm fighting a losing battle."

    A spokesman for the Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over light poles and other street furniture, said the agency was aware of Power's mosaics in Astor Place and that the works would be taken into consideration. He also noted that the project was not scheduled to begin until next year.

    However, the city has not publicly committed to preserving the works renderings of the redesign do not pay specific attention to the items in question and Power fears that they will eventually be removed to accommodate the project.

    "I have to go to the trouble of proving how important my work is?" he said, noting that he decided to forgo a more lucrative life in commercial art to do his craft for free on the streets. "How can you squander 27 years of work?"

    The Astor Place pieces are part of Power's larger "Mosaic Trail" running through the East Village, that feature dozens of tile-encrusted works mentioned in guidebooks and in numerous news articles about the artist and his designs.

    That recognition, coupled with the neighborhood's reputation for championing the arts, should give Power all he needed to combat affronts to his work, he said.

    "This is not New York City. This is the East Village," he said. "Opinion is run from here not City Hall. We think differently here, we are differently here."

    Power had planned to bring four new decorated planters to Astor Place sometime in the future, but has decided to speed the installation up due to the planned redesign.

    "I'll build them while everyone's away for the weekend. I'm claiming that land back," he said, adding that he would unveil the new planters "as soon as the whether breaks."

    "I'm not an anarchist," Power added, "but I'm going to teach people a lesson on this one."

    http://www.dnainfo.com/20110222/lowe...#ixzz1Em3vDlOm

  2. #17
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    Cooper Square Food Vendors Rejected by Community Board

    Board 3's parks committee voted to resist efforts by the city to court a food vendor to the redesigned park space.

    By Patrick Hedlund









    The local community board worries that any food vendors in Cooper Square Park would turn the to-be-redesigned open space into an overcrowded nightlife hub.

    Community Board 3's parks committee voted on a resolution Thursday against any efforts by the city to install a food vendor inside the park, the triangular space where Third and Fourth avenues converge.

    The entire area, including Astor Place just to the north, will undergo a massive redesign expected to begin next year that will increase the amount of pedestrian space, including an enlargement of Peter Cooper Park with wider sidewalks, additional public seating and plantings.

    Susan Stetzer, CB 3's district manager, said she wanted the board to take preemptive action after hearing rumblings from the city about possibly attracting vendors to the park.

    "There would be consequences," she said, noting that the board has opposed food vendors in the past because they present competition to neighborhood small businesses.

    The board previously expressed concerns over how the park's redesign which includes widened sidewalks and added seating open to the public at all hours could encourage rowdy or drunken behavior by bar-goers in the area.

    "I have visions of Astor Place turning into the Meat Market," said committee member Carolyn Ratcliffe. "We want more public space, but we don't want the area turning into a zoo."

    The park also has a rodent problem that would be exacerbated by any food concessions in the area, the committee added.

    Stetzer noted that the Cooper Union, with its new academic building located directly across the street from the park, could be the one to respond to any future request for proposals to help offset maintenance costs for helping manage the park.

    However, an official from the college said it's too early to say whether the school would consider that option.

    With still more than a year remaining until renovations begin, Stetzer said the board taking a stand early "will influence [the city] greatly."

    "We have an absolute right to say we don't want concessions," she said.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/20110311/lowe...#ixzz1GM1eItex

  3. #18
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    The can say they don't want food there. But will those who issue licenses listen or care?

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  5. #20
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Eating opportunities can enliven the space (like HERE, where otherwise there'd be little but walking going on). Just so long as we don't get big food trucks parked all around the perimeter. Doesn't seem that's a possibility here because the traffic lane that is closest to Cooper Square Park (coming down Third Avenue and circling back up Fourth) is a bus lane, with a layover strip along the curb next to the Cooper Union building (and also along Fourth north of Astor); those layover slots are slated to remain as part of the renovation plan.

    The famous and welcome Mud Truck, that's had a home for years - on and off - next to the Astor Place subway kiosk entry opposite the Alamo cube might not have room to continue after this plan is done (and definitely will be out of there during construction).

    The short de-mapped stretch of East 7th that runs between the CU building and CS park would be a logical spot for food of all sorts.

    A shot of Cooper Square park and Cooper Union, circa 1888:


  6. #21

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    Probably not.

    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    ^ Should they?

  7. #22

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    Watching traffic lights being installed at 6th and Bowery this morning makes me think that something is definitely moving forward...although it could be that the new Pre-School going into the storefront space of the new Cooper Union Building.
    It would be great if the Parks Department and the DOT would take a look at their designs and try to include a small dog run!!

  8. #23

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    A dog run would be nice!!!

  9. #24
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Seems way too late to add a dog run here. Design discussions have been on-going for 4+ years and I don't recall that a dog run was ever discussed. If that's what locals want here or nearby then the dog owners in the area need to organize and do some politicking.

  10. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by MidtownGuy View Post
    Having a shaded trail-like walkway to signify the old Native American trail that used to be there will bring more awareness of the place's history than the current asphalt street does, so the gripes of the GVSHP are silly in my opinion.
    I agree. Not to mention, these wangs should have chained themselves to 35 Cooper Sq. to prevent its demolition. They're a bit late to the party. Scholngs!

  11. #26

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    How great the city will look when all the newly planted trees mature. Hopefully the next mayor continues the greening.

  12. #27

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    Slow and steady wins the day.

  13. #28
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Awesomeness.


    Chronicling Astor Place's Evolution in 25 Historic Photos

    by Jessica Dailey


    Cooper Square, late 1800s. Photo via NYPL


    Cooper Square at the junction of Third and Fourth Avenues and the Bowery, 1905. Service of the Third Avenue El line,
    at left, was phased out in Manhattan in the 1950s. Photo via NYPL


    From a photo series of Broadway by Arthur Hosking. This photo, taken on May 27, 1920, show the west side of
    Broadway, looking north from 4th Street. Photo via MCNY




    From a photo series of Broadway by Arthur Hosking. This photo, taken on May 27, 1920, show the west side of
    Broadway, looking north from 4th Street. Photo via MCNY




    Colonnade Row in 1895, photo via MCNY. These nine Greek revival townhouses were constructed in the 1830s, and they
    were home to many important people, including President John Tyler, John Jacob Astor III, and Washington Irving.

    more pics

    Astor Place is arguably one of the most architecturally intriguing sections of the city. Morphosis's geometric, shiny metallic building sits next to the Cooper Union's classic brownstone home. Gwathmey Siegel's wavy, blue-glass tower is just up Lafayette Street from the landmarked Colonnade Row. The hulking and much-hated 51 Astor Place is rising over Tony Rosenthal's Cube sculpture. If Astor Place seems like it's always in flux, that's because it always has been. Here now, we have 25 historic photos showing the constant evolution of this little urban corner.

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2012/1...ric_photos.php

  14. #29

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    Lafayette and Broadway need these streetscape improvements. They have beautiful buildings and simply need more pedestrian spaces, flowers, and trees.

  15. #30
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Can't really plant trees along Broadway. Very shallow vault space, with subway lines directly below. You'd have to put trees in big planters, which would take up sidewalk space. Sidewalks below 23rd Street on Broadway are less than 20' wide and with the current crowds, especially south of Eighth Street, that space is needed. And any thought that curbside parking along Broadway, needed for commercial delivery, will be removed to extend pedestrian space is pretty much a dream.

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