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Thread: Jane Jacobs dies

  1. #16
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    I lived on the next block to the north on my first visit to NYC in 1971. If memory serves me well Hudson St. was a two-way street back then (but I could be I'm wrong on that).

    About 10 (?) years ago they reconfigured the intersection of Hudson / Bleecker / Bethune -- adding the small island there -- and did some other work (rebuilding the sidewalks, etc) along that stretch.

    And of course the old taxi garage across the street is now long gone.

    MAP

  2. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    I lived on the next block to the north on my first visit to NYC in 1971. If memory serves me well Hudson St. was a two-way street back then (but I could be I'm wrong on that).
    MAP
    I've lived 1 block west of Hudson since '78 and don't remember that it was ever two-way (but I could also be wrong on that). Back in 1961, of course, the neighborhood still had something of a working waterfront and the longshoremen who spilled out of it, as well as trains running on the High Line and traffic on the elevated West Side Highway. I first visited the neighborhood about 1970, and there was definitely a rough edge to it. The wave of residential conversions of many of the area's warehouse and industrial buildings that so altered it didn't begin until the mid'70s.
    Last edited by ManhattanKnight; April 27th, 2006 at 11:17 PM.

  3. #18

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    The only Manhattan north-south street that I remember as two-way is 5th Ave. It was the last street converted to one-way, in 1966.

    All Manhattan streets were originally two-way. During the early 20th century, te cross streets were gradually converted. The north-south streets were converted from 1951 to 1966.

  4. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp
    The only Manhattan north-south street that I remember as two-way is 5th Ave. It was the last street converted to one-way, in 1966.

    All Manhattan streets were originally two-way. During the early 20th century, te cross streets were gradually converted. The north-south streets were converted from 1951 to 1966.
    So, my dim memory of riding the bus UP Fifth Avenue on my first visit to the Met ca. 1964 isn't hallucinatory after all . . .
    Last edited by ManhattanKnight; April 27th, 2006 at 10:50 PM.

  5. #20

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    I received this email earlier today:

    Dear Friend,

    We here at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation have been truly touched by the tremendous outpouring in response to the news of Jane Jacobs’ death earlier this week. It’s hard to live in the Village, in New York, or in any vital, dynamic urban environment and not feel that your daily life was affected by this incredible visionary. Jane, who served on the GVSHP Board of Advisors for many years, was an inspiration to us, and will continue to be.

    A memorial service in New York City for Jane Jacobs is currently being planned for June; when we know exactly when and where, we will be sure to let you know.

    In the meantime, GVSHP has been looking at possible ways to permanently honor and memorialize Jane Jacobs in Greenwich Village. We have reached out to Council Speaker Quinn, the Parks Department, and the Community Board to suggest the possibility of an honorary renaming of the stretch of Hudson Street near where she lived and wrote for Jane, as well as to rename the nearby park containing Bleecker Playground and the adjacent seating area in her honor.

    There will be a very preliminary discussion of the possibility of renaming the park in Jane’s honor at the Community Board #2 Parks Committee meeting this Monday night, at 7:30 pm, at Housing Works, 320 West 13th Street. The public is welcome to attend and to provide input about this or any other idea for honoring Jane Jacobs through our local parks. If you cannot make this meeting, don’t worry – no decisions will be made at this meeting, and the discussion will continue at future meetings before any decisions can be made.

    Our proposal for an honorary renaming of Hudson Street for Jane Jacobs will also be discussed in the June meeting of the Traffic and Transportation Committee of Community Board #2; date, time, and location TBD (we will let you know).

    Arguably the most important way we can honor Jane Jacobs is to continue to work towards the diverse, vital, humane and livable communities she wrote and spoke about. Thanks in large part to her, we have just such places right here which we can continue to fight to preserve.

    Andrew Berman, Executive Director
    Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
    212/475-9585 x38
    232 East 11th Street
    New York, NY 10003

  6. #21
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    Critic's Notebook
    Outgrowing Jane Jacobs and Her New York





    By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF
    Published: April 30, 2006


    Audio Slide Show: It Takes a Village

    TIME passes. Jane Jacobs, the great lover of cities who stared down Robert Moses' bulldozers and saved many of New York's most precious neighborhoods, died last week at 89. It is a loss for those who value urban life. But her death may also give us permission to move on, to let go of the obsessive belief that Ms. Jacobs held the answer to every evil that faces the contemporary city.

    For New Yorkers, Ms. Jacobs's life remains suspended between two seismic events: The publication, in 1961, of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" and her showdown in the late 60's with Mr. Moses over a proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway that would have reduced much of SoHo's handsome cast-iron district to rubble. The expressway was killed by Mayor John V. Lindsay in 1969.

    By then, Ms. Jacobs had fled for Toronto, and Mr. Moses, who died in 1981, had lost much of his power and prestige. But in the popular imagination, the two are forever at odds: the imperious city planning czar versus the tireless public advocate. Today, the pendulum of opinion has swung so far in favor of Ms. Jacobs that it has distorted the public's understanding of urban planning. As we mourn her death, we may want to mourn a bit for Mr. Moses as well.

    Her argument was simple enough, radically so. Horrified at the tabula rasa urban renewal strategies of the 1950's, she argued for a return to the small-scale city she found in Greenwich Village and the North End of Boston — the lively street life of front stoops, corner shops and casual personal interaction.

    Mr. Moses, tellingly, once dismissed her and her ilk as "nobody but a bunch of mothers." He was partly right. By standing up for the intricate, individual relationships that define the inner life of cities, she allowed a generation to challenge the authority of patronizing — and uniformly male — city planners in gray suits.

    An urban flâneur of the first order, she reminded us that cities could only be fully understood with our eyes, feet and ears — not from the distant abstraction of architectural drawings.

    But the problems of the 20th-century city were vast and complicated. Ms. Jacobs had few answers for suburban sprawl or the nation's dependence on cars, which remains critical to the development of American cities. She could not see that the same freeway that isolated her beloved, working-class North End from downtown Boston also protected it from gentrification. And she never understood cities like Los Angeles, whose beauty stems from the heroic scale of its freeways and its strange interweaving of man-made and natural environments.

    The threats facing the contemporary city are not what they were when she first formed her ideas, now nearly 50 years ago. The activists of Ms. Jacobs's generation may have saved SoHo from Mr. Moses' bulldozers, but they could not stop it from becoming an open-air mall.

    The old buildings are still there, the streets are once again paved in cobblestone, but the rich mix of manufacturers, artists and gallery owners has been replaced by homogenous crowds of lemming-like shoppers. Nothing is produced there any more. It is a corner of the city that is nearly as soulless, in its way, as the superblocks that Ms. Jacobs so reviled.

    Nor did Ms. Jacobs really offer an adequate long-term solution for the boom in urban population, which cannot be solved simply through incremental growth in existing neighborhoods.

    Just as cities change, so do our perceptions of them. Architects now in their mid-40's — Ms. Jacobs's age when she published "Death and Life" — do not share their parents' unqualified hatred of Modernist developments.

    They understand that an endless grid of brick towers and barren plazas is dehumanizing. But on an urban island packed with visual noise, the plaza at Lincoln Center — or even at the old World Trade Center — can be a welcome contrast in scale, a moment of haunting silence amid the chaos. Similarly, the shimmering glass towers that frame lower Park Avenue are awe-inspiring precisely because they offer a sharp contrast to the quiet tree-lined streets of the Upper East Side.



    BIG BUT NOT BAD The plaza at Lincoln Center, silence amid chaos.


    Perhaps her legacy has been most damaged by those who continue to treat "Death and Life" as sacred text rather than as what it was: a heroic cri de coeur. Of those, the New Urbanists are the most guilty; in many cases, they reduced her vision of corner shops and busy streets to a superficial town formula that creates the illusion of urban diversity, but masks a stifling uniformity at its core.

    This is true in large-scale projects as diverse as Battery Park City or Celebration, Fla., where narrow streets and parks were supposed to create an immediate sense of community. As it turns out, what the New Urbanists could not reproduce was the most critical aspect of Ms. Jacobs's vision, the intimate neighborhood that is built — brick by brick, family by family — over a century.

    For those who could not see it, the hollowness of this urban planning strategy was finally exposed in New Orleans, where planners were tarting up historic districts for tourists, even as deeper social problems were being ignored and its infrastructure was crumbling.

    The answer to such superficiality is not to resurrect the spirit of Robert Moses. But in retrospect his vision, however flawed, represented an America that still believed a healthy government would provide the infrastructure — roads, parks, bridges — that binds us into a nation. Ms. Jacobs, at her best, was fighting to preserve the more delicate bonds that tie us to a community. A city, to survive and flourish, needs both perspectives.

    The lesson we should take from Ms. Jacobs was her ability to look at the city with her eyes wide open, without rigid prejudices. Maybe we should see where that lesson leads next.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/30/we.../30jacobs.html
    Last edited by Kris; April 30th, 2006 at 05:04 AM. Reason: Slide show added

  7. #22

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    Hudson Street Ballet


    Cervin Robinson

    Jane Jacobs, center, at the White Horse Tavern, a mainstay of her block, in 1961, shortly after the publication of her epochal book.



    By STEVEN KURUTZ
    Published: April 30, 2006

    FEW people are as deeply associated with a single patch of real estate as Jane Jacobs was with the block of Hudson Street between Perry and West 11th Streets. Ms. Jacobs, who died Tuesday, and who lived for many years at 555 Hudson Street, was celebrated as the author of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," arguably the most influential book on city planning ever written. And, in her estimation, her block in the West Village contained all the necessary virtues.
    It was short (encouraging foot traffic) and crowded (spurring a busy street life) and made up of three- and-four-story buildings of varying ages and conditions, with apartments above and shops on the ground floor: a grocer, a barber, a hardware store.
    In one of the best-known passages of "Death and Life," Ms. Jacobs writes of the intricate and vibrant daily rituals of the block, what she called a "sidewalk ballet."
    "I make my own first entrance into it a little after 8 when I put out the garbage can," she wrote. Soon after, "well-dressed and even elegant men and women with briefcases emerge from doorways and side streets," and "simultaneously, numbers of women in housedresses have emerged and as they crisscross with one another they pause for quick conversations that sound with either laughter or joint indignation, never, it seems, anything in between."
    The block was peopled by longshoremen and children walking to Public School 41, by the delicatessen owner, Joe Cornacchia, and Mr. Lofaro, "the short, thick-bodied, white-aproned fruit man who stands outside his doorway a little up the street, his arms folded, his feet planted, looking solid as earth itself."
    Since Ms. Jacobs left New York in 1968 and moved with her family to Toronto, the demographics of her old block have changed considerably. The longshoremen and working poor are gone, replaced by professionals armed with BlackBerrys. Suffice it to say the block is in no danger of being categorized as a "slum," as it was in 1961, the year "Death and Life" was published, and the year the city proposed demolishing parts of the area to build a housing development. But now, as then, the sidewalk ballet is performed daily, albeit with notable differences.
    The street wakes a little later these days, sometime around 9, when Mr. Dorjee, a broad-faced Tibetan, opens his souvenir store. He sits out front, on an upturned bucket, and prunes flowers that he sells in a sidewalk display. If it's hot and the flowers could wilt, he waits until evening to do the pruning.
    Panino Giusto, a sandwich shop, becomes crowded with office workers, who fortify themselves with coffee before heading to Midtown or Wall Street. The red benches at the White Horse Tavern, where Ms. Jacobs posed for a photo in 1961, right after her book was published, are empty at this hour. But by lunchtime they fill with graduate students from nearby New York University and would-be writers. Around 3, the two Italian chefs at Da Andrea set up their tables in preparation for the evening crowd.
    Ms. Jacobs wrote in "Death and Life" that sidewalk contacts, such as the incidental exchanges one has while running errands, create trust among a block's residents.
    John Samoylenko, a retired book editor who has lived in the neighborhood since 1955, was heading into the Village One Stop for a newspaper one day last week. He stopped to add a few details to Ms. Jacobs's ballet ("Everybody drank a lot; you could hear the trains going by on the High Line") and one to the modern version ("The street is very cacophonous now") before walking on.
    IN the 60's, an ebullient man named Bernie Jaffe ran the candy store on the ground floor of Ms. Jacobs's building. On a typical day, she wrote, he could be counted on to lend a dollar or an umbrella, safeguard a neighbor's keys, offer directions, and advise a mother not to buy a ship-model kit because another child going to the same birthday party was giving the same present.
    Today, Kate Humphrey runs a kitchen accessories store in the space. She often holds cooking classes in the courtyard in back, the same courtyard Ms. Jacobs used to look onto from her window and watch Abram Greiss, a sculptor, at work.
    Ms. Humphrey, too, has noticed the sidewalk ballet. Every afternoon at 3, she said, a disheveled man in a baseball cap sits on her front stoop. "He kind of mutters to himself in his own language," she said.
    Last week was an exception. When the man arrived the other day, he found the stoop occupied with bouquets of yellow flowers, a tribute to the block's most famous figure.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/30/ny...ty/30huds.html

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
    Last edited by ManhattanKnight; April 30th, 2006 at 11:31 AM.

  8. #23
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by antinimby / NY Times
    Outgrowing Jane Jacobs and Her New York

    By NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF

    ... The activists of Ms. Jacobs's generation may have saved SoHo from Mr. Moses' bulldozers, but they could not stop it from becoming an open-air mall.

    The old buildings are still there, the streets are once again paved in cobblestone, but the rich mix of manufacturers, artists and gallery owners has been replaced by homogenous crowds of lemming-like shoppers. Nothing is produced there any more. It is a corner of the city that is nearly as soulless...
    I sometimes wonder if Ouroussoff ever actually engages in NYC -- or simply writes while looking out the window of a cab ...

    The longtime residents of SoHo -- as opposed to many of the new real-estate-investor-residents -- indeed do produce quite a bit.

    In my building alone reside two photographers, a composer, two painters, a sculptor, a fashion designer / manufacturer and a poet. All very productive.

    Under the zoning guidelines of the NYC Planning Commission all of these are considered "manufacturiing" occupations -- and in fact such a designation is the basis which allowed SoHo to grow from the former traditional "manufacturing" area into a newly-defined "manufacturing" zone that allows for live / work occupancies.

    It is still a legal requirement that an occupant (at least one per live / work unit -- aka "JLQWA: Joint Live / Work Quarters for Artists" -- as all residential units are designated within the SoHo Historic District) be a manufacturing artist (unless one was grandfathered in due to very long-term residency, i.e. ~ pre-1984 ).

    The fact that the city and the real estate industry have chosen to ignore this zoning requirement and allowed any Tom Dick Harry with a large investment portfolio to commandeer SoHo real estate has, above all else, led to what Ouroussoff describes as the "homogenous crowds" that have overtaken the streets of the neighborhood.

    So next time you're in this "soulless" corner of the city look UP as you walk around and you might see -- or at least sense -- the buzz of creative manufacturing activity that is taking place behind the big windows and cast iron facades that hover above the Mall on the street below.

  9. #24

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    Ouroussoff is from LA and would like NYC to become a lot more like LA (or Houston or Phoenix). If you more like NYC the way it is, then he is probably not the writer for you. His opinions are plainly bogus to anyone who has lived here for even only a short period of time, so to deconstruct them and pick them apart is really not worth the bother.

  10. #25
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BPC
    Ouroussoff is from LA ...
    aha ... That explains this odd comment:
    And she never understood cities like Los Angeles, whose beauty stems from the heroic scale of its freeways and its strange interweaving of man-made and natural environments.

  11. #26

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    Plus, Jacobs' "Life and Death ..." was written in the 1950s, before LA had much of that "heroic scale" (which some might alternatively label as "sprawl") that the past 50 years has given it.

  12. #27

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    Sorry to nitpick, but I am pretty sure the book was published in 1961 and the effects of her powerful voice and advocacy were not really felt until the 1970s.

    Though, as sweet as it is, I probably wouldn't go as far as that floral tribute which read something like "From this house, a housewife changed the world." I think her influence could be said to be largely confined to certain pockets of the U.S., even with the New Urbanist turn in recent years. A wonderful woman, nonetheless - i'll always be a fan.

  13. #28

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    Oh - and perhaps someone could explain to me the beauty of Los Angeles. I can't imagine a worse model city for any vision of urban planning. Great city, distinctive city, perhaps, but certainly not beautiful. I think the U.S. has seen enough of sprawl to begin to recognize that its social and environmental effects (to say nothing of its tendency towards bad architecture) are hideous. Its a city devoured by its own culture of selfish desires and greed for space. Beautiful deformity?

  14. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by estryker
    Sorry to nitpick, but I am pretty sure the book was published in 1961 and the effects of her powerful voice and advocacy were not really felt until the 1970s.
    Um, I believe I wrote that the book was "written in the 1950s," which remains a correct statement. I do not believe that anything you write above qualifies as a "correction" -- just additional information not relevant to my underlying point.

  15. #30

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    Ahha. I just looked at a copy of the book and you're right. I stand corrected . . . or, clarified, at least.

    I wasn't aiming for a debate with those comments - more sharing my enthusiasm for Jacobs . . . NYTimes articles on her aside, I am still curious to hear other views on whether L.A. really does offer any good lessons in urbanism . . . I would love to be convinced that it does, but still doubtful . . . anyone?

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