Understanding Cities: New York

The relationship between public-private partnerships are most certainly not as equal as the title implies, but they are certainly useful. In The Naked City by Sharon Zurkin, Zurkin analyzes this relationship relation to Union Square Park in New York City and various other projects done by these organizations in the history of the public. These ‘public’ spaces which she mentions are not very public at all, are owned by Business Improvement Districts (BID) and Local Development Corporations (LDC). These organizations take care of the public’s safety by putting watchful officers on watch, staff to clean up the park and keep the homeless away, mostly provided by the city government (127). As mentioned by Zukin, the image of all different kinds of people meeting in a public place such as Union Square appeals to the city, and not to the picturesque sidewalk as envisioned by Jane Jacobs, whose work was previously analyzed. The idea that public spaces are owned by private trusts indeed do betray the public’s trust (128). Being privately owned implies that the public truly do not have a say about what occurs on the space as they believe they do and isn’t a safe haven.

Although yes, the private ownership prevents the public from using the space for negative uses such as panhandling and prostitution, landfill or a second Times Square (130), the public would use it more positively as they are doing presently. It can a safe haven to the different kinds of artists, the chess players, the moms out with their children who are all not consciously thinking about the people who own the park, who’s names they may have never heard of. Instead they continue to use it to raise their voices as have been done for the past century and recently against some of the actions of the current president.

A great appeal of this partnership is how it allows New York residents to access green space, entertainment to the sights of the city in areas that seem separate from the city itself. Such a space is the one mentioned in the video called the Highline (which is pretty popular) in which experts and New York residents both mention the pros and cons of public-private partnerships. The pros align with the idea that the public itself wouldn’t be able to maintain all the spaces to their best potentials. The cons involve that the owners are always to create “monopolies” the more projects they get involve in.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inOuEymYUio]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.