Author: myamarsh
Readings for 4/27 Class
| April 27, 2010 | 12:24 am | 4/27/2010, Blog | Comments closed

In “The Neighborhood, the District, and the Corridor,” Duany and Plater-Zyberk describe their ideal visions of neighborhoods, districts and corridors, all functional aspects of a given city in their view of New Urbanism. They place most focus on what elements are necessary for an ideal neighborhood, perhaps because it is the most expansive of the three. According to Duany and Zyberk, the key elements in developing a successful neighborhood are small size, diversity, inclusion of edges, and the presence of a center. They state that the optimal size of a neighborhood should be about a quarter of a mile, or five minutes at comfortable walking space from edge to the center of a neighborhood. They state that a neighborhood should contain a mix of various activities, and have them be accessible to ensure that youth and elderly can utilize the area without having to rely on others to bring them places. Housing options within the neighborhood should also be diverse, having various options to suit different income levels. According to them, edges may vary in characteristics, often based on whether the neighborhood is more urban (likely having an edge composed of some sort of man-made infrastructure) or if it is more rural (likely having a natural edge such as a forest, or some kind of land used for cultivation). Edges are not even always a necessity for a neighborhood, but a center however, is. A neighborhood’s center should be the location of its important, necessary buildings such as a post office and town hall. The center should be a public space that also includes commercial businesses and workplaces, although taking certain other things into account this might not always be the case. In general, they believe that public space should be a priority within neighborhoods. Duany and Zyberk discussing districts and corridors at a much lesser level of depth. Districts should serve a primary function, but also include the diverse activities of a neighborhood to support that district’s primary function and the importance of public space. Corridors are natural or man-made divisions that serve as partitions between various neighborhoods and districts. The plans that they outline in the article serve to develop compact, fully functional areas that are accessible enough to limit, or cut-down, on the necessity of using a car as a primary mode of transportation.

In “Planning Sustainable and Livable Cities,” Wheeler explores the concept of sustainability in relation to urban planning and development during a time when the concept was still a relatively fresh idea. He explains that the themes involved in the issue of sustainability include concern for long-term effects of urban development, maintaining the health on the natural environment, and maintaining the livability of the area for the residents. Some of the specific issues Wheeler cites as being in need of improvement are using land in more beneficial ways that maximize its potential, increasing accessibility to frequented places, cutting down on the amount of transportation used to travel to such places, finding ways to reuse and prevent waste/pollution, maintaining and restoring natural resources around us, increasing community involvement in the efforts of achieving sustainability, and other ideas along these same lines. Wheeler explains that in order to achieve these visions of sustainable cities, these issues need to be addressed in established planning processes so that the solutions are integrated going forward. Actually executing the changes is the most difficult part of the plan for sustainable cities.

In “The Uses of Sidewalks: Safety,” Jacobs discusses the function of streets and sidewalks as a definition of a city’s safety. Jacobs points out that cities are not just defined by a larger scale, but by the increased density of its residents. Since there is such a high density within cities, everyone becomes a stranger, increasing the overall sense of danger, and also eliminating the controls on acceptable behavior that are present in smaller areas where everyone knows one another and fears becoming the victim of gossip or judgment. Jacob says that a safe street is made by three elements: a clear distinction between public and private property, a sufficient amount of people watching the street, not by law enforcement, but by residents that have clear views of the sidewalks, and continuous use, adding to the idea of safety in numbers, as well as increasing the appeal for residents to people-watch, and contribute to the eyes watching over the street. The last element of the three is the most difficult to achieve since people will not use streets that they have no use for, as well as people will not watch the streets without reason. One solution to this problem is to ensure that there are a significant number of public places (such as delis, bars, etc) along streets to make them of constant usefulness to people, ensuring population. This then causes the businesses to become additional eyes on the street as they worry about the safety of their own businesses, which as public areas become related to the safety of the sidewalks outside.

In “Green Urbanism and the Lessons of European Cities […],” Beatley explores the idea of green urbanism, or “building cities in harmony with the natural environment.” Beatley discussed the various ideas involved in this idea of sustainable city planning, despite it’s being unclear, and states that many of the ideas involved are becoming more clear and solid through modeling after European concepts and efforts. Some of these major ideas are working to reduce the ecological footprint of cities by planning and developing within more limited means, increasing and incorporating more nature into urban makeup, and making use of urban output so that so that it does not just become waste (basically closing the loop of cradle to grave processes to become cradle to cradle). The article goes on to cite examples of ways that European countries have successfully promoted and achieved greener urban societies and explored how the United States might be able to follow in such footsteps. Some of these examples include sustainable transportation, policy that promotes greener transportation and discourages less green modes of transport, incorporating more ecology into the city itself (as I mentioned before), utilizing sources of renewable energy, getting people involved (both groups to support the efforts, and businesses and individuals by providing incentives for green practices). Beatley also discusses the importance of enforcing policy and regulation for sustainable cities to be a successful goal to achieve.

Union Square
| April 6, 2010 | 8:48 pm | Project Abstract, Workshops | Comments closed

“Union Square” is not just the name of the 3.6 acre park lying between 14th and 17th street. Over the years the name “Union Square” has come to refer to the vibrant and diverse residential and commercial community in which Union Square Park is the heart. The park was opened to the public in 1833, and over the course of more than 170 years, the park, as well as the surrounding area of Union Square, has undergone numerous rennovations, which have successfully improved the physical and social aspects of the area as a whole. The park offers the public a lush, green area to which tourists and locals alike flock, and the more than 150 eating establishments, bars and markets within a two block radius of the park offer a different appeal. The area is supported by both public and private efforts, which are constantly working to maintain the area, as well as to improve, and utimately eliminate the issues that are still faced, such as a lack of arts/entertainment within the park itself and overall pedestrian safety.

Mya Marshall
| February 10, 2010 | 11:41 am | Introductions | Comments closed

Hi all. I’m Mya. Like you guys (with the exception of Fiona and Prof. Laxmi), I’m a Sophmore at Hunter through Macaulay. I’ve lived in the city my whole life, born and raised Manhattanite. I am majoring in Creative Writing and Hebrew Studies through the CUNY BA program (which, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, allows you to develop your own major(s) creating your own unique curriculum and giving you a lot more freedom and independence). I currently work at Scholastic in the Publicity department and have been for over a year now. I am planning on studying abroad all of next year in Tel Aviv, Israel, which I’m really excited about since I’m in love with the country and have most of my maternal family there.