Author: Ryan Baxter
Mini Planning Project: Tudor City
| May 16, 2010 | 9:13 am | Uncategorized | Comments closed

Tudor City

| May 16, 2010 | 8:43 am | Introductions | Comments closed

Hello, I am Ryan Baxter. I am a sophomore in             
the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College and
I expect to graduate in 2012. I am heavily
considering declaring an Urban Studies major, as I
thoroughly enjoy learning about cities and their
I have lived in New York City my entire life and
believe it is the greatest place on Earth. I have
attended Hunter for the last sixteen years;
beginning my formal schooling in Hunter College
Elementary School’s former nursery school. I
graduated from Hunter College High School in 2008.
I took Urban Studies 101 with Professor Larson.
I have also taken an honor seminar, with Professor
Marcotullio. In addition to your class, I am taking
Urban Studies 403.09: Changing The Face of the City
with Professor Larson and Urban Studies 102 with
Professor Moses.
I am still seeking my ideal vocation, however I
would like to build things, either on the engineering
or architectural level.

Tudor City, NYC
| April 6, 2010 | 12:30 pm | Project Abstract, Workshops | Comments closed

For the Mini Planning Project I will be focusing on Tudor City.  Initially opened in 1927, Tudor City sits nestled away between First and Second Avenues from 44th to 40th Streets.  It is comprised on twelve landmarked buildings with amenities such as private parks, shops and a post office. The neighborhood is very inward oriented and is nearly invisible from its bordering streets.  Architects, Fred French and H. Douglas Ives, specifically designed in this fashion because at Tudor City’s inception slums and slaughterhouses and stockyards surrounded it.  The pair crafted the self-contained neighborhood on a platform to further isolate it from its surroundings.  The land Tudor City was built on was originally a shantytown that housed thousands of squatters until New York City redeveloped the area in the hopes of providing Middle Class Housing.  It is important then to realize that Tudor City not only stands as one of the pioneering urban renewal projects, but more importantly, it is also one of the most successful urban renewal projects of all time.  My project will outline the history of the neighborhood as well as population of Tudor City over the last 83 years.  I aim to illustrate the effectiveness of the redevelopment initiative to provide specifically Middle-Class housing in order to suggest steps to preserve the housing rates in the future.

2.9.10 Reading Notes
| February 16, 2010 | 2:48 pm | 2/9/2010 | Comments closed

City planning has proven to be a vital part of the efficiency of urban spaces. Many individuals, including architects, professors, and historians, have explored how a city should be organized. Following the widespread acceptance of automobiles and telecommunications, influential minds, such as Lewis Mumford, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Kevin Lynch, all expressed their ideas of how the modern city should evolve. Within the selected texts, each author asserts a definition of city with a desire to guide their future shape.

In “What is a City?’ by Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), Mumford defines cities through an analogy to the performance arts: “the city is above all else a theater of social action.” He describes the need for planning to effectively account for a city’s relationship to the national environment and to the spiritual values of the communities within it, more so than the physical designs and economic functions. He spoke to the ever-changing, multi-dimensional personality of urban residents and how they have transcended “traditional” displays of societal norms. Planners need to recognize the social nucleus of cities as the inter-relationship of schools, theaters, community centers and the like, because those are what lay the outlines of an integrated city. Mumford suggested limitations on population, density and urban growth to promote efficiency; he championed Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City ideal with his work on poly-nucleated cities.

Le Corbusier, born Chales-Eduouard Jeanneret (1887-1965) in a small Swiss town known for its watch making. He became an architect and brought his revolutionary ideas to Paris, where his spare cubist minimalism and focus on efficiency shaped the modernist movement, eventually earning his own distinct architectural style, the International Style. Corbusier promoted elitist values, in favor of a rigid class structure, and even went as far to present destroying Paris to rebuild it. He describes cities as having separate regions for varying purposes, with “lungs” of open green space surrounding each. He felt that cities should grow vertically and that there should be complex roadways separated from pedestrian traffic to promote efficient transport between the regions.

In contrast to Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was the architectural embodiment of the American spirit and democracy. According to many, for more than half a century he was the only choice for the greatest American architect of all time. Wright built in a way that expressed the “nature of the materials” and was the spokesman for “organic architecture” seen in the wondrous Guggenheim Museum. His Broadacre City vision had ties to Emersonian and Jeffersonian virtues, and called for a radical transformation of America. He wished to give every US citizen at least 1 acre of land so that the family homestead would become the basis of civilization. In this way the Federal Government would be no more than an architect of land allotment and for the construction of public facilities. Wright felt this would end class struggle and would help society become more self-sufficient. He felt this was of the utmost importance as he predicted that the automobile and the telephone would soon kill the modern cities.

Kevin Lynch (1918-1994) was a professor of urban studies and design at MIT. His work The Image of the City, made use of many principles of the social sciences, such as psychology, as well as the work of his former teacher, Frank Lloyd Wright. Lynch realized that certain areas of cities were more “legible” than others and were thus more useful. He sought to understand and explain the basis of cities and what attributes to their recognition, so that he could find the best way to plan for urban inhabitants. After interviewing and studying in cities across the US, such as Boston, L.A. and Jersey City, Lynch was able to identify five elements that all cities need into order to be useful and efficient, elements that should be planned into all cities. Those elements were: paths, edges, nodes, landmarks and districts. While each of the elements can take different shapes and forms, he maintained that attractive cities were not just orderly and well-organized, they must also be vivid and varied with texture and unique visual stimuli.