Category: 3/9/2010
Highline Park Observations
| March 14, 2010 | 10:07 am | 3/9/2010 | Comments closed

High Line Park Observations 

Conducted by many. Presented by  Shanna and Ryan who discussed visitations on Friday midday, Monday evening (5pm) and Sunday afternoon.

Students noted that Sunday is the most crowded day in High Line Park where people walked quickly almost in a single file. This park is built on top of an old train station in Chelsea which extends 25 streets long with lots of open space. Although the park lacks water fountains, the Hudson River is visible. The people that occupied this park were mostly upper-class/middle-class white people such a single white men. The entrances are secluded and there is a hidden sign that says “High Line Park.” It is clear that this park is clean and maintained with private guards, making it a safe place.  Many visitors/tourists were seen taking pictures of the serene atmosphere. The most crowded place in the park is by the sundeck and water feature filled with sun chairs. Singles, doubles and triples occupy the local area and there are lots of parking garages in the neighborhood.

For more information about the High Line Park, you can visit thier website at:

LIC Park Observations
| March 14, 2010 | 9:52 am | 3/9/2010 | Comments closed

LIC Park Observations 

Conducted by Kanusheree and Lakshman on Saturday at 4pm and Tuesday 2pm on sunny days

This waterfront plaza is filled with ledges, chairs, joggers, couples eating lunch, children and residential buildings. Its relative proximity (2-3 blocks) to the subway station allows for easy access and the park is wheelchair accesible as well. Although the stairs were decorative, they were quite useless because people did not use them or sit on them. The park is full of open green grass space and has semi-circle shaped shore-line where the center of park serves as walkway. People were usually concentrated on the sides and the space is not used very well. There are no office biudings but piers and a water terminal are in sight. For the objects that are not in sight, there are machines available for use as binoculars with change. Observers recommended a list of improvements/programming such as: canoeing, kayaking, boating to make use of water space, movie showing and the addition of statues.

William H. Whyte/ Verdi Square Park Observations
| March 8, 2010 | 11:27 pm | 3/9/2010 | Comments closed

Yasmin Zakiniaeiz

The City Reader

“The Design of Spaces” by William H. Whyte

Sociologist William H. Whyte examined New York City’s parks and plazas composed mostly of empty space to help sketch a complete design for the city. He described his ideal plaza as one in which there was a high proportion of couples and groups. Whyte videotaped pedestrians in New York City parks and plazas to test the many hypotheses he predicted. Whyte found some theories to be obvious and consistent in all parks while others were contrary to intuitive belief. For example, Whyte discovered the instinctive conviction that the number of occupants directly relates to size of the empty space is false. Shape did not factor into the park use either. Whyte came to the conclusion that park use is in direct relation with the amount of “sittable space” (Whyte 448). Furthermore, he found that aesthetics did not relate to usage of the space surrounding it (451). Another falsehood is that “location is a prerequisite for success,” (451) which Whyte found to be the complete opposite. Some of the best parks are in the worst places and vice versa.

Whyte’s research in New York City’s open space led to the realization that there are gender discrepancies which is associated with the quality of the park. Women tend to be more judgmental and discriminating against the chair or bench that they sit in. By watching the park inhabitants and recording the average female to male ratio, Whyte related the higher ratio to the better-used park. Women also tend to favor places that are slightly secluded indicating a high-quality park with lots of space. William H. Whyte’s brilliant discovered inspired the design of Bryant Park and completely transformed empty space into the park we all know and love today. This park clean, vivacious and provides plentiful seating making it suitable for people of all genders.

According to Whyte’s description of a park in good use, Verdi Square Park does not meet the qualifications. Verdi Square Park served as a walkway for pedestrians trying to avoid the busy streets or quickly hop on the train. Only a few people sat down even though plenty of seating was available. Only one couple was observed in the forty-five minute observation and one man eating his lunch on a bench. Elderly men and women as well as pedestrians with their pets walked by without ever taking a seat. Its unique trapezoidal space did not demonstrate its usage just as Whyte exposed. Verdi square is not a sociable place nor was there a high propensity of women, signifying the poor quality of the park. One factor that makes these observations slightly biased is the weather. Whyte found that the sun is an important factor but did not explain the population of a plaza.

Verdi Square Observations

Verdi Square is a small triangular shaped piece of land with the Giuseppe Verdi stature enclosed by fencing on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The following descriptions refer to the area enclosed by 72nd street and 73rd street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue known as Verdi Square Park. These observations were recorded on a warm, sunny Friday afternoon (Friday, March 5th at 2:30pm). Please refer to the map attached.

Verdi Square is named after Giuseppe Verdi, whose large monument stands erected in the center of the north side of Verdi Square. The statue depicts Verdi at the top and four characters beneath him on a lower platform. Surrounding Verdi’s monument are trees aligned along the perimeter of the area and plants. This patch is the only organized garden with equidistant trees and short plants. The other two gardens (two in the center of the park and one parallel to Broadway) have random plots of trees as well as stone seating along the perimeter. Analogous to the individual seating are thirteen single and coupled benches along the non-street side of Verdi Square inside the park.

Connecting the two gardens on the east an west side of the park (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, are black posts that prevent vehicle entrance such as buses that run up Amsterdam Avenue and down 73rd street. The garden blotches are fenced along the perimeter followed by these black posts, hindering non-pedestrian access. No bike riders were observed at the scene, which may have been due to the hindered entry or crowded vicinity. Consequently, the Verdi Square Park serves as a walkway for pedestrians wandering the streets of Manhattan, walking their pets or taking the 1, 2, or 3 trains at the 72nd Street Station. The train’s convenient location in the center of two major roadways makes it easily accessible to those on either side of the street and acts as an excellent transportation center.

Neighboring the Verdi Square Park premises are major name brand stores and locations such as Urban Outfitters, Strawberry, The North Face, Apple Bank, Chipotle and Haagen-Dazs. At the site of Verdi Square Park are two magazine stands, one flanked by the train station and a mini garden, and the other attached to the train station entrance.  These stands sell drinks, snacks, candy, magazines, newspapers, chips, gum, ice cream etc. The magazine stands are well-located adjacent to the train station where passengers often seek a snack or a good read for the ride.

Pedestrians passing by were observed carrying shopping bags from the neighboring stores, suitcases and schoolbags. Children, adults, seniors, teenagers and even dogs were seen in Verdi Square Park rushing busily to the train, strolling through the park or sitting on benches. Couples sitting next to each other talked while others ate lunch, played with their pets, talked on their cell phones or enjoyed the scenery.

The park was not only people-friendly, but it was also environment-friendly. Fourteen garbage bins were placed in this small trapezoidal park, two of which were recycling bins. One can was designated for bottles and cans and the other for magazines and newspapers. The park was very clean with minimal garbage on the floor. The floor pattern can be described as a web of interconnected hexagonal light grey tiles. Every estimated meter laid four joined hexagons in a darker grey. At the center of Verdi Square Park was a floor design composed of four circles with a large global 3-dimmensional figure at the midpoint. Surrounding the centerpiece where 8 other circles in different sizes as if to represent the solar system with linked rings. Overall, the park serves many purposes (walkway, transportation center, spacious environment) and is well designed to meet the needs of its populace.

William H. Whyte
| March 6, 2010 | 7:42 pm | 3/9/2010 | Comments closed

Jacquelyn Lekhraj

William H. Whyte undertook the task of identifying what characteristics of open space (mainly parks and plazas) make them more visited and used in comparison to others. He did so by setting up cameras overlooking plazas and surveyed the types of people (gender, age, and profession) who used the space and whether or not they came alone or in groups. One conclusion that Whyte drew that I found particularly interesting was that, “the best-used places also tend to have a higher than average proportion of women” (Whyte 450). The justification he provided was that women are more particular about where they are willing to sit in terms of it’s cleanliness and the existence of “annoyances”. Based on my observations of Verdi Square, this seems true. Verdi Square had several bench areas, but very few people sitting. Those who were sitting were all male ages ranging from about 17 to 65. The main annoyance that existed at Verdi Square was the hustle and bustle of commuters entering and exiting the train station located in the center of the square. Whyte also observes the social interactions that take place in open space. He suggests that plazas are not ideal spaces for meeting people. Rather, an open street that’s filled of eateries is more likely to see socializing. An example he provides, that I have visited is the South Street Seaport. The rush and tight space capacity essentially forces people to be near each other during lunchtime (Whyte 450).

The basic conclusion that Whyte draws from all his research is that there is no more clear cut correlation between the popularity of a plaza or strip and “the amount of sittable space” (452). The amount of space that can be sat in is the crucial determining factor in people’s decision to occupy a space or not. This although seemingly obvious is a very accurate deduction that many plaza designers overlook. As a New Yorker, I myself look for an area with seating during my leisure time or breaks at work while I’m in the city. For example, in the summer, I will not take my break outside in Union Square Park (which is across the street from my employer) unless I can see that there is, as Whyte would call it “integral seating” available; that being steps in the entrance to the park. Whyte therefore suggests that removing impediments such as pikes, metal or jagged rock from steps would enhance the popularity by widening the seating area. However, “integral space” isn’t the most important seating asset according to white. On the contrary, it’s movable chairs. These provide people “with choice” (453). People can find a preferential spot to sit, and go there. I’ve participated in as well as witnessed this very act. For example in Bryant Park, people often move their chairs from the outskirts of the lawn, onto the lawn if they’d prefer to sit in the sun, and vice versa is also true if one prefers to sit in the shade along the perimeter. Therefore the aesthetics of the chair is not important to the popularity of the space, rather the move-ability is.


OBSERVATIONS (conducted on Saturday March 6th from 3:15-4:00pm)
– The “square” resembles more of a trapezoid
– There are only two entrances both of which lead into the street. This guides pedestrian movement parallel to the subway station.
– High traffic area primarily due to the subway entrance.
– Only three people are sitting at the benches. One teenager, a middle aged man, and a senior citizen all of whom are male.
– There are two types of seating areas: granite benches and regular wooden benches
– The square is enclosed by black metal fencing
– People who enter the square are either entering the subway station or walking through it to the next street.
– There are many tourists and people shopping
– Verdi square is 0.06 acres and established in the name of Giuseppe Verdi a renowned composer.