Exploring holes and chasms of NYC

Drawing from Anderson’s “Social Infrastucture As A Means To Achieve The Right To The City,” Lefebvre discusses two propositions that must be considered in order to achieve the right to the city. One of those propositions includes experimentation with models and spatial forms of urban times in which inhabitants are encouraged to explore the “holes and chasms” existing between planned and formal structures of the dominant society. Think of some “holes and chasms” such as empty lots, abandoned buildings, closed off plots, etc that are overlooked as valueless because they do no represent the main interests of the society. How can such spaces provide an opportunity for the study and development of the new production of space to be used socially for the benefit of your community. Can you envision these spaces as serving some other purpose that can work towards reforming NYC, or the city it’s within?

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Who’s city is it, anyway?

Both Anderson and Frug agree that ‘right to the city’ and ability to foster change is in the hands of a city’s inhabitants. Both articles provide their own suggestions and ideas for how city dwellers can take back their cities (utilizing previously empty spaces for example, as Anderson points out). To a degree, it seems that New York City in recent years has tried revive itself and give more of itself back to its inhabitants – with projects such as the Highline, for example. Do you think New York City is doing a good job at giving the “right of the city” back to it’s citizens? As a New York City inhabitant, is there anything you would like to be done to enhance your own right to the city? And finally, who’s “right” should New York City focus on? The city has a very diverse population, with different needs and wants. Who’s “right” should New York City give in to? Students? Minority Groups? 9-5 urbanites? Can there be a happy medium?


right to mix with people

The point that the way our lives are shaped by our circumstances, but also that our circumstances can be changed, and we rightfully should take control of that, is one that I recognized from discussions with my friends post-high school. We often argued the case that high school provided a structured location and time, yet enough free room for spontaneous interactions for friends to bond, because it was fairly easy to participate in creating how you wanted your school day to be. I see the right to the city as essentially having the same argument as the right to establishing accessible and inviting lounges/plazas/etc at a college. With the right to the city in mind, what kind of specific changes would you like to see in your life in Baruch/NYC?


What is your right to the city ?

Nadia Anderson’s idea of right to the city is to achieve it through social infrastructure. Significance is placed on unused and overlooked spaces that haven’t been planned or focused on. These spaces escape the dull, lifeless rules and ideas of a planned space, and it should incorporate people in a way that will allow for the creation of an interactive and dynamic environment. How do you feel about this idea? The “right to the city” is a term originally proposed by Lefebvre in the late 1960s and basically means every individual has access and a right to change the city. This term has adapted many different meanings. What is your meaning of the right to the city?


April 9th, Newtown Creek Digester Egg Tour, 9:15 AM

On April 9th we will meet at the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek no later than 9:15, for a guided tour of the wastewater treatment facility’s anaerobic digester system!

Here is a link to the site.

After the tour we will walk around Newtown Creek a bit to soak in the mixture of nature and industry that is there.  Stay for the walk if you can.

Please try to make the tour.  I understand some of you have Accounting in the AM.  I will be glad to email your professor if that is relevant.  If you absolutely can’t miss class, I understand.

Wear closed-toed, non-high heeled shoes.

You are responsible for getting there on your own. The address is:

329 Greenpoint Avenue
Greenpoint, Brooklyn NY, 11222
(Enter at the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue and Humboldt Street.)

The best way to get there is the G train, but use hopstop or googlemaps to find a route that meets your needs.

If you are late/delayed:  email me at samantha.macbride@baruch.cuny.edu OR text/call 917-613-1789

Travel directions

Subway to the Visitor Center at Newtown Creek

Take the G train to Greenpoint Avenue. Use the Greenpoint/Manhattan Avenue exit. With the McDonald’s on your left, walk along Greenpoint Avenue one long block east and cross McGuinnes Boulevard. Continue on Greenpoint Avenue to the next traffic light and cross Provost. The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant will be on your left. Follow the fence-line and continue walking until you reach the main gate to the plant, at a traffic light on Humboldt Street. The Visitor Center at Newtown Creek will be in front of you. It is a two-story orange brick building surrounded by a garden and water sculpture.

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Week 9: Planning and the Right to the City

Participatory challenge: Using the internet try to understand how the term “Right to the City” (coined by Henri Lefebvre) has been interpreted and used in the US context.

Click to show required readings
Anderson, Nadia M. 2011 “Social Infrastructure as a Means to Achieve the Right to the City” Design Activism and Social Change, Proceedings of the 2011 Design History Society International Conference, Barcelona, Spain, September 7-10, 2011. http://www.historiadeldisseny.org/congres/#papers

Frug, Gerald. “Ch. 3: Strategies for Empowering Cities,” in City-Making: Building Communities Without Building Walls. Princeton University Press, 1999. e-reserves.

Click to show optional readings
Frug, Ch. 6 “Community Building”, Ch. 7 “City Land Use” (113-164) “Ch. 4 The Situated Subject”, “Ch. 5 The Post Modern Subject  54-112, in City-Making: Building Communities Without Building Walls. Princeton University Press, 1999. e-reserves.

Purcell, Mark. “Excavating Lefebvre: The right to the city and its urban politics of the inhabitant.” GeoJournal 58, no. 2 (2002): 99-108. [Zotero]

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