Currently viewing the tag: "Manhattan"

I spent the better part of this long weekend wandering through the many parks of New York City.  The weekend weather was absolutely perfect to spend the whole day in a park and as you’ll see from the pictures below - I wasn’t the only one who thought so.  Now, I know I’ve said this before but, Miami could learn a lot from these cities.  New York’s ever growing park infrastructure is absolutely amazing.  Over the weekend, I wandered through Central, Union Square, Washington Square, and most importantly: the new Hudson River Parkway and Hoboken’s Pier A Park.  NYC and Hoboken have rejuvenated their waterfront with quality design and infrastructure, enabling access to the vast open space along the shores.  There certainly is not a valid reason why our Waterfront parks and river greenway shouldn’t be able to emulate the success of these great public spaces.  A brief walk through of either of these two linear riverside parks will reveal why they too will become great public spaces - accessible green space, limited concrete, varied structured and unstructured activity spaces, and multimodal connectivity…

We began the day Saturday with an obligatory trip into Central Park.  This was the scene pretty much throughout the park.  The park offered us a great escape from the crowds we had just walked through in Midtown - it seemed like the other half of the city had flocked to Central Park.

This was the scene at Hoboken’s Pier A, just across the Hudson River from NYC’s Hudson River Parkway.

This whole park is built upon a pier and provides some great open space in which to enjoy the panoramic views of Manhattan.  It reminded a lot of Brooklyn Bridge Park on the opposite side of Manhattan…

Like the Hudson River Parkway, New Jersey is working to connect their entire waterfront park system with bicycle paths - creating safe, healthy, and clean ways for residents to access the waterfront, transit, and Business Districts.

Shade.  If there had’t been a nice cool breeze, I’m sure we would have seen more people enjoying this area.

Being the transit junkie that I am, I just had to go for a ride on the Hudson Bergen Light Rail.  These trains are fast, efficient, quiet, and a wonderful way to commute through Jersey.

From 7 am to 1 pm on August 9, 16, and 23, New York’s Park Avenue will partially resemble it’s earlier form when a municipal park actually occupied the right of way.  A nod to the successful Ciclovia events in Bogota, Colombia, “Summer Streets” will ban all vehicular and bus traffic on the bustling thoroughfare from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street into central Park, giving way to pedestrians and cyclists only.

Park Avenue Before 1922

Image Via: Aaron Naparstek

Today:

Park Avenue Traffic

Image Via: MikeyNYC’s Flickr

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Local:

  • Pedestrians don’t belong on 1-95…
  • Yet another person dies trying to bypass a Tri-Rail railroad crossing…
  • Buy local produce! It’s a key part of creating a sustainable society, a great way to keep money in the local economy, and an effective measure to reduce pollution (less overseas and transcontinental shipments…)
  • Get ready for strict water restrictions next year and pretty much every year after that. Anyone else think that perhaps the County should mandate the installation of water saving devices (such as technology which reuses sink greywater for toilet use) for all new construction?

Elsewhere:

  • The return of Urban Parks. Finally!
  • After they created the largest bike sharing network (note the absence of the popular word scheme, its a network, not a ploy) in the world and reintroduced streetcars to their urban landscape; Parisians are now getting ready to embrace electric car sharing service
  • Collapse of the housing market signals the end of suburban sprawl? James Howard Kunstler thinks so
  • Bike Boxes, what a novel concept to show drivers they aren’t the only ones on the road. Dual bike lanes and Bike Boxes in NYC are even more progressive…

Great news, Miami — we’re getting an old gem of a park back in the heart of downtown! That’s right, the former Paul Walker Park, which was hairbrainishly allowed to be taken over by a restaurant back in the 90’s, will be completely transformed into a 4,200 square ft. pocket park at 46 W. Flagler St (W. Flagler & NW Miami Ct).

The park will be designed as a passive open space for downtown workers or other residents to enjoy a moment of relaxation while in the area. According to Commissioner Sarnoff, who has championed this project both vocally and with special commission financing, the park will resemble Paley Park in Manhattan, which is a lovely pocket park lauded by William Whyte in the Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. It is set to have a waterfall, walkways, picnic tables, and seating areas, potentially with a wireless hot spot on sight.

The park project will be funded by the Miami Downtown Development Authority and money from Commissioner Sarnoff’s “quality of life” bond. According to Capital Improvement Projects director Ola Aluko, construction on the park could begin as early as this March.

First we brought you the incredibly useful Walk Score, a program geared to determining how navigable neighborhoods are for people

Today I’d like to introduce Drive Score, the anti-walking, pro-sprawl, and guaranteed laziness application which uses incredibly flawed methods to create a map of vehicle accessible areas. One would think if you ranked poorly on Walk Score, you’d rank high on drive score, right? Not necessarily. Just for fun, I entered a highly walkable Manhattan address to see how “drivable” this program claims the city to be and came up with an 88! You know, never mind the bumper to bumper traffic, lack of dedicated parking, or any sane analysis, this program spews out pure gibberish…

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Before Sunset, originally uploaded by photomagister.

Sorry about the sluggish pace of the website lately folks, it certainly isn’t because of a lack of information this week, but rather the time…

Tonight however, I am headed to Manhattan to get my winter dose of Urbanism…

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I’ve spent the better part of the past 5 days traveling throughout New York and Canada, articles will reappear later today as soon I as I recover… Here is a view of one of my recent traveling delays at JFK. We taxied in line of jets for an hour, waiting for 40 planes to take off before we were given the go ahead. Looking back, these were just a fraction of the planes waiting behind:
On the plus side, I did eventually get a pretty nice aerial view of Manhattan:

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The video above shows a bunch of New York’s infamous bike messengers racing through the streets of Manhattan, no holds barred. In no way am I advocating cycling like this in Miami (or any city for that matter), and in no way do I consider this safe or sane. I don’t even condone their often hostile actions toward pedestrians. However, it does show just how fast you can get through a city on a bike - oh yeah and it’s entertaining, too.

Note: Fast Forward to the 45 second mark for the beginning of the race.

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Judging by qualitative experience and from comments on this blog and in other local print media, it seems there is some confusion about what it really means to be a “Green City”. Frankly, when people who claim to be pro-green are still referring to Mayor Diaz as “Concrete Manny” with derogatory undertones, it means many of us still don’t get it. Today I was going to wax on about the counter-intuitive nature of the Green City, but instead I strongly recommend reading an essay written in the New Yorker a couple of years ago that does an outstanding job explaining why New York is actually the greenest city in the U.S. Click here to download it.

top photo courtesy of Scott Foy’s Flickr account

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I thought it would be a good idea to provide a visual of how auto-centric land use destroys the urban continuity of a neighborhood. The above picture is an aerial photograph of Manhattan’s Upper West Side between 83rd and 86th streets, while the bottom picture is an aerial of Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood between NW 23rd and NW 27th St. It is amazing how much land is wasted to provide parking in the Miami photo - you’re looking at almost a 1:1 ratio of square footage allocated for parking to square footage allocated for housing. Much of this land could have been used to build more affordable housing units, which is obviously in high demand throughout Miami-Dade. And, before you cry foul, this development is located only five blocks from the Santa Clara metrorail station.

Also, notice how the compact nature of the New York neighborhood saves massive numbers of acres to be allocated to parks and open spaces nearby (Central Park). If the Upper West Side, as well as the other other neighborhoods that surround Central Park, were designed in a similar form as the Allapattah development, Central Park would not be possible as we know it, because the land just would not be available.

Moreover, the density in the Upper West Side affords small, independent, non-chain retail to thrive. So many people live within one square mile that it becomes possible to have several stores offering similar categories of merchandise within the same block, as well as on every block. Consequently, residents can find everything they need on their own block, in turn cutting down on demand for long distance trips and sustaining small businesses versus regional retail as in Miami.

Throughout most of Miami-Dade County, densities are too low to support this kind of small business on every block. As a result, regional retailers (often big box or chain) stand alone catering to populations within multiple-mile-radii. Of course, this requires most people to access these regional retail centers by automobile, which leads to bad city codes requiring the kind of auto-oriented land use in the picture above. This leads me to my final point…

The Upper West Side, a rather high-income neighborhood, affords people to eschew car ownership (over 75% of residents in the Upper West Side don’t own cars), which easily leads to savings of several thousands of dollars a year, while the low-income residents of Allapattah continue to be compelled to an auto-centric paradigm.

I could go on foreover about the positives of density, given quality urban design of course. However, for this post I wanted to focus on the visual.

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