Category Archives: New York

Occupy Wall Street Space as Sacred Space

What makes a public space sacred? In the case of Occupy Wall Street, it is human aspiration—members from almost every strata of society striving to improve the collective status quo—combined with an overt generosity of spirit.

This sacred-ness is quite palpable. Various faith-based groups have heeded its pull. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Native Americans, and Christians alike have been inspired to collectively observe and demonstrate their religious convictions within the political and very public context of Occupy Wall Street.

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NYC’s High Line Park Theatre

By Jake Tobin Garrett

If you’re like most who have been reading about urban projects in the last year or so, you’re probably sick to death of reading about New York City’s amazingly successful High Line Park. You’ve probably heard all about how it took an unused elevated rail trestle and transformed it into a beautifully designed and landscaped linear park. You’ve probably also heard about the billions of dollars in private investment near the park that has been spurred in the area.

But did you know the High Line contained a theatre?

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The Domestic Side of Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street is a revelatory expression of discontent through non-violent, grassroots means.

Occupy Wall Street has been in effect for over a month now, spurring replication in other cities and growing support here in New York City.

Occupy Wall Street is bringing a whole new demographic to Lower Manhattan—a neighbourhood where the dress code from 9 to 5 is corporate formal and improvisation is scarce.

Occupy Wall Street’s existence is made possible by the rare presence of public open space in the Financial District, a part of Manhattan whose origins pre-date New York City Zoning laws.

Occupy Wall Street is also the very successful domesticization of a public space.

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Vacant Stores Turned Art Galleries in Brooklyn

By Jake Tobin Garrett

Walking down a pretty barren stretch of downtown Brooklyn, I noticed something strange in the windows of the shops lining Willoughby Street. Although the stores seemed to be closed, the windows displayed eye-catching and colourful displays. Closer inspection revealed that these 12 vacant storefronts were part of a project called Willoughby Windows run by non-profit community development organization MetrotechBID in partnership with Ad Hoc Art, which worked to transform what normally would be a boring, papered-over stretch of empty retail into displays of public art. Continue reading

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The Beautification of New York City Streets

New York City may not be known for its outdoor spaces (with the exception of a few parks), however, recently, the Bloomberg administration has done a great job at “beautifying” NYC and creating a safer and more pleasing streetscape.

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NYC Miles Ahead of T.O.

About a year ago I heard that they closed off Times Square in New York City to cars (OCPer Andrew Horberry commented on this at the time). This closure meant that the entire space would be reserved for pedestrians, cyclists and people who wish to use the space with new seating provided throughout the area.

Two weeks ago I had a chance to experience this first hand on a trip to New York City. Yes, they had re-opened one small part of the street to vehicle traffic, however, much of the space is still reserved for people and plants and fun on a semi-permanent basis.

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A Tale of Two Cities

If Toronto’s decision to transform one lane of Jarvis Street into two bike lanes is “a war on cars” (© opponents of the scheme), what would they call New York’s action to completely close Times Square and Herald Square to cars? A pre-emptive nuclear strike? Armageddon? The End of Days?

Oh, and the New York move has actually happened (without any discernible blip on seismic monitors, and with some unexpected consequences). The Toronto changes won’t take effect immediately – there has to be an environmental study first, and there’s no firm timeline beyond that.

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