Thursday, March 20, 2008

Theory of the Derive

My biggest enjoyment of traveling to other cities is seeing how differently urban space functions, why, and how it came to be. New York is such a unique space, and though I have not spent nearly enough time to understand it and see its various failures as well as successes and possibilities, there are so many aspects that make it function in a way that I think all cities should attempt. Walkability, pedestrian scale development, zero-setbacks on residential buildings, accessibility to public transit that runs 24/7, spaces that can serve various functions and be read differently, mixed-use development. Though gentrification and extreme disparities in accessibility are strife (what I would give to have explored New York in the 70s and 80s), the interactions in this tight urban milieu constantly engage me

ABC No Rio is located in the Lower East Side, now the hub of gentrification. Even in the 4 years since I had visited it has changed dramatically

"ABC No Rio is a collectively-run center for art and activism. We are known internationally as a venue for oppositional culture. ABC No Rio was founded in 1980 by artists committed to political and social engagement and we retain these values to the present"

ABC had an opening for their annual "Ides of March" artist exhibition, so the space was open to check out on Friday evening. Not many photos as it was entirely packed, as the old adage goes, "no space to swing a cat". Sadly the days of the hardcore matinees seem to be passing, so I didn't get to see a show there

Though now unaffordable to most, streetscapes like this make me never want to leave

The urban decay is definitely my favourite aspect of any city, to me (and many others) it signals opportunity. Unfortunately to others it signals redevelopment

The public transit infrastructure in New York is so fascinating. Elevated trains dissect urban development, subways create intricate tunnel systems that you sometimes get a glimpse of from on top of city streets, bridges span unfathomable distance. Best of all I found the cable car I had seen through my obsessive watching of Law and Order, that travels between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island (where the old mental institutions were located). Unbeknown to me, a crane had collapsed only a few blocks from where I was that day, killing 7 people and taking out a building.

I walked from 5ptz to water front in Long Island City, where you are afforded apparently one of the best views of Manhattan. Sadly this is a new place of residential waterfront mega-structures. It constantly amazes me how such culturally, human-scale, and environmentally unresponsive spaces can be created almost identically across the globe. Melbourne, London, Denver, and several other cities I have visited have all created these urban voids that feel exactly the same

I didnt get to visit Times Up! but I did get to see various bike-related goings on. It's interesting to see so many low quality bikes locked with chains that cost (and weigh) twice as much, which are then abandoned as parts get stolen.

Below is one of the 'ghost bikes' installed to commemorate cyclists killed by automobiles. This girl was only 22 and killed by a truck in the Lower East Side, I remember reading about it a few years ago, she worked at Red Bamboo restaurant

1 comment:

Wendy C said...

nice photos! makes me miss new york. and i never ate at any of those delicious veggie places when i lived there (except for kate's) since i was then a meateater. will have to try some of them next time i go... also: "no space to swing a cat" ? :( see you soon hopefully.