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Monday, October 28, 2013

For the Sandy anniversary, those within reach of the afflicted NY-NJ-CT coastal area are invited to "Light up the shore!"

Blacked-out lower Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, looking northeast, with the tower of the Empire State Building poking up in the background

by Ken

It's an anniversary that has been looming ominously for, well, going on a year.

As it happened, yesterday I was in New Jersey's "Mile-Square City" of Hoboken, on the mostly flatland lip of land below the southern end of the bluffs that rise above the state's Hudson River shoreline, on a wonderful 5½-hour Wolfe Walkers walking tour with the incomparable Justin Ferate, and wherever we went -- at least until we finally reached the high ground overlooking the river where the Stevens Institute of Technology was built, with those spectacular vistas across to Manhattan and up and down the river, and on to the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge -- there were tales of the horrendous flooding from Superstorm Sandy.

In many cases, happily, the flooding stories were accompanied by subsequent stories of gradual restoration and/or rebuilding and reopening. But there were also the cases of not-yet-restored, including the very start of our Hoboken excursion, where the beautiful Erie-Lackawanna Railroad and Ferry Terminal designed by Kenneth Murchison, where connection was once made between trains running to the west and the ferry link to Manhattan. The terminal, which now connects NJ Transit's light-rail lines with the nearby Hoboken station of the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) subway line, remains largely closed, including the famous vaulted Waiting Room.

As Justin pointed out in the course of the walk, big storms plowing the Northest tend, for reasons of local geography, to pass over the stretch of coast surrounding New York Harbor, producing the double whammy of a storm like Sandy -- inflicting damage, yes, but not of a kind we're accustomed to.

This scene of course plays out all through the New Jersey-New York-Connecticut coastal region, and of course with special severity in the unprotected shore areas that took the hardest hits, where loss of life was highest and rebuilding has been a maybe-yes, maybe-no proposition, with the prospect of permanent changes in land use and lifestyles.

I thought of sharing some of my memories of the storm days and the aftermath weeks, but they're so much milder than the fates suffered by the hardest-hit folks that somehow they don't seem appropriate. So I was pleased to see an e-mail this morning from the Municipal Art Society with information about a remembrance tomorrow which is called either "Light the Shore" or "Light Up the Shore," depending where you look.
Join Sandy-Impacted Communities to Light Up the Shore!

On Tuesday October 29th -- the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy -- groups from across the region will be lighting up the coastline to acknowledge the impact of the storm and the on-going resilience challenges we collectively face. Groups in Staten Island, Red Hook, Lower East Side, in Connecticut and all down the Jersey shore will join together with flashlights and candles along the coast. The goal is to have the entire Sandy-impacted coastline illuminated!

All communities are welcome to join their friends and neighbors and line the coast in solidarity for a resilient future!  Information about specific community meeting spots and times are shown below:


Time: 6:45pm to 8:15pm

Where: East River Park
• 10th Street (GOLES) will be meeting at 10th Street and Avenue D at 6:45pm to walk to the East River.
• 6th Street (Henry St.) will be meeting at BGR on 6th between FDR and D to walk over at 7ish to the East River.
• Houston Street (FEGS) will meet at Houston and Avenue D at 6:45pm to walk over.


Time: Meeting at 6:30pm, candle-lighting at 7:45pm

• Brighton Beach: Shorefront Y, 3300 Coney Island Ave.
• Canarsie: Canarsie Park 84th & Seaview (6:30pm -- interfaith service; performance by local elementary school and gospel talent; 7:45pm -- candle-lighting)
• Coney Island: West 8th Street & Riegelman Boardwalk (by NY Aquarium, on boardwalk side). Contact: OHEL / Project Hope Rachel Heller,
• Coney Island (2): Stillwell Avenue & Riegelman Boardwalk Point
• Coney Island (3): Coney Island Pier, W. 21st Street & Riegelman Boardwalk
• Coney Island (4): Kaiser Park Pier, W. 33rd St. & Bayview Ave
• Dumbo: corner of Main Street & Plymouth @ entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Point of contact: Alexandria Sica Email:
• Gerritsen Beach: Meet at 7pm at the end of Gerritsen Avenue, on the Shell Bank Creek shoreline. Candle-lighting at 7:45pm
• Red Hook: Coffey Park, Verona St. between Richard St. and Dwight St.
• Red Hook (2): IKEA, 1 Beard Street (join Portside and friends at the water’s edge)
• Sea Gate: Sea Gate Association Beach 42 and Surf Avenue. Contact: 917-586-7006 or
• Sheepshead Bay: 2801 Emmons Avenue


Time: 7:45pm

Where: Light a candle with your neighbor in the closest waterfront to your community in Staten Island.

[See the link for information about an earlier Walk Along the Boardwalk, Community Supper, and Interfaith Servic of Remembrance.]


Time: 6:00pm

• Raritan Bay Waterfront Park, 1 Kennan Way, South Amboy (NJ 101.5 with Raritan Bay Federal Credit Union)
• Keansburg (NJ 101.5)
• Asbury Park Boardwalk: Keansburg 9/11 Memorial , Main Street and Beachway (NJ 101.5 with CentraState and First Atlantic Federal Credit Union)
• Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant, 300 Ocean Ave. Point Pleasant Beach (94.3 The Point with United Teletech Financial and Zarrilli Homes)
• Bradley Beach, 900 Ocean Ave. (94.3 The Point)
• Seaside Heights, 800 Ocean Terrace (105.7 The Hawk with NJ Outboards and Walters Homes)
• Chef Mike’s ABG in Seaside Park, Island Beach Motor Lodge, 24th and Central Ave, South Seaside Park (92.7 WOBM with Chef Mike’s ABG, Jersey Shore Crawlspace Enhancement, Classic Kitchens,Island Beach Mortor Lodge, Marine Max and DelPrete Construction)
• Mud City Crabhouse, Long Beach Island, Manahawkin, 1185 East Bay Ave. (105.7 The Hawk with Modular Factory Homes Direct)
• Lucy the Elephant, Margate, 9200 Atlantic Ave. (Lite Rock 96.9)
• Ocean City Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace (Cat Country 107.3 with South Jersey Gas)
• Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, 2500 Boardwalk (97.3 ESPN / WPG 1450 with Atlantic City Electric and Xfinity)
• Laguna Grill & Rum Bar in Brigantine, 1400 Ocean Ave., Brigantine (SoJO 104.9 with Prudential Fox & Roach Real Estate, the "LePera Team"
(Note: No information is provided about Connecticut events, and with a quick search I couldn't find any. But whose to say that Nutmeg Staters can't follow the same prescription as Staten Islanders? "Light a candle with your neighbor in the closest waterfront to your community.")

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Urban Gadabout, L.A. edition: "What's Out There Weekend Los Angeles" is coming, October 26-27!

by Ken

Last October's "What's Out There Weekend New York" was my introduction to the Cultural Landscape Foundation, and it was a pretty good indication that these are serious people when it comes to exploring the ways in which public landscapes are imagined and executed. Oh, there were glitches that seemed mostly owing to the fact that the planning wasn't done locally -- not least the scheduling of this incredibly ambitious program for the same weekend as "Open House New York," which I described here recently, in connection with this year's edition of OHNY, October 12-13, as "probably NYC's most important touring weekend of the year").

But the schedule was an awesome assortment of riches. I spent Saturday exploring Brooklyn's Prospect Park from top to bottom: Grand Army Plaza with Municipal Art Society super-tour leader Matt Postal, then the park's great mile-long central Long Meadow and the Ravine followed by the exciting projects at the southern Lakeside end, both with the park's vice president for design and construction, Christian Zimmerman. (Plus I had scheduled myself then for an across-the-city trek to a tour of the Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park, but I would have needed a more instantaneous exit from Prospect Park to have any hope of making it anywhere near on time.) Then Sunday, after a tour of Staten Island's north shore that was originally planned as an MAS coproduction but wound up as an exclusively MAS event, I got a splendid overview of Queens's Forest Hills Gardens with the development's leading realtor (also a longtime resident). There must have been 20 or 30 other tours listed which I would have loved to do.

TCLF describes itself as "the only not-for-profit (501c3) foundation in America dedicated to increasing the public's awareness and understanding of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of its cultural landscapes."
Through education, technical assistance, and outreach, we broaden awareness of and support for historic landscapes nationwide in hopes of saving this diverse and priceless heritage for future generations. While TCLF seeks donations to support its efforts, it is not a membership organization.

Founded in 1998 by Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, TCLF achieves its mission by:

• Collaborating with individuals and local, regional, and national groups to understand and protect our landscape heritage and to reach the broadest possible audience. For example, TCLF is one of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ “partners in education”;

• Training professionals, students, teachers, and the general public to recognize, document and safeguard America's cultural landscapes;

• Serving as the nation’s largest and most valuable non-profit source of information about our nation’s historic landscapes and those pioneering individuals who have contributed (through design, planning and advocacy) to this legacy;

• Raising awareness of and support for individual landscapes-at-risk; and

• Recognizing and celebrating the efforts of owners, supporters and stewards of significant American places.
I should probably have taken note here of other "What's Out There Weekends" that have been scheduled, but I didn't want to let down readers and friends in the Los Angeles area by failing to sound the alert for this month's upcoming "What's Out There Weekend Los Angeles," offering an opportunity to "explore and discover two dozen historic landscapes in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Santa Monica through a series of FREE expert-led tours highlighting the region's remarkable landscape legacy."
Landscape Legacy in the City of Angels

Los Angeles' landscape legacy ranges from its Spanish Colonial roots to the present, and includes Asian, Hispanic, and African American heritage. The region is known for its distinct Modernist design legacy, which connects indoors and outdoors in innovative ways, and it also has a unique history of Postmodernist with public spaces that meld architecture, landscape architecture and art into one inseparable unit. Explore LA's design legacy through tours that include entertaining anecdotes and intriguing stories about city shaping, landscape architecture and design history. Many are places people pass daily, but do we know their background stories?

What’s Out There Weekend dovetails with the Web-based What’s Out There, the nation’s most comprehensive searchable database of historic designed landscapes. The database currently features more than 1,400 sites, 9,000 images and 700 designer profiles.  And, What's Out There is newly optimized for iPhones and similar handheld devices, and includes a new feature -- What's Nearby -- a GPS-enabled function that locates all landscapes in the database within a 25-mile radius of any given location.
It's a much less ambitious schedule than WOTW New York, and competition for precious spaces in those two dozen tours is likely to be keen. The list of tours is here:

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Urban Gadabout: Before can go into shutdown, must report: Open House New York listings finally available (and registration begins) tomorrow morning!

by Ken

This shutdown thing sounded like such a neat idea that I was thinking of having one myself. It's true that my normal performance mode is often indistinguishable to the naked eye from shutdown, but for the sake of principle I was prepared to go the extra mile. Until it hit me that in official shutdown mode you don't get paid, and that extra mile I wasn't so eager to go -- how could I afford to?

Besides, the whole matter could be resolved easily by means of a compromise that is both fair and obvious: giving me everything I want. Anyone who doesn't see this is obviously not interested in finding a solution and is an evil person who should probably be killed.

In any case, however, shutdown isn't possible just yet, as it's necessary to report tonight that tomorrow -- that's right, Tuesday, October 2 -- at long last it will be possible to see the complete listings for Open House New York Weekend, October 12-13. Tomorrow is also the start of registration, so people with advance information will already be clogging the Intertubes to grab their places in the "hot" events.

In case you're not familiar with OHNY, here's what I wrote last year. Earlier today I described it to an out-of-town friend as probably NYC's most important touring weekend of the year.

To celebrate the city's architecture and design, the 11th Annual openhousenewyork Weekend will once again unlock the city, allowing New Yorkers and tourists alike free access hundreds of sites talks, tours, performances and family activities in neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. From private residences and historic landmarks, to hard hat tours and sustainable skyscrapers, OHNY gives you rare access into the extraordinary architecture that defines New York City, while introducing you to the people who make the city a vibrant and sustainable place to live, work, and play.
If you're not familiar with OHNY, the first thing you need to know is that the events are free. It's really impossible to give a fair idea of either the range or quantity of the offerings, which span all five boroughs and include scads of sites that aren't accessible to the public at any other time of the year, or at least are rarely accessible. The events are so numerous that the guide really deseves several weeks of close study.

Only we don't have several weeks, people! Registration starts tomorrow morning!

I assume that at some point in the morning the online version of the OHNY schedule will be reachable via the OHNY "overview" page.

The print version is once again available bound into the current issue of Time Out New York, and can also be picked up at various locations around the city, which are listed here.

Many events require preregistration, if only to control
the number of participants, but lots of others don't

It's true that a cluster of the offerings will attract high-level interest, and theyre usually not hard to recognize. If, for example, you see that Mayor Bloomberg is hosting a session on "Achievements of the Bloomberg Administration" in his living room, with coffee cake and tea served, assume that it will fill up in seconds of the start of registration (if not sooner). Remember too that these are some pretty sophisticated folks scouring the listings, and the ones that represent truly unusual access to a distinctive site are also going to be heavily subscribed.

At the same time, many events will be offered at multiple times, and in addition there are going to be lots of events that will attract much more limited response. I'm going to go out on a limb and venture that this will include many of the most interesting ones. They just don't have the raw pizzazz of the "hot ticket" events, but they may go a lot farther toward filling in your picture of how the city functions.

There's also OHNY Kids -- "tours and workshops for the whole family." Plus there's bike tours, and "opendialogue" events ("on-site talks and tours led by architects, designers, planners and scholars and a photo competition"). and who knows what all else. Usually I find there are so many offerings I'd love to do that it serves as fodder for my own explorations for the year leading up to the next OHNY.

OHNY has a blog that has been featuring previews
of events planned for this year's OHNY Weekend:

@rtifacts illuminated, General Grant National Memorial, Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, Urban Stargazing at Woodlawn Cemetery (how cool is that?), Little Red Lighthouse, Trinity Church Bell Tower, Jefferson Market Library Tower, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, TroutHouse, Bronx Library Center, Citi Bike Warehouse (that's in Sunset Park, Brooklyn), Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype, PS 41 -- The Greenwich Village School Greenhouse Roof, Kathryn Scott Design Studio Brownstone, Suchi Reddy Apartment, Gwathmey Siegel Architects Apartment, Desai Chia Architecture Loft, Brad Zizmor Residence.

The Citi-Bike Warehouse in Sunset Park