New York public spaces good and bad
Their list of great public spaces covers a wide variety of spaces, from architectural masterpieces like the steps of the Metropolitan Museum to Grand Central Terminal, parks that have truly created usable and welcoming spaces for the public like Bryant Park, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Washington Square Park, and mixed-use streets from the public Bleecker Street to the fairly astounding private space of Rockefeller Center where, PPS writes,
"Thirty-five years ago, this complex was insular and almost privatized. ... PPS was asked what kind of spikes would be appropriate to keep people off of the yews. Instead, we suggested politely, 'Try benches.' This was a revelation ... after which they began to see the potential of inviting people into the Plaza, accommodating them, and eventually entertaining them."New York has some wonderful public spaces, but also some disasters. There are the large expanses of asphalt where traffic engineers cleared an area of people to encourage the fast movement of traffic, as at Astor Place, Central Park South, or Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. And there are the buildings designed as "blank walls" to isolate rather than engage pedestrians, such as Rockefeller Center West, Grace Plaza, the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building in Harlem, or many of the buildings around City Hall. I'm not very familiar with many of these, but can think of plenty of other examples: the back of Manhattan Plaza on 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, or the entire Lincoln Center complex. Worst of all, planners and architects still haven't learned - just look at the Atlantic Yards proposal, which combines many of the biggest urban design mistakes into one tidy package.
Never one to pass judgment without a variety of specific recommendations, PPS identifies a list of opportunities for spaces that could be so much more than they are. In addition to the aforementioned Atlantic Yards and Lincoln Center (whose "abundant parking" is where I park my car), they identify and give quality recommendations for Broadway, Fifth and Madison Avenues, Times Square, Union Square, 125th Street, Allen and Pike Streets, Battery Park City, and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
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