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Thread: Jane Jacobs' Neighborhood

  1. #1

    Default Jane Jacobs' Neighborhood

    JANE JACOBS’ NEIGHBORHOOD



    Mythic Hudson Street! America’s favorite urban ‘hood!

    On Hudson Street, Jane Jacobs wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities about her beloved West Village neighborhood. She almost sold Americans on urban living.


    Still a mixed neighborhood, but less than then.


    Today, yuppies and gays are the dominant groups.


    Fourth Street at Sheridan Square. Complex urban space makes a crossroads.


    Relics of old Bohemia, as in the Latin Quarter.


    Synagogue: superimposed Greek temples on a house lot.


    Beatniks and kids persist, but in reduced numbers.


    New Yorkers are generally, but not always, in better shape than suburbanites.


    West 11th at West 4th: to see how this intersection is possible, consult the map.


    An irregular grid. The Village predates the Commissioners’ Plan (1811), whereby Manhattan acquired its rigid grid.

    Jacobs’ West Village is bounded by Seventh Avenue, 14th Street, West Street and Houston Street. Its main street is Hudson Street. It has short blocks.


    Many intersections are not at right angles.

    Sparely populated suburbs may look appealing, said Jacobs, but without an active sidewalk life, without the frequent, serendipitous interactions of many different people, "there is no public acquaintanceship, no foundation of public trust, no cross-connections with the necessary people--and no practice or ease in applying the most ordinary techniques of city public life at lowly levels."

    "It is possible in a city street neighborhood to know all kinds of people without unwelcome entanglements, without boredom, necessity for excuses, explanations, fears of giving offense, embarrassments respecting impositions or commitments, and all such paraphernalia of obligations which can accompany less limited relationships,"


    Acquaintances.


    Extra Virgin on Fourth Street. Commercial mixed with residential throughout.


    Tenements on Bank Street, some missing cornices.


    Perry Street: newly famous for Meier buildings, down by the riverside.









    ”Jacobs argued that when a neighborhood is oriented toward the street, when sidewalks are used for socializing and play and commerce, the users of that street are transformed by the resulting stimulation: they form relationships and casual contacts they would never have otherwise.” –-Malcolm Gladwell







    The West Village, Jacobs pointed out, was blessed with a mixture of houses and apartments and shops and offices and industry, which meant that there were always people "outdoors on different schedules and... in the place for different purposes."

    “The idea is to exchange private space for public space, where residents agree to live in tiny apartments in exchange for a wealth of nearby cafés and stores and bars and parks. The West Village forces its residents outdoors.” –-M.G.










    Tall buildings generally indicate one of the numbered avenues thrust through the Village in the Twenties to connect Midtown with Downtown. These avenues are too wide; they function as speedways and somewhat fragment the Village.


    Fanciful Twenties apartments. A man’s home is his…


    Sober brownstones, one awaiting a buyer with a few million.


    Abrupt scale change at Eighth Avenue. Aircraft carrier looms. A cornucopia of styles.


    Belgian restaurant, Belgian building.


    Two oldtimers share a fire escape.


    An elegant late Federal doorway influenced by Robert Adam.


    Abingdon Square, a Hudson Street oasis: the West Village’s central square. Park as living room, park as study.


    Park as nursery.


    Park as bedroom.


    Park as dining room.




    Hudson Street




    Approaching the fabled White Horse.


    The White Horse Tavern, where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. Now mobbed by tourists, for whom outdoor tables are set up. There were none for the windy boy and a bit.


    There’s even room for overflow, across the street.


    Inside also the tourists teem. The guy with the paper couldn’t care less. Must be a regular; does this every Saturday, tourists or not.

    Jacobs rhapsodizes the White Horse of yore: home to longshoremen and writers and intellectuals--a place where, on a winter's night, “as the doors open, a solid wave of conversation and animation surges out and hits you."


    In the north, Hudson terminates at 14th Street. Here begins the Meatpacking District, New York’s current hot find. On weekdays, the sidewalks still run with blood till 8 am, but less than before. The rest of the day, they run with Rolling Rock.


    The view from Markt, a big old Belgian brasserie noted for its mussels and its pick-up bar. Diagonally across Fourteenth they have added three stories to an old building.








    Greenwich Avenue, Ninth Avenue and Fourteenth Street converge in a most Parisian manner, complete with flatirons.


    More Paris: wet cobbles, slick boutiques, frameless glass and woven café furniture. The cab tells you it’s New York.






    Paris again, this time the Sixteenth, complete with graffiti.






    If you park here, you might encounter Nicole Kidman. She lives right next door…


    …here…


    …along with Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart—no, she is temporarily residing elsewhere.


    A stack of celebrities wrapped in glass by Richard Meier.






    Silver gloss extends to lobby.




    He does not appear able to design an ugly building.


    The trend is to riverview living. Need at least a BMW for that.


    No wonder!: across West Street and the Hudson, the Jersey City skyline beckons. Jersey City??




    Jersey City? Wasn’t even there last decade. Now it’s like Houston or Hong Kong in a distorting mirror. The big, sinister tower at left is by Cesar Pelli. He has one like it in Hong Kong, only twice as high. And you should see the view when the cruise ships glide down the river. That’s when my camera batteries gave out.


    Manhattan view is not so shabby either, though missing a pair of famous buildings.






    Turf on pier is plastic.


    Saturday, the day before the Gay Pride Parade, the boys were out and swarming.

    “Jane Jacobs did not win the battle she set out to fight. The West Village remains an anomaly. Most developers did not want to build the kind of community Jacobs talked about, and most Americans didn't want to live in one.” –Malcolm Gladwell.

    There are exceptions:






    New old town house.

    From a curious article on -–of all things— the theory of office landscape:

    Designs For Working


    Copyright 2000, Malcolm Gladwell

    Why your bosses want to turn your new office into Greenwich Village

    "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" was a controversial book, largely because there was always a whiff of paternalism in Jacobs's vision of what city life ought to be.

    Chelsea--the neighborhood directly to the north of her beloved West Village--had "mixtures and types of buildings and densities of dwelling units per acre... almost identical with those of Greenwich Village," she noted. But its long-predicted renaissance would never happen, she maintained, because of the "barriers of long, self-isolating blocks."

    She hated Chatham Village, a planned "garden city" development in Pittsburgh. It was a picturesque green enclave, but it suffered, in Jacobs's analysis, from a lack of sidewalk life.

    She wasn't concerned that some people might not want an active street life in their neighborhood; that what she saw as the "self-isolating blocks" of Chelsea others would see as a welcome respite from the bustle of the city, or that Chatham Village would appeal to some people precisely because one did not encounter on its sidewalks a "solid wave of conversation and animation." Jacobs felt that city dwellers belonged in environments like the West Village, whether they realized it or not.

    Human behavior, after all, is shaped by context, but how it is shaped--and whether we'll be happy with the result--we can understand only with experience. Jane Jacobs knew the virtues of the West Village because she lived there.

    What she couldn't know was that her ideas about community would ultimately make more sense in the workplace. From time to time, social critics have bemoaned the falling rates of community participation in American life, but they have made the same mistake.

    The reason Americans are content to bowl alone (or, for that matter, not bowl at all) is that, increasingly, they receive all the social support they need--all the serendipitous interactions that serve to make them happy and productive--from nine to five.


    The Make.






    Village landmark: Jefferson Library.

  2. #2

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    A wonderful visual ode to a cherished neighborhood. All that's missing is a shot of the Meier twins as they appear when viewed from city instead of the river or the West Street Expressway -- a pair of dumb, gray concrete silos -- and, perhaps, one of Jane Jacobs' former home on Hudson Street.

  3. #3
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    thanks for the tour of the West Village. I love that neighborhood! It is kind of an escape for me when I am living surounded by mostly skyscrapers. It has a town kind of feel to it.

    I am so glad is in manhattan.

    What is it with the man and the woman sitting together that appeal to you in the last pictures? Were you waiting for a kiss?

  4. #4

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    Oh, awesome pics! Thanks for sharing those. I really want to live in the Village when I move to NY.

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    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Excellent, ablarc. Love the photos from Markt. The neighborhood has such a human scale and pace - a great place to get lost in. The little park in Abingdon Square was recently redone - they did a great job. Despite its popularity, the White Horse is still a locals' hangout most of the time. I spent a blizzard there.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Loves NY
    Oh, awesome pics! Thanks for sharing those. I really want to live in the Village when I move to NY.
    Make sure to bring a truckload of cash with you.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by BPC
    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Loves NY
    Oh, awesome pics! Thanks for sharing those. I really want to live in the Village when I move to NY.
    Make sure to bring a truckload of cash with you.
    I've always been told that the East Village is the place for the best apartment deals in Manhattan. (I know these pics are from the West Village.)

    But yeah, I know that I'll need lots o' dough anywhere I choose to live in NYC.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Loves NY
    Quote Originally Posted by BPC
    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Loves NY
    Oh, awesome pics! Thanks for sharing those. I really want to live in the Village when I move to NY.
    Make sure to bring a truckload of cash with you.
    I've always been told that the East Village is the place for the best apartment deals in Manhattan. (I know these pics are from the West Village.)

    But yeah, I know that I'll need lots o' dough anywhere I choose to live in NYC.
    The East Village is very different from the West Village (displayed so beautifully above). The West Village is mixed, but seems to be more "yuppy", "family" and gay. The East Village is getting more expensive, but there is a more counter-culture, art-centric vibe here. It's also a bit more "run-down" in some ways. This, of course, is changing a bit. The E. Village is, on the whole, cheaper than the West.

    Word on the street is the best deals seem to be on the Upper East Side...yes, the UES. Lots of new buildings on the fringes of the area. Of course, Harlem and above are pretty cheap by Manhattan standards. There's always the other boroughs.

  9. #9

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    I almost missed this.

    Nicely presented, ablarc.

    Maybe that protest guy, finddave, should spent some time here.

  10. #10

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    Ah, home sweet home.

  11. #11

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    http://www.villagevoice.com/

    Neighborhoods

    Close-Up on the West Village

    by Christine Lagorio
    August 10th, 2005 4:33 PM


    This Village pup just feasted on cupcakes.
    photo: Holly Northrop/hnorthrop.com

    Hugo Boss suits, Equinox gym bags, and $9 glasses of wine. This is not the West Village you've read about, or perhaps remember. The Dylan Thomases have been replaced by Arthur Andersons.

    Even so, sitting in a café surrounded by books and eccentrics, the West Village feels like it is still swathed in its bohemian past, however threadbare its remnants seem. But when nostalgia for cheap rentals and nicotine-enhanced personalities sets in, the present is never far enough away. Adjacent to a favorite bookstore . . . is that a Marc Jacobs shop? Yes, yes it is—one of three on Bleecker—and the existence of such high-end boutiques among the cobblestones and wrought iron-trimmed brownstones exemplifies a new reality: One must be rich to live here.

    Are tourists and penny-pinchers welcome? Sure, but don't become lulled by the neighborhood's quaint feel into thinking you can stay. With even studio condos selling at more than $1000 per square foot, downtown's west side is a seller's (or broker's) paradise, but a buyer's purgatory. Hefty price tags exist for good reason—the West Village is one of the only true "neighborhoods" left in Manhattan. Mostly void of skyscrapers and Duane Reades, the pace is slow here. The dominant noise after 11 p.m. is nothing more than a soothing breeze through the trees. And in the morning: birds chirping. To most New Yorkers, such ready solace seems unreal.

    But to area tenants and owners, the peace hasn't come easy. Neighborhood associations frequently wage battle against costume, porn shops—some new; some lingering from the '70s—and tour groups, such as the Sex and the City tour, which stops at multiple points around Perry and Bank streets so that groups of mostly British tourists can sit on Carrie's stoop, buy Magnolia cupcakes, and gape at Fantasy World toys.

    Due to the West Village's lingering nostalgia for days fueled by literature and coffee rather than stocks and dividends, a day there is enough to make a visitor or urban newbie fall in love with Manhattan as a whole. Dinner or drinks here easily morph into a rambling history lesson or English lit lecture, because an array of West Village restaurants and bars bare their legacies in (or on) their walls. For instance, yellowed paperback jackets and manuscripts of former regulars such as Burroughs, Kerouac, and Ferber paper the walls of Chumley's (86 Bedford St.), a well-tapped pub that opened only as a speakeasy and, despite roaring popularity, has maintained the speakeasy feel. Bartenders are happy to gab about lore or recent sightings. For a less obviously historic feel, check out Ye Waverly Inn (16 Bank St.), a half-underground colonial-style cozy enclave.


    Three Lives & Company, selling books to Villagers for a quarter century
    (photo: Holly Northrop/hnorthrop.com)

    Boundaries: Sixth Avenue to the east, the Hudson to the west and 14th Street to the north (save a West-side sliver for the Meat Packing district). The south border is fuzzy, but most use Houston as a marker.

    Transport: 1, 9 to Christopher Street-Sheridan Square; 1,9,2,3 to 14th Street; A, B, C, D, E, F, V to West 4th Street; PATH train to Christopher Street or West 9th Street.

    Main Drags: Greenwich Street, Seventh Avenue, and Bleecker Street are taxi havens and nightlife strips, but the treasures of the West Village lie off main streets.

    Prices to Rent and Buy: Among the highest prices to buy on the island, West Village condo studios on average sold for $475,000 in 2004; one-bedrooms, $715,000; two-bedrooms, $1.89 million; family units, $3.7 to $4.3 million, according to Douglas Elliman's market report. Co-ops sold, on average, for a few thousand less each. Choice rentals are tough to find, but studios go for $1,400 to $1,800; one-bedroom, $2,100 to $3,500; two-bedrooms, $3,000 to $3,700, and the rest is up and up.

    What to Check Out: On summer Saturdays, markets and street fairs dot the West Village—as do sample sales at some of Bleecker Street's swankier boutiques. Genuinely good jazz can be found in some of the many clubs along Bleecker or Greenwich, but only reliably for a price. Gawker-types may want to keep a camera handy—celebrities occupy a disproportionate number of the area's apartments. On the day of the annual Pride Parade, Halloween, or any major civil rights demonstration, the Village is overtaken by festivity, and the transformation is as magnificent to behold as the first time you saw your grade-school sweetheart in drag.

    Hangouts, Parks, Restaurants: The free orange juice and fluffy eggs Florentine aren't to miss at Tartine (253 W. 11th St.), one of the area's several reasonably priced brunch havens. For a late-afternoon meal, Mary's Fish Camp (246 W. 4th St.) serves crispy sea fare and mountainous plates of shoestring fries that make braving the cluttered dining room worthwhile. Small parks dot the neighborhood—an especially popular playground seems appropriately plunked on Bleecker near several bakeries. Cupcakes and a swing set—sounds like a great way to distract a tourist away from the street's plentiful shops. Another outdoor suggestion: Stroll from Gay Street south to Christopher Street, pausing at Stonewall Place in the middle and read up on the riots and area's sustained pride.

    Crime: Precinct Six, which covers Greenwich and the West Village, seems to be a physically safe place despite the hundreds of reported burglaries and upwards of 1,000 grand larcenies each year. 2004 saw 254 burglaries and 336 robberies. Although these are down 71 and 49 percent respectively since 1993, they shine as neighborhood risks compared to the zero murders and three rapes so far in 2005. Politicians: Community Board 2, City Councilmember Christine C. Quinn, state Sen. Thomas K. Duane, state Rep. Deborah J. Glick and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler. All are Democrats.

  12. #12

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    Beautiful photos!!!... I´m glad this thread was bumped up... would´ve missed it.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by billyblancoNYC
    Word on the street is the best deals seem to be on the Upper East Side...yes, the UES. Lots of new buildings on the fringes of the area. Of course, Harlem and above are pretty cheap by Manhattan standards. There's always the other boroughs.
    The UES is still affordable, but you have to stay east of Lexington. Anything between the park and Park ave is astronomical. The buildings east of Lexington especially between Third and York in the 70's and 80's are still very much within reach by Manhattan standards. This is because of the huge amount of postwar walkups that went up in the second half on the century in these neighborhoods.

    Anyway, thanks for the tour of the West Village. It's truly a jewel among NY neighborhoods. I love taking my girlfriends 5 year old to the Bleecker St playground, and he's already developing a taste for the mussels at Bruxelles.

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    This a great thread. I have lived in the Village/West Village for about 4 years now, and for the first time in my life, can see myself putting down some roots in this area. I am not sure we will be here as long as Jane Jacobs, but the suburbs are looking less and less appealing the longer we live here...

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by ebrigham
    I have lived in the Village/West Village for about 4 years now, and for the first time in my life, can see myself putting down some roots in this area.
    ebrigham, you're a lucky dog. Are you a plutocrat?



    Is the third Meier building occupied yet? Sure went up in a hurry.

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