Author Topic: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH  (Read 1799 times)

Offline petegart

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Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« on: April 20, 2017, 08:07:17 AM »
The transformation of Jackson Heights


[Moderator's note: link corrected]
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 08:10:07 AM by toddg »

Online lalochezia

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 08:41:57 AM »
What a mixed article. Some germane points, and some utterly ludicrous ones.

 The part that made me laugh was this

But only once or twice is there a glimpse inside the gardens of any of the original Queensboro Corporation apartment buildings, and that lack of access points to the downside of living in any gated community


If  "Queensboro Corporation apartment buildings" are gated communities, then so are every apartment building in NYC without a public easement, which is to say, the vast majority of them. Indeed, every private home by definition is a "gated community" since you can't get to the gardens in those FFS!

Offline queenskid2

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 10:02:25 AM »
I think the point of the article was that the original vision of a garden community was a combination of public and private communal areas. Originally, Jackson Heights had the golf course and the open space around it. Also, many blocks ended with a public plaza consisting of plantings and benches. Those were the public areas.

On the other side of the equation, many buildings had private gardens used by the residents of those homes. Once the public areas were developed, the only vestiges of the original garden community that remained were the walled off private areas.

The author seemed to be making the point that private, walled off gardens are not what garden communities were all about. I think the criticism was less about the private gardens than it was about the loss of open, public communal space. You need both to be a true garden community. The lack of green space in a "garden community" is a bit ironic. It's also something many on this site have complained about.

Offline daisy

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2017, 11:21:55 AM »
As someone who lives in a rental building overlooking one of these gardens that I can't access, I can definitely say the lack of public green space in JH is startling and frustrating. Lots of playgrounds sure but they're all concrete. I hear they do have plans for Travers and Diversity Plaza and have heard this for years now. 

Offline abcdefghijk

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2017, 01:14:14 PM »
I was imagining Jackson Heights in the 1930's and it must have been spectacular.

Lots of open space.  The end blocks on the north/south perimeters of each historic apartment complex garden would have also been open space (before they were built on with apartments)...and probably folks would have been able to wander into the private gardens.

Or at least definitely see them from the avenues...like into the Towers and the Chateau gardens today from 34th Avenue.

Well, let's see what's done with the Travis Park extension.  And Diversity Plaza.

If Travis Park is turned into something like Elmhurst Park...on Grand Avenue...now that'd be AWESOME.








Offline theplanesland

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2017, 02:50:19 PM »
The author seemed to be making the point that private, walled off gardens are not what garden communities were all about. I think the criticism was less about the private gardens than it was about the loss of open, public communal space. You need both to be a true garden community. The lack of green space in a "garden community" is a bit ironic. It's also something many on this site have complained about.

I agree. We live in a non-garden building and recently had some friends visit from out of town. Our kid offered to take the visiting kid to "the park," and so they went and played at Travers. And then the visiting kid asked: can't we go to a real park? You know, with grass, and trees? And we just looked embarrassed because we had absolutely no grass to offer in the neighborhood.

While I love Jackson Heights, for many of us, a garden community it sure ain't.

Online lalochezia

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2017, 03:57:45 PM »
No doubt, the neighborhood needs more - and higher quality - public green space.

I wish that were the only point that the author was making in his snide "gated community" comment.

Offline lmaniace

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2017, 05:01:50 PM »
Kind of a strange report. Reads as if the writer never left his home or office, never spoke to anyone here, or watched how people live and interact here.

I'm surprised by the line in general the buildings seem unwelcoming to outsiders. Everyone has their own taste in architecture but I've never heard it described as unwelcoming. With the front lawns and architectural details, I think lots of people find buildings here friendly looking. I'm amazed by the immigrant families and couples that pause in front of the Greystones when the gardens are in bloom to snap pictures, and I don't think think our building are particularly unusual here.

Instead of reporting on how people actually live here, the author relies on history (which he nails) and Fred Wiseman's movie from a few years back. But that film is not  called "This is Jackson Heights," but "In Jackson" and it focuses largely on the immigrant community that lives in JH (and nearby Elmhurst) and to a lesser extent, our gay residents.

Wiseman's story is of people who have often been looked at as outsiders and how they have made their homes here and, in the process, made JH an amazingly mixed place. And when it comes to the immigrant community, Wiseman looks mostly at recent immigrants who are still struggling to adapt to their new home. I don't remember him looking at immigrant contractors or the grownup children of immigrants, or the grandchildren of immigrants, folks who live here as middle-class residents.

That's not a knock on the movie, but a reason why the author needed to have done some shoe-leather reporting before writing the story.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 05:14:57 PM by lmaniace »

Offline Palermo

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2017, 09:19:57 AM »
It seems pretty generous to give Nevius much credit about the decline of green space.  He pretty much ignores it, just once (semi-incorrectly) mentioning the loss of the golf course.  He never mentions the loss of the tennis courts, green spaces along the avenue or the shortage of parks.  Instead he spends time making awkward observations about the private gardens, which lends itself to his primary focus of racism and classism. 

I agree with Lmaniace's assessment, though I'll give mixed credit on the history aspect:  He got many details correct, but he often applied them unevenly and without context.  Same can be said for his urban planning analysis. 

I agree with Lalochezia as well.  Some of his tenets were laughable.

Offline dssjh

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2017, 12:27:18 PM »
i live in a building with a very small back garden that backs up against a very large and beautiful one. so i live vicariously in some ways.

adding green space would be wonderful, but whose properties are we going to seize and raze in order to facilitate that?

Offline MrPlaza

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2017, 06:42:53 AM »
The part of the article I personally found most interesting was the exploration of JH's cultural and ethnic makeup. Primarily because I've seen a lot of discussions here vehemently opposed to today's makeup, ignoring the fact that it's been in constant flux since the beginning; and certainly a far cry from the intended audience when it was founded.

Offline ljr

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2017, 09:21:41 AM »
The idea that it is somehow wrong for the central gardens to be private and "gated" is so ridiculous and superficial. Public parks belong to and are maintained by the city. Thus, the are "public." The gardens belong to, are paid for, and maintained by the cooperatives they are part of. This is wrong? The general public should have access to private property which is otherwise "unwelcoming"? Then why shouldn't the general public have access to, say, the back yards of all private houses? It's exactly the same thing. The documentary really did not show that part of Jackson Heights--the garden apartments, the historic design, etc. I heard that Wiseman claimed he could not get access to the coop gardens (this might be inaccurate, it's hearsay) but I'm pretty sure that is not true and that plenty of the coops would have given him access. It's just not the story he was focusing on, so it became irrelevant to the film. It did seem like the author of the article was complaining that the coop gardens were inaccessible to the public (a complaint I've heard before), but that is just really absurd. As for the coops themselves looking "unwelcoming"--huh? Is that because they are beautiful and not common-looking? I have no idea what that even means.

Offline abcdefghijk

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2017, 12:01:36 PM »
The idea that it is somehow wrong for the central gardens to be private and "gated" is so ridiculous and superficial. Public parks belong to and are maintained by the city. Thus, the are "public." The gardens belong to, are paid for, and maintained by the cooperatives they are part of. This is wrong? The general public should have access to private property which is otherwise "unwelcoming"? Then why shouldn't the general public have access to, say, the back yards of all private houses? It's exactly the same thing. The documentary really did not show that part of Jackson Heights--the garden apartments, the historic design, etc. I heard that Wiseman claimed he could not get access to the coop gardens (this might be inaccurate, it's hearsay) but I'm pretty sure that is not true and that plenty of the coops would have given him access. It's just not the story he was focusing on, so it became irrelevant to the film. It did seem like the author of the article was complaining that the coop gardens were inaccessible to the public (a complaint I've heard before), but that is just really absurd. As for the coops themselves looking "unwelcoming"--huh? Is that because they are beautiful and not common-looking? I have no idea what that even means.

About that Wiseman film, I've said it before...middle-class, safe lives in pleasant surroundings... (pretty much I guess many of us here on this bulletin board)... do not make for a dramatic, interesting film.

That's simply a fact in film-making. Films require drama and high stakes.

I figure the decisions garden co-ops grapple with... on whether to allow folks to walk on the grass or kids to play on it... count as high stakes...compared with big themes in this world like migration, for instance.  Immigration is really what that film is about. 




Offline Palermo

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2017, 09:17:54 PM »
I figure the decisions garden co-ops grapple with... on whether to allow folks to walk on the grass or kids to play on it... count as high stakes

We get around to alot of illuminati type stuff too.  World domination, intimidation via architecture, lawn party budgets, the usual evil empire stuff.

Offline theplanesland

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Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2017, 08:49:56 AM »
i live in a building with a very small back garden that backs up against a very large and beautiful one. so i live vicariously in some ways.

adding green space would be wonderful, but whose properties are we going to seize and raze in order to facilitate that?

The Bruson Building, it clearly isn't being used for anything.

Jackson Heights Life

Re: Article in Curbed: The Transformation of JH
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2017, 08:49:56 AM »