Heidi Waleson's Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America
By Molly Rosner
Molly Rosner works at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College. The piece below, and any opinions expressed within, do not represent the Archives or the College’s point of view.
On November 13, 2018, Amazon announced that Long Island City would become the site for its new headquarters “HQ2” along with a site in Crystal City, Virginia. Since then, New Yorkers have greeted this announcement with both applause and outrage. Throughout the year, Amazon has received bids from cities and towns across the country trying to entice the trillion-dollar company to their area. But after the gimmicks and tax incentives have all been weighed, it feels clear that New York was always high on the list of places the company was considering.
Reactions have been swift and dramatic. LaGuardia Community College, in Long Island City, added a note to its website that reads, “We’re very proud that LaGuardia was a key player in the proposal process to bring Amazon here, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that LaGuardia’s diverse and talented students were a big plus for LIC.” The President of LaGuardia Community College, Gail Mellow, posted an open letter on the college website welcoming the company and saying, “we’re ready for Amazon to make a commitment to education and workforce training in Long Island City, and are ready to support Amazon in Queens as its educational partner.”At the same time others, including professors at the college, have expressed concern about how Amazon’s presence in the area will impact the already burdened infrastructure and transportation system.
New York City Has the Country’s Most Elaborate Zoning Code. Why Isn’t It Protecting Us From Luxury Overgrowth?
By Samuel Stein
Construction is booming in New York City, and, as the real-time construction map recently released by the New York City Department of Buildings shows, a lot of the new development is wildly out of context with the surrounding neighborhoods. While scale is not sacred, many of these buildings pose quite specific problems for their neighbors, as in the case of a proposed string of towers on Franklin Avenue that would cast looming shadows over the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. A luxury development whose size and shape would make a public garden obsolete is exactly the kind of development that city planners should be working overtime to prevent.
The main tool city planners use for such regulation is zoning — the set of rules that regulate what can be built where, and at what size. New York City has one of the world’s most elaborate zoning codes, with nearly 4,000 pages of maps and text delineating over 150 different zoning types. Given the code’s power and complexity, one might think that the city would use zoning to prevent property owners from running roughshod over neighborhoods and communities. Instead, however, contemporary planners and politicians use zoning to protect the real estate industry from the people, rather than to protect the people from the real estate industry.
Isn’t this precisely the opposite of what zoning is supposed to do? Isn’t the whole point of zoning to prevent market chaos and create a more orderly, predictable, healthy and harmonious urban landscape? To answer these questions, we must return to the roots of the city’s zoning code.
The History of the Future: Contextualizing the Exhibition of the Fourth Regional Plan for the New York Metropolitan Region
By Kristian Taketomo
The first of the small exhibition’s three areas summarizes the guiding principles and major points of the Fourth Plan: its values (equity prosperity, health, and sustainability), its action areas (institutions, climate change, transportation, and affordability), and selections from its sixty-one recommendations. The second area showcases the winning proposals from the 4C Project — a design competition for the region’s four corridors, as identified by RPA. The last area reviews RPA’s organizational history.
Although the exhibition overviews the major themes and proposals of the Fourth Plan, it’s not merely a condensation of the 383-page publication, The Fourth Regional Plan: Making the Region Work for All of Us, which you can download for free by visiting RPA’s website (www.rpa.org). Instead, the exhibition brings the Fourth Plan to life with large-scale maps, detailed landscape and architectural renderings, and a host of other graphics and illustrations, offering a uniquely immersive glimpse into RPA’s vision for the future of New York.
Lindsay K. Campbell's City of Forests, City of Farms: Sustainability Planning for New York City’s Nature
Remembrance of Things Not Yet Past: A Report from “Difficult Histories / Public Spaces: The Challenge of Monuments in NYC and the Nation”
By Arinn Amer
A year after white nationalists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia in a deadly riot they framed as a protest against the planned removal of a bronze rendering of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park, monuments loom large in our national consciousness. With new memorials and markers raising awareness of America’ dark history of racial terror and hundreds of Confederate flags and generals retreating from public view even as thousands more remain firmly entrenched, the incredible power of the stories we tell about the past in shared physical space has never been more apparent.
“Difficult Histories/Public Spaces” is an ongoing public programming series conceived as a forum to bring New Yorkers together to grapple with questions about historical representation and memory in our city and beyond. I had the privilege of co-organizing and moderating the first event, a contentious yet illuminating conversation between invited speakers and audience members centered around New York’s long-protested memorial to 19th-century gynecologist J. Marion Sims, whose disputed contributions to medical science were based on experimental surgeries on enslaved women who could not give their consent. The memorial’s centerpiece, a nine-foot-tall bronze statue of Sims, was recently removed from its granite plinth at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street for transportation to Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery, where Sims is interred.
These are my takeaways from the June 13 panel.
By Christiana Remarck
Growing up as a Guyanese-American, born from two Guyanese immigrants living in New York, at least once a month my family and I would make a trip to a place now called Little Guyana. It’s a small enclave in Richmond Hill, Queens from 104th to 130th street on Liberty Ave. Whether we were going for some produce for a traditional, Guyanese recipe or a new saree for a Hindu wedding, I believe it would have been impossible to preserve our culture in New York City without the establishments that were set up in this community. Guyanese people themselves are highly diversified from ethnicity to religion making some needs specific, while other needs are universal to Guyanese as a whole. This essay will highlight some staples of Guyanese culture that enable every Guyanese person to set up a home away from home within the confines of New York City. It will explore some of the most sought out spots on Liberty Avenue that a Guyanese living anywhere in New York City would visit when making a trip to Richmond Hill, whether for food, clothing, or religious goods.
This post is an excerpt from the authors' new Brooklyn Tides: The Fall and Rise of a Global Borough, courtesy of Transcript-Verlag.
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