The New York City Department of Transportation recently broke ground on the second phase of Fordham Plaza’s reconstruction in the Bronx. The revamped space will have all the standard-issue pieces of a New York City pedestrian plaza—the planters, benches, seating, trees, lights, and kiosks—but, ultimately, the plaza represents a significant investment in existing transportation infrastructure.
New York City has been adjusting to its new Mayor Bill De Blasio, who took office at the beginning of the year. The new mayor has been slowly revealing his team of commissioners who will guide the city’s continued transformation. As AN has noted many times before, De Blasio’s predecessor Michael Bloomberg and his team already left a giant mark on New York’s built environment.
With little more than paint, planters, and a few well-placed boulders, Bloomberg and former Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan‘s street interventions have been some of the most evident changes around the city. Whether it’s at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza, above, or at Snøhetta’s redesigned Times Square, these road diets shaved off excess space previously turned over to cars and returned it to the pedestrian realm in dramatic fashion as these before-and-after views demonstrate.
As we continue to learn more about our new Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, take a look back at 25 of the most exciting road diets and pedestrian plaza conversions across New York City from the Bloomberg era.
Officials broke ground today on the long anticipated restoration of New York’s High Bridge connecting the Bronx with Manhattan. Built in 1848 and today the city’s oldest bridge, the 1,200-foot-long span had long been a popular strolling bridge, even making an appearance in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country. The landmarked bridge was closed to the public in the 1970s, but after construction wraps up on the $61 million rehabilitation, strolling New Yorkers and bicyclists can once again cross high above the Harlem River—116 feet—and connect with the city’s growing waterfront Greenway. (See also: Photos of High Bridge before renovation.)
Improvements include pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side, a point that drew criticism from some in the community who believe it’s unnecessary and will spoil views. In a statement released at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called High Bridge “one of our city’s great treasures.” He continued, “It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city.”
Lehman Collage Art Gallery
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, NY
Through January 9, 2013
Space Invaders is a collaborative site-specific art installation, curated by Karin Bravin at the Lehman College Art Gallery. The spaces both inside and outside the gallery, including the walls, ceiling, floor and balcony, are used as the artists’ canvas and the art—a mix of photographs, fabric installations, text installations, drawings, sculptures and more, seem to grow into and with the space. Pieces like Heeseop Yoon’s Still-Life #2 (above) or Dewitt Godfrey’s Layman (below) also transform ordinary materials, like electrical tape and mylar, into otherworldly constructions. The work incorporates and mirrors the Gallery’s structure and also accounts the effects of exterior factors such as light and wind.
There’s a scene in Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel Custom of the Country, where the wicked vixen Undine Spragg insists on speeding across the High Bridge in a “horseless carriage” before making her grand entrance at a party so as to rouge her cheeks with a cold snap of air whipping up from the Harlem River. The romantic fascination accorded the then-65-year-old bridge quietly slipped from New York’s consciousness as bigger engineering marvels usurped its quiet dignity.
Now approaching 165 years, renovations are about to get underway to finally restore the bridge to its former glory as a 1,200-foot-long pedestrian bridge, uniting neighborhoods of High Bridge and Washington Heights in the Bronx and Manhattan. New Yorkers for Parks stopped by the span Monday afternoon to document current conditions before construction is in full swing, giving us a hint of Undine’s views. Though controversial netting integrated into the design might mildly disrupt the vista, Monday’s photos show it the way it was, albeit slightly overgrown.
A formal dedication for a creative urban intervention called ARTfarm brings flowers and greenery to a formerly barren step street in the Bronx. Architects Valeria Bianco, Christian Gonsalves, Shagun Singh, and Justin Taylor designed and built the project with help from Architecture for Humanity and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
On Tuesday, the Parks Department cut the ribbon on the River Avenue pocket parks in the Bronx. It is the latest piece of the sprawling, long-overdue parks system promised by the Bloomberg administration in exchange for the parks sacrificed and taxes forgone in the name of the House That Steinbrenner Built (God rest his soul). But that is not what is truly interesting about the River Avenue park. What is is that it contains a skatepark. The fourth one to open this summer, in fact, preceded by new ramps and half-pipes at Hudson River Park (above), Flushing Meadows, and Robert Venable Park in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood. A very popular park opened last year as the first piece of the McCarren Park pool’s redevelopment. (This reporter saw young scalawags jumping the fence to get in even before it was finished, so eager were they to ollie about.) The Parks Department now has 11 skateparks under management, with more on the way. Read More
The Bronx isn’t exactly known for its architecture, excepting maybe the Grand Concourse, but the Lehman College Art Gallery is hoping to change that perception with a new and very impressive website chronicling the borough’s vast architectural heritage. (The gallery happens to be located in one of those hidden treasures, a campus building that was Marcel Breuer’s first project in the city.) The site, called simply Bronx Architecture, chronicles some 75 notable buildings scattered about the borough, ranging from the notable (the Bronx County Building, the Hall of Justice, the Kingsbridge Armory, new Yankee Stadium) to the obscure (Villa Charlotte Bronte, the Institute for Special Education, Williamsbridge Reservoir Keeper’s House). Read More