September 2008
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Archive for September, 2008

Jacobs Tour Highlights Environmental Justice Efforts in Harlem

harlem toxic eco justice tour

Last Saturday – September 27, a group of New Yorkers joined Peggy Shepard, winner of the 2008 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Achievement, and Cecil Corbin-Mark, deputy director of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT), on a bus tour exploring issues of environmental justice in Harlem. The tour examined how noxious hazards, such as garbage and bus depots, co-exist with some of the city’s cultural treasures, such as the  museums and art institutions of “El Barrio,” Marcus Garvey Park, and the new Harlem Waterfront Park.

In addition to learning about the practice of situating environmentally harmful facilities in low-income communities of color and receiving a first-hand glimpse of how traffic congestion, noise and air pollution, and toxic odors contribute to high asthma rates among local residents, participants gained greater insight into ongoing struggles and siginficant victories. These include the bold act of civil disobedience that brought citywide attention to health risks posed by the the North River Sewage Treatment Plant. Tour takers also marveled at the remarkable architecture of the Mount Morris and Hamilton Heights historic districts.

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TWA Terminal Update

twa saarinen terminal tram view

Back in March of this year, we reported that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) had announced that the former TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport would reopen this fall, allowing JetBlue passengers to pass through the landmark structure on their way to the new JetBlue Airlines terminal that is also due to open shortly. But, while the latter will open ahead of schedule next month, the reopening of the former has now been delayed at least until mid-2009.

Currently, the TWA Terminal is undergoing internal asbestos abatement and restoration to its exterior. Interior restoration will begin shortly, and it is hoped that passengers will be able to pass though the historic terminal by June and the iconic central space will be fully open by August.

In the meantime, JetBlue passengers can be dropped-off by buses and taxis directly at the new terminal, and those arriving by AirTrain can access it via the new elevated AirTrain connector.

Thursday: Town Hall Meeting for Greenpoint and Williamsburg

town hall meeting north brooklyn greenpoint williamsburg

This Thursday, Task Force member organization Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG) is hosting a town hall meeting for North Brooklyn. Here is their announcement:

Our neighborhood is facing major challenges.

The L Train is crowded, the G never comes. We need more open space. We need more affordable housing. We need to keep our neighborhood unique.

You can be part of the solution. Join our chorus of old and new neighborhood voices at:

NAG’s Town Hall Organizing Meeting
Thursday, October 2, 2008, 7:00p
Holy Ghost Hall Basement
160 N 5th Street (between Bedford and Driggs)

Residents of this area may also note this announcement about two upcoming informational sessions addressing the proposed contextual rezoning of part of Greenpoint and East Williamsburg.

Jane Jacobs Medal 2008 Awards Ceremony

Earlier this month, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded the 2008 Jane Jacobs Medals to Peggy Shepard, executive director and co-founder of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT), and Alexis Torres-Fleming, founder of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ), at a ceremony at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan. Pulitzer-prize winning author Robert Caro gave a fascinating a address at the award ceremony, describing his classic book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, its focus on municipal power and the effects of this kind of power on urban communities, and recalling the time he met Jane Jacobs.

The awards are administered annually by the Municipal Art Society.

Click on the ‘play’ icon above to watch the acceptance speeches of the two awardees and excerpts from Mr. Caro’s address. Video courtesy of The Rockefeller Foundation.

Times Critic Proposes MSG Demolition

madison square garden steps walkway

Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times architecture critic, wrote a rambunctious article about the handful of New York City the should face the wrecking ball. It’s no surprise that Madison Square Garden topped the list. Ouroussoff wrote:

No site in New York has a darker past than this one. The demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station, the monumental McKim, Mead & White Beaux-Arts gem that stood on this site until 1964, remains one of the greatest crimes in American architectural history.

What replaced it is one of the city’s most dehumanizing spaces: a warren of cramped corridors and waiting areas buried under the monstrous drum of the Garden.

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