Tree Manipulation in the Upper West Side

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Such a pretty use of a tree, completely integrated into man-made structures. It’s crazy what can be done with trees:

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A root bridge in Cherrapunji, India.

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Marine Park (the Park Part) Notes

Marine Park Presentation Notes (*correction: At the end of the document, it should read “non-endemic reed,” rather than “non-endemic weed.”)

Above is a copy of my notes for our last site visit; it includes all referenced images. I pulled heavily from the Thomas Campanella reading Playground of the Century- A Political and Design History of New York City’s Greatest Unbuilt Park. Below is an excerpt from the from The Truth About Brooklyn’s Marine Park (1941) that records a letter sent to Robert Moses regarding the future of the park. It’s interesting how personal it is – and how jealous they were of Moses’ other pet projects.

The Council has instructed me to make known to you its feeling that Marine Park has not been adequately developed and aggressively furthered considering the huge sums of money invested in the project and the length of time that has elapsed since the park area became city property.

While recognizing that a financial emergency currently faces the City which may necessitate severe curtailment of further capital outlay project work – and refraining therefore from urging any immediate quest for extra-budgetary funds to advance Marine Park toward realization – the Civic Council most earnestly maintains that Marine Park should be listed as “No. 1” among park projects to be developed as new funds become available. The Council wishes to point out that you spoke of this particular park as “No. 1” as early as 1935.

In addition to requesting a place of preference for Marine Park on projects planned by the Park Department, the Civic Council earnestly urges that you make known to this organization what plans you have for further work on Marine Park in the next three years. Specifically, what sections of the park area are to be developed next? What appropriations will the Park Department seek in this period for furthering Marine Park?

Having followed the history of Marine Park closely since it was organized eighteen years ago, the Civic Council views the work on the park not as a project which should compete for funds and favor with such new undertakings as Flushing Meadow Park, but as a long-planned additional recreational facility which Brooklyn deserves and needs and should have had long ago. The Council wishes to point out:

“That Brooklyn has the greatest population of any borough; a population that is continuing to grow.

That Brooklyn has a population density of more than 35,000 persons per square mile; more than twice as much as other average big cities in the country and more than 12,000 persons per square mile above the citywide average here.

That to serve the recreational needs of this large population, Brooklyn needs more park area. Actually, it has less park area per person than the average city.

That the surrounding community in particular, is entitled to an extensive new park in preference to – as an example – the community surrounding Flushing Meadow Park in the borough of Queens, since there are more residents to be served and a greater need here.

That it is erroneous to contend that development of Marine Park now is ‘premature’ because the section around it is not as densely populated as other parts of Brooklyn. Actually, population figures show that residents are moving out of the older sections of Brooklyn and into the newer ones. Flatbush, Flatlands, and Bay Ridge, the communities of Brooklyn nearest to Marine Park, have had the greatest percentage increase in population in Brooklyn during the last twenty years.

That officials of the Board of Transportation have shown a disinclination to push development of transit facilities to the park area to the extent indicated by the needs of the community because, they say, such facilities are not justified until the park is ready for fuller use.

That completion of the Belt Parkway provides a natural and accessible channel into Marine Park and that development of Marine Park therefore is now the next logical step.”

Marine Park, the “Greatest of a Great Chain of Parks in New York City?”

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In the blog’s most recent post, the second photo posted by Russ is great –  it captures Robert Moses discussing development plans for the park and, in the minds of the League for the Improvement of Marine Park, the future of the entire borough. Unfortunately, the development of Marine Park is characterized by a series of false starts.

For our site visit, I will discuss this in further detail. Although time won’t permit venturing beyond the Lott House, I will bring some visual aids in addition to the following historic photos.

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Breaking the Vertical Grid

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Gorgeous diagonals in a rectangular landscape. This building is right around 155 E. 42nd (The Capital Grille) in Manhattan.

The Google Street View gives a really good idea of how small in scale the building is relative to its surroundings:

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Turkish forms in different contexts

New York City Center (1943)
Ceiling of performance space, taken Jan. 2016:

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Budapest, manhole cover (2009), taken July 2012:

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Interesting to see the use of similar forms as the decoration of the lavish and exclusive (during, apparently, a “Moorish Revival”) versus as ornamentation of a familiar and public utilitarian object.