Monday, March 26, 2012

Onward, Brooklyn Boulevard

The Park Slope Civic Council is a hosting a Fourth Avenue pilot-project workshop tonight at the Brooklyn Lyceum.  The project, between Bergen & Degraw, will serve as a model for a grander transformation of "urban space" on Fourth. I'm sorry I won't be able to make it, but maybe it's just as well.  This sort of urban-design jargon makes me angry & depressed:

Through a series of playful temporary interventions, the pilot project will 1) begin the dialogue to engage residents along 4th Avenue and 2) test greening strategies and 3) create a socially engaged streetscape through experimental play...
Some initial questions:
    How might we transform the street into a living room for the weekend?
    How might we transform a few parking spaces into mini-gardens?
          How might we ingrate new behaviors on the street that incorporate movement and social interaction?   

          How might we form a new identity along 4th Avenue that connects these interventions together?

          How might we collect the wishes of other residents passing by?

The thought of Fourth Avenue as a weekend living room is my idea of hell, & the talk of "new behaviors on the street" (queues for brunch?  perhaps a return of the infamous dumpster swimming pool?) are only cause for unease.  Despite the condos that tower over the avenue, I still like Fourth as a refuge from the crowds further east, and don't think it needs a "new identity" but I guess it'll soon be completely colonized by chattering hordes. Why does it (like so much of Manhattan & the western shores of Brooklyn ) have to become drained of real-world value, & turned into some sort of giant playland for immature, wealthy adults?  It will soon be nothing at all.


peggy said...

hi kate! my feelings on this are decidedly more mixed than yours. i am curious: what do you mean, exactly, by "real-world value"?

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Even I'm not sure! I couldn't put my finger on what I really meant to say, but was really annoyed by the Civic Council language I quoted. It seemed patronizing and fanciful, as if the avenue were just a blank canvas for entitled fun & games. The reality is (whether one likes it or not) is that it's a major traffic artery in the city, and though it's got plenty of condos (& some attendant bars, restaurants, etc.) it's also got a lot of older businesses that continue to be driven out as the makeover continues. I don't really see what it "needs" to become. I think neighborhoods can become so saturated by gentrification that they sort of become like film sets, or foreign to the people that originally lived in them. Parodies of living. Sorry - still not really answering your question! Maybe over a drink soon?

peggy said...

I see your point but the reality is that "things change". It is sad to see old-timers driven out but many are reaching retirement age anyway and will be gone regardless of gentrification, etc. Yes, we are due for a drink!

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Yes, things do change. I suppose I am increasingly weary of the changes. I miss the decreasing mix of people that used to live around me - just on my block alone. I miss some of the eccentricity & friendliness of fellow neighbors. Brokers ring my doorbell & contractors call on the phone, looking to buy, buy, buy. Right now I'm haunted by real-estate demons. I think about getting out of here more & more frequently.