Thursday, December 21, 2006

From Across the Pond with Love

From A.D.:

"Why can't NYC do what other cities do and LEAVE old buildings alone?
NYC is a young city compared with European cities, but still has the charm associated with the buildings erected between 1650 and 1930. NYC was never bombed in the war and, so had very little excuse to build monstrous housing projects and concrete carbuncles like the Heygate or Aylesbury Estates in London.

NYC like any othe city in the 60s and 70s went through renewal projects, sweeping away neighbourhoods and building rubbish in their place. Now, that is being reversed but gone is the charm and uniqueness of the old neighbourhoods. Anything old that can be saved is now restored (this process started in the mid 70s when wholesale clearance was being questioned at high level). NYC should do the same, spruce up the old neighbourhoods, clean the bricks, restore the old signage, lighting and maybe even put up an 'el' or two; not tear them down and put unfitting monstrosities in their wake. NYC has a 'monstrosity zone' where tall corporate buildings can go up, and regeneration zones, where spruce and well designed apartments can go; but not the clearance of places like Flushing, Staten Island and Brooklyn for the sake of it.

The tide turned here in the late 70s. it started in 1973 when plans were submitted to clear the whole of Covent Garden, including the market and replace it with muck. The fruit and flower stalls were beginning to move out when people complained that heritage and historical features should remain. As you know, around 1973 saw the demise and destruction of washington street market - we wanted to do the same! In the end, objections ruled and the planning was revoked; hence only half of the area got redeveloped and the 17th century market remained. This turned the tide for wholesale clearance and it only happens now where neighbourhoods are too neglected to revitalise.

Britons and the Dutch like to see what old NYC was like as well as the modern skyscrapers..."

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