East new york The Border Conditions
Pieter Bertheloot Dorien Pelst Maximiliaan Royakkers Pieter Vandenhoudt Camiel Van Noten
Tom Thys Ward Verbakel
© Copyright by K.U.Leuven Without written permission of the promoters and the authors it is forbidden to reproduce or adapt in any form or by any means any part of this publication. Requests for obtaining the right to reproduce or utilize parts of this publication should be addressed to K.U.Leuven, Faculty of Engineering – Kasteelpark Arenberg 1, B-3001 Heverlee (België). Telefoon +32-16-32 13 50 & Fax. +32-16-32 19 88. A written permission of the promotor is also required to use the methods, products, schematics and programs described in this work for industrial or commercial use, and for submitting this publication in scientific contests. All images in this booklet are, unless credits are given, made or drawn by the authors (Studio Brooklyn).
East new york The Border Conditions
Preface The Studio Brooklyn Graduation Project consists of a series of books and thirteen postcards. First of is â€˜Five Chapters on a City Lifeâ€™, created by the complete group that works around the observations we did on our trip. The book also holds thirteen postcards, each freezing a memory of an urban experiment we experienced during our stay in New York. The second book contains twelve case studies on a wide array of topics, relevant to the condition in Brooklyn. Then there are three site analyzes carried out by three to five students in the neighborhoods of Red Hook, Crown Heights and East New York.
Four Movements Defining East New Yorks tissue
p 27 - 33
p 34 - 46
p 47 - 53
p 54 - 63
INTRODUCTION East New York is a diverse but economically disadvantaged region in the eastern part of Brooklyn in New York City; a piece of New York, far beyond the tourist maps. East New York is a neighborhood with high crime rates, vacant buildings, deteriorated lots and fast food joints. Once an enclave for working class Italian, Jewish, and other European immigrants, East New York is now a predominately Black and Latino area affected by high unemployment. Its inhabitants are for the most part working-class migrants, many of whom live below the poverty threshold. East New York is situated between the hills of Highland Park and the waters of Jamaica Bay, with which it has a conflicted relationship. Once a resourceful and recreational bay, throughout history it has been incessantly polluted and cut off from the surrounding communities. In the seventies it became part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, preserving its ecology and cultural values. Nowadays, accessibility is a major issue, but projects that reclaim the valuable area are significant but still scarce. Most importantly are the recent redevelopments of the former landfills of East New York into large urban parks and the different small scale marsh restorations across the bay. East New Yorkâ€™s built environment is characterized by a great diversity, both in morphology as in typology. Ranging from large public housing project to single family dwellings, the existing morphology can be traced back in its historic development, that is in sheer relationship with its infrastructure and thus with Manhattan. In five different design projects throughout East New York we try to negotiate the difficult site by exploiting its opportunities and overcoming its setbacks.
This graphic is a mental representation of the neighborhood of East New York after just a few weeks of research. By drawing this by heart an inevitable abstraction occurs, creating a summarization that shows only the main elements in the fabric.
To handle the complex site, we identified four separate movements recognizable in East New York’s built fabric and how it relates with the preconditions. ‘Growth’ discusses the morphological gradient that evolved through history, ‘Cloud’ handles the challenging social condition, ‘Connection’ the infrastructure in accordance with the large adjacent transit nodes and ‘System’ the conflicting relation with Jamaica Bay.
THE VILLAGE OF NEW LOTS
East New York was settled by the Dutch in 1690 as a crossroad town in the ‘Jamaica Pass’, a lower passage through the chain of hills. It was built on old Lenape Indian trails that followed the topography. The area was called the ‘New Lotts of Flatbush’ and was developed into ten farms owned by different families. An interconnected farming network developed along the increasing number of roads that connected the farms to Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan. This successful farming history was due to its location near Jamaica Bay. The marshlands of Jamaica Bay were primarily used as grazing lands for the animals with lots of creeks and the bay itself was a very fertile landscape with plenty of fish and oysters. Soon, people saw the potential of a fishing industry and a law against illegal fishing was made.
railroad main road
THE BIRTH OF EAST NEW YORK
The 19th century was a period of immense population growth due to European immigrations and overall population growth. This is when Colonel John R. Pitkin envisioned an urbanized future for New Lotts as a manufacturing and commercial center, competing with Manhattan. He named the area East New York. In 1836, the Long Island Railroad was constructed, connecting Long Island to Brooklyn. In the following years East New Yorkâ€™s grid was plotted between LIRR and New Lots Avenue. The bay shores were sparsely populated by small fishing colonies until in the 1860s more railroads were constructed. The railroad over Jamaica Bay to Rockaway, resulted in a blooming fishing industry of fastgrowing oysters. Another railroad created a junction in East New York, later known as Broadway Junction. Since the 1840s Jamaica Bay is receiving waste from Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn out of concern for the public health. Waste was transported outside the city to fertilizer plants that processed organic waste and dead animals, affecting the ecosystems of the bay.
Between 1880 and 1922, the transportation network was extended by five electrified subway and trolley lines. New tenements were built for the growing and stable, middle class community in East New York. It was in this moment that diverse visions were formed for the bay. In the beginning of the 20th century, New York became one of the worldâ€™s major international ports. Opening of the Panama Canal and larger ships, asked for an expansion of the existing port. Jamaica Bay seemed the perfect location, but numerous dredging and filling practices were needed for the shallow bay to become a major harbor. This vision was never executed as well as other competitive visions, for example a great waterpark and recreational area or a NYCâ€™s new refuse dumping site. These visions have led to hardening of the estuaries and filling of the wetland by property developers to provide more building space, which has had a great impact on the biodiversity of the wetlands.
water treatment plant
Numerous building, commercial and industrial activities led to poor water quality in the Bay from the 1920s. The impact of the 40 sewage outfalls, the growing population and narrowing of the in- and outlet for fresh water of the bay was very harmful for the biodiversity on the wetlands. Even shellfish harvesting had to be stopped, although Jamaica Bay produced between 1/3 and Âź of the shellfish marketing for whole NYC. This is when Robert Moses proposed a new concept in the 1930s, the parkways. The Belt Parkway was especially designed to protect Jamaica Bay against the impact of urbanization and commercial activities, because people could not get passed this highway. Robert Moses said that if people wanted to visit the wetlands, they could go to the wildlife refuge at Broad Channel next to the Cross Bay Boulevard. The Belt Parkway also served as a park for the latest form of mobility, the car. In the 1940s, water pollution control plants were built around the bay to treat the water before dumping it in the bay.
In the 1940s, Jamaica Bay was envisioned to become major air transport center, which it eventually did become with JFK airport at the bay. Different extensions into the bay were drawn, but never executed. The airport has a great impact on the bay, East New York and even the whole of New York City. It resulted in pollution of the bay by fuel, cleaning and de-icing products for the planes and noise nuisance for the people living around the bay. Also numerous immigrants entered East New York and JFK works as an international food hub for the greater New York region.
GHETTO AND LANDFILL
In the 1960s, the White Flight resulted in a radical racial shift in the population of East New York, from 85percent whites in 1960 to 80percent African Americans and Puerto Ricans by 1966. Unlike the nineteenth century immigrants, who arrived in a period of economic growth, the new migrants arrived in East New York at a time when the New York economy was deindustrializing. Arrivalcity residents were excluded from the economic and political mainstream by racism. In a very short period, almost all the properties were owned by indifferent real estate brokers and speculators, who didnâ€™t live in East New York. Their racist policies and unrestrained exploitation of African Americans and Puerto Ricans took away any possibility of social advancement of the East New York community and resulted in a quick deterioration of the neighborhood and residential instability. In this period the City of New York opened en few landfills around the bay to dump municipal refuse. Two of them are situated at the East New York waterfront, Fountain Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue landfill. These landfills donâ€™t only block access to the bay, the smell, pollution and look further lowered the property prices.
This scheme represents the first of four phenoma which are covered
in this book. Each phenomenon has a specific scale and direction. A morphological gradient runs throughout East New York â€“ starting with a widespread fabric consisting of 2- or 3-story dwellings and ending in largescale structures, which are directed at the Belt Parkway. The following pages will cover this morphological gradient in more detail.
e d us
lvd en B
t en pm
en iv dr
The morphology of East New York can be abstracted by separating into four different zones defined by the large transit arteries. The built environment north of Atlantic Avenue is defined by its rich historic evolution, leading to a mixed use area where manufacturing was injected, which is exceptional in East New York. Under Atlantic, the tissue is characterized by homogenous, small grain grid mainly consisting of detached or semi-detached housing. Linden Boulevard defines another fracture in this urban fabric. In the fifties a new scale was introduced, paving the way for two large industrial quadrants and large public housing projects. The most southern zone is heavily defined by car driven development after the creation of the Belt Parkway, expanding the grain even further and introducing superstructures such as the Gateway Mall and the Spring Creek Towers housing project.
32 | Atlantic Ave..
East New York is an economical disadvantaged neighborhood inhabited by predominantly working-class migrants, many of who live under the poverty threshold. Foreign borns identify this area as an arrival place in the city, making immigration and its related issues strongly present. The isotropic tissue of East New York dissolves these issues into a cloud of social disputes.
Marks Of Immigration Public School
When we zoom in on the defining elements for social tissue of the neighborhood we noticed that East New York has a very isotropic structure. These elements work mostly on a plot scale, creating an image of a cloud of small scale community generators created by neighbhorhood initiatives. A system of community gardens is one of the main social impulses that provide fresh food, serve as a way of educating the young inhabitants of the neighborhood and they also function as a place of social gathering and cultural exchange. A large amount of immigrants live in the neighborhood and they leave their cultural, economic and social traces in the built tissue, expressing the international character of the neighborhood. The defining large scale social structures in the built tissue are schools and public housing towers. These are mirrors to two defining issues for East New York, poverty and a low educated public.
EAST NEW YORK 1990
foreclosure rate per 1000 homes
cost burdened owner
cost burdened renter
median household income
population under age 18
population over age 65
QUALITY OF LIFE assaults per 1000 residents
Russia Haiti Dominicanen
Ecuador China, Honk Kong, Taiwan India Jamaica
ARRIVAL CITY East New York is a social gateway into the city fabric. A poor working class neighborhood that is inhabited by a variety of different ethnic backgrounds. It is an example neighborhood of a recent phenomena in New York Cityâ€™s immigrant community history. East New York is a polytechnic enclave, a territory that is not defined by one ethnic group like in the neighborhoods that surround it but a neighborhood where a diversity of foreign born populations is living together.
CONNECTION East New York evolved into a transit-rich neighborhood, complying a strong relationship with Downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan. Several transit corridors cut through East New York in east-west direction, functioning as connective arteries with Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. These East New York infrastructures vastly shape the neighborhoodâ€™s set-up and its perception.
The infrastructure of Brooklyn is strongly determined by two adjacent poles: Manhattan
and John F. Kennedy International Airport, which functions as one of the main gates of New York City for freight and people. Because of the proximity of East New York to JFK the areaâ€™s infrastructure has a mainly connecting role, neglecting the tissue and functioning of East New York itself. The JFK Airtrain connects travelers with MTA New York City A and C subways and the Long Island Rail Road, all passing through East New York on their way to Brooklyn and Manhattan. By car people can pass through the heart of Brooklyn taking Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue or travel by the Belt Parkway running along the Jamaica Bay shoreline. Connection
ic ant Atl nue Ave
Con d Bou uit leva rd
Linden rd a Boulev
use of subway
TRANSIT-RICH East New York is bounded to the west by the Broadway Junction transit hub and MTA elevated L-train and by Conduit Boulevard to the east. Because of the strong emphasis on the infrastructural east-west connections, much fewer movements are made in the north-south connection. This dichotomy has strong consequences on East New Yorkâ€™s fabric. In the north, Atlantic Avenue is running together with the Long Island Rail Road through a high variety mixed-use area, bounded by Fulton Street and the A,C and J,Z subways. This area contains several commercial uses together with residential, some manufacturing and public facilities . More commercial development is linked to secondary roads in the fabric between Fulton Street and Linden Boulevard, focusing on local residents and car passengers . East New York contains three industrial business zones connected with two main freight roads (Atlantic Avenue and Linden Boulevard) and to the New York Bay Ridge Branch freight train running on the west border of the neighborhood, together with the MTA L-train . Connection
JFK road infrastructure
BELT PARKWAY The Belt Parkway is highway necklace along Brooklynâ€™s shoreline proposed by Moses in 1930 to create modern highway access to all adjacent neighborhoods. The construction begun in 1934 and the complete loop was finished in 1960. The parkway was also implemented by Moses to preserve the rich ecology of the bay from further urban development, privatizing the view for the drivers. This car driven development has had a strong influence on the morphology of East New York as the south part of the neighborhood was conceived based purely on individual transportation. Spring Creek Towers as a mainly residential and the Gateway Mall as a purely commercial development testify this. Connection
Historically, East New York contemplated a strong relationship with the bay. Over time,
this relationship turned increasingly conflicted. The interaction between the hydrological systems and the adjacent land was lost due to growing urbanization, leading to the environmental issues most cities are facing today. This urbanization also led to unaccessible or privatized shores, lacking in potential uses for the public and almost completely erasing the cultural identity of the bay.
In 1972 Jamaica Bay became part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, an initiative conducted by the US government with the aim of conserving the bayâ€™s fragile ecosystem that was deteriorated since the industrial revolution. The bayâ€™s ecological, but also cultural qualities were recognized and initiatives to restore the bay in its former glory are slowly being implemented. Being the only national park in the world accessible by subway, makes this area truly unique. The metropolitan condition however is in an environmental point of view challenging, since pollution still forms the biggest threat for the bay and its habitat.
Although lost a lot of its former glory, New York is still blessed with this extensive ecosystem that is Jamaica Bay. More than twenty different wood- and wetlands are found that are form the habitat to more than 330 different bird species. In the middle of the bay, at Broad Channel, is the Wildlfe Refuge located. This ecologically rich area is one of the most conserved of the area and is the habitat for tons of different species. Thanks to its accessibility by the subway, it is also the most visited place in Jamaica Bay, predominantly by birdwatchers and other ecotourists.
Jamaica Bay is surrounded by an immense diversity of communities. From the private house - private boat communities in Howard Beach to social housing projects such as Spring Creek Towers. The landuse is consequently also very diverse. By looking at the landuse sections we can also point out one of the largest issues the bay is facing today. Although built with righteous intentions considering environmental conservation, the Belt Parkway often cuts off the bay from its surrounding communities. Also, a large part of the shore is completely privatized and therefore unaccessible for the public.
category 1 storm
category 2 storm
category 3 storm
category 4 storm
Despite its inherent ecological, cultural and recreational qualities, the water is more and more often viewed as a threat for the surrounding urban communities in the form of floods. New York is located, alike most of the metropoles, in a low-lying area. This localization makes it particularly vulnerable for flooding, an issue increasingly topical due to rising currents. The map indicates the blank shoreline in case of storms, in categories from 1 to 4. Irene, when in New York, had a force of category 3. Bay System
high vacancy rate frictions in urban tissue differences in grain size
car driven development connection with queens
consolidate social cohesion
contamination rising current awareness waterfront
food desert/health public housing associated with problems
challenging inevitable capitalism
disuse of suburban typologies
unadapted housing stock lack of affordable housing
lack of ownership racical discrimination
conflicting visions JB urban sprawl american dream foreclosures
unemployment travel time to work market driven housing supply displacement of poor
one parent family low median household income young population high number of foreign born
redefine urban tresholds
weaving urban fabrics
urban farming youth center single parent typology subway station productive landscape collective housing
micro-units bike-route stormwater detention
shared space landfill redevelopment
fresh food market water treatment elementary school refugee camp
5 PROJECTS 1.
A School of Conscience and Redemption. Fountain Avenue landfill cultivates an ecological youth.
Hendrix Creek Park: An ecological machine for East New York
Commune. Translating East New Yorkâ€™s reality as an arrival-city into collective housing for immigrants.
Down Under the Brooklyn Elevated: A Green Valley for Cycling the area of East Brooklyn
Macro-lots: an amalgamated housing strategy for an incremental change in East New York
References Historical Analysis p.16
Map based on the New-York Bay, Harbor and environs by the U.S. Coast Survey Depot, published in 1845
BACHE, A. D.; HASSLER, F. R., Map of New York Bay and Harbor, 1845, http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/
te%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=6&trs=122, last visited: 06/04/2012.
Map of New York, Brooklyn and viciny by G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co, published in 1885
COLTON, G. W.; COLTON, C.B., New York City, Brooklyn and Vicinity, 1885, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_image.pl?data=/home/www/
data/gmd/gmd380/g3804/g3804n/rr002680.jp2&x=2856&y=4192&res=4&width=356&height=524&lastres=4&jpegLevel=80, last visited:
Map based on the Williams Map of Brooklyn, by Williams map and guide & Co, published in 1922
WILLIAMS, unknown, Map of Borough of Brooklyn, 1923, http://memory.loc.gov, last visited: 06/04/2012.
Map based on the 1962 zoning map, by NYC bureau of planning, published 1962
Social Cloud p.41
Heisler Todd, City Sprouting,http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/05/07/dining/0507-URBAN_3.html, 13/04/2012
Les Cré’ Alters, East New York Farms, http://lescrealters.osthanes.fr/?page_id=60, 13/04/2012
Foreclose on bank, turning point for occupy movement, http://technopolis.blogspot.com/2011/12/foreclose-on-banks-turning-point-for.html
Map based on New York City - Foreign Born By Origin by the New York Office of Emergency Management, based on American community
survey 2005 - 2009, Foreign Born By Origin, http://www.nyc.gov/html/imm/downloads/pdf/map-nyc-origins.pdf, 13/04/2012
Land Use Maps
NYC.GOV, city of neighborhoods Brooklyn cd5, from: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/lucds/bk5profile.pdf#profile, last visited: 25/02/2012
EXAMINING METROCARD USAGE, from:
NYC.GOV, Sustainable Communities, East New York, from:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/sustainable_communities/sustain_com2.shtml, last visited: 12/04/2012
JFK airtrain, from: http://www.panynj.gov/airports/jfk-airtrain.html, last visited: 14/04/2012
Bay System p.58 WIKIPEDIA, Gateway National Recreation Area, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_National_Recreation_Area, last visited:12/04/12