Saturday, February 27, 2010

Teresa Mira: Activity # 3: Public Vs. Private

For this activity I walked around the area between 25th Street and 16th Street between 1st Avenue and Lexington Avenue. The first day I walked around was on Saturday the 20th from about 4-5pm. It was a very nice day out especially compared to the way the weather has been lately. Since it was so nice out there were a lot of people walking around and generally spending more time outside than they have been because of the weather. One of the first places I noticed was the plaza that’s where 24th Street should be between 1st and 2nd Avenues. It looks as if it is a public space, people hang out there and to my observations there aren’t any signs that say who owns the area. It’s actually really nice looking with circular structures that have stairs going up it so that you can sit on it. It looks as if during the summer and spring it is a very nice place to sit and hang out. The next place I noticed people at was the Starbucks on 23rd Street and 3rd Avenue. There are always a lot of people there and it looks like a place that is both public and private even if it is in fact private. Starbucks is obviously owned by the company making it private, but the way people hang out there it seems public, it’s a gathering space really. It also happens to be one of my favorite places to go. Then as I went down 3rd Avenue I turned down 20th Street toward Irving Place and saw a park, Gramercy Park. This park is unlike most parks you would see. Normally you would think of a park as a nice public area to hang out, this one however is a private park. It seemed pretty empty too, seeing how it was a nice day on a weekend, there were only a few people in there. This park seems to be, to me, almost like a waste because it would get so much more use if it was public. Stuyvesant Square on the other hand that’s on 17th Street between 3rd Avenue and 1st Avenue is a nice public park. There were more people there than in Gramercy Park, but not that many, I guess the winter has that effect on parks. I finally passed another Starbucks on 1st Avenue and 17th Street. This one is pretty much the same as the other Starbucks, a lot of people around, but still it is a private place. The next time I walked around it was Wednesday the 24th around 3:30. Although Wednesday’s weather rather unpleasant and definitely colder, there were a lot of people out and about. I attributed this to the fact that school had recently let out and kids were doing everything to not go back to their homes. The gathering places however aren’t just the places I noticed on the weekends, they were everywhere; the sidewalks as a whole were gathering spaces and of course being the sidewalks public space. Sidewalks themselves seem to be the ultimate and most important both gathering places and public places.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Judyta Banach Activity #3

For our third activity we had to determine what is public or private in the borough of Manhattan. For me public spaces are places where all people are welcome, and private ones I associate with lacked or gated communities. I had a feeling from the beginning that this activity is going to be confusing because I feel like everything in NYC is private. People buy houses and practically become the owners, but they can’t move walls, cut tress, or have any kind of construction in their own house without city permit.
For my trip I decided to walk down on Lexington Ave from 68th to 59th Str. Hunter College and the area around it, looks very public to me because even to get inside the college, one doesn’t have to prove that he or she is the student. From what I heard that is going to be change next semester and students will have to swipe their hunter college id. Also, the subway entrance next to the West lobby is a very public space, where not only students but random people like to hang out, especially when is warm outside. From the nine blocks that I walked, this area was the first where I saw people, mostly students, gathering to have a cigarette, or to have a brake form their classes.
The first couple of blocks from 67th to 65th Str. look quieter than the rest, where all the stores and shopping areas are located. Between 62nd and 61st street there is a puppy store, where the small and cute dogs are “displayed” behind the glass windows. I noticed that this area, which is more of a private space, always attracts people passing by. This place was the second gathering place where people stopped to admire beautiful puppies. Many times I find this part of Lexington very annoying because people take the entire sidewalk and it is really hard to pass by them.
The space around 61st and 59th street is where the big shopping area starts. Stores like Diesel, Bloomingdales, Aldo, and Banana Republic are just few on Lexington Ave that attract local people and tourists as well. I always thought that stores are consider public spaces because basically everyone is allowed to shop in there. On the other hand, they are owned by people that can pick their own clientele. Usually these few blocks are very crowded because of these stores, but on the day of my observations it was raining and there were less people. Also another two public spaces in this ten block radius, that are usually very crowded, are subway stations, one located directly on 59th street, and the other one on 63rd street. After walking for some time on Lexington Ave, I decided to change my route and went to observe 67th street. The street looked more private because the apartment buildings were all gated.
After reading few chapters of “Geography of Nowhere” written by James Howard Kunstler, who describes how America developed from coherent communities into a land that looks the same, I was trying to imagine Lexington Ave without all the car noise and big buildings. The author of the book mentioned that many years ago: “roads were practically nonexistent between towns” (Kunstler, p.21), which makes me think how peaceful were towns back in the days. Today most of us can’t even imagine living without a car, somewhere far from civilization. Kunsltler argues in his book that cities became the way they are, where private became more important than public because of the economical reasons.
Even thought the trip helped me in some ways to understand the difference between public and private, I still feel that most of the places in NYC are private and that many of them are only allowed for wealthy people.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Activity #2 Eunbyoul Cho

New York City is one of the best cities in the world. There are many place to go and to enjoy in New York City. Anneka, from Urban Studies class, recommended me to visit downtown Brooklyn. On February 17th around 12:00 pm I went to Brooklyn. It was my very first time going to the downtown Brooklyn. I have visited Brooklyn Bridge but that was my only and one time going to Brooklyn.
I went to the downtown Brooklyn to visit NANA restaurant. It was Asian fusion restaurant. The location was 155 fifth ave. Before visiting to the Brooklyn, I expected to see many black people than other nationality. However by visiting that place, I have noticed it was totally different. There were many diversity people walking in the street however it was hard to see white people. When I was having lunch in the NANA restaurant, customers were diversity too. I was unexpected to see diversity people in downtown Brooklyn.
After eating lunch in NANA restaurant, I walked two and half block down to 86th street to go to Chocolate Room, which Anneka also recommended. When I was walking down I have noticed that every stores were all located in the 5th ave. There were many different type of stores. Moreover I just noticed that it was hard to find the parking lot in the 5th ave. At that moment, I realized that 5th ave was Mixed-Use development area. As Jane Jacob mentioned in her book the death and life of great American cities, “characteristically, the larger a city, the greater the variety of its manufacturing, and also the greater both the number and the proportion of its small manufactures” described the 5th ave because there were many stores located next to one another (189). Additionally, “… city populations are large enough to support wide ranges of variety…” describes that many small businesses in the 5th ave are support by the people (191). Whole community around the 5th ave was holding and supporting every stores.
The place recommended by Anneka was a place where people go to shop food and clothes and also to eat. The diversity of restaurant showed the diversity of race in that community therefore, many people are engaged. The mixed-use development area describes the 5th ave in Brooklyn. Also, in the 5th ave, there was B63 bus stops, which shows that transportation supports that area too. It was great experience to visit and to learn new place. I enjoyed and loved that 5th ave in downtown Brooklyn.

Alina Gertsenshteyn- Activity #2

I live in Brooklyn within the Manhattan Beach neighborhood and the culture there is very Russian. This is distinct from Williamsburg- another neighborhood in Brooklyn to where I have seldom visited. Williamsburg is very urbanized and has an active nightlife with bars, cafes, restaurants, playhouses, etc. It seems to be that there are two prominent social groups in the area: the artistic/creative yippies and the Hasidic Jews. It is astonishing that such different groups can share the same space without any serious problems against each other (at least from my knowledge).
Jane Jacobs has noted that “hang out” spots are populated by different crowds in the nighttime as opposed to the daytime (p. 40). This is evident by Williamsburg’s restaurant, Sea. Sea is an Asian fusion hotspot and when I went there the crowd was evidently from a diverse crowd who did not seem like they were locals. However, locals were still walking around the neighborhood and it was easy to distinguish them from the Sea tourist group by their “artsy” sense of fashion.
I liked Sea a lot. The food was very good and not expensive. The environment is almost loungish. The wait for a table was two hours for my party of three, but we got to hang out at the bar and listen to the DJ play music while getting pushed and shoveled in all directions. A lot of people from my neck of the woods frequent Sea. It is a place not only for locals but for people (mostly young people) within the Tri-State area. Overall, the trip to Williamsburg was very fun…it is hard to imagine that a neighborhood within Brooklyn is extremely different from “my Brooklyn”. Williamsburg reminds me greatly of the Village in NYC, which is another fun place to go too.

Teresa Mira: Activity # 2: Visit to the Shops at Atlas Park

For this activity I was told to visit The Shops at Atlas Park. I expected this to have a cute little park in the center with a few stores around, but in general not be that amazing, after all I grew up going to Roosevelt Field Mall and the Tanger Outlets in Riverhead. I have basically been raised as an avid shopper especially since I’m one of two daughters. When I arrived at the Shops at Atlas Park I was pleasantly surprised. It was much nicer than I anticipated. It in a way reminded me of the new Tanger Outlets in Deer Park, except there’s oddly more greenery in Queens, a part of the city, than there is in Deer Park, a suburb. I think visiting in the spring or summer would have made it more appealing to sit in the center, Atlas Green, but the cold kept me from lingering. The Atlas Green is similar to a city park in this shopping center. As Jane Jacobs points out throughout chapter 5 of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, parks serve various purposes dependant on many factors. It seems that for the most part, or at least when I visited, during the winter the Green serves as an extension of the sidewalk. However after seeing that there are in fact events held there, it seems that the park is also can be a place where the community gets together and celebrates. The park essentially serves whatever purpose the inhabitants around need and makes it serve. It, much like Jacobs points out, does not serve as a breath of fresh air or anything of the sort, it is simply a nice area of greenery that can serve many purposes.
The stores were of course my favorite part seeing how I love to shop so much. There is wide range of stores at the Shops at Atlas Park. Contrary to Jacob’s support of local businesses, for the most part this center consists of mostly chain stores, restaurants and other such services. This shopping center certainly caters more to larger businesses and chains, but there are exceptions such as Dance and Beyond. This dance studio is certainly an example of a local business even if chain shops and restaurants surround it.
There are also a wide variety of businesses that are present in the Shops at Atlas Park. There are various types of stores such as shoe stores, a bunch of clothing stores, accessory stores; there are also fitness places such as Dance and Beyond and New York Sports Club. There are a few restaurants as well as snack places like Starbucks and Coldstone Creamery. On the upper level of one section there are also a bunch of offices. This variety of businesses in the Shops at Atlas Park is a modified example of what Jacobs calls a “mixed-use” development. Although it is not an “ideal” neighborhood, as Jacob discusses in chapter 6 of her book, seeing how there are no residences, but it does present with a decent variety of businesses within the small area.
Although the Shops at Atlas Park are a shopping center, there are still some evidences of how this place both reflects and doesn’t reflect Jane Jacob’s perspectives.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Activity #1 Eunbyoul Cho

Queens Center

I want to the Queens Center on February 6th 2010 at 7:00 pm. I was sitting down in the second level and near the middle section of the mall. Because it was Saturday, there were many people in the mall. I saw something new, which made me to think about my way of shopping in the shopping more.

First, it was very diversity in race, age, and gender. Because Queens is one of the diversity places, Queens Center had diversity of race. I saw many couples in the more. Also, there were groups of women and groups of men, it rare to see groups of women and men together. I have also noticed there were many families too. Mostly in my vision, I saw mom shopping with their sons or daughters but it was rare to see father shopping with their sons or daughters. Moreover, I saw two girls walking together but not boys. It was quiet amazing that most of people were couples or families.

Secondly, when I was sitting down, most of elderly or men were sitting down in the sofa with bags. I noticed that for elderly it is hard to walk with young people. But it was quiet noticeable that men were sitting down with bags. They were reading newspapers or magazines, which seems that they were planning to do so. However, most of women were not sitting down. Also, there were many girls with many bags than the boys. I have heard that many men didn’t enjoy shopping but on this day, I have realized that is was mostly true fact.

Lastly, when people were walking in the hallways, there was a way to walk. People were walking right side of their side. It was fascinating that everyone were acting and walking same way. No one walked in their left side of the mall. It seems that there is “rule” in the mall. Everyone followed the flow and no one got bumped into each other. Also, while I was sitting down for about 1 to 2 hours, I saw only one policeman/security walking down. I guess Queens Center is safe place because there was only one policeman/security.

To be a flaneur made me to think out of the box. It was my first time sitting down and looking people. While I was sitting down, I saw it was 3rd person perspective. I have discovered the “new inside of Queens Center”. I realized that there are more couples dating or shopping in the mall. When I was sitting down, I saw many men sitting down and doing their own things. Also, the Queens Center had “hallway walking rule” which is made by people. It was very fun activity which made me to think about my shopping ways.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Judyta Banach Activity#2

One of my classmates recommended to me a German restaurant called Zum Stammtisch. The restaurant is located in Glendale, Queens and as I learned from its website it has a long tradition behind it. It is being run by two German brothers, who although were born and raised in NY, learned about their traditions and culture from the previous restaurant owner who was their father.
I and my husband heard that the food in there was amazing, so we decided to go there for a dinner. The place wasn’t busy because we got there around 9 o’clock on Sunday. We were seated in the second room where we were the only table. At the first look, the restaurant looked really nice and cozy. It is decorated in the old Bavarian style, with old photograph on the walls and old fashion tablemats. Also the tables, chairs, walls, and even the ceiling was made of wood, which made the place really warm and cozy. Being in there made me feel like I moved back in time. What I really liked about the place was the uniforms worn by the staff that consisted of a skirt and a traditional Bavarian shirt. Another thing that got my attention was how even thought the restaurant has an old fashion décor and style, the technology was still visible in there. The staff used computers to sent orders to the kitchen, which shows how although the owners wanted to keep their tradition alive, they had to put in some modern trends to make their life easier. The restaurant carries mostly German beers and the only one that I knew was Weihenstephan, which was served in old beer mug. Their menu contained their traditional food that was kind of new for me and my husband. Relying on the opinion of my classmate and few other people which recommended the restaurant, my husband ordered Jagerschnitzel which was a veal cutlet and I got for myself chicken riesling that was served with fried potatoes and mushrooms. The food portions were big and very tasty.
Although the overall experience of Zum Stammtisch was good there was couple of things that we didn’t like about it. Our waitress was an older lady, who to our surprise didn’t pay too much attention to us. Being a waitress myself, I tend to look at things in restaurants that other people probably omit. Things like if the glass and utensils are clean and of course the service. As I mentioned before our waitress kind of forgot about us, but at the same time I think one of the reasons why she did that was because the restaurant was soon to be closed and she probably wanted to go home already. Another thing was that the prices were fairly high for the neighborhood like Glendale. For dinner for two without eating any appetizers we paid almost $100.00 including the tip. I my opinion, there are many other restaurants where people would like the food and spend less money.
I am really happy that I had a chance to go and experienced a taste of another culture. Even thought the food was a little expensive, I would recommend this place to other people because the warm atmosphere and the delicious meals are worth the money once in a while.

I didnt have a chance to take pictures while I was in the restaurant, but I uploaded few from their website so people can get the feeling of how the place looks like.The second picture shows the room where I was seating.

Alina Gertsenshteyn -Activity 1

For this assignment, I went to Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn, NY to take notes on any interesting observations. I was there on a Wednesday afternoon from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm; during a time when the mall was not overly crowded. The space was populated mostly by minorities; specifically African Americans.

I saw a group of about five girls who looked like they were of high school age. They seemed immature yet they were on their way to Victoria Secret to pick out sexy lingerie to wear for their boyfriends on Valentine’s Day. They were talking about this rather loudly and with excitement and laugher. Their speech was very ghetto and urban-like in general.

I started seeing a trend in fathers with baby carriages. On count, I saw four daddies without mommies. It made me wonder if the mother was working/unavailable or if the dads have custody of the children. I saw something that bothered me: a baby dropped its pacifier on the dirty floor and the father picked it up and stuck it back to the little boy’s mouth! Such unsanitary measures can be harmful to small children. I also found it interesting on how I was able to determine the child’s gender just by the fact that he was wearing navy blue and red colors.

Here are some other things I noticed: an odd looking old lady with plastic bags on her feet sitting on a bench, a heavy accented Asian lady working side-by-side her Islamic coworker at an eyebrow threading station, a considerable amount of individuals wearing work attire, a nun with a teethy smile, a pregnant lady arguing with her mother on the phone, and a little girl sucking on a ring pop like I used to do in my childhood.

All in all, being a flaneur was a cool experience. I find myself being too preoccupied in my own business to notice things around me. This is especially the cause of being a New Yorker and being always surrounded by different people. I think that I have gotten immune to the weird stuff. Even though I have not observed anything overly “weird” during this assignment, I did see different outlining factors of urbanization.

Judyta Banach Activity #1

The part of my first activity was to be a flaneur and to experience the life of the city. The site that I picked was Queens Center Mall located by Woodhaven Blvd in Queens. I have been in the mall couple of times before and I didn’t really like it because of the big crowds in there. The mall consists of three floors and it’s divided into old and new part. As a flanuer I decided to seat on the second floor of the old mall between H&M and Banana Republic stores.
Because I don’t like big crowds I picked Monday thinking that the mall would not be packed so much after the weekend. I was surprised. After sitting in one place for over an hour I saw many different people passing me by. There were a lot of mothers coming in with their children as well as older people not even walking into the stores just observing displays and other people. Because of the high school located near Queens Center, there were a lot of teenagers hanging out in the mall. They were the ones making a big chaos and confusion. Many of them pushed other people around without even saying “excuse me”. Most of the teenagers came in big groups, but there were also few in groups of two and they were usually girls. Very few of them bought anything and they mostly were heading to the cafeteria in the new mall, which was my next point of observation.
The reason why I choose my first location was that H&M tend to be less expensive than Banana Republic, and I was interested what kind of people would shop in both of them. What I saw was really surprising. Both stores carry very similar clothes but Banana Republic tends to have mostly professional work clothes, while H&M has more casual clothes. H&M was crowded and the line to the register in both levels of the store was very long. The clientele was mostly young people, but also mothers because of the kids section that the store has. People that walked into Banana Republic mostly left the store without buying anything. Also people that entered the store looked like they had more professional jobs because of the way they were dressed.
My next stop was the food court in the mall. In my opinion that is the place where one is able to observe people in different ages sitting in one place. As I mentioned before that was also the place where all the teenagers hang out. Most of the tables were taken by them, and once again there were the ones making a big noise. The court has a big selection of food stores like McDonalds, KFC, sushi bar, and majority of people tended to buy food from these places. Also the line in these particular places was longer and in my opinion there might be two reasons for that. One is that because the food is cheaper and made quicker, and the second one is because when people see a big line they tend to believe that the food might be fresh because the place looks busy.
Even thought I went to this mall couple of times before I never paid close attention to what was really going on around me. Although I didn’t really enjoy being in this crowded space, this activity gave me a chance to start observing the community around me.

Teresa Mira: Activity # 1: Be A Flâneur

A flâneur is someone who walks around the city in order to experience it. The original flâneurs in France walked the arcades to experience the city and the life with in. We now call these arcades malls and in order to be a flâneur I went to Manhattan Mall.

Sitting around the Manhattan Mall for over an hour isn’t exactly the way I normally spend my time in the mall. When I first entered I was just too excited to be at the mall I walked around for a while. I finally found seats downstairs by the escalators. The mall was much emptier than I’m used to, I assume in mid-afternoon on a Wednesday isn’t exactly prime shopping time. I’m also very used to going to the Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City on Long Island, which is the 8th largest mall in the US. I also haven’t really had time to shop in the middle of a week day seeing how I’ve had school during this time most of my life.

In the mall I did however see a lot of women with strollers. I couldn’t exactly tell, however it seemed to be a lot of babysitters with babies as well as some mothers with their babies. This makes sense given the time I was there. Most of the area seemed to be filled with people who work at the mall, be them guards or store workers. The guards seemed to have the same shifts because they talked to each other like they have known each other for years. The store workers seemed to be trying to get more customers into the store, stocking the shelves and making sure their customers have everything they need. I feel like every time you walk into the store they attack you, it’s like “no I don’t need help, I just walked in here a second ago.” Everything in the area seemed to be Valentines Day decorated as well. I being a fan of all holidays but the non-holiday of Valentines Day was just generally sick of this pink and hearts explosion that surrounded the mall. My sitting time was however cut short by my sheer lack of willpower when it comes to shopping.

After about 30 minutes of sitting and watching people partake in my favorite activity I decided I could still be a flâneur and look in stores and possibly buy something in the process. Basically I’m just not a very good flâneur when it comes to being in a mall or generally around shopping temptations. I promptly walked up to look for somewhere to shop. I went to the top level first and saw Strawberry; I’ve never been inside one before so I figured I’d give it a try. It seemed pretty empty as well. There were a few women, probably in their 20’s, shopping in the store. One woman put a bunch of her stuff on the rack and promptly made sure the women looked around near her knew that it was her stuff. I then walked into Victoria Secret the woman, much like the workers down stairs, just as I entered the store asked if I needed help. I declined and continued to look around. There was a man there buying what I assumed to be a Valentines Day gift for his wife or girlfriend. I then left and went downstairs to Charlotte Russe, which was even emptier than the others. I left relatively quickly and went back to my spot on the seats downstairs fulfilling my shopping need. The guards at the stores seemed to look at me suspiciously as I walked around and sat without buying anything. It seemed like they knew I probably could buy something especially with my Starbucks cup, Betsey Johnson bag and Nikon camera but they weren’t quite sure why I wasn’t.

With everything I observed it seems like most average people don’t really pay attention to those around them unless they feel threatened. It seems that people both who work at the mall and shop are a bit paranoid. They feel the need to make sure and make sure again that no one is stealing their things or doing anything of the sort. This mall seems to be going through a transition to attract “higher class” clientele. The stores that are there are more expensive then they once were, to my understanding, and it seems they are still waiting for other stores to decide to open with a few storefronts still vacant.