Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Judyta Banach Activity#6

1. Dolores Hayden in her article “What would a non-sexist city be like?” talks about building a community that would be easily accessible for men and women. She argues that even thought more women started to work, they are still expected to do their job when it comes to family matters, and a lot of times their neighborhoods don’t provide them with good social services.

This activity allowed me to pay closer attention to what kind of services my neighborhood provides to working parents. People with out kids, like me, don’t really think about these issues until they become parents. Although there are really few social services in my community, I found some that are available for people that work late or for parents. One of them is a dental office, where I used to work. The last appointment that people can make is at 7:30 P.M. and most patients ask for that hour. Another place that I noticed where laundry centers. Most of them are open until 9pm and there is even one that is open 24 hours 7 days a week. Because most of the landlords don’t provide an apartment with a washing machine, Laundromats that are open late are very helpful for people with kids.


Most of the “male spaces” located in my neighborhood are not exactly only used my man, but one is able to see a male dominance in them. One place is a barber shop owned by a Russian man, where mostly older men get their hair cuts. It is located in the main street of my neighborhood which is Fresh Pond Rd. In my opinion it is a typical men place because barber shops are designed for them. There are few men that will go to a hair salon where women are gossiping. Another places that looked dominated my men were local bars. The one particular one is not only occupied by men, but also by men from the same country, which is Albania. This place is located on one of the side street, but very closely to main road, where the life is pumping day and night. The bar has been open for almost four years and every time I passed by it, I have never seen a women in there. These men also like to hang out outside of the bar and whistle at every girl passing by.
Locating “women spaces” was the easiest tusk because they are most visible. One of the obvious one is a nail salon, where I have been going for the past five or six years. As most of them, this one is also owned by very nice Chinese woman. Even thought men more and more go to have their nails done, this particular one have been occupied by women only. The only time I saw a man in there, was when the salon offered massages. Another place are hair salons that are located on the main street. Over a past few years the neighborhood became very much occupied by Polish people, and the hair salons are mostly owned by Polish women. An interesting thing that I observed is that these salons are always busy, while the ones owned by other nationalities not so much.

3. Some of the places that queer individuals claim in the city are parks, gay bars, and recently subways. Since gay are being accepted by more and more people, and since gay started to fight for their rights more, one is able to observe gay presence almost everywhere. I have lived in my neighborhood for the past eight years, and I have never seen gays or lesbians. The only place around my neighborhood, where I was able to see how queer individuals claim their spaces was the train. In my opinion they show the affection to one another in public spaces, to make other people understand that they are just like them, but with a different sex orientation.

4. An interesting factor that I saw on “the gay map of New York” is that most of the places available for gay are located in the city. In my opinion, the reason behind this is that people in the city are more open to seeing queer individuals, while those who live in the suburbs or in smaller communities tend to have more conservative point of view. Also there are a lot of tourists in Manhattan from all over the world, who are in New York temporarily and this makes it easier for gays and lesbians to show their affection to each other.
The places for gays and lesbians that the map had it, where bars, hotels, clubs and even cruise parties. On of the cruise parties is located near times Sq. and it holds private sex parties. The hotels that were on the map were mostly located very close to all the hung out areas. Most of those places are located on the west side where the city life is pumping day and night.

5. There are three major places around my neighborhood where I was able to see individuals engaging in private activities in public space. One of them is a sidewalk near subway station, where there is also a bus terminal. The bus drivers like to occupied the whole sidewalk, in the very busy part of the whole street. They usually just gossip or eat a quick lunch. In my opinion they hang out in there on their lunch brake because they like to observe the main street. Inside of the terminal there are benches put outside where only handful of people working for MTA enjoy their lunch sitting. Another place that opened not long ago is a Hookah Bar. It is a space occupied only by teenagers, but in my opinion it wasn’t only designed for them. That is one of few places in the neighborhood where teenagers are being able to meet together, and that is probably the reason why this place became “owned” by them. The third place is a park located near my house, which used by different people on different time of the day. The park is divided into three parts: a playground, a big soccer and baseball field, and a basketball court. Around noon while all the kids and teenagers are in school, there is a big crowd of mothers and nannies with toddlers. Later during the day the same playground is used by teenagers who make out, and engage in their own activities. After school the park is mostly occupied by teenagers, who play basketball or soccer.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Activity #4 (Numbers 1 &2) EUNBYOUL CHO

1. Philip Johnson's daring AT&T Building in Manhattan
AT&T Building in Manhatanna, which is now SONY building, is "most famouse building of the Post modern works inspired by Venturi's lead is Philip Johnson's..." is located in midtown manhattan (Kunstler 83). There are more sky rise building near this AT&T Building. It is surrounded with IBM building and Trump building.

2. I went to the tracks in the Jackson Height between 95st and 25th ave. I saw trail tracks which were middle in the house building. Jackson Height's track is oldest road in Queens county. This track was built in 1672 during the beginning of the time when Jackson Height was developing from a swampy area to trains Medow. Like Kunstler said in her book, "It opened up the nether reaches of the city to poor working poeple who preciously counld;t afford to travel far from their neighborhoods" (87). In Jackson height this track was only path thats connected to other areas such as Woodside ave to Flushing Bay. However, the Queensborough Corportaion bought the land and build many houses which result removing the tracks.

Teresa Mira: Activity # 6: sexualized/gendered/queer spaces

1. “A ‘good’ neighborhood is usually defined in terms of conventional shopping, schools, and perhaps public transit, rather than additional social services for the working parent, such as daycare of evening clinics” (Hayden, 145) In my neighborhood there are various day care centers for working families to use. Not only are there day cares for children, but my personal favorite, dog day care centers like Wiggly Pups, for working dog owners open from 7am to 10pm. Of course, the children day care centers out number such dog day cares. There are a number of 24 hour establishments in the area that allow for someone with any schedule to go, including CVS and Lyric Diner. There is also a 24 hour parking garage that may be used by people who may drive outside of the city for work.

2. Some spaces the city can be defined as a “male” space being a space predominantly attracting men and a “female” space a space predominantly attracting women. Examples of these can be salons or sport’s bars really any place that attracts a majority of one sex over the other. Some examples in my neighbor hood are a few bars that scatter the area seem to be male spaces though others aren’t. Those that seem to be male are the darker and less visually attractive ones. Whether the physical appearance actually is the reason or not, it seems to be the only differentiating factor to this. Some female spaces are two salons next to each other on 23rd street. Another down the street however is not. This may just be a mystery in that there isn’t really any obvious reason for this. Some spaces just end up male and others female.

3. “There is no queer space; there are only spaces used by queers or put to queer use.” (Chauncey) Claiming space for oneself is a fairly common practice whether we notice it or not. People claim space on the subway and trains by putting bags down or taking up space or when teenagers take claim space just by being in that space. Similarly, queer/gay individuals claim space for themselves. Of course, there the obvious queer/gay spaces like gay bars and other such gathering places. They also claim places in parks and even along a street or few blocks even. Comfort and safety seem to be the main reasons for choosing spaces in the city. The aspect of safety was of course very important coming from a past where there had existed “formal anti-gay regulations” (Chauncey).

4. What happens when you search “gay map of new york”? Well apparently, it depends on the search engine what the top result is. Though they all generally contain similar results, websites that list gay bars and clubs and other gay-friendly establishments such as hotels, shops and any other business anyone would want to visit.

5. People engage in “private” activities in public fairly often, be it displays of affection or illegal activities. One place people do such things is along the river. Usually the people here are young adults, who are around high school and college age. They are usually there participating in various activities, because they don’t have anywhere else to go. It is also out of the way and feels as if it can be a little more private than in the open of a street or park. Although often spots in parks are used in similar ways.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Teresa Mira: Activity # 4: Scavenger Hunt Questions 10 & 11

Activity 4: Scavenger Hunt
10. Photograph two different street configurations in Manhattan.

Photo 1: Times Square
In Times Square, the city has newly decided to block off sections from cars driving to allow more space for pedestrians, mainly tourists. A large portion of the area where cars once drove was sanctioned off for this purpose, also making it exceedingly impossible for bikers to ride through the area without fearing for their safety. There are limited bike lanes as well.

Photo 2: Lexington Ave btw 60th and 59th Street
Bloomingdales on Lexington Ave between 60th and 59th Street is another tourist attraction in the city. This street is a one-way street with the sidewalk being the only place for pedestrians to walk. Also, with the street’s considerable less traffic, the bikers even without a bike lane have a safer means of travel.

11. Compare two streets in terms of these factors: the relationships of the buildings to each other, the buildings to the street, the pedestrian to the buildings

“No thought has gone into the relationships between things – the buildings to each other, the buildings to the street, the pedestrian to the buildings.” (Kunstler) This statement can be applied to many areas around the city especially 42nd Street around 7th Avenue. This street and for that matter the entire area surrounding it is like one giant advertisement for the various stores in the area, televisions shows, movies and various other products. The buildings themselves feel as if they are towering up and over to almost create a giant mall out of the surrounding streets. “The absence of trees planted along the sides of the street lends it a bleak, sun-blasted look, which the clutter of signs only aggravates.” (Kustler) The abundance of concrete and the size of the buildings here are so overwhelming to the pedestrian on the street. Though it is not perfect, Bleecker Street around MacDougal Street is a much nicer looking area. The buildings’ sizes are not as overwhelming to begin with. It feels much more homey especially with the trees planted up and down the sidewalks.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alina Gertsenshteyn Activity #4 (questions 8 and 9)

The New York State Department of City Planning makes zoning laws for New York. These laws decide how large different buildings will be and how they will be used. These laws also determine where the buildings will be located. This largely depends on the city’s ability to budget, tax, and condemn property.
In 2005 there have been rezoning laws in Williamsburg which created new luxury condos. This created larger apartments for families; therefore, this change was considered positive plus it was relatively more affordable (they are between N.Fifth and N.Seventh streets. Nearby is a underground parking garage which can have up to 496 automobiles at its capacity. In the book, The Geography of Nowhere, James Howard Kunstler states that, “in almost all communities designed since 1950, it is a practical impossibility to go about the ordinary business of living without a car,” (p.114) with that being said, it is understandable why zoning policies should consider where people will leave their cars and leave space for garages. Unfortunately, garages are usually expensive and people are already putting in a lot of money towards cars (i.e. gas, insurance, etc) but this is a way that the community/private owners can make money. Also, I think that this zoning policy of the garage affects the community by making it easier for tourists to come because they would be able to commute and leave their vehicle behind while exploring.
In Brooklyn, there is a privately gated community called “Oceana” which is located in the Brighton Beach Community which is a predominately Russian area within Brooklyn. Not surprisingly, the contractor is Russian as well- his name is Issac Muss. His first attempt for the project failed in the late 1980s. It opened fairly recently in the year 1999 and most of its residents are second generation Russians who can afford to live there and still want to be close to the community. Oceana is a 850 unit building with an oceanfront. It includes a gym, pool, and a park within the gates for its residents. There is also parking within the community. There is security upon entering. Kunstler points out that “zoning codes devised by engineering firms have been “packaged” (p.114) which is demonstrated by “packaged” like gated communities such as Oceana.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Judyta Banach Activity#4

Question #4- Find someone at Grand Central who is “reverse commuting” and find out why they reverse commute.

Reverse commuter is a person who takes a trip from metropolitan to suburban area. For this activity I had to find someone at Grand Central, who was going out of the city. I decided to do my “scavenger hunt” on Monday morning. As we all know the station is always busy, so at the beginning it was really hard for me to find a person that was going in different direction than everyone else. After sitting there for some time I noticed a woman heading towards a train that was scheduled to go to Long Island. Karla was a babysitter working for a family living in New Rochelle. Her job in the house was to take care of two boys, a two year old and a seven year old. She told me that she used to work in Manhattan, but do to a bad economy, she had to start commuting to Long Island. Karla was happy with her current job, but the downside of taking LIRR everyday was highly priced train tickets and the extra time spend traveling.

Question #5-Ride one of the train lines from the start to finish [ie. Get on in the Bronx and off in Brooklyn] – who is getting on and off as you ride? What does this tell us about the neighborhoods they go through it? How do you personally feel on the train through this ride [Are people looking at you]?

For my trip across the New York City boroughs I chose the M train line. It runs from Middle Village in Queens, passes through Williamsburg and Manhattan, and stops in Brooklyn. Between 10 AM and 3 PM during the week, the M train runs only from Metropolitan Ave through Chambers Str. I picked this subway because it passes through so many neighborhoods and this allows commuters to observe the change in the communities. Because the train station at Metropolitan Ave is located near Catholic High School and stores such as Kmart and BJ’s, the train was packed even though it was its first stop. There was lot of kids going back home as well as people with shopping carts. The one thing that caught my attention even before the train got out of the station, was how teachers from the local high school stood near the train station, and told kids to get into the train and busses and not hang out on the sidewalks. The people that get into the train in the next few stops were mostly white people. Many of them looked like they had white-collar profession because they were dressed very nicely. Then, from Myrtle-Wyckoff until Lorimer street stop the population was more diverse, meaning that I was able to see White, Hispanic, and Black people getting in and off the train. There were also many older people as well as pregnant women that get out on the Flushing Ave stop, where the local hospital was located. At Hewes Str. and Marcy Ave, there were a lot of Jewish people, mostly mothers with kids that “joined” my trip. Once the M train hit the borough of Manhattan, I was able to see people from all over the world. The last stop was Chamber Str., where most of the people transfer to 6 train. The M train runs outside until it hits Essex Str. in Manhattan, and that helped me to see the neighborhoods even more. From what I was able to observe, most of the train stations were located in the busy streets where the life of the community was centered. For the whole trip I felt very comfortable with the people sitting next to me even though the train was a very diverse one.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Alina Gertsenshteyn Activity #3

Columbus circle is a medium sized open area with stone benches and a statue in the middle of it. It is a public place with no signs anywhere regulating its usage. I think anybody can sit in it peacefully. Across from it is central park which also seems like a public area; however, I wonder if anybody has ever been banned from it. I also wonder how the police handle bums who try to get into the area. On hand, they should be allowed there like everybody else if it is a public place but it could be dangerous to other people-especially individuals like the woman who I saw jogging in the dark, since they often are drunk/sick/on drugs and may hurt someone. Central park is not only public to people but it is also a common place for many organisms and animals.
This area is located on 58th and 8th and for this activity I walked from here to 68th and 8th avenue. I passed by the mall in Columbus Circle which technically a private place because it has an owner(s). It is not owned by taxpayers/ordinary citizens. With adherence to government laws on discrimination, they are allowed to not cater to certain people. Malls in America generally seem to be more public because everybody just walks in; as opposed to places like Israel (I visited there in the summer) where you need to go through security check before entering.
Likewise, on the street which I passed there were many stores which are private. I seen popular franchises like McDonalds and Duane Reade; among with boutique stores (i.e. optical) and a bunch of nail/hair/beauty salons. There were also a mixture of restaurants which seemed to range from upscale to low key.
I did this activity at 7:30 pm and it was a clear night but it was pretty cold. I also noted several gathering places. Like starbucks- a cliché. It seems that coffee shops are very “New York” and populated by gangs such as study groups. I think that all gathering places in cold weather are cozy indoor like places. In the warmth people are more likely to sit outside in groups.
In addition, sidewalks are gathering places as well and they are public property. I have met up with a crowd several times on the sidewalks, sometimes on a certain corner. Sidewalks are easy gathering places because there is no pressure to enter private property such as stores and shops and invade the private space. Jane Jacobs had wrote that “lowly, unpurposeful and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow (72).” I think what she is trying to say is that sidewalks are not just as plain and meaningless as they seem in terms of socialization; in fact, public life would be very strange without them. If there were no public sidewalks then the alternative would be segregated private space and it would destroy the ability to freely roam the city.