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.