02 April 2021

29 March 2021

The Barcelona grid

Today is a great day to learn a little more about the 19th Century planner, Ildefons Cerdà. A graduate student at Bloustein called him the The True Founder of Comprehensive Planning. While best known for the Cerda grid, his larger ensanche and regional planning ideas are all important too.

Now Barcelona is staying at the forefront of innovation and expanding on his ideas with the Superblock.





Here is one of the intersections that has been transformed from a car-centered traffic spot into a pedestrian-friendly urban plaza.

15 March 2021

Old Postcards

 Spring Break might normally be a time to send postcards back to your friends in New Brunswick. This year, things are different, so it is a good time to look at postcards FROM New Brunswick.

Ken Lew has posted historic postcards from all around the campuses including these of the Old Queens campus entrance, Balantine's Gymnasium, and the always charming Commons.

He also has scanned a 1977 pictorial summary of New Brunswick history from the First Savings and Loan Association. It includes a late 1800s photo of the steamer, New Brunswick, a women's suffrage march at George and Albany, and the great flood of 1920.

 

 

09 March 2021

In Jackson Heights

As a parallel to the Monrovia pieces, here are some Jackson Heights bits.

I think this is one of the shopping centers that is discussed in the movie:


Peter Bradshaw's review of the film for The Guardian talks about some of the grassroots discussions about redevelopment of the neighborhood. After talking up the diversity of the neighborhood, he describes the tension:

But all this is under threat. Jackson Heights' very identity could be slipping away. Rather like west London, it is being on the point of being gentrified and yuppified to within an inch of its life. Now that Manhattan and Brooklyn are costly and fashionable, the white-collar commuting classes are zeroing in on Jackson Heights, attracted by the charming community spirit that the modest locals have built up over decades - and pricing them out. Local businesses are also being threatened by a scheme called the Business Improvement District or BID which forces business owners to pay an additional tax to support the surrounding infrastructure. Poorer businesses below a certain threshold theoretically need not pay – but they find themselves under pressure to sell up by the bigger corporations moving in and the freeholders are putting their rents up.

The concerns about gentrification and the development of the BID were enough to stop it, eventually.


Manohla Dargis' review of In Jackson Heights talks about how it captures a complex place, "Each person and storefront sign carries a story, opens another world, from “Articulos Católicos” to “Himalayan Driving School” and “Whole Baby Goat.”"


08 March 2021

Monrovia, Indiana

Aside from the Wikipedia entry, here are some other materials on the cinematic little town:
The public library on Street View does not yet seem to have the benches (as of July 2018).




When the film was released, NPR said on Monrovia, Indiana that "Monrovia, Indiana lopes along pleasingly, if a bit too casually, with nothing more dramatic than Homestead resident complaining about the fire hydrants that serve a strictly ornamental purpose in his neighborhood." In November 2020 there was a fire in Homestead which made the hydrants seem pretty important.

The Census lists it as only 1504 people, with the average home value of $77,000. But the home home for sale on Zillow is listed at $299,484.

01 March 2021

Learn about native plant gardens

The snow is melting and spring is 20 days away. Are you ready to prepare your garden fro something new?

As part of the Rutgers Environmental Stewards program, the Earth Day, Every Day webinar series will be presenting Starting a Native Plant Garden. The presentation is next Monday (March 8):

New to native plant gardening? Not sure which native plants will thrive where you live? Angela Monaghan, Master Gardener Coordinator for Middlesex County, taught us how to start native plants from seed back in the fall (EarthDay2020 is the recording password). Angela had so much fun with us that she's BACK to help you plan your new native plant habitat. She'll cover garden site assessment, finding the best native plants for your area, and how to provide resources for pollinators and other beneficial creatures in your garden.
You do need to register so go to Earth Day, Every Day.