Archive for ‘Markets/Commerce’

March 26, 2012

Street Vendor Project twitter feed

http://twitter.com/#!/VendorPower/status/183602647830507520/photo/1
“Thanks to students from #Bard for volunteering with us this morning! #vendorpower! http://pic.twitter.com/ZcSNcC9y”

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March 12, 2012

Portrait of a wonderful yard-sale in the Parisian area – Anna

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Pulling onto last class’s topic of street vending, I would like to talk about one experience of street vending in the Parisian region. In France there is a very strong culture of tag-sales, in which people sell old cloths, furniture, toys and jewelry…Each neighborhood usually has, in Paris-often during the spring time, when the sun is up and it is not as likely to rain- at least one week-end where people have the opportunity to sell their belongings. Here, I would like to give an account of my favorite off all.

Montreuil is a suburb situated right against Paris, on the lower east side of the city. It is said to be one of the poorest and most dangerous areas in and around Paris. Its population is of a great diversity and is comprised of many newly arrived immigrants, mostly of African origins, from the Countries of the Maghreb and of Western Africa, which have a very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. It is also an area of high level of drug dealing, and one does not really walk around in most of Montreuil at night. Some areas feel very sketchy and many buildings are insalubrious and being squatted, others have become high places of culture. There are no galleries or museums, but many artists reside in Montreuil and have open studios. Sometimes these artists and architects have even designed their habitation and it is frequent to see small artistic installations here and there. The municipality is has for a long time been communist. There are many little bistros and cafes where locals often naturally put-up gigs; improvised parks frequently spring up everywhere in vacant spaces, and the cultural life is palpable.

In June, the city organizes a “vide-grenier”, literally an “emptying of the attic”, or small flee-market. On this occasion, the residents are invited to put-up a small stand, or cloth on the ground, in front of their residence. On this occasion, people sell whatever they don’t need anymore, much like people in the states put-up a yard-sale, only here, everybody does it at a fixed date and at one place. They are stands held by whole families, others comprised of bands of old coupes, and others of little children selling their toys. Usually, boys stay together and sell their video-games and baby-toys, while little girls sell their “girl-toys”, like make-up, dolls, cloths…They are also often adolescent groups selling all types of things from their house given by their parents, happy to see them “working”(in France, working under the age of 18 is prohibited). What is incredible is if you think of very small children who are left alone in the street. This seems completely natural when you are there, and you don’t think twice when you have to find the change yourself in their little box. But this is, in the eye of the media, the most dangerous area in and around Paris. This is made possible by the incredible strong sense of community one can sense during this little festival. Everybody talks to everyone, stands are held amongst neighbors, everyone “tutoies” everyone (as opposed to the “vous” which one usually has to employ)…They are also little stands in which one can buy, for nearly nothing, traditional drinks and snacks from whatever the country the neighbor who is selling it is from. One can always get very strong ginger juice called Gnamakoudji, or some “bissap”(a hibiscus flower drink) both of  which are very refreshing on these hot days of June. Other surrounding activities include concerts, often held by young teen-age bands. There is also a long street which is traditionally covered by a long quilt, for which people take off their shoes. Many young children hang-out there, and often only a couple of parents supervise the group. The rest of the street is usually covered by chalk drawings. On the same street is a table on which one can find free things and a couple of tables for the representation of local youth associations, which are often surrounded by large groups of kids and adolescents.

It is absolutely wonderful to see how easily people interact, invite you to try-out cloths in their home or studios, how easily one can bargain and get cheap things. For what this market really is about is not money or shopping at the lowest price. It’s about meeting your neighbors and getting the whole community together on the streets. Although one may at first stance think of a flee market in Montreuil as being dangerous, I see nothing of violence manifested here, nor do I see any trace of tension between the different ethnic groups. Rather, I see an organic, fluid, friendly environment where people feel safe, at home, where children can run around alone, where I am invited in people’s house spontaneously (a very un-French thing to do) and where the streets are, in a “visually chaotic” manner, real propellers and witness of harmony.

December 4, 2011

Jin Jun – CITY, Inc. Presentation

“As a private person, I have a passion for landscapes, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard”

— David Ogilvy, in Confessions of an Advertising Man, 1963

— Visuals:

(1) Model of Songdo IBD

(2) Rendering of Songdo IBD

(3) Screen Capture of Songdo IBD Development Website

(4) Page excerpt from the Songdo IBD Master Plan created by Gale International

(5) A Traditional Korean Dancer at Songdo IBD Opening Event

— Key Points:

<< CITY, Inc.: “Brand” New City, Between Heritage and Modernism >>

1) Concept of City Branding

Post-Industrial Industrialism points to the production of cities.  Just as it was/is in manufactured goods, brand-power becomes an important aspect of the city’s image.  From architectural structures built to attract and impress to the commodification of the city’s identity, the “future” cities are being crafted to be marketed, branded, and consumed.

2) Crafting the City: Songdo IBD

“Among the growing number of these “in-a-box” cities, one in particular has gained the media glory, deemed as the canonic model of the future city: Songdo International Business District in South Korea” (from my paper). Songdo International Business District is a city built on Korean land, by an American corporation, for the international audience.

[A] City as a factory, city as a product: Made-from-scratch city.

[B] Marketing Approaches

  • Main Concept: Aerotropolis
  • Environmental: “Sustainable City”
  • Economic: “Global Business Hub”
  • Equity: “A Master Plan Inspired by the World”

3) Discourse: What is lost and left behind?

[A] Between Heritage and Modernism

  • Does this city of the future neglect cultural heritage?
  • The question of value: what “sells” v. what is meaningful

[B] Staged Authenticity

  • City to be seen v. city to be experienced

[C] False Name of Sustainability

  • Sustainably-made city v. city of sustainable practice

“Sustainability as we speak of today is often a selfish mask that works to save our own asses from the “Day After Tomorrow” and neglects the immediacy of our cities’ internal “Crash.”” — My paper

  • Social sustainability

“The utopian ideals seen in Songdo International Business District, and other in-a-box cities alike, may point to the start of the dystopian future in the familiar cities around us.  The true “Day After Tomorrow” we should fear is not that of snow-covered metropolis, or urban volcanic eruptions, but a lost sense of cultural identity and heritage in the modern city concerned only with the brand-value attached to the repeating barcodes of glass skyscrapers.” — My paper

4) Further thought on ‘Branding’ as it relates to current issues

In thinking about the recent activities of Occupy Wall Street and/or the Atenistas Group (discussed during one of the EUS Colloquim lectures) within the spatial setting of a city, consider the following quotes:

“Branding is on the agenda of policy centers, transnational agencies, and think tanks, alternatively investigated as a strategy for international diplomacy, a matter of public policy and a source of institutional funding.”

— M. Aroncyzk and D. Powers (3)

“the role of advertising changed from delivering product news bulletins to building an image around a particular brand-name version of a product.”

— Naomi Klein, in No Logo, 2000 (32)

“in a striking reversal of No Logo’s Lessons, many anticorporate activists and their causes themselves became “brands,” taking the rationalized logic of brand management to the heart of their organization.”

— Melissa Aroncyzk and Devon Powers, in Blowing Up the Brand (2)

December 4, 2011

Project Presentation – Jess Lambert

 

 

My project was on the Deuce, an infamous district that was located in Tiems Square, which today is a Disney occupied tourist area, and an icon of the city.  My thesis is that the factors that changed Times Square from a semi-Red Light District to a tourist area are: it’s location, wealth in the area and in teh city, social stigma with the Deuce and legislation (to a lesser extent).

Times Square evolved, as many neighborhoods do, into a socially acceptable area, and one of the city’s most well known sources of tourism. That battle was a long one, and became an actual problem in the 1960’s, as the square held thousands of war protestors – and the generation that would open the floodgates for public acknowledgement of sexuality.  As an overtly sexualized area, the public would not respond well to the introduction and thriving of such a culture and all it brings in – but would rally to ‘clean up’ Times Square into the icon we know it to be today. This was not only due to the nature of the vendor’ s wares, but to several factors; primarily Times Square’s location in Manhattan, the influx of wealth to surrounding areas, the social stigma it gained and it’s potential for development.

 

1) Wealth  – Times Square is centered in one of the areas with the highest cost of living.

Proximity to the Upper East Side, which is filled with affluent residents, pushes the city to maintain a neighborhood better in order to keep the value of the land they’re on, and their neighborhoods, worth as much – also, safety.

City prices are a huge factor, and many stores were selling products and 50 to a hundred times their actual prices, especially pornographic materials.

Developers coming in saw the potential in Times Square.

2) Social Stigma surround such explicitly sexual areas was characteristic of the time period and the values the city was trying to portray itself as having.

Historical Neighborhoods were being overrun with the expansion of teh tawdry businesses. Many buildings and previous cultural centers were being converted to flea markets or pornographic/B movie theatres.

Safety of the area was declining with the demographic that was brought in by the businesses.

 

3) Laws were not made at this time to effectively curtail the expansion of the risque, yet lucrative businesses that were moving in.

Legislation moves slowly, but does make progress, and it became more and more specific on legality of certain practices.

Public Committees were formed and moved to protest the inhabitation of Times Square, reflecting public opinion.

 

4) Location was key to the change in Times Square – it’s central, and close to Penn Station and Port authority both.

Potential as a tourist area was considered, since it is almost the literal center of Manhattan.

Developers pouring money into Manhattan had little room to work with once they redeveloped the east side, and were forced to go west.

 

 

Although it was a variety of factors, all interconnected, the Deuce was a long lived endeavor. Whether or not it was a good thing or bad, it’s up to you. I can just say the evolution of the area has shaped the city as we know it today, and the landmarks that define NYC.

November 28, 2011

The Economic Politics of Safety vs. Public Space – Jess Lambert

A Red Light District doesn’t only attract people looking for sex, but also tends to bring in drugs and violence as a result of the lawlessness that already comes with prostitution and having to run businesses behind closed doors. As a result, most Red Light Districts don’t act as a celebration of sexuality, but instead have a negative stereotype that is multiplied by the drugs, violence and other illegalities, to the point where it becomes a social anathema. As we have discussed in class, the hours of the day affect our idea of safety greatly, and such a district, which operates fully at night – would threaten the perceived safety of the surrounding neighborhoods. As Solnit commented on in Walking After Midnight, female writer Sarah Schulman ‘explores the charms of East Side Manhattan in the 1980’s…”[to] walk the streets for hours with nowhere to go but where she ended up”. Solnit also capitalizes on the dangers for women walking alone, especially in urban areas. Although today dangers still exist, the ability for women to have that freedom is not taken for granted. However, in the case of residential areas near such districts that attract dangerous types, it serves to limit that freedom to walk around in your own neighborhood, and the freedom to live without ever present fear for safety.

           Specifically, my project focuses on the abolishment of the Times Square Red Light District, and how it affected the wealth in neighboring communities. Think of it this way: where you live is judged according to many factors, including safety and desirability. In the ratings scale, the higher rated, generally the higher property value. The higher the property value, the most desirable and expensive it will be, and the wealthier the residents. Therefore, with the ‘cleaning up’ of the Red Light District, the Upper East Side, and neighboring communities became more desirable and safe, inviting higher property values and contributing to the predominance of wealth in those areas. With the Red Light District in place, I can guarantee due to safety and overall social distaste compounded due not only to sexuality and lewdness, but mostly to the illegality of certain attracted cultures, that the area would be less desirable, and reserved for people who can only afford to live in areas listed as ‘bad neighborhoods’.

My project intends to deal with not only legality, sexuality, safety, gender, space, wealth, etc. – but is also focusing on how these decisions on spaces and use of public space have deeply impacted the city as we know it today.

November 28, 2011

Crafting the City: Le Corbusier’s Vision in Songdo IBD

My research is in city branding and marketing, and the effects of globalization breeding light into the idea of city as a product.  I decided and finally chose a new city that I want to use as my case study.  I chose to deviate from my initial plan, (1) because handful of like-research have already been done on the previous cities I’ve mentioned (Athens, Dubai, etc.), and (2) because I wanted to pick a city that better fit the idea of a “product city.”  So the new “city” I chose is Songdo International Business District in South Korea, which oddly enough is not a city yet.  It already has everything a city can ask for, except for the physical manifestation of it.  It’s been designed and fabricated from scratch, and the entire city is currently “under construction.”  (More information about Songdo IBD can be found here, or my paper in the near future 🙂 ).  Of course, when I first read about this development, I thought of Le Corbusier.

 

“Cities aren’t created by any one specialist or expert.”
— Excerpt from the description of the film, Urbanized by Gary Hustwit

I’ve noted on the blog earlier this semester on the quote above: what would Corbusier think of such statement?  As Jon commented, and as anyone who is familiar with Corbusier’s work would agree, he would probably hostilely disagree.  However, Songdo IBD on the other hand bears very much of the vision held by Corbusier, if not taking it another step.  Everything about Songdo is a fabrication.  From the land it (will) stand on, the infrastructure, the architecture, and even the people: it is designed on a man-made landscape with buildings and roads designed from a clean-slate for the international citizen.  For this project that Corbusier would have killed to do, a New York based architecture firm, Kohn Pedersen Fox, took on the job of coming up with the master plan for Songdo IBD.  In the process, Songdo is being shamelessly branded, marketed, and advertised, taking what have been a figurative idea of a “city as a product,” and making it literal.  We’ve moved from branding pre-existing cities for the tourist market, to crafting a city for the international-citizen market.  Furthermore, if college campuses work as intellectual capitals of the global nation, brining in different perspectives from all around the world for a more comprehensive discussion, Songdo proposes to be the same, but as an economic capital of the global market.

My Take on Songdo IBD

During my research, I’ve found that most discussions surrounding Songdo City is that of a positive one, praising its innovative and sustainable practice.  However, I’m taking a rather negative stance toward such development, along with Nicolas Lemann of the New Yorker, in asking: Are we thinking too much about the future that we’re leaving behind the present, and the past?

 

— What’s more important?

I plan on discussing the lost heritage of the nation and a skewed sense of sustainability bred by Songdo development.  For one, a modern city has taken its toll and breached far beyond the meaning of a city, to the point where a city is thought of as a place not made by the people but simply composed of.  The de-humanization of cities and the cultural heritage that follows is something to be thought of in light of these prefabricated cities.  On the other, the sustainability as we speak of today is a selfish mask that works to save our own asses from the Day After Tomorrow and neglects the immediacy of our internal Crash.  Sustainable practice today is a privilege, and it is not a choice for some, mainly lower-class, citizens.  I want to explore how a “sustainably-made city” may be different from a “city of sustainable practice” and the affects of each to the citizens of a city.

November 7, 2011

Jin Jun – What’s Left Behind (Shrinking Cities)

The problem with assigning a city with the stigma of a “shrinking city” is that it fosters a discussion that focuses on the population that leaves, as opposed to the population that stays.  The success in rehabilitation of cities are then attributed to architects, planners, or politicians that bring “life” back to the city through new technology or progressive bills, where the remaining populations are presented as hopeless and helpless.  Here, what we discuss less about is the remaining populations in those shrinking cities that participate heavily in the revitalization of their neighborhoods through community development and empowerment.  We mostly talked about Detroit and Baltimore, but I wanted to bring New Orleans to the conversation, which is indeed a post-industrial city whose ‘shrinkage’ due to the impact of post-industrialization was masked by the detrimental effects of the hurricane and the flood thereafter.  Check out this article:

http://www.metropolitiques.eu/New-Orleans-as-a-Rust-Belt-City.html

 

During my internship with Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) in New Orleans two summers ago, one of my main job was to assess the number of vacant properties in the neighborhood I was working in: Freret.  Freret is a mostly black neighborhood once famous for it Freret Street market, but also a result of a de facto residential segregation explained by what is known as the “white teapot.”  It has a weird socio-economic demographic where most of the neighborhood suffers from poverty, except for a small southwestern part surrounding a prestigious private school.  During my job, we went block by block, recording the building conditions of each property (as objectively as possible ranging from poor, fair, & good) and analyzed the progress of rehabilitation between 2008 and 2010 along several categories.  The result was deemed rather amazing.  The number of “poor” conditioned properties decreased from 13% to 7%, and the number of “vacant” properties decreased from 28% to 16%.  But what was more great about Freret was that it never given the light of the helping hands given by Habitat for Humanity or Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation.  For the most part, they were autonomous rebuilding despite its poverty stricken populations.  For me, the question that arise from this was how did this happen?  Where did the incentive to rebuild come from?  Despite how shrinking cities are seen mostly as a economic problem, the answer seemed to be something totally unrelated:

Although the Freret was still left with 16% vacant properties (383 vacant out of 2363 total properties), the spirit was still there.  Covered beneath the myriad of blighted properties was the long history of community spirit, culture, and hope.  When I talked to the residents of Freret who had lived in the neighborhood since birth, they often mentioned the flourishing local economy of Freret Street that once existed and how they long to see that come back to life.  Shrinking cities mean shrinking jobs and shrinking hopes.  If a city loses its vernacular spirit and vivacity, it has lost everything.  Freret, and other neighborhoods in New Orleans, seemed to have held on to that spirit despite various numbers of obstacles.  In the wake of an economic downfall of the city (and natural disasters), if the culture and the spirit strongly tied to the physical land and street still prevail as an important commodity for the community, the remaining population would do anything necessary to bring back “life” to their street-corners.

When we talk about populations within in a city, the question of nativity rates (the number of people who were born in a city who stays in the city, or come back to it, through out their lives) often comes up.  Las Vegas, to my knowledge has the highest nativity rate.  New Orleans follows with 77.3% of its citizens staying in New Orleans throughout their lives (Data: Richard Campanella, Bienville’s Dilemma).  Even from the cold, number data, the sense of spirit tied to the city itself is apparent.

Today, the new shiny tourism industry replaced the now rusty shipping/oil industry in New Orleans.  As a direct response to the shrinking populations, the city started to redress itself as a place of interest, using its history, culture, or geography as a selling point.  However, the bigger question at hand in my opinion, is the very argument stated in the article above:

 

 The city as theme park is good for the visitors and the managers: but the only place in the country that a hotel room attendant (housekeeper/chambermaid) can send her child to college is Las Vegas – and that’s because it is a union town (Meyerson 2004; Flanders 2004). Urban planners and economic development gurus take note; most everywhere else in the US that casinos have promised urban uplift the poor have stayed poor.”

When a city focuses too much on the economic uplift, it often neglects the populations within the city that is most affected by poverty.  Behind the glimmering lights and flowing tourist money, the darkest allies are being shadowed once again, as if it wasn’t dark enough to begin with.

November 4, 2011

Shrinking Cities- Armaan Alkazi

With the Shrinking of Cities all over the world, more and more urbanized land is being left vacant. This land, which is often a eyesore also opens up a huge array of possibilities in this new urban playground. Dozens of projects have sprung up trying to deal with these new spaces, whether through urban farming or new urban art, they all aim at urban renewal. I believe when looking forward to what we can do, it is important to appreciate why urban decay took place in these cities. The answer, in part, is the flying around of capital. Most of the cities currently in decline Detroit, Manchester, Baltimore etc were once industrial powerhouses. They were built up by huge capital investments for mass production of goods and were destroyed once it became more profitable for companies to move elsewhere. The cities were built to service the global market and were created around the assumption that they would always be competitive. The cities did not focus on small scale, local industry and commerce which has to be rooted in a specific place. Their inability to build a (somewhat) self sustaining entity is what has allowed them to get destroyed.

The way forward, I believe, has to be rooted in small scale,sustainable and people centric production. Capital is not emotional towards its effects, its movement will always be controlled by where it can be most quickly reproduced. Networks of small industry and commerce on the other hand, that are grounded on a human scale, understand that in an economy the producers matter as much as the consumers. These networks and bonds are what create communities and communities are far harder and more resilient in falling then big corporations.

But perhaps the best way to explain why these cities have ended up this way is by quoting Marx. “Capital is dead labor, which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks. Marx

 

November 1, 2011

Not Just Shrinking Cities – Jess Lambert

Ever seen Dirty Dancing? Yeah, me neither – but it serves as one of those famous movies that represents a completely different era. In fact, Dirty Dancing was set in a Catskills resort, the same resorts that were famous during the 70’s, a sort of middle class vacation that was affordable, and in those days , booming.

Poolside Before

Poolside After

However, as time has gone on we’ve seen the retreat of that ideal – most middle class workers no longer can afford vacations, and hotels are either luxuriously catering to the elite, or, well, pretty much an Econolodge made only for sleeping in an area for convenience. Now, hold on, there is a parallel here – with cities like Detroit shrinking with the fall of the industrial nation in America – there are other areas suffering from the same shift in what is being consumed and outsourced. In my hometown there’s a small hotel called Grossinger’s, now abandoned. In it’s heyday, this was one of the most famous hotel resorts in the northeast, it brought people from all over the east coast and set a precedent that was quickly followed by the rest of the Borscht Belt ( a moniker given to the resort that sprung up all over Sullivan County that catered to middle to upper middle class Jewish families).

Grossinger's Indoor Art-Deco Architecture

These resorts were so popular that towns sprung up around them, enjoying the huge business that the hotels brought to the area. However, as disposable income fell and inflation rose, the typical family couldn’t afford to frequent the resorts much longer. As time went on, the decor became out of place, the number of people coming in fell and the resort, one by one went bankrupt and locked their doors. That’s all they did though, just locked the doors and walked away – making it a little too easy for urban explorers to check it out. Seeing as only 30 years have passed since Grossinger’s kicked out it’s poolside guests, to see it today is just an example of a economic interest, a service-producing industry that has fallen by the wayside.

 

Grossinger's as I know it.

        If you see these resorts now, especially Grossinger’s, you’ll note the lovely misspelled Neonazi graffiti, and enjoy the flooded basements, the spa turned into a murky pond, and the little messages for the last guests yellowing in their cubbies. To me, it’s beautiful. However, to the generation before mine, it represents a bygone era. My father was an employee for Grossinger’s in his youth. When he was our age, he was working as a valet, in the fancy red jackets, racing Cadillacs to the edge of the parking lot for a quick dollar – it was a place that was fun, one of the best first jobs you could want. To see it today is heartbreaking. It also represents the death of our area. Once the hotel business dried up, all the money left the area. There’s no destination in Liberty, it’s a midway point that people stop by only if they have to. The income to the area has left, leaving deserted street corners, empty, broken shop windows and one or two small seedy bodega left for those who grew up in the area when it was full of business – and never left.

Barrel jumping?

When the source of income leaves an area, just like in Detroit, the city quickly becomes undesirable. We see a 30% increase in crime every 3 years. Low-income housing has flooded the area – all the jobs are in the snack plant that hires illegal immigrants, and it’s hard to make ends meet. In 30 years, we have gone from a popular destination, a town that thrives, to a backwater town with nothing better to do than toss rocks at windows. It’s the change in wealth. The change in money influences the area so completely, that with a shift in interest by the public, comes a shift in living conditions for the townspeople.  I have a feeling this is exactly what has happened in post-industrial America to all the towns whose source of revenue has disappeared due to outsourcing, and other factors that are natural with progression in our economy. The only thing that truly scares me is the fact that no one’s going to restore Liberty. No one’s going to pour too much more money into reestablishing Detroit. What happens when this reaches the next city as it is inevitably going to? And what if the shrinking effect doesn’t stop?

Happy visitors

October 31, 2011

Landscapes of Consumption: Las Vegas

The relevant parts for this class are 1:04-1:58 and 5:44-6:50

October 30, 2011

Cleveland, Ohio: Shrinking or Stabilizing? – Grace Diliberto

In this past decade, Cleveland, Ohio made its mark with the fastest rate of decline of any major city, aside from New Orleans, losing population at an alarming pace. At a steady rate of a 1% loss per year from 2000-2009, Cleveland lost nearly 10% of its population in the past decade as a whole. Once America’s 5th largest city, Cleveland now hovers around the 41st, with a 2009 census population of 433,748.

Having been hurt largely by the shift from mass manufacturing to specialized manufacturing, which requires fewer workers, Cleveland has become a haven for home foreclosures and vacant properties as the trend of jobs as a predominant factor in U.S. migration persists. One proposal for why Cleveland continues to struggle to pull in residents lies in the attitude of the city, more specifically the fear of foreigners. According to Mark Rosentraub, professor of urban studies and former dean of Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs, “there’s going to have to be a renewed commitment to immigration. No American city is growing without immigrants”. High-skill immigrants do, indeed, contribute to creating jobs, but they only flock to welcoming cities.

At the end of the last decade and in more recent years, however, Cleveland’s population began to show signs of possible stabilization. The decline lessened from the average of 1% per year to about 0.6% in 2010. At this point the decline has risen above that of Flint, Michigan. Beyond the percentages and numbers, Cleveland’s community continues to show promise. At the neighborhood level, the city has managed to hold on, at least to an extent, to social, developmental, and political capital through Community Development Corporations. 34 of Cleveland’s 36 defined neighborhoods maintain an established CDC, which encourages many positive innovations such as non-residential economic development, residential development and rehabilitation, neighborhood improvements, citizen outreach, grassroots organizing, and assistance with planning projects.

With a slow in population decline, an emphasis on a neighborhood planning approach, a greater connection between the city and its main institutions, such as the university, and a more welcoming stance toward immigrants, Cleveland can still maintain hope of a brighter future, despite the often staggering numbers.
http://shrinkingcities.wordpress.com/tag/cleveland/

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2010/06/22/cleveland-biggest-loser-census-estimates.html

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/06/a_shrinking_cleveland_may_have.html

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/07/cleveland_lost_nearly_10_perce.html

October 30, 2011

Gabe Adels-Camden Waterfront

This post could be read in conjunction with Kathy’s article, also about Camden…

Camden, NJ, is located across the Delaware River from my home city of Philadelphia. It is notoriously the epitome of an, ugly, post-industrial, dangerous city. The crime rate is one of the worst ten in the country, even though it’s a relatively small city. Growing up, I felt like the Camden Waterfront was the one thing that made the city worth visiting. Now I realize that the Waterfront just makes the city the epitome of  the privatization of “public space” leading, basically,  to segregation, and a lack of welfare to the actual residents of the city.

Growing up, I’d occasionally frequent Camden for a a very specific set of tasks. The aquarium, the Vans Warped Tour, a really good thrift store off the highway. It always seemed like a depressed place, but I never thought too much about it, too excited to see sharks or A New Found Glory. Last summer, as a cultural experiment, I went back to the waterfront to see an enormous sold-out Phish show. We took the subway one stop past the waterfront stop, and walked from there. We walked through neighborhoods of houses that looked totally abandoned except for vendors selling glow sticks. There was an eery silence, and cop cars flashing lights in every direction. Not only had the entire economy of the city seemingly been converted from Campbell’s Soup Factory jobs to street vendors serving the wealthy stoners of Philadelphia’s suburbs, but the police force had been as well. Dutifully protecting us and our money from the criminal threat of Camden, which was left to its own devices as the festival raged on.

The waterfront, still the hub of economic activity in the area, shifted from an industrial to a recreational space. The entertainment is not targeted towards Camden residents, who don’t have as much money as Philadelphians across the river. The waterfront, and economic activity, becomes defined by non-natives of the city, and the local residents have no means to find work. Drugs, Crime, emigration. The epitome of a shrinking city.

http://www.camdenwaterfront.com/

not an interesting link, just give you a taste of the bland flavor…

October 29, 2011

Making Art from Shrinking Cities

The University of California, Berkeley  began a research project on shrinking cities in 2004 and from that research they defined a shrinking city as “a densely populated urban area with a minimim population of 10, 000 residents that has faced population losses in large parts for more than two years and is undergoing economic transformations with some symptoms of a structural crisis”(from Planning Shrinking Cities by Justin B. Hollander). Shrinking cities have become a global pattern in the past 50 years as cities that were dependent on manufacturing begin to deindustrialize. Should we fight the decline in population and falling economic markets in these cities to preserve social history? Should we accept the decline and have urban planners re-organize cities to cope with the shrinking population?  Is it even possible to use modern planning tools to shrink cities? There are many social, political, and economic sides to shrinking cities but nothing substantial has happened in any shrinking city to either resist or foster the inevitable down-sizing. Instead most of this phenomenon has caught the attention of artists in different ways in reaction to this new kind of space.

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Detroit has become a hub for artists who need a cheap place to live and large studio space.  Artists in the neighborhood have started to build up the neighborhood by taking over houses, maintaining them, and thinking of innovative ways to further the area. Shrinking Cities have also brought a different art movement in Europe. The devastating shrinking cities in Europe instigated a major art project by the German Federal Cultural Foundation to further dialogue around shrinking cities.  Since 2002 photographers and researchers have concentrated globally on demolishing urban infrastructure and residential improvements.  They focused on four cities: Detroit; Halle/Leipzig, Germany; Manchester/Liverpool, England; and Ivanovo, Russia.  The result is an exhibit that circulated globally in 2007. This exhibition documents the economic, social, and cultural change that has coincided with the physical changes of shrinking cities.

Further Information:

Planning Shrinking Cities by Justin B. Hollander

More on Shrinking Cities Exhibit

New York Times Debate on Shrinking Cities

Shrinking Cities Exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit

October 26, 2011

Urban slums as the latest dining/nightclub experience-Myan Melendez

http://www.favelachic.com/paris/

A review of the nightclub:

The saunalike dance floor of this Brazilian festa is always packed with an under-40 crowd grinding to bossa jazz and samba rap. They make some of the best mojitos in town here, and if you get bored its entrance literally faces the door to le Gibus, another fine dancing destination. A favela, incidentally, means “slum” in Brazilian Portuguese. Open Tuesday to Thursday 8pm to 2am.

I came across this website as posted on one of my Facebook friend’s walls. The friend expressed great discomfort and outrage with the idea of Brazil’s notorious slums being re-imagined as a hip dining and nightclub experience in Paris.

Revelers at Favela Chic, Paris

The space is decorated in a hodgepodge of colorful prints and mismatched furniture reminiscent of the ramshackle appearance of extant favelas. Everything in the club also has a purposefully rundown vibe. It’s sorta up in the air as to whether this club was meant as a celebration of the rich culture that has sprung out of a notably bad situation or if it is a tactless mockery of such. It is well known that favelas suffer from extreme poverty and social inequities. Favelas were first seen in the late 1800’s when former soldiers erected shanty towns outside of Rio de Janeiro in an effort to petition for their unpaid salaries. Later newly freed slaves took refuge in these burgeoning shanty towns when they could not find housing anywhere else. During the 1970’s there was again a boom in favela populations as rural Brazilians moved to cities in search of better opportunities. In the past decade or so government efforts in Brazil have led to a diminishing of favela life.

October 12, 2011

Gabe Adels-CCS Lobby

What an underutilized space! There’s one bench when you walk in, and I’ve never seen someone sitting on it. The walls are bright white. 3 of the walls are large glass windows, with glass doors. The other wall is a service/welcome desk that provides no purpose other than a friendly “hello” as you walk in, or a reminder  that “the museum is not open today”.

The most hilarious thing about the room is an electrical socket, located just beside the service window. There are no tables or chairs around it. It has no apparent use. Did the architect put it there as a joke? To challenge the sterility of creative presentation? It’s assumed an electrical socket has no aesthetics-its sole function is use. The way we try separate art and “real life” by creating a portal into a world commentated by a female woman with a British accent who seems to whisper into your ear “Please do not move or be moved by the art” Well, I decided I would use that socket, and got myself into some trouble.

I sat down with my friend Cy, and she plugged her computer into the socket and we composed a couple of business type emails together. I was sitting on my skateboard, rolling gently to and fro. The was no activity other than us in the room for 10 minutes. I did a, slow extended glide across the room on my butt,  leaning ever so slightly to turn in full control. Suddenly, from behind one of the glass doors burst the security guard, screaming “Out! Get out! Get that out of here! The skateboard stays out! You get out of here with that skateboard!”

I flip the skateboard upside down, to show that I will not be rolling on it again. I resume my business with Cy. 5 minutes later, another security guard comes in, silently followed by the first. “I don’t mean to seem like I’m picking on you guys, but you can’t lean your backs against the wall. You’ll scuff them up, and the walls are part of the presentation of the art.”

What ideals are behind this separation between usable space and a space for art? Why, with art, is space so rigidly defined in terms of its functions? The museum space is not to be used for anything other than an extremely specific way of interacting with fine art. You can sit on that bench for 5 minutes, but if you fall asleep on it, you’ll be woken up. If a work of art moves you to sobbing tears, you will probably be seen as a threat and asked to leave. If something makes you want to sing or laugh you will be shushed.

These behavioral guidelines are inherently elitist. They maintain a separation between art, and the real world, as if normal people cannot make or appreciate art. They create a context that excludes those unwilling or unable to participate in a stuffy culture of specific behaviors, thoughts, and dress. These conventions should be challenged on every level. The institution of the museum and gallery may not be effected by city planning, etc.. Rebellion on however small a level raises awareness to the hypocrisy and ridiculousness until it catches on and people start to create and market art in other ways, to complement the portal into snobbery.

October 11, 2011

Kathy, Roose Ave street vendors

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For ten years that I been living in Jackson Heights, I always seen the high amount of street vendors throughout Roosevelt avenue. My guess is that this avenue has become commercialized due to the elevated train: the 7.From Dominican Chimis at 103rd Street to the Mexican truck outside the 74th Roosevelt station, this avenue reveals the prevalence of the Latin American community in the area. I personally dislike walking through Roosevelt, both day and night the street is crowded, families with strollers take a lot of the space that is left, everybody is screaming to each other because of the loudness and the different interactions that are happening around: a kid yelling for an ice cream, some old men deciding what “bootlegged” movie to buy, Each one is $5 and two for $8 (that’s a deal), another vendor saying repeatedly “battery battery battery, One dola One dola One dola!,” other promoting their business by giving a ton of flyers. With time I didn’t notice them anymore, I just ignored everything and walk to my destination. But, these street vendors make Jackson heights different. It gives more color, more tastes, more odors, and more variation. Flyers informed us about parties around the area, parades, or new entrepreneur business. Everyday the street vendors are in their same spot, during the same hours, ready to make a living. I decided to interview the vendors at Junction blvd and Roosevelt. One Colombian vendor, told me that this is the only way he could get money, it’s his own job and has been for three years, the police does not bother him, and most importantly he could related to his customers. Many vendors that sell merchandized sell by season and by fashion; food vendors are the steadiest due to their daily customers and the type of food they put out. Food vendors are mostly run by family members, many of them have three stands and located themselves in strategic spots to have a better profit. Fruits vendors are also by the season, although they know that people love mango and lemon. Ice cream and Italian ice vendors just work in the summer, and during the winter they find jobs in nearby supermarkets or groceries stores. For street vendors this is an honorable way of making a living. In their eyes, they are not committing any felonies, they don’t steal or kill. They have the same rights as any other business entrepreneur to produce and sell their goods.

*The picture of the dog: the owner was asking for $1 every picture taken! What a way to make money!

Advice: food trucks are amazing; if you don’t believe me look them up in Yelp.com. The trucks that have 5 starts most are in Roosevelt Avenue. They are people too, this is their business; this is their lifes.

October 11, 2011

Ad for Street Vendors

For my Street Art class (taught by Hap Tivey) we had to create an advertisement that would go up on our class street/wall.  In light of our discussion on Wednesday, I decided to make an ad for street vendors.  Thought I would share…

  

Pasted on the wall:

 

Our wall (I remember someone was doing their project on street art… relevant?):

 

October 3, 2011

John Scott Husak- CityPlace Project Proposal

CityPlace is a premier shopping and entertainment center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Opening in October of the year 2000, the two floor “upscale lifestyle center” boasts over 100 stores that span across 72-acres of Western-European style architecture. CityPlace offers a variety of services and entertainment to its visitors, ranging from beauty salons and real estate offices, to luxurious restaurants and high-end movie theatres. Bright rope lights wrap around the palm trees that line the streets. Stores such as Brookstone and Macy’s surround courtyards containing impressive fountains and tropical foliage. CityPlace has two Starbucks—one less than a five-minute walk from the next. While people visit CityPlace during the day for shopping, the space doesn’t truly come alive until the sun goes down and is replaced with the artificial lights of nightlife. The sound of clinking glasses comingles with conversation and over-exaggerated revelry. Restaurants and shops fill to the brim with people who want to see and, maybe more importantly, be seen. Who are these people? CityPlace caters to a wide variety. We see the young, adorably awkward couple on their first date. We see a father with his four kids, hands held in a chain, emerging from the movie theatre. We see grandparents displaying their love for their family memberes through material tokens—a new dress, some sunglasses, an iPod. The sisters walk out of Serendipity’s with humorously large ice cream cones in their hands. A group of guy friends making eyes at some ladies from across the bar. These are the visions that CityPlace wants you to see—the feelings and ideals that fueled the space’s very creation. And often enough, these are the scenes that one sees when visiting CityPlace. But there are times when the area’s past manages to seep back in through this newly formed protective bubble. The crime, gang violence, and drug use is still ever present. Like a leak that can’t be plugged it drips rhythmically, and the area deemed CityPlace constantly remains dampened by what it has been trying to get rid of for over a decade now. Gunshots ring outside the movie theatre on some evenings. Visitors wonder, was it always like this? What existed before our beloved CityPlace? And when this sanctuary for indulgence was constructed, where did all of it go?

CityPlace was built upon the corpses of crack houses. The area of downtown West Palm Beach used to belong to the homeless, the violent, the addicted, the misunderstood. Minorities squatted inside of abandoned summer homes, often forming communes and raising families there. Gangs convened inside of rundown factories and alleyways. Crime and debauchery were rampant in the area, and they city of West Palm Beach had no way of covering up it’s presumably ugly face. Thus, a mask was constructed smack dab in the middle of the downtown area. The crack houses were burned down, the ashes cleared out, and the grubby streets were steamrolled to make room for what was to become one of the largest gentrification projects in South Florida.

It is clear that the developers of CityPlace envisioned something that was more than a mall—what they envisioned was a lifestyle. A lifestyle that would have its ideals founded on the principals of capitalism, and one that would make it virtually impossible for the previous residents to continue their occupation of the area. But is a public space, an area in which it is the users that determine the purpose, something that can be undefiled? The planners of CityPlace overlooked a key issue. Where did they expect all of the exiled to go? Now, the very people that the city of West Palm Beach is trying to eradicate are forever destined to slowly orbit the outskirts of this CityPlace. In my essay, I will cover why CityPlace was built, what it has to offer, and what occupies the area surrounding it. But more interestingly, I will focus on how City tries to manage the teeming anger of hundreds of people that it has kicked out back onto the streets, all while keeping the upper-middle class intoxicated by it’s shiny lights and fancy material goods. What are we risking by pumping money into a lifestyle of indulgence? What is lost as a result? Are the urban planners in West Palm Beach solving a problem, or are they simply brushing a problem under the rug and covering the rug with fake, plastic jewels? Since there isn’t much written on this particular issue already, I will be attempting to get information from the city of West Palm itself, as well as interviewing my grandparents and relatives who remember the area how it used to be.

Link to CityPlace: http://www.cityplace.com/

(List of shops, mission statement, etc.)

Trailer for “Gangsters and Thugs,” a documentary made in West Palm Beach that glorifies violence, crime, and drugs. A lot of the scenes occur in areas around or in CityPlace as well as areas that I recognize from when I grew up there. My high school is right across the street from city place and the film’s producer, Raylo, actually used to come up to my friends and me on occasions and promote his movies. WARNING- some of the footage is a bit disturbing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs7o5NuvL4o

Article stating that CityPlace faced a foreclosure lawsuit just this September: http://www.hauteliving.com/2011/09/palm-beach%E2%80%99s-cityplace-faces-foreclosure-lawsuit/

Again, I am looking for more sources, but it seems that there is a very small amount of information that is available on the subject.

October 3, 2011

Barbara Haupt Proposal- Comparison of Two “Slums”

We have discussed many times in class how derogatory and overly generalized the term “slum” is, and also how complicated that kind of “outside of the law,” or informal urban space can be. My idea is to take two large, well established “slums” on separate continents, and create a case-study comparison of what life is like in each community. To start off, I chose Villa 31 in Buenos Aires, a very large (I have read that anywhere between 30,000 and 120,000 people live there), famous and old villa (the Argentine word for slum), because it is one that I’m somewhat familiar with from living in Argetina while I was in high school. I spent some time looking into other well-known slums around the world and finally settled on Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, which is the largest slum in Africa, and home to 1 million people! Obviously these two spaces are entirely different from one another, but I think they will provide a revealing contrast for my research questions. I think it is interesting that every article I read has a very different estimate of the population of the settlements, which is clearly a mystery to government officials.

I’ll start with the following questions:

How is housing governed? What are living quarters like? How do people end up in each community/Where do they come from? What kind of legal and illegal work is carried out by people in the slums? What kind of relationship is there between the city government and the slum? What sort of amenities and services are available? What isn’t available? What is the history of the slum– how did it come into being?

From what I have read about Kibera (mostly in the following article), it is a huge, complex urban space, almost a city in itself. Apparently inhabitants live in structures they consider their own, but are technically “squatting” on government-owned land. The article also states that the government considers the area “informal settlement,” even though it has been there since 1912 (Villa 31 has been around since the 1920s), which makes the question of services and amenities that are available there very intriguing. 60% of Nairobi’s population lives in slums (about 2.5 million people), which means that living in “informal settlements,” outside of the legal, official urban domain, is actually the norm for people in this city.

Kibera, Nairobi: <http://mojamoja.org/kibera.htm>

Villa 31, Buenos Aires: <http://www.buenosairesphotographer.com/2009/08/villa-31-5-stories-and-growing.html>

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFoLy9T7Jys

The above photo blog describes 5-story tall buildings being built in Villa 31, which is located right in the center of the city by a train and bus depot where thousands of people travel into and out of the city each day. The government attempts to shut down the transport of building materials into the community, saying that the structures are unsafe, but this causes residents to block the busy highway next to their neighborhood in order to bring in materials. The video just below this describes the high rent the government charges people who live in the slum (it is “prime real-estate”), and the land- grabs that poor people in the city attempt to enact in efforts to build homes anywhere they can (in plazas and parks for example). It is a very tense, dynamic situation.

October 3, 2011

Jin Jun – City Branding/ Architectural Marketing

“Cities are no longer just built; they are imaged”
— Vale and Warner, 2001:23

“City of Lights.”  “The Eternal City.”  These are common pseudonyms for popular international locales like Paris and Rome.  These nicknames became a symbol of these cities’ identity and spoke for the modern, enlightenment ideals possessed by the city.  A name is one thing, but what happens if a city is branded as a product for international business and tourism?  In light of globalization, I wanted to look at the ways in which a city becomes branded, both strategically and organically, as the “center of x,” through architectural marketing and urban regeneration, as well as the positive and negative repercussions that these new “brands” might bring to the city’s social/cultural life.

Symbol of a City

Buildings and structures are one form of city marketing.  The Eiffel Tower of Paris, the Empire State Building of New York, and the Great Wall of China, are few classic examples.  These urban forms become popular tourist sites and contribute to the building of the city’s image.  Architecture, here, becomes a form of advertisement, the same way the abstract eaten apple works for Apple and the swoosh for Nike.

Idea of a City

When did San Francisco became to known as a place for liberal hippies and Los Angeles, the entertainment capital?  Ideas works the same way as symbolic architectural edifice.  Usually the idea gets tied to a specific district within the city to form a narrative within the larger urban context.  I want to explore the ways in which the cultural identity of a place becomes a huge part of the urban identity and its configuration.

Means of Conveyance

Finally, I want to research the ways in which these ideas get conveyed to the international public.  Media culture becomes a huge part of branding, from the news to even widespread hollywood films.  Sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup become an opportunity for advertisement.  Likewise, the means of brand conveyance of the city becomes important in the actual acceptance of these symbols and ideas as they are perceived.  Again, some cities are organically advertised, while others do strategically, or both.

Cities Considered

I want to look at cities that recently (last 20 years or so) went through an urban renewal/regeneration in an attempt to actively or passively brand its image.  These are cities that I am currently considering (recommendations welcomed!):

1. Dubai, UAE – “The Global City,” Architectural Marketing

2. Hong Kong – “International Financial/business Center”

3. Seoul – “Soul of Asia,” Name Branding

*Tianjin, China – “The Eco-City” (Future Planning Commissioned)

Article: “Urban Branding: An Analysis of City Homage Imagery” by Carl Grodach