Page C1.1 . 25 April 2001                     
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    Public and Private in New York

    by F.L. Andrew Padian

    Book Review: Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, by Jerold S. Kayden, the New York City Department of City Planning, and the Municipal Art Society of New York. John Wiley & Sons, 2000, ISBN 0471362573.

    Privately Owned Public Space is a detailed look at the current status of public spaces that developers (voluntarily or not) build into projects in exchange for the right to build larger buildings. Upon reading about this book, I thought the depth of it would be a mismatch for my interests, much less my television-age attention span.

    The authors proved me wrong, as this roadmap of public spaces and history of New York City planning and zoning kept me as enthralled as the Baseball Encyclopedia does during a hot-stove winter conversation.

    Indeed, anyone sharing an interest in New York walking, parks, politics, backroom dealings, and the overall concern that the needs of the many should outweigh the greed of the few will flip through from section to section.

    The book should also appeal to any enthusiast of urban spaces anywhere in the world, because the lessons learned in the "Big Apple" are applicable anywhere. This is a history book, an incredibly detailed map of the New York City, and a lesson in civics all rolled into one.

    The mere fact that this book caused the administration of the current mayor, Rudolf Giuliani (of all people) to sue the owners of three buildings and site violations on eight other of his probable past and future campaign contributors made my liberal New York City heart jump for joy.

     

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    ArchWeek Photo

    "Privately Owned Public Space" documents many instances of the private appropriation of public spaces in New York.
    Photo: Jerold S. Kayden

    ArchWeek Photo

    "Cafe creep" occurs when private eateries take over spaces designated for public use.
    Photo: Jerold S. Kayden

     

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