This week, the Census Bureau released its first 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) estimates, based on data about economic and social trends collected from 2005-2009. The ACS is an annual survey that gathers information from a sampling of US citizens to evaluate of economic and social needs in between the comprehensive, population-wide census, conducted every ten years. (Speaking of which — the first round of 2010 Census stats will be released on December 21st.) The New York Times has done a stellar job, as usual, of visualizing this data in a collection of interactive maps that chart racial distribution, income, home value and education statistics on the level of the city block. The maps expose greater, and probably predictable, demographic patterns nationwide, and let you poke around to check out who your neighbors are (at least according to their numbers). Zooming in on New York, it is interesting to note how rent control and gentrification have likely lead to the fairly jumbled distribution of income in Manhattan and, as the Times highlights in a separate piece, the migration of ethnic populations from Brooklyn neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint to different pockets in the boroughs over the past decade.
“A fundamental part of democracy is ensuring that voters have viable choices, and that elected officials are accountable to their constituencies. High rates of uncontested elections and consistent, double digit margins of victory are anathema to these goals,” concludes a report on competitiveness of legislative elections available on the New York City government website (PDF). With redistricting in New York scheduled for 2011, after the results of this year’s census are released and before the 2012 elections, a cadre of local politicians calling themselves NY Uprising are pushing for redistricting reform. The group, led by former Mayor Ed Koch, cite the technological ease of mapping tools in drawing non-competitive districts and creating “safe” seats and recall a history of redistricting for political gain in America – perhaps explaining the 18th century federalist ring to their moniker. They suggest using an independent party to redraw district lines for the next election, implementing early voting and extending registration deadlines. Their report reminds us that competition is essential in stimulating democracy and that unseen political boundaries effect election results.
THE CITY CONCEALED
New Yorkers love to discover the city’s hidden sites. When the urban core seems so jam-packed, there is a thrill in finding the unnoticed, especially when it’s in plain sight. With this in mind, THIRTEEN/New York Public Media created The City Concealed, an online video documentary series that explores the “unseen corners of New York.” Their latest installment looks at the history of the Park Slope Armory, from its inception as the home for National Guard’s 14th regiment to its conversion into a YMCA. Be sure to check out the rest of the series — part urban exploration, part architectural and city history, The City Concealed can take you to a Washington Heights theater described as “sort of Neo-Classical Cambodian, with influences of Hindu, Mayan, and Moorish architecture. Gilded and covered in red velvet.”; the 19th century Hunterfly Road Houses of Weeksville; and the protected heron habitat of North Brother Island. “Visit the places you don’t know exist, locations you can’t get into, or maybe don’t even want to.”
By now, regular readers of Urban Omnibus are quite familiar with the artist Swoon and, among other things, the work she’s been doing with the Konbit Shelter Project to build sustainable, durable and low-cost housing in post-earthquake Haiti. This week, we received word that Swoon has teamed up with Upper Playground to release a limited edition print, all proceeds from which will go to support the Konbit project. The portrait of Walki, a boy who spent time with the Konbit Shelter team at their building site last summer, will only be available until January 1st. At $125, the screenprint is a worthy addition to any last-minute holiday gift list.
FILM SCREENING: PEOPLE AND BUILDINGS
Need something to do in that sluggish time between Christmas and New Years? On December 27th at 7pm the Center for Urban Pedagogy is hosting a People and Building’s film screening at Anthology Film Archives. The selected films relate to welfare and complement CUP’s recently completed project on Cash Assistance. RSVP to email@example.com to attend this free event.
The Roundup keeps you up to date with topics we’ve featured and other things we think are worth knowing about.
The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.