The Omnibus Roundup – Ferries, Fulton Transit Hub, Trash, Taxis and Art Fairs

Feasibility study for new ferry service | image via NYCEDC

Feasibility study for new ferry service | image via NYCEDC

The Bloomberg Administration continues to make WAVES (Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy) along the city’s waterfront with a ferry service to open later this year. Boats will stop in Greenpoint, Dumbo, Downtown Brooklyn and East 34th Street with the potential to expand and connect more remote sites around the city like JFK, LaGuardia, Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Hunts Point, Soundview and City Island. In hope that the ferry service will succeed where past attempts (like 2008’s $1.5 million water taxi experiment) have failed, the city’s Economic Development Corporation promises a “robust, regular service [that] will be well-integrated with existing transportation options, providing a new sustainable and enjoyable way for commuters and tourists alike to get around the city.”

rendering of Santiago Calatrava's planned World Trade Center PATH station

Lest the “wings” of Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center PATH station be compromised, Port Authority approved a $180 million budget increase for the project this week. The soaring price prompted Matt Chaban of the Observer to question the ease with which the government has freed up funds for the transit station while reneging on reconstruction of the nearby St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, destroyed on 9/11. Chaban’s piece underscores what the choice implies about how we prioritize public projects.

The National Science Foundation recently announced the winners for its 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, awarding first place in non-interactive media to the urban researchers at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab who created TRASH|TRACK, one of the five projects commissioned for the League’s fall 2009 exhibition Toward the Sentient City. The project maps the route of discrete pieces of garbage as they travel through the waste management system over two months. Not only is their concept a clever investigation into the life of our forgotten waste, the resulting maps and video visualizations reveal the surprising journeys of items like a banana peel or empty ink cartridge as they traverse the country, displaying the patterns of our wastefulness and illustrating that garbage doesn’t exclusively end up in the local landfill. TRASH|TRACK also demonstrates the potential of ubiquitous computing to help us understand urban space. For more information from Science Magazine, click here. For information about Toward the Sentient City, click here. And to buy a copy of Sentient City, the new book documenting the exhibition, click here.

Downtown Brooklyn, that collection of new condos and skyscrapers hailed to shepherd the “Manhattanization of Brooklyn,” according to Councilwoman Letitia James, is apparently booming. According to the New York Post, the neighborhood’s population has doubled over the past year to 12,000 residents — thirty times what it was in 2000.

Greene Street, 1768 | image via

Did you know that the Apple Store on Prince Street used to house a brothel? William Easterly of NYU’s Development Research Institute breaks the history of development down to the city block in a blog post that looks at Soho through the ages, beginning with much less dense days of light habitation by the Delaware ethnic group and continuing through epidemics, prostitution booms and art movements to its upscale present day. As fascinating as this snapshot of history is, even more interesting are the possible untold stories in every city block. Easterly asks, “we usually analyze Development at the national level. Why not other levels?” A question that in the very least should inspire some internet research projects.

Mayor Bloomberg’s quest for more sustainable transport options in New York City has fallen afoul of the feds. Because only federal agencies are allowed to regulate fuel economy and emission standards, the Supreme Court refused to consider the City’s appeal. This latest blow to the City’s attempts to green its cabs follows two other proposals rejected by lower courts: the first, in 2007, would have mandated all taxis get at least 30 miles to the gallon by 2009 (most of our 13,000 cabs get about 16 miles per gallon); the second, in 2009, would have replaced the entire fleet with hybrids by 2012. According to Inhabitat, the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which brought the original suit, maintains that “the mandate was impossible for taxi owners since most currently available hybrids wouldn’t have been able to go through the beating most cabs get on a daily basis.”

The arts community has converged on New York this weekend for the major international art fairs held throughout the city. While only the most ambitious art enthusiast would think of bustling between the Armory at Pier 94, Scope at Pier 40, Pulse on W. 18th St., and Verge in Brooklyn, we are eager to see any if any new visions for the urban environment emerge from all this contemporary art.

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.


Georgia March 6, 2011

Thanks for the link to William Easterly’s blog post about the history of a SoHo block. I unexpectedly found an answer to a question I’ve had about the neighborhood.

You might be interested in The SoHo Memory Project at