The Omnibus Roundup — Sheridan, Freight Rail, Counting Cars and Urban Evolution

Rendering of Sheridan Expressway vision | Image via SBRWA

Over on Streetsblog, Noah Kazis reports on the status of a comprehensive study in progress at the NYC Department of City Planning, funded by a federal TIGER grant, to re-examine the possibility of tearing down the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx. In 2010, the Department of Transportation released a report on the potential effects of closing the under-utilized Sheridan, but limited their analysis to traffic studies, without considering the potential positive effects of deconstruction. The DCP study is expanding on that to consider the impacts of improved neighborhood access to the Bronx River and potential for housing and jobs development. This study also engages local activists, residents and businesses, including the South Bronx River Watershed Alliance — a local group that had proposed an alternate vision of the Sheridan Expressway back in 2006 — and such City agencies as the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Read more at Streetsblogor check out the Department of City Planning’s new website devoted to the project.

When we imagine scientists studying evolutionary processes, we think of the Galapagos Islands, the Solomon Islands and other far-off places. ButThe New York Times reports this week that a significant amount of research is now being dedicated to the divergent evolutionary patterns of animals found in urban environments — our wildlife is genetically adapting to New York City living. Distinct genetic adaptations have emerged in populations of one species of white-footed mouse that live in different city parks; bottom-dwelling Tomcod in the Hudson are now able to survive high levels of PCBs due to a mutation to their AHR2 gene; and native ant populations — much like their human neighbors — have adapted their habits to share space with other, invasive species on Upper West Side traffic medians. See the full piece here to take a closer look at the biology of urban adaptation.


Freight Train | Image via GoogleEarth

With more and more trucking companies moving long-distance routes onto freight rail, why hasn’t there been movement on freight rail infrastructure development? According to an article in The New Republic this week, the perception of transportation politics has a lot to do with it. Diverting attention from our interstate highways is perceived as being on the “fringe,” regardless of how middle-of-the-road proposed legislation on freight might be. Citing the potential dangers of having neither a national freight plan nor a general national policy on inter-modal, inter-state movement of goods, the article points to problems with competing, and potentially duplicative, proposals on the table. Read Peter McFerrin’s piece on the issue here.

As part of an effort to remove cars from the drives through Central Park, Councilwoman Gale Brewer and Manhattan Community Board 7 had hoped for a car-free pilot program this summer. While the request for a test ban was denied, Manhattan DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione has responded to the proposal by introducing traffic counters to collect data that will help inform future proposals or plans. For more on the topic, see Streetsblog and Inhabitat’s coverage.


MoMA exhibit Talk to Me | Image via

The lastest MoMA exhibit, Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects, explores communication between people and objects that have a “direct interaction, such as interfaces, information systems, visualization design, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users.” Talk to Me takes a fascinating look at the significance of technology and user interaction in cities, andis open now through November 7th. See more on the exhibit at MoMA’s official site, and documentation of the design process at the exhibit’s official online journal.

Sacred Spaces in Profane Buildings

Storefront for Art and Architecture has announced an open call forcontributions for artistic expressions that explain either a story or the memory of a visit, a sketch of a known space, a photograph of a street sign, a location in a map, anything that might help construct a comprehensive guide to the sacred unknown of New York. Selected submissions will be exhibited at Storefront and will be part of the Sacred Spaces in Profane Buildings NY Archive. To participate submit your material here, and click here to see more on the upcoming exhibit.

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.