Urban Omnibus New York City Map

Since its founding in 2009, Urban Omnibus has explored more than 1,000 sites across New York City through articles, interviews, and visual essays. To celebrate our fifteenth anniversary, we commissioned artist Stipan Tadić to create an Omnibus-eye-view of New York City which highlights 20 sites that have been featured in the publication, each accompanied by a vignette: projects and places that illuminate our ongoing inquiry into building and preserving affordable housing number three number three number ninenumber thirteenaddressing the climate crisis  number seven number ten number twenty  remediating toxic landscapes  number one number eleven number thirteen navigating gentrification  number twelvenumber thirteennumber thirteen demands for environmental justice number one number two number fifteen inclusive public space  number five number eight number sixteen number seventeen number eighteen collective ownership  number three number four and other enduring social and spatial concerns. It’s a partial index to a rich and growing archive of knowledge of and perspectives on New York City, helping to see it clearly as it is, in the service of imagining what it can be.



A toxic mix of sewage, trash, urban runoff, and chemical waste released indiscriminately by the factories located along the banks of the Bronx River has wreaked havoc on its ecology for over a century. Since the 1970s, neighbors have labored to reverse the damage and improve community access to the river. A number of former industrial sites have been turned into riverside parks as part of the Bronx River Greenway Plan. They represent important triumphs in the long history of community activism to restore the river, which flows 23 miles from the Kensico Reservoir in Westchester down through predominantly low-income neighborhoods of the Bronx.

Read further
yellow circle In Remediation as Ongoing Process of Recovery and Repair (2021), Francesca Johanson and Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez narrate the history of Starlight Park and the Bronx River House
yellow circle Sabina Sethi Unni tours Concrete Plant Park’s edible food forest in A New Harvest (2023)
yellow circle Amanda Schachter and Alexander Levi discuss projects in Reclaiming the Bronx River (2013)



“We often say that Cap the Cross Bronx is not just a campaign — it’s a movement. It has to be intergenerational. There are some folks that remember when the Cross Bronx was still being built, and then you have people like me, born and raised when it was already here. The kids in high school now are maybe not thinking that you can study to be an architect, an engineer, an urban planner. We want those kids to be part of the movement too, because they’re the ones that might be able to study and get these jobs. It’ll make them feel good to be like, ‘When I was a teenager, I was advocating for this, and here I am now, the engineer that’s overseeing this project.’”
– Nilka Martell, Road Warrior (2024), spoke with Urban Omnibus about her life’s work to mitigate and repair the harms of the Cross Bronx Expressway

Read further
yellow circle In Living Legend (2024), Abigail Montes and Mariana Mogilevich take a close look at the corridor as it is today
yellow circle Clarisa Diaz speaks to organizers and seeks out the city’s air pollution hotspots in Air Grievances (2021)



“The complexity of Co-op City’s social contract is in the development’s DNA. It’s the largest cooperative housing development in the United States, and as such has been fodder for popular debate on the form of such developments. In 1968, architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable assessed it ambivalently: ‘Its size and scale are monumental; its environmental and social planning are minimal.’ Designers Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi meanwhile applauded the co-op, ‘learning to like it’. For them, Co-op City made good on its simple promise: ordinary, equitable housing. It was almost alright, its conventionality a sign of its realism and practicality. Of course, Scott Brown and Venturi made a career on embracing the banal, but theirs may be the more generative way of looking at Co-op City and understanding affordable housing more broadly: an amenity that serves countless New Yorkers, and a scaffold upon which citizens construct their own sense of place.”
– Caitlin Blanchfield uncovered the nuances of the Cooperative City, Cooperative Community (2014)

Read further
yellow circle Susanne Schindler and Juliette Spertus spend A Few Days in the Bronx (2012) and walk us through the history of Co-op City and surrounding subsidized housing developments
yellow circle Amani Willett photographs the development in Portfolio: Co-op City (2013) as part of our series Typecast
yellow circle Andrew Reicher discusses Limited-Equity Co-Ops (2018) in the series Housing Brass Tacks
yellow circle Oksana Mironova probes the past, present, and future of cooperative economics in the Bronx in Co-Op City (2019)



Community land trusts (CLTs) are nonprofit, community-controlled corporations that take land out of the private real estate market permanently and steward it for community interests. That stewardship can result in affordable housing, commercial spaces, farms, or any number of community assets intended to benefit both current and future generations.

Read further
yellow circle Nandini Bagchee discusses Design and Advocacy in the South Bronx (2017)
yellow circle Oksana Mironova investigates How Community Land Trusts Maintain Housing Affordability (2014)
yellow circle Mychal Johnson and Monxo López outline the benefits of implementing Community Land Trusts (2018) in their Bronx neighborhood, an installment of the series Housing Brass Tacks





“In a city as large, dense, and diverse as New York, there is a significant need for easily accessible, clean, and safe public bathrooms. This is not a new issue: Four mayoral administrations and a number of advocacy groups have tried to provide greater access to public bathroom facilities in recent decades. New Yorkers seem to understand that there is an unmet need. However, past initiatives have proven unsuccessful. Why haven’t these efforts worked?”
– Julie Chou, Kevin Gurley, and Boyeong Hong ask, Where Are the Public Bathrooms in New York City? (2020)

Read further
yellow circle Julie Chou, Kevin Gurley, and Boyeong Hong offer strategies for a citywide network in Where Can the Public Bathrooms Go in New York City? (2023)
yellow circle Rebekah Burgess and Mariana Mogilevich recount the history of the city’s park bathrooms in Cataloging Comfort (2018)
yellow circle In Noncompliant Bodies, Accommodating Space (2018), Joel Sanders considers how gender, sexuality, and accessibility influence bathroom design
yellow circle Claire Weisz goes Off the Beaten Path (2018) to look at the design of bathrooms in New York State Parks



“NORC is a funny word, but we didn’t make it up. On the contrary, the word is recognized by the local, state, and federal government, and has been in use since 1986. It stands for ‘Naturally Occurring Retirement Community.’ Basically, a NORC is a place (a building, a development, a neighborhood) with a sizable senior community that wasn’t purpose-built as a senior community. Once a community meets the respective criteria, it becomes eligible for government funds retroactively to provide that community with the support services elderly populations typically need. These include case management and social work services; health care management and prevention programs; education, socialization, and recreational activities; and volunteer opportunities.”
– Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, and Georgeen Theodore of of Interboro Partners inquire into the workings of NORCS in NYC (2010)

Read further
yellow circle In This Has Become My Town (Part One) (2021), Interboro and Riley Gold revisit Morningside Gardens and talk to NORC directors about the state of the movement
yellow circle In This Has Become My Town (Part Two) (2021), Interboro and Gold interview three residents of Morningside Gardens to see how the community continues to support their needs during changing times
yellow circle Willa Granger explores the more than 150-year history of the New Jewish Home in Homebound (2020)
yellow circle David Clark Smith and Isaac Telio-Bejar investigate senior housing ventures which put elderly LGBTQ+ residents at the forefront in House Proud (2018)



Where does a building begin? As much as we are used to placing the origins of architecture within the mind of the architect, a building is also the endpoint of vast, geophysical processes that start in the heart of the sun. The material composition of New York City is a metabolic product of our nearby star: solar energy fuels tectonic motions that create minerals and metals, and drives the ecological dynamics upon which living things depend — and from which modern architecture has extracted so much.

Read further
yellow circle Kiel Moe considers the energy embodied in the Seagram Building in Down to Earth (2020)
yellow circle Jane Hutton maps the movements of the materials that make up the city’s iconic landscapes in Seeing Double (2020)
yellow circle Matt Burgermaster surveys the consequences of large-scale building demolition in Pass the Leftovers! (2020)
yellow circle Dan Shannon discusses Updating Midtown’s Office Towers (2015)



On a normal day, the New York Public Library’s 42nd Street flagship hosts a steady stream of tourists quietly taking photographs of the marble staircases and taking in historic objects on display. Tapping keyboards echo throughout the reading rooms, punctuated by the intermittent squeak of a chair. Later in the evening, the building might host a reading with a bestselling literary novelist, or a gala featuring champagne and string quartets. But on one night in June each year, the building is enlivened by the “Anti-Prom,” organized for, and designed with, queer and trans teens, or any teens that feel prom is not for them: a joyful night that models a more accepting city.

Urban Omnibus ♥ public libraries, always and forever.

Read further
yellow circle Elizabeth Felicella creates A Catalog of New York City’s Branch Libraries (2014)
yellow circle Yael Friedman discusses The Progressive Era Roots of Today’s Branch Library (2014)
yellow circle In Landscapes of Library Logistics (2015), Shannon Mattern learns about the relatively invisible systems which make libraries function
yellow circle Ben Vershbow and Shannon Mattern investigate the NYPL Lab and archival accessibility in Urban Memory Infrastructure (2017)
yellow circle In Learning Environment (2021), Jason Roberts and Acacia Thompson take a tour of the Greenpoint Library and Environmental Center
yellow circle Helena Najm and Friederike Windel attend “Anti-Prom” and consider how the NYPL supports queer and trans youth in Teenage Dream (2022)



Public housing in New York City constitutes a city within a city. With 176,066 units in 2,462 buildings distributed across 326 developments throughout the five boroughs, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is the largest landlord in North America. NYCHA houses more people than Atlanta, Miami, or Boston. As NYCHA’s buildings age and federal funding slows to a trickle, chronic budget shortfalls have become the norm. Essential repairs now go unperformed and important contingency funding has evaporated. Ironically, thorough repairs and renovations would make the system significantly cheaper to run. The Authority has found itself making impossible choices about how to ration profoundly insufficient resources to patch up its massive properties.

Read further
yellow circle Sarika Bansal investigates A Legacy of Activism (2014) at the Alfred E. Smith Houses
yellow circle Anna Beeke photographs the Alfred E. Smith and Vladeck Houses (2013) as part of our series Typecast
yellow circle Amy Howden-Chapman catalogs attempts to protect public housing from storms Before the Surge (2020)
yellow circle Rasmia Kirmani-Frye spoke with Urban Omnibus about public housing’s unique role in the city in NYCHA (2017) as part of the series Housing Brass Tacks




“When Hurricane Sandy spun into New York Harbor, it awoke the metro area to a stubborn reality that few want to face. With over 520 miles of coastline, considerable portions of which were wetlands just 100 years ago, New York City is among the cities most vulnerable to climate change. This year, the number of New Yorkers living in the 100-year floodplain will rise to well over 400,000. While the party line of ‘Build It Back’ still holds sway in many policy circles and affected communities, a handful of neighborhoods are experimenting with a larger scale solution that most post-Sandy plans scrupulously avoid: retreat.”
– Elizabeth Rush chronicles Staten Islanders’ experiments with managed retreat in Leaving the Sea (2015)

Read further
yellow circle A. F. Brady dissects the history of the bungalow, and how New York is Building Back the Bungalow (2016) post-Sandy
yellow circle Henry Grabar expands upon the conundrums facing Canarsie’s Row House on Rising Waters (2016)
yellow circle In Public Risks on Private Shores (2019), Sankjukta Sen looks at resilience and access along the city’s new waterfront landscapes.
yellow circle Deborah Gans walks us through the “courts” of Sheepshead Bay in It Takes a Village to Weather a Storm (2018)



On March 22, 2001, one final barge of garbage traversed the Hudson River for the western shore of Staten Island to unload at Fresh Kills Landfill. As New York City’s sole operating landfill for the ten years preceding, Fresh Kills received all household waste generated within the five boroughs. At the peak of its operation in 1987–88, 28,000 tons of garbage arrived by barge and truck each day. The image of the active landfill, with mechanized compactors and swarms of seagulls overhead, is still ingrained in public memory, but over the ensuing years the site has transformed. Freshkills Park is the largest park to be developed in New York City in more than 100 years. Since the capping and closure of Fresh Kills’ five mounds, this 2,200-acre expanse of wetlands, marshlands, dry lowlands, forests, and grasslands has evolved into an unusual combination of natural and engineered beauty.

Read further
yellow circle In the Capturing Change series, photographers document the transformation of a Staten Island landfill into parkland
yellow circle Joe Riley and Audrey Snyder trace the path of New York’s trash in Wastestreaming (2019)
yellow circle In Unlikely Attractions (2021), Dylan Gauthier, Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, Marie Lorenz, sTo Len, and Kurt Rohde reflect on an experimental artist residency program at Freshkills Park



“When I crave certain steamed and stir-fried dishes, I go in search of cooking tools that I used growing up in Hong Kong and oftentimes can only find in certain 99 cent stores. Bensonhurst has one of the city’s highest concentrations of discount stores and of immigrants from Hong Kong. Chinese-owned 99 cent stores line the 86th Street commercial corridor. Different types of brooms and artificial flowers (plum blossoms left over from Lunar New Year) front the store. Tight aisles that can barely fit two people side by side divide the interior into rows. Colorful plastic stools, stainless steel cookware, and bamboo clothing clips bring a sense of familiarity amid the traditional dollar store fare of plastic food containers and tissue boxes.”
– Gloria Lau plumbs the many meanings of the 99-cent store with Daphne Lundi in God’s Garage (2023)

Read further
yellow circle Quizayra Gonzalez inquires into the city’s bodegas as social networks in Connecting at the Counter (2019)
yellow circle Paula Vilaplana de Miguel takes us on a spatial, material, and metaphysical journey through  the city’s psychic industry in Signs of Things to Come (2021)
yellow circle Diana Budds goes Behind the Curtain (2024) of the city’s massage parlors with the activist group Red Canary Song to consider the place of care work in a new light



“Announced in December 2003, Atlantic Yards was supposed to bring ‘Jobs, Housing, and Hoops’ to Brooklyn within a decade: 16 towers plus an arena on a 22-acre site starting at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, where Downtown Brooklyn approaches Prospect Heights. Supporters thought Atlantic Yards would create a landmark mixed-use urban development that would vault Brooklyn’s prominence. Opponents feared it would overwhelm its neighbors and ride roughshod over democracy. More than 20 years later, while the arena offers a new focal point, the project is less than half-complete, hardly the ‘center of it all.’”
– Norman Oder untangles the decades-long saga of Atlantic Yards in Watch This Space (2024)

Read further
yellow circle Oder details citizen media efforts to track the megadevelopment in Atlantic Yards Watch (2011)
yellow circle Daniel Cardoso Llach discusses modular construction and digital abstraction at an Atlantic Yards tower in Unruly Bits (2019)
yellow circle Shannon Mattern reports on totalizing visions for smart cities at Hudson Yards and beyond in Where Code Meets Concrete (2019)



“Currently in the midst of a high-end facelift, the various remediation and redevelopment projects underway along the Gowanus implicate a powerfully coordinated urban growth machine: those coalitions of bankers, realtors, urban planners and city government officials which direct large-scale redevelopment projects toward economic growth, often over community interests. This growth machine is self-consciously focused on ‘green gentrification’ and deeply committed to a market-oriented approach to building new ‘sustainable’ communities. Proponents celebrate the projects’ future potential for increasing municipal tax bases and promoting urban ‘livability,’ while critics point out that existing social and environmental inequalities are likely to deepen for current residents in the wake of these projects.”
– Scott Frickel reveals Hidden Maladies and Misplaced Remedies (2021) in contemporary environmental remediation projects

Read further
yellow circle Mariana Mogilevich, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, and Lena Hoplamazian investigate Remediation as Industrial Succession (2023) in the development of Powerhouse Arts
yellow circle Allison Henry contemplates the role of cartography and visualization in the canal’s remediation process in Mapping Gowanus Today, Imagining Gowanus Tomorrow (2016)
yellow circle Bless this Mess (2021) — the intro to our series Cleaning Up? — explores the contradictions between Gowanus’ renewed appeal and enduring toxicity



“There are a lot of people who had farming in their history and saw this land, so people in the neighborhood started gardens. Now there’s over 60, and they all have different purposes. A lot of them are community centers, a lot of them grow food, a lot of them are hang out spots.”
– Deborah Greig tells the story of the growth of the city’s farms as part of a series of short films called Urban Agriculture: East New York (2009)

Read further
yellow circle Urban Omnibus spoke with New Roots Community Farm about how Bronx Farm Helps Refugees Put Down Roots (2016)
yellow circle In What’s Growing? (2024), Melody Stein and Qiana Mickie interview New York City’s first urban agriculture czar



“Riis is special precisely because it flourishes in public. Unlike the elite queer enclaves on Fire Island and Provincetown, or the private pools in Chelsea, Riis has no entrance fee, no bouncer, and no dress code. Public spaces like Riis — removed from the prying eyes of onlookers and physically challenging for the state to police — provide a venue for the kind of massive queer gatherings that can produce a shared political consciousness. Planning for the future of Riis could foster the historic and growing queer community there. However, current planning heavily weighs input from residents of the surrounding neighborhood, not the queer people who come to the beach from outside the council district.”
– Dean Labowitz reports from Riis Beach’s shoreline about the paths forward to preserve New York City’s most vital queer public space in Turning the Tide (2023)

Read further
yellow circle Intersections investigates efforts to reclaim and preserve queer histories inscribed in sites across the city



From the Olympic-sized ambitions of Robert Moses, to the “tactical” interventions under Mayor John Lindsay, to the equity- and sustainability-informed agendas put forth by contemporary renovations and new proposals, public pools have borne witness to a relationship between infrastructure and culture that has proven to be as slippery as the edge of the deep end itself.

Read further
yellow circle In Undercurrents (2021), Karolina Czeczek situates public pools within the larger evolution of New York’s water supply system, and affirms their role as an adaptable and critical infrastructure for health and public space
yellow circle Czeczek speaks with historians to narrate the construction of the city’s public pool system In Swim Lessons (2021)
yellow circle In Withdrawn Waters (2021), Czeczek, Nicolas Kemper, and A.L. Hu look at the growth of the city’s private pools, and what this trend forebodes for the city’s public infrastructure



“We try to help each other out as much as we can. The other vendor over there and I stay until midnight cleaning because we want to be able to take advantage of the space. The better maintained and organized the space, the more people come and the more we sell. I’m a working man: I have a lot of tools, and I even made my own cart. So when somebody asks for my help, I help in any way that I can; and when I need help, they’re also there for me. My neighbor lends me his motorcycle sometimes when I need to go get gas for the generator.”
– Camilo, an agua fresca vendor, speaks to Pedro Cruz Cruz in Market Share (2022)

Read further
yellow circle Caitlin Blanchfield tells the early story of Corona Plaza’s reclamation for public use in Corona, Queens (2013)
yellow circle Jonathan Lapalme considers Street Vendors and Urban Resilience (2015)
yellow circle Candy Chang demystifies the rules around street vending in Making Policy Public: Vendor Power! (2009)
yellow circle Tanvi Misra explores power struggles, complex negotiations, and acts of solidarity at  New York City’s plazas in Beyond Diverse (2022)
yellow circle Laura Hansen discusses Melding Public and Private (2015) in the management of NYC’s pedestrian plazas



Although associated with repetition and uniformity, the row house shows surprising variety. Developers rarely built out a full block front, often constructing just a few attached homes at a time. Aging and renovation have heightened the singularity of each house. Ornament lopped off, a coat of paint added, one house destooped, two houses demolished — all change the character of the individual and the ensemble.

Read further
yellow circle Rafael Herrin-Ferri documents Queens’ contemporary vernacular housing in All the Queens Houses (2015)
yellow circle Emily Schmidt catalogs the typology of the rowhouse in Typecast: The Row House (2016), the introduction to the series of the same name
yellow circle Joseph Heathcott explores the meanings behind Queens’ Dutch revival styles and asks, What’s In a Roofline? (2017)




“When the heat peaks in New York City, so does the need for electricity. To provide this extra energy, the City turns on its highly polluting peaker plants. Powered largely by so-called ‘natural’ gas, these facilities are found across the five boroughs. Some are located down dead-end roads in industrial areas, like the Arthur Kill plant on the western edge of Staten Island. But others are situated near playgrounds, parks, and high-density housing developments, such as the Ravenswood Generating Station, sitting adjacent to the New York City Housing Authority’s Queensbridge Houses. All of the city’s peaker plants have been deemed dangerous to the health of New York residents, and they are increasingly viewed as conspicuous emblems of a carbon-intensive energy economy which is no longer viable in the age of climate crisis.”
– Amy Howden-Chapman and Andrew Gorin, Peak Problems (2021)

Read further
yellow circle Nicholas Pevzner examines the hidden network of fossil fuel infrastructures in Gas Flows Below, Buried Grudges, and Pipeline Territories (2018)
yellow circle In End of the Line (2020), Ada Tolla traces the route of the North Brooklyn Pipeline and the communities it impacts
yellow circle Lourdes Pérez-Medina and Elizabeth Yeampierre talk about Sunset Park Solar and its role in a Just Transition in The People’s Power (2019)
yellow circle In Remediation as Reparative Justice (2021), Francesca Johanson and Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez discuss plans for Renewable Rikers and its connections to environmental justice movements
yellow circle Jack Rusk maps the path of transmission cables from Astoria to Canada and contradictions in an green energy transition in Across Currents (2022)



Illustration Stipan Tadić
Source Photos  number one Sonyi Lopez number two Abigail Montes number three Amani Willett number three Sabina Sethi Unni number three Tim Davis number eight Chae Kihn number nine Anna Beeke number eleven Jade Doskow number twelve Gloria Lau number sixteen Dean Labowitz number ninteen Rafael Herrin Ferri

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.