After the flood

Starting this fall, NYC is planning to close and demolish the largest public open space in Lower Manhattan, East River Park. This is being done in the name of flood protection, despite the fact that many sections of the park are already higher than even the most exceptional floods, like Superstorm Sandy. In that event, way back in October 2012, floodwaters flowed into the East Village from the lowest points of the waterfront, between 14th and 23rd streets, around Stuyvesant Cove, but mostly did not cross East River Park or the FDR freeway (which is NOT being impacted by this ill-considered $1.5 billion boondoggle…)


In memory of East River Park, I am reviving this blog to post some images of a flood memorial I created back in 2016, using driftwood logs to show the heights Sandy reached, and the projected future flood height if sea level rise and global warming are allowed to continue unabated.

I also wanted to spread the word about East River Park Action, a protest movement hoping to stop this wasteful destructive plan; the protest starts this Thursday July 23rd at 7pm, at the Abrons Art Center at 466 Grand Street at Pitt Street on the Lower East Side.

East River


Just City Planning


The community-led alternative London Plan is a set of policy ideas written by 62 groups and organisations, and comes from a wealth of knowledge and expertise as well as direct experience of the issues.

Evidence and consensus have been gathered through meetings, workshops and conferences over many years, with almost total agreement on the shared common ground.

The Mayor of London is currently considering comments and taking public input — follow on Twitter at


The Saint of SoHo


Razing the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori at 310 West Broadway, now the Soho Grand Hotel, Harry Pincus 1981

This amazing photo, part of a series of the razing of the Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori taken by artist Harry Pincus in 1981, tells many stories. It tells us that there used to be a church where the SoHo Grand Hotel is today. It reminds us that the twin towers once stood downtown until they didn’t. It is proof that West Broadway was once home to a community of German Catholics and then at some point became a victim of urban decay and that it is now an affluent street with a high-end hotel.

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South Bronx Unites!

HT / reblog from Dissent! magazine post by  @aintacrow


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Activists in New York City’s storied South Bronx are turning their attention  to critical issues facing their neighborhood: environmental justice and gentrification. Last November, responding to a real estate developer’s attempt to rebrand Mott Haven “the Piano District,” South Bronx Unite members joined fellow Bronx residents for a rally at Borough President Ruben Diaz’s hearing on housing. They blasted Diaz for attending the real estate developer’s “Bronx is Burning” party, as well as for his backing of the FreshDirect relocation.

South Bronx Unite’s involvement in battles over environmental justice as well as over housing and gentrification points back to the deeper question of who controls public land, and to what end. To this twofold problem, the group has presented a novel solution: a community land trust. In 2015, the group joined with fellow community groups such as Friends of Brook Park to form the Mott Haven-Port Morris Community Land Trust, as well as to release a statement of principles for private developers looking to build in the neighborhood. Johnson explains that the campaign against FreshDirect and the community land trust are “related because we’ve seen what’s going on with public land and it’s not really benefiting the public. . . . The leasing of that land [twenty-five] years ago to a private entity for ninety-nine years, the mass purchasing of land in our community by private developers to build with our public moneys and without zoning changes. That’s all related to the needs of our community and our efforts to control our own public land.”

Mark Swenarton, ‘Cook’s Camden’ Book Review: ‘to take forward the project of the welfare state – but to do it better’

A thoughtful and inspiring look at modernism in London, circa 1965-1980, a classic era of social housing design.

Municipal Dreams

Mark Swenarton, Cook’s Camden: the Making of Modern Housing (Lund Humphries, 2017)

To Mark Swenarton, the work of Sydney Cook (Camden Borough Architect from 1965 to 1973) and his talented team represents ‘an architectural resolution unsurpassed not just in social housing in the UK but in urban housing anywhere in the world’.  Usually that kind of comment might be dismissed as hype but here I think huge numbers would agree. This fine book makes the case comprehensively and convincingly.

SN CoverCook’s big idea, shared and executed brilliantly by the architects he recruited to Camden, was for housing which was low-rise and high-density.  It directly challenged the architectural fashions of the day – the tower blocks which (in perceptual terms at least) dominated new council housing from the mid-1960s and the mixed development ideas which licensed them.  Equally, he rejected ‘off-the-peg’ system-building.

The new direction pioneered in Camden offered, in the words…

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