EUGENE LANG COLLEGE STUDENTS: In the first meeting of your First Year Workshop course,you will discuss the orientation act...
children come in, along with an increasing number of shoppers. Before noonthe mothers and children leave, but the square’s...
From Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House and Vintage Books, 1961,1992.Jane J...
In response to some of these changes, the city has introduced several new uses of streets inManhattan, including some stre...
This square of land was once divided by the Minetta Brook, which was diverted to the parkbecause of development to the nor...
RESOURCES        Article about how people use the fountain and other parts of the park before the        fountain renovati...
UNION SQUARE                            thUnion Square is located just north of 14 Street, between Park Avenue South (wher...
Historically, Union Square has been the starting and ending point for many politicaldemonstrations. In 1872, the park was ...
 SOUTH     END’S ELEVATED PLATFORM/STAIRSIn 1928 much of the park was demolished and then rebuilt over the following deca...
MADISON SQUAREMadison Square Park is located at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, just north of  rd23 Street....
the contract, but the judge refused to allow him to force the public to pay. The Evening Journalfollowed by asking for an ...
Consider what people are doing on this lawn, and whether their activities would be seen in publicspaces where you are from...
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Experience+Meaning guide

  1. 1. EXPERIENCE + MEANING:PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SPACE IN THE CITYA SHARED REQUIRED ACADEMIC ACTIVITY FOR ALL INCOMING FIRST-YEARSTUDENTS ATTENDING JAZZ, LANG, MANNES, AND PARSONS AT THE NEW SCHOOLAUGUST 24, 2012, 3:00-6:00 P.M.Undergraduate students come to The New School from around the world and bring with them awide variety of experiences, skills, and interests. This orientation activity invites you, as one of thenewest members of the university community, to meet and learn with your peers before classeseven start. Take this opportunity to observe and reflect on your new location, and if you arealready familiar with New York, take this time to reconsider places you already know.“Public” and “private” are concepts that are frequently explored in a broad range of disciplines,including those in design, performing and visual arts, social sciences, and humanities, indeed anyfield where we consider the relationship of the individual to the larger world. This guide is meantto start a conversation with you about what these ideas mean in the context of your new locationand as you begin your studies at The New School.EXPERIENCE - DIRECTIONS1. READ this guide, including the texts from urban activist Jane Jacobs and artist VitoAcconci.2. CONSIDER the public and private spaces where you live, and how you and others usethose places.3. COMPARE the similarities and differences of your personal experience of and ideasabout public and private space with what you read in this guide.4. THINK about how things like open grassy areas, trees, short cuts, long benches, foodvendors, and playgrounds affect your understanding of public and private spaces. Youmight also want to notice how the use of these spaces may change depending on suchfactors as the time of the day, temperature, shade and sun, water, food, music and othersounds.ADDITIONAL USEFUL INFORMATIONOver the summer, you will be invited to join a private virtual group within Engage: The NewSchool Network, the private social network site for admitted students. In that private group, youwill meet the other new students who will join you for this orientation activity, as well as theinstructor who will lead your student group. thFrom 3:00 – 6:00pm on Friday, August 24 , you will meet your instructor and the same smallgroup of your peers who were on Engage, and consider together the meaning of public andprivate space in this urban setting, as you visit at least one of the parks in lower Manhattan that islocated near The New School’s Greenwich Village campus and described in this guide.In the first few weeks of the fall term, you will have an opportunity to reflect on this activity withstudents in your division through an assignment and class discussion. To be prepared for thisassignment, you must attend and participate in this orientation activity. Below are theactivities and assignments you will complete during the first few weeks of class that relate to thisorientation activity. Please look for the activity that students in your division will complete so youare prepared: 1
  2. 2. EUGENE LANG COLLEGE STUDENTS: In the first meeting of your First Year Workshop course,you will discuss the orientation activity: compare your experiences, reflect on the contributions tolearning made by the instructors, activities, spaces, and fellow students, and write an assessmentof the activity.JAZZ & CONTEMPORARY MUSIC STUDENTS: In the first meeting of your First Year Writingcourse, you will be asked to reflect about the ways music is experienced in different kinds ofpublic spaces, such as public parks, subway platforms (and subway cars!), concert stages, andnightclubs, culminating in a writing assignment you will submit in the first few weeks.MANNES COLLEGE STUDENTS: In the first meeting of your English Composition course, youwill write about your impressions of the public spaces you visited, and compare New York to yourhome.MANNES COLLEGE STUDENTS ENTERING THE ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE(ESL) PROGRAM: In the first meeting of your ESL course, you will write the names of the placesyou visited and words that remind you of those places. In addition, you will consider and talktogether about the similarities and differences between the public spaces in New York and thosein your home.PARSONS STUDENTS: In the first meeting of your Critical Reading and Writing or ESL course,you will use notes you take during the orientation activity visit to the park for an in-class writingassignment. To prepare for this in-class assignment, make sure you take a few minutes while youare in the park with your orientation instructor to observe and record your experiences in thespace, using your five senses to become aware of your surroundings. Your notes can be in listform or full sentences, as long as they include what you saw and experienced, and include somesmall details. Please bring your notes with you to class.COMMON TEXTSBelow are excerpts of text from the urban writer and activist Jane Jacobs and the designer, artist,and writer Vito Acconci. These texts offer distinct perspectives and different ways of writing aboutpublic space in a city. The texts include some complex ideas, and are meant to challenge yourreading and comprehension abilities. You will want to read them several times, returning to themover the summer as you prepare for this orientation activity.JANE JACOBS_____________________________________ “Too much is expected of city parks. Far from transforming any essential quality in their surroundings, far from automatically uplifting their neighborhoods, neighborhood parks themselves are directly and drastically affected by the way the neighborhood acts upon them. Cities are thoroughly physical places. In seeking understanding of their behavior, we get useful information by observing what occurs tangibly and physically… Let us see what they tell us about their ordinary physical interactions with their neighborhoods.” (p. 95-6) “First, a few early-bird walkers who live beside the park take brisk strolls. They are shortly joined, and followed, by residents who cross the park on their way to work outside of the district. Next come people from outside the district, crossing the park on their way to work within the neighborhood. Soon after these people have left the square the errand-goers start to come through, many of them lingering, and in mid-morning mothers and small 2
  3. 3. children come in, along with an increasing number of shoppers. Before noonthe mothers and children leave, but the square’s population continues togrow because of employees on their lunch hour and also because of peoplecoming from elsewhere to lunch at… the… restaurants around. In theafternoon mothers and children turn up again, the shoppers and errand-goers linger longer, and school children eventually add themselves in. In thelater afternoon the mothers have left but the homeward-bound workers comethrough – first those leaving the neighborhood, and then those returning to it.Some of these linger. From then on into the evening the square gets manyyoung people on dates, some who are dining out nearby, some who livenearby, some who seem to come just because of the nice combination ofliveliness and leisure. All through the day, there is a sprinkling of old peoplewith time on their hands, some people who are indigent, and variousunidentified idlers.” (p. 96-7)“Certain qualities in [park] design can…make a difference… For if the objectof a generalized… neighborhood park is to attract as many different kinds ofpeople, with as many different schedules, interests, and purposes aspossible, it is clear that the design of the park should abet this generalizationof patronage rather than work at cross-purposes to it. Parks intensively usedin generalized public-yard fashion tend to have four elements in their designwhich I shall call intricacy, centering, sun and enclosure.Intricacy is related to the variety of reasons for which people come toneighborhood parks. Even the same person comes for different reasons atdifferent times; sometimes to sit tiredly, sometimes to play or to watch agame, sometimes to read or work, sometimes to show off, sometimes to fallin love, sometimes to keep an appointment, sometimes to savor the hustle ofthe city from a retreat, sometimes in the hope of finding acquaintances,sometimes to get closer to a bit of nature, sometimes to keep a childoccupied, sometimes simply to see what offers, and almost always to beentertained by the sight of other people.If the whole thing can be absorbed in a glance, like a good poster, and ifevery place looks like every other place in the park and also feels like everyother place when you try it, the park affords little stimulation to all of thesediffering uses and moods. Nor is there much reason to return to it again andagain. …Probably the most important element in intricacy is centering. Good smallparks typically have a place somewhere within them commonly understoodto be the center – at the very least a main crossroads and pausing point, aclimax. Some small parks or squares are virtually all center, and get theirintricacy from minor differences at their peripheries. … for neighborhoodparks, the finest centers are stage settings for people.Sun is part of a park’s setting for people, shaded, to be sure, in summer. Ahigh building effectively cutting the sun angle across the south side of a parkcan kill off a lot of it. …Although buildings should not cut sun from a park – if the object is toencourage full use – the presence of buildings around a park is important indesign. They enclose it. They make a definite shape out of the space, so thatit appears as an important event in the city scene…” (p. 103-106) 3
  4. 4. From Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House and Vintage Books, 1961,1992.Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urban writer and activist who championed a community-based approach to urbanplanning, where residents have input on how their neighborhoods develop. She moved to Greenwich Village in 1928,became Associate Editor of Architectural Forum in 1952, and was the Chairperson of the Joint Committee to Stop theLower Manhattan Expressway in 1962. In particular, Jacobs fought against New York City Parks Commissioner RobertMoses who envisioned New York as a modernized city including expressways and was responsible for the construction ofnumerous bridges and expressways throughout New York City that encouraged a car culture of commuting in and out ofNew York. His critics, including Jacobs, stated that these highways disrupted many traditional working classneighborhoods, often cutting them into parts. She frequently cited Greenwich Village as an example of a vibrant urbancommunity, and helped to successfully fight Moses’ project to build an expressway that would have run throughWashington Square Park and the West Village. Published in 1961, The Death and Life of Great American Cities hasbecome one of the most influential American texts about the inner working and failings of cities.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Jacobs and Jacobs in video about healthy living in cities:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z99FHvVt1G4)VITO ACCONCI____________________________________ “Public space is an old habit. The words public space are deceptive; when I hear the words, when I say the words, I’m forced to have an image of a physical place I can point to and be in. I should be thinking only of a condition; but, instead, I imagine an architectural type, and I think of a piazza, or a town square, or a city commons. Public space, I assume, without thinking about it, is a place where the public gathers. The public gathers in two kinds of spaces. The first is a space that is public, a place where the public gathers because it has a right to the place; the second is a space that is made public, a place where the public gathers precisely because it doesn’t have the right – a place made public by force. In the space that is public… The establishment of certain space in the city as “public” is a reminder, a warning, that the rest of the city isn’t public. New York doesn’t belong to us, and neither does Paris, and neither does Des Moines. Setting up a public space means setting aside a public space. Public space is a place in the middle of the city but isolated from the city. Public space is the piazza, an open space separated from the closure of alleys and dead ends; public space is the piazza, a space in the light...”From Acconci, Vito. “Public Space in a Private Time.” Critical Inquiry, University of Chicago Press (1990).(For the full essay: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/1343774)Vito Acconci (1940- ) is a Bronx-born, Brooklyn-based designer, landscape architect, performance and installation artist.He has earned international recognition through his provocative and often radical art-making practices. He has been avital presence in contemporary art since the late 1960s; his confrontational and ultimately political works have evolvedfrom writing through conceptual art, body art, performance, film, video, multimedia installation, and architectural sculpture.In the 1970s, Acconci produced a body of conceptual performance-based videotapes regarded as some of the mostimportant works in the medium. Acconci’s work has been shown in museums and galleries internationally. In the late1980s, he formed Acconci Studio, a group of designers and architects who focus on theoretical design and building. Morerecently, he has concentrated on architecture and landscape design that integrates public and private space. Acconci hastaught at many institutions, including Parsons, and during The New School’s 2008 graduation, he delivered thecommencement address and received an honorary degree. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vito_Acconci andhttp://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/acconci.html) 4
  5. 5. INFORMATION ABOUTWASHINGTON SQUARE PARK | UNION SQUARE PARK | MADISON SQUARE PARKEach of the parks was formalized into a public space as part of the 1811 Commissioners’ GridPlan on Manhattan. Over time, each park has been renovated or rebuilt in response to changes inthe city. With these changes have come different ways that people and commerce interact withthe parks that reflect their use as public and private spaces.Recently, streets have begun to replace parks as places to re-imagine public space in order toaccommodate changes in urban dynamics, such as increased crowding and development,economic pressures and opportunities, new daily life practices and preferences, and flows ofgoods and resources. 5
  6. 6. In response to some of these changes, the city has introduced several new uses of streets inManhattan, including some streets that have been closed to vehicle traffic and repurposed aslanes for bikers, and as seating or walking spaces for people.MEANING – PRODUCING YOUR OWN KNOWLEDGE: Use the following questions to help connect your experience of space in your hometown or neighborhood with the parks in lower Manhattan. In what ways can city parks be considered public spaces, and in what ways are they private? What new meanings might the concepts of “park” and “street” begin to take on now that we can do park-like things in a street? What types of design and structures invite activity in parks, and what inhibits activity? In response to your close observations of how people are using the parks and streets, could you invent new terms or concepts that are up to the job of grasping the complex dynamics at play?WASHINGTON SQUAREThe park is located at the southern end of Fifth Avenue in the neighborhood of Greenwich Village,just south of Washington Square North. 6
  7. 7. This square of land was once divided by the Minetta Brook, which was diverted to the parkbecause of development to the north, and still runs under the southeast corner of the park. Theland was once farmed by Native Americans, then Dutch settlers, and then freed slaves. RESOURCES History of Washington Square Park on the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/washingtonsquarepark/historyEXPERIENCE – PLACES IN THE PARK TO CONSIDER: ARCHThe arch is located at the middle of the northern side of the park, at the southern end of FifthAvenue.In 1934, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses finalized plans to extend the four-lane wide FifthAvenue through Washington Square—entering the Square at the site of the Arch. Area residents,including Eleanor Roosevelt, opposed the plans. Shirley Hayes, former Chairman of theWashington Square Park Committee and member of the Greenwich Village Community PlanningBoard, a local resident and mother of four sons, initiated "Save the Square!” — a seven-yearbattle to keep automobiles out of the quiet area. Seeking to "best serve the needs of children and 2adults of this family community," Hayes proposed: 1.75 acres (700 m ) of roadway would beconverted to parkland, a paved area would be created for emergency access only, and all othervehicles would be permanently banned from the park. This plan received widespread support.After a public hearing in 1958, a "ribbon tying" ceremony was held to mark the inception of a trialperiod in which the park would be free of vehicular traffic. In August 1959, the efforts of Ms.Hayes and her allies paid off: from that time forward Washington Square Park has beencompletely closed to traffic.Consider how the activities of people would be different at this location today if the four-lanes ofFifth Avenue had been extended through the park from the Arch to Washington Square South. RESOURCES NYC Department of Parks and Recreation: Shirley Hayes and the Preservation of Washington Square Park: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/washingtonsquarepark/highlights/9763 Tour inside of the Arch: http://on.wsj.com/fqNBvW FOUNTAINThe fountain is located near the center of Washington Square Park.The 2009 relocation of the fountain within Washington Square Park to align it with Fifth Avenueand the Arch was part of a $32 million renovation of the park. Questions about the fountain’s useand purpose have been the focus of much public discussion, including whether it’s turned on oroff, whether it should have been relocated, whether people should be allowed to wade in it or not,and how clean it is or isn’t.Consider how people engage the space in and around the fountain. Is anyone in the water? Howare people using the sitting areas around the fountain – are they sitting, reclining, eating, reading,or sleeping? How do these different uses of this space affect your consideration of it being publicand private? 7
  8. 8. RESOURCES Article about how people use the fountain and other parts of the park before the fountain renovation: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/nyregion/thecity/30wash.html Five-minute music video of the park and fountain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEyYMlALfZw FOOD TRUCKS AND FOOD CARTSThiru Kumars dosa cart is often located at the South end of Washington Square Park. Kumar isfrom Sri Lanka and dosas are a perennial South Indian favorite.Everyday, food trucks and carts stream into Manhattan and set up along curbs and sidewalks.These kitchens on wheels respond to neighborhoods, economic changes, and food trends, asthey seek out just the right spots for their mobile businesses. Sometimes they become treasuredparts of a neighborhood. They offer new immigrants and others a way to start their ownbusinesses. They offer New Yorkers, especially in difficult economic times, inexpensive food.Vendors operate under regulations, inconsistently enforced, concerning their movements throughthe city. In 2011, a ruling by the New York State Supreme Court reinforced a city TransportationDepartment regulation stating that no “vendor, hawker or huckster shall park a vehicle at ametered parking space” to offer “merchandise for sale from the vehicle.” That prompted ordersfrom police to many vendors to “move on” from where they had been operating.Consider where people and activities occur in the Park as a result of the coming and goings offood carts and food trucks. RESOURCES Articles about enforced regulations on Food Trucks: http://nyti.ms/oybldn http://nyti.ms/MxY6w7 Article about street food and urban culture by a New School faculty member: http://huff.to/AjyxLC 8
  9. 9. UNION SQUARE thUnion Square is located just north of 14 Street, between Park Avenue South (where it branches thto become Broadway and 4 Avenue), and University Place. It is a hub that connects into and outof several neighborhoods: Greenwich Village to its south, Flatiron District to the north, Chelsea tothe west, and Gramercy to the east.The park is a popular meeting place because of its central location in Manhattan and theconvergence of many subway lines underneath it.At the time that John Randel was surveying the island in preparation for the Commissioners’ Planof 1811, Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) angled across today’s Union Square. TheCommissioners decided instead to form a square at the union of the various streets. In 1807, thisformer burial site for the poor became a public commons for the city, at first named Union Place,and was then opened to the public in 1839. 9
  10. 10. Historically, Union Square has been the starting and ending point for many politicaldemonstrations. In 1872, the park was redesigned, and included an area for the public to holdmass meetings. On September 5, 1882, a crowd of at least 10,000 workers marched upBroadway and gathered in Union Square in support of an eight-hour workday and a ban on childlabor in what became America’s first Labor Day parade.In the days and weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Union Square becamea primary public gathering point for mourners. People created spontaneous candle andphotograph memorials in the park and vigils were held to honor the victims. Union Square took onthis role in part because of its tradition as a meeting place during times of upheaval, and also thbecause no non-emergency vehicles were allowed below 14 Street. Pedestrians weresometimes stopped and asked why they were venturing south by police and national guardsmen. thFor the first few days following the attacks, only those who could prove residency below 14Street could pass. RESOURCES NYC Department of Parks and Recreation: History of Union Square: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/unionsquarepark/highlights/6533 Union Square Partnership website: http://unionsquarenyc.orgEXPERIENCE – PLACES IN THE PARK TO CONSIDER: FARMER’S MARKETThe Union Square Greenmarket, started in 1976, is one of the biggest in the city, and uses alarge amount of paved space four days each week. The idea that eating fresh, local, and healthyfood plays an important part in one’s health has begun to shape a variety of social and economicdebates in the city. It fuels discussions of issues such as farmland protection, food security, foodsafety, and food justice.Some people object that the food sold in green markets is expensive and, hence, elitist, despitethe fact that families on Food Stamps (called SNAP) now can use them to buy tokens that allowthem to shop at greenmarkets. Others point out that the best farmers’ markets are in affluentneighborhoods, while other places in the city are turning into “food deserts”, where there is a lackof access to healthy food. Since 2008, street food vendors have begun traveling to parts of thecity that are considered food deserts, and this New York City Green Carts initiative includesvendors who sell fresh fruits and vegetables at lower cost than many markets."Locavore" describes a person who prefers to eat food grown, caught, or gathered nearby. Muchof the food you find at Greenmarkets, including Union Square Greenmarket, is a locavore’sdream come true—having arrived by truck to the city from farms and fisheries of New Jersey,Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and New England.Consider how access to fresh local food, and to the people who grow that food, in thegreenmarket influence your ideas about uses of public space. RESOURCES Greenmarket Farmer’s Market website: http://www.grownyc.org Farmers Market Federation of New York website: http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com Article about the NYC Green Carts initiative: http://nyti.ms/HTd2aA 10
  11. 11.  SOUTH END’S ELEVATED PLATFORM/STAIRSIn 1928 much of the park was demolished and then rebuilt over the following decade to createspace underground for the subway system. That construction included this elevated area that,with its wide stairs, is a site for many public rallies and continues Union Square’s long tradition ofbeing a place where people unite around common causes. In March 2012, the Occupy Movementlaunched an open-ended occupation of Union Square and continues to host events there.Consider how people are engaging and acting in relation to the stairs, and how you feel whenyou sit or recline on the stairs. RESOURCES Articles about the Occupy Movement’s use of public space: http://bit.ly/KU84cM http://bit.ly/MM7ooE NORTH END/BROADWAY PEDESTRIAN PLAZAUnion Square has been called “a traffic dilemma” for generations. In 2010, roadway changes tharound the park were unveiled including four separate traffic lanes across 17 Street at thenorthern edge of the park. These include a pedestrian lane, a bike lane, a separated lane for carsand trucks, as well as a section specifically for parked vehicles designed to improve congestionresulting from parked Greenmarket trucks. In addition to the traffic changes, Broadway just north thof 17 Street was turned into a pedestrian plaza with tables and chairs.Consider how specified areas for people, bikes, and vehicles determine how these spaces areused. RESOURCES Articles about the reception of the new Union Square pedestrian park: http://wny.cc/az3YyT http://nyti.ms/MiSDOd Information about other pedestrian plazas throughout New York City: http://ny.curbed.com/tags/pedestrian-plazas 11
  12. 12. MADISON SQUAREMadison Square Park is located at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, just north of rd23 Street. It is surrounded by three neighborhoods: Flatiron District to the south, North ofMadison Square Park to the north and west, and Rose Hill to the north and east. The park wasestablished in 1688.The park was the site of an unusual public protest in 1901. Oscar Spate, a former Londoner,convinced the Parks Commissioner, George Clausen, to allow him to pay the city $500 a year toput 200 cushioned rocking chairs in Madison Square Park, Union Square, and Central Park andcharge the public 5 cents for their use. Free benches were moved away from shaded areas, andSpates chairs replaced them. When a heat wave hit the city in July, people in Madison SquarePark refused to pay the nickel that was now required to sit in the shade. The police becameinvolved, and newspapers including The Sun and William Randolph Hearsts Evening Journaltook up the cause. People began going to the park with the intent of sitting and refusing to pay,and a riot occurred involving a thousand men and boys, who chased the chairs attendant out ofthe park and overturned and broke up chairs and benches. The police were called, but the thdisturbance nevertheless continued for several days. On July 11 , Clausen annulled the citys 5-year contract with Spate. Ten thousand people celebrated with bands and fireworks in MadisonSquare Park. Spate went to court and got a preliminary injunction against Clausens breaking of 12
  13. 13. the contract, but the judge refused to allow him to force the public to pay. The Evening Journalfollowed by asking for an injunction against pay chairs, and when this was granted Spate gaveup. (Paraphrased by Wikipedia from Alice Sparberg Alexiou’s The Flatiron: The New YorkLandmark and the Incomparable City that Arose with It, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010,pp. 67-72.) RESOURCES NYC Department of Parks and Recreation: History of Madison Square Park: http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/madisonsquarepark/highlights/10764 Madison Square Conservancy website: http://www.madisonsquarepark.orgEXPERIENCE – PLACES IN THE PARK TO CONSIDER: PUBLIC ART thUntil September 9 , the California-based artist Charles Long’s site-specific sculpture, PetSounds, will be on display. Pet Sounds is described in the following way by the Madison SquarePark Conservancy: “An interactive, large-scale, mixed-media installation. Sited on MadisonSquare Park’s expansive Oval Lawn, Pet Sounds will introduce a snaking network of vibrantlycolored pipe railings creating new paths as they wind across the urban oasis. As these railingsconverge around a common seating area, each railing begins to grow into a unique fantasticform. While the shape of each blob suggests a different set of associations, their uncannysemblances remain wonderfully elusive. As viewers smooth their hands over the undulatingbiomorphic surfaces, the act of touching produces a variety of sounds and vibrations coming fromwithin the sculptural forms. The installation, commissioned by Mad. Sq. Art, will remain on viewdaily from May 2 – September 9, 2012.” (http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/art)The New York City Parks Department began organizing public displays of art in 1967 with theintent to “use public space as an outdoor museum, letting works of art ‘loose in the city, to seethem under the light of day where they intrude upon our daily walks and errands.’”(http://www.nycgovparks.org/art-and-antiquities/art-in-the-parks)Consider how the placement of art in a park affects your interaction with the space, and how itmight encourage new conversations and ideas about your understanding of the city. RESOURCES Information about public art throughout New York City: http://www.nycgovparks.org/art GRASS LAWNSLarge grass lawns are uncommon sites in cities, and are generally located in designated parks. Inthis park, the oval grass lawn is open and available to the public; shaded by large trees, itprovides a serene retreat for visitors.In an interview, Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of City Parks Alliance (an independentnationwide organization dedicated to promoting an urban parks agenda) offers the followingreasons that city parks are important: “With the urbanization of our planet, people living in these dense environments — this is kind of obvious — need clean air to breathe, clean water to drink. Their children need places to play. We have the research now. All the new health studies about open space have been significantly helpful. There is growing recognition that proximity to parks has a direct impact on how healthy a community and its residents are. Numerous studies show that children who are close to a safe park are more likely to exercise, that if you have green space it creates a safer environment that reduces stress for an urban community. Grass and trees help clean the air.” 13
  14. 14. Consider what people are doing on this lawn, and whether their activities would be seen in publicspaces where you are from. RESOURCES Interview with Catherine Nagel: http://bit.ly/LfkzR2 PLAYGROUND and DOG RUNThe playground is located at the northern end of Madison Square Park. Playgrounds across thecity are oasis for children to play without worry of traffic and other bystanders on the sidewalk.The dog run located on the western side of the park offers fenced-in space for owners to exerciseand socialize their dogs. Dog runs are relatively new aspects of parks; the first official dog runwas established in Berkeley, California in 1979.Dog runs and playgrounds are spaces designed for specific groups of people and animals toengage in particular ways. In cities where open space is limited, the needs of parents and petowners can clash. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/21/nyregion/thecity/21dog.html)Consider whether and how other parts of the park are designed for particular activities. RESOURCES Information about the Moira Ann Smith playground: http://www.madisonsquarepark.org/things-to-do/playground Information about New York City park dog runs: http://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/dogrunsREFLECTIONAfter reading this guide, do you have ideas about how you could answer the questions in the“Meaning” box on page 6? Have your perspectives on the concepts of “public” and “private”space in cities changed as you closely observe the myriad ways people inhabit New York City? 14