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NEW YORK’S OLD “TENDERLOIN” DISTRICT
New York City used to have a sleazy vice district known as the “Tenderloin,” and San Francisco still does. There are various explanations for this graphic name, which often refers to prostitution. But according to Untapped New York, NYC’s ”’Tenderloin’ developed its name from Police Captain Alexander Williams, who would frequently receive bribes in the form of steak while stationed in the neighborhood.” 
Located in Manhattan’s West 20s, the Tenderloin was also home to Tin Pan Alley, the deliciously grimy block on 28th street which housed the major music publishing companies of the early 20th Century.” The Tenderloin flaunted itself as “Satan’s Circus” back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but zoning changes to Sixth Avenue in the 1990s, when the city was busy cleaning up such areas, ended the old Tenderloin.
On October 19, 2014, Untapped Cities will offer a tour through the fascinating remains of The Tenderloin district and Tin Pan Alley with historian David Freeland.

NEW YORK’S OLD “TENDERLOIN” DISTRICT

New York City used to have a sleazy vice district known as the “Tenderloin,” and San Francisco still does. There are various explanations for this graphic name, which often refers to prostitution. But according to Untapped New York, NYC’s ”’Tenderloin’ developed its name from Police Captain Alexander Williams, who would frequently receive bribes in the form of steak while stationed in the neighborhood.” 

Located in Manhattan’s West 20s, the Tenderloin was also home to Tin Pan Alley, the deliciously grimy block on 28th street which housed the major music publishing companies of the early 20th Century.” The Tenderloin flaunted itself as “Satan’s Circus” back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but zoning changes to Sixth Avenue in the 1990s, when the city was busy cleaning up such areas, ended the old Tenderloin.

On October 19, 2014, Untapped Cities will offer a tour through the fascinating remains of The Tenderloin district and Tin Pan Alley with historian David Freeland.

COMMUNITY MAPPING:  Mobile mapping links people and resources in Los Angeles

Los Angeles-area groups, agencies and businesses are using mobile mapping to connect people with resources and encourage problem solving for local issues. Ride South L.A., for example, creates maps of South Los Angeles that highlight safe pathways and places to buy healthy food.

Beyond making local streets more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, others are using mapping technologies to address issues of social inequality. The Advancement Project, a public policy organization devoted to civil rights, has developed Healthy City to help users to search for services and resources in their communities.

Source: , “Mobile mapping technology helps build stronger and healthier communities in Los Angeles,” KCET-TV (Los Angeles), August 21, 2014

MALACCA (Melaka), Malaysia: View of the colonial Portuguese fortress, by Antonio Barroco, 1635. 
Although it was the location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates, the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511 and abolished the local monarchy. The strategic port later became a Dutch and then a British possession. The historical city center became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with George Town, in 2008.
Map reproduced by David Woodward (editor), The History of Cartography, Volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance, 2007.

MALACCA (Melaka), Malaysia: View of the colonial Portuguese fortress, by Antonio Barroco, 1635. 

Although it was the location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates, the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511 and abolished the local monarchy. The strategic port later became a Dutch and then a British possession. The historical city center became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with George Town, in 2008.

Map reproduced by David Woodward (editor), The History of Cartography, Volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance, 2007.

A NEW URBAN SEGREGATION:  Debates about the “poor door” in NYC apartment development

Controversies are swirling in New York City as a result of a new trend toward class distinction in the design of high-rise housing development. Luxury apartment buildings have included some market-rate units so as to obtain zoning-density benefits, but have begun to feature separate doors for the luxury and affordable units. Critics claim that developers have exploited affordable-housing legislation to create segregated buildings.

The most recent episode of a “poor door” is Extell Development’s massive project at 40 Riverside Drive (see picture). Critics see it as an outrageous case of treating lower-income tenants like second-class citizens. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development approved this project under the Inclusionary Housing Program, which offers incentives to market-rate developers to include affordable housing units in return for a zoning bonus to build higher than would ordinarily be allowed.

Another project that has drawn public criticism since its completion in 2007 is Northside Piers, a condominium development on the Williamsburg waterfront. Just behind the towering building is 20 North Fifth, its affordable counterpart which lacks a doorman and has a noticeably less gleaming lobby. The two buildings share a block and a developer, but Northside Piers has such amenities as a gym and a pool, which affordable tenants lack.

As rents reach exorbitant levels, the trend toward separate doors for different income levels has struck a nerve. New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams and Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal created an online petition calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to “end affordable housing discrimination.” Among those to sign the petition, one person complained of “a form of government-sanctioned racism and classism.”

The de Blasio administration, which hopes to create 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, plans to address the issue of separate housing entrances. The process of changing the current zoning law, which permits this trend, is expected to take about a year.

Sources of information and photos:  Emily Johnson, “‘Poor door’ debate heats up affordable housing debate in NYC,” Metro, August 17, 2014; and “Rich door, poor door: Segregated entrances spark controversy,” article by Urbanist in the WebUrbanist digital magazine

GRAFFITI:  Vandalism or art?

Street art continues to provoke lively debates. A current exhibition on “City as Canvas” at the City of the City of New York displays over 150 works from the late Martin Wong’s extensive collection on canvas and other media, along with photographs of graffiti long erased from subways and buildings. Artist and collector Wong amassed hundreds of works on paper and canvas—in aerosol, ink, and other mediums – by Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones, and other seminal figures in an artistic movement that so affected world music, fashion, and popular culture. Wong, who died of AIDS in 1999, donated his collection to the City Museum in 1994.

Recently the Wall Street Journal published an article that included criticism of NYC police commissioner William Brattan, who called this exhibition “outrageous” for glorifying such “vandalism.” But what are the politics of graffiti today? How far has the debate evolved since the 1980s and ’90s, when people saw it as art vs. vandalism? Street arts (including stylized graffiti, murals, and sculptures) now are widely seen as enhancing the cultural appeal, livability, and housing values of urban areas. Some real estate developers even commission graffiti to add instant value and “grit” to new condo and office lobbies.

On the other hand, some famous graffiti on abandoned industrial buildings have been demolished with redevelopment. For example, virtually all of the graffiti art at 5Pointz in Long Island City was painted over in November, 2013, in preparation for the building’s demolition. A current case in the Bronx involves the Ferris Stahl-Meyer building, a former meatpacking plant now covered in graffiti, but which is now slated for demolition. An interesting video gives the perspective of artist Valeri Larko on the Bronx graffiti site.

Sources: 

  • Museum of the City of New York, City as Canvas exhibition
  • Pia Catton, “Graffiti-Art Exhibit Is Artless to Police Commissioner Bratton:  ‘City as Canvas’ Museum Show Called ‘Outrageous’ By Police Head, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2014
  • Carmel Melouney, “In New York, Graffiti Exhibit Follows 5Pointz Whitewashing,” Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2014

INDUSTRIAL URBANISM: Vintage photography of New York, by Lewis Wickes Hine, 1874-1940

These three photos by American photographer Lewis Wickes Hine, an American sociologist and photographer, reflect his use of the camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the working conditions and child labor laws in the United States. The images above are now in the collection of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY: 

  • Sweatshop in New York Tenement Work, 1905 [1998.9.6]
  • The Cop Hunts a Culprit, New York City, 1915 [1998.9.10]
  • Gang Rendezvous, Yonkers, 1906 [1998.9.12]

Source:  Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College

SECOND THOUGHTS ON MILITARIZING THE POLICE:  Federal review ordered of security grants to local law enforcement

WASHINGTON — Jolted by images of protesters clashing with heavily armed police officers in Missouri, President Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of the government’s decade-old strategy of outfitting local police departments with military-grade body armor, mine-resistant trucks, silencers and automatic rifles, senior officials say.

The White House-led review will consider whether the government should continue providing such equipment and, if so, whether local authorities have sufficient training to use it appropriately, said senior administration and law enforcement officials. The government will also consider whether it is keeping a close enough watch on equipment inventories, and how the weapons and other gear are used.

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Source: Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt, “In Washington, Second Thoughts on Arming Police,” New York Times, August 24, 2014