Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sky Parks Part 3: The Lotus garden celibrates its 30th year

The Lotus Garden is one of the most lush and tranquil spots in New York, but if you’ve never heard of it, you are far from alone. While a sign on an iron gate plainly marks the entrance, all that is visible through the bars is a flight of concrete stairs leading to the roof of a parking garage.
But should you be inclined to mount those steps — an opportunity the public has every Sunday from April to November, between 1 and 4 p.m. — you would find a sixth of an acre supporting mature trees, shrubs and serpentine paths curving around clumps of fragrant plantings maintained by 30 gardeners of various ages and experience levels. 


Bathrooms at 2 Lower Manhattan Churches: Packed by Tourists

Tourist numbers are exploding downtown — 11.5 million tourists visited in 2012 alone — but public facilities have not kept pace. The memorial plaza at the trade center site, for example, has no public restrooms. So Trinity Episcopal Church, at the foot of Wall Street, and its nearby satellite chapel, St. Paul’s, have found themselves de facto rest stops for many of the three million to four million guests they welcome through their doors each year.  link

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why Trails are America's New Town Squares

Why Trails are America's New Town Squares

7/30/2014 11:25:00 AM
Minnehaha Falls
Americans are people on the go! The urge to move is part of our national character since the beginning of the Republic and greatly influences how we spend our leisure time. 
In the 19th Century, Sunday drives in carriages (and later cars) became a favorite pastime. Urban planners responded by laying out lovely green ribbons of parkways—which remain beloved places to this day in many communities.
But for harried 21st Century commuters, who spend long hours in cars or buses each week, driving seems too reminiscent of work. On evenings and weekends they want to take off on bikes, skates, longboards or their own two feet. That’s why communities are now busy creating new trails and greenways across America and throughout the world.
Trails are becoming  the new town square where people bump into their neighbors, sparking conversations and friendships. When speaking to audiences around the country, I often begin by asking people to name a favorite commons in their lives. More often than not, one of the first few mentioned is a local rail-trail or parkway.

Read more:

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Playable City

Forget the “smart city” – here comes the “playable city”

playable cities, hello lamp post
The Nickel Tour: Miniaturized hardware and new technology means that cities can deploy art projects as easily as they might a pedestrian counter or red light camera.
With hardware getting smaller and cheaper every day, the “smart city” seems like a given. Sensors embedded in streets, light posts, park benches, or any other part of the urban fabric could track anything: foot traffic, cars, energy use, whatever, all in the name of efficiency.
But, say critics, that’s sterile, boring, and a little creepy (think “Minority Report“). What we need is to deploy these sensors in the name of whimsy.
Enter the “playable city.” UK-based Watershed has been awarding £30,000 prizes to projects that use technology to inspire a playful urban environment. The winner last year, “Hello Lamp Post,” let citizens of Bristol send text messages to objects like postboxes, lamp posts, and more, which would respond with brief conversations.
This year’s winner, which will be deployed this fall, projects the shadows of invisible people under a lamppost. Anyone walking past will have their shadows recorded and played back for the next walker.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fashion Institute Active Recreation:Boulevard 27

Spring Street Rendering
Los Angeles Active Recreation Parklet

Fashion Institute Active Recreation:Boulevard 27

 Boulevard 41 was a plan  to turn 41st between 6th and 7th ave into a parklet lined boulevard.
Boulevard 41 -30 parklets

it was approved by community board 5, but never implemented

FIT 27th Street campus

FIT has twice tried to turn 27th Street into a  campus plaza. they have not been successful.Adding 20 parklets with both passive and active recreation activities a la  Boulevard 41 would go a long way to give their campus a similar feel As it would be open to the public it would be the equivalent of adding a multi thousand  sq foot Active recreation park to the Community Board 5  segment of the 26th Street Parkway.

FIT 8th Ave Sidewalk Active Recreation Park


On 8th Ave between 27th to 28th Street  FIT has a dead space. This can become part of the parkway. One idea would be to create a small  dog run here, another would be to transform this into an active recreation park on the sidewalk just as they have in China.

A Sidewalk active recreation park in China

Monday, August 4, 2014

Student Center Game Room furnishings

 We'd like to see Plazas at colleges function as outdoor Student Centers. Here's a sampling of the  kind of  equipment offered at indoor student centers. The Swappable Park concept will  allows Plazas to offer moveable versions of the equipment below.

 click below to play  the Baruch Game Room video

I have found several differences between college and high school during one month. Some of the differences are expected. But the game room really impresses me when i first found it. It is on the 3rd floor. I cannot tell the exact location of the room but it is easily to find. I usually spend my long breaks on Monday and Wednesday in the game room. There are several activities in the game room. You can play table tennis, pool, foosball and cards in there. I think the most popular game is pool. Usually there is a line waiting for playing. It takes more than 20 minutes to wait. So if you want to try then you need to be patient. I have already made some new pool mates.LOL I am a pool addict. Foosball is fun to me because I have never played before. It requires your physical coordination. ....Overall, I strongly recommend you guys to go check the game room and hopefully you will have a good time. Baruch College

The Game Room features Air Hockey, Table Tennis, Billiards, the latest Xbox video games, numerous board games and other special requests i.e. bocce, corn hole, ladder ball and more!
-Purdue University

The Game Room is located in the 1st level of the Student Center South. We have 10 professionally clothed and leveled Brunswick Gold Crown pool tables, 4 high end table tennis tables, foose ball and air hockey tables and we recently added a professional shuffleboard table!
Temple University

The Game Room features:
3 Televisions (with PS3, Xbox 360, & Wii)
2 Pool Tables
2 Ping-Pong Tables
2 Air Hockey Table
2 Foosball Table
1 Arcade Game
Hofstra University 

What's Inside?

The Usdan Game Room is a great place to hang out and watch the hottest sporting event (regular screening of major events such as the World Series and Olympics) or challenge your friends in one of the variety of arcade and video games.
  • Five (5) flat screen TVs so you can watch all the sporting events at once
  • Pool: There are 4 pool tables available for use. Cost: $1 per hour per person
  • Ping Pong: $1.00 per hour. (Paddles and balls are available at the counter)
  • Air Hockey: $1.00 per game
  • Fooseball: $.50 per hour
  • Shuffle Board: $1.00 per hour
  • Wii, Playstation 3, and X-Box 360: $1.00 per hour per person
Current video game selection includes:

Fifa 2014
Grand Theft Auto V
PS3: God of War
Wii: Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Guitar Hero
XBox 360: Major League Baseball 2K10

*If there is a video game you'd like to see, please let a staff member know.


It's Your Space, What Would You Like?

This is a space provided for you the student. Do you have a video game you'd like us to get? Suggestion for events to host? Want to see something new? Hirvelt Megie is the Campus Center Team Supervisor who oversees the space. Feel free to contact Hirvelt if you would like to make a suggestion or to reserve the game room for a special event. This can be through a club, student or academic related group. Contact him directly through his e-mail at

26th Steet Line- Walking Trail Pictorial and Upgrade Possibilities

From River to River the 26th Street Line and Active Recreation Walking Trail would connect all the public spaces on 25th, 26th and 27th Streets, into an Age-Friendly walking trail.with a goal of rest stops (seating )within a 3 minute walk of anyplace on the trail.  And with the addition of Active Recreation and Activities recreation elements  it would be like adding a new Hudson River Park Class linear park  to the parks starved areas of community boards 4, 5 and 6.And this will also hopefully be an impetus to  add active recreation to Community Board 5, a CB with essentially no active recreation facilities. 

Hudson River

Pier 66 Mairtime social seating, restrooms
Upgrade:Once upon a time they had a foosball table here. How about they add foosball and other activities recreation once again

12th Ave @ 26th Hudson River Park north south Age-Friendly Walking Trail

542 West 26th St 2 Benches, Art galleries
Far West Chelsea Art Galleries

Far  West Chelsea Art Galleries 

27th between 9th and 10th Aves. Chelsea Park- Restrooms,  Playground, Fitness equipment, basketball courts, field sports, handball courts. This park has staff and would be a good location for a neighborhood  Swappable park
26th off 10th High Line, Stair climbing, North South Age Friendly walking trail

At 441 West 26th St, the Elliot Center offers restrooms and a water fountain to everyone. Indoor seating is also offered. .
Mural PS 33 26th st 9th Ave

At 25th St between 9th and 10th Aves, the Chelsea Rec Center offers restrooms for all (show id), free recreation for youth under 18, $25 to  age 24, or 62 and older.

Pushcart Coffee  2 benches  9th @25th

Congratulations to Luis Lujan!
8th/9th Ave 25th-27th St Chelsea Garden Club's Bike lane  Community Gardens

26th Between 8/9th Penn South Playground, basketball courts, volleyball court, playground, chess tables.

 Upgrades A Porta John rest room. 26th St walking Trail Signage, walk Your City Signage. Bench Exercise Signage

 Penn South Center for Seniors

335 8th Ave near 26th St.Mc Donalds.  Restrooms are available to patrons. Buy a soda and become a patron.

25th @8th Citybench,

 MAGIC gallery

8th Ave near 27th St, Citybench.While walking you can visit the Museum at FIT

27th Between 7th/8th FIT Plaza.

Here are several ideas for this area: 

 -Several times FIT has tried to turn this into a car free plaza but was not able to.It would be great if a third try was done, but this time with a design that would be acceptable by CB5 and the community. Rather then a professionally designed static plaza, what could be done is  for FIT to offer a course in Plaza design and  to have a plaza that would become a laboratory for students in the plaza design and other classes. 

- By replacing car parking with active recreation parklets, and adding a  Swappable park shed,  FIT can turn this area into an outdoor student center. 

-   see  also  FIT Boulevard 27

Sage LGBT adults

Senior Planet-high tech Senior Center
Revolutionary Books Outdoor Reading Room  26th between 6th and 7th

766 6th Ave, Fairway, Restroom open to shoppers. Buy a soda, become a shopper.

POPS 6th @26th across from Fairway

Chelsea Flea market, 21 West 25th St, 3 portajohns (weekend only)

Worth Square Park,

Worth Square Park

 This small area of Flatiron Plaza North adjacent to Madison square park  is used for seating, but. is not used for events .A Swappable Park Shed can be placed here to serve Madison Square Park, Flatiron Plaza and Worth Square Park

Madison Square Park playground, dog run. social seating, art exhibits. With the addition of storage in a swappable park, the grassy area next to the playground can be come a area for kits to play with rolling objects. additional this area would become a board games area.

41 Madison Ave POPS @26th St

Lexington @25th Baruch Plaza.
 A Swappable Park Shed Placed here would transform this from a Plaza into a Outdoor Student Center for Baruch College and the community.We'd like to see a swappable park here with  active recreation, activities recreation,and  an outdoor library. Also a big screen TV and a water fountain.

240 East 27th POPS @26th St

Bellevue South Park @ 26th St Between 2nd and 3rd Ave basketball courts, fitness equipment, playground

  27th St between 2nd ave and 1st ave currently  a plaza with a few benches..  This might be a good location for a east side Swappable Park

             Cities Court Creatives with Micro-Units          This is 335 east 27th St, the home of NYC's first Micro Apts Building.  Note on the  upper  left it says "Activation of the pedestrian street is important to the project"  27th Street currently has a few benches on it, that's all. How about transforming the space so that it becomes really a desired outdoor space by the people who live in the building. One idea, transform this into a community garden,  something lacking in this area,, add moveable seating,  tables and active and  activities recreation.

Health Dept Plaza 1st @26th, benches. Good location for concrete ping pong tables

Bellevue Hospital Garden 1st Ave @ 26th St, good location for an outdoor reading room

Forensic Examiners Plaza  26th St off 1st Ave (dead end street).

This tennis court at Hunter Colleges Brookdale health center is open to students from Hunter and other CUNY schools. Up to about 3 years ago it was open to the public but closed because of a lawsuit.

26th @Ave C, Asser Levy Playground Restrooms. . An expansion of the Asser Levy playground will bring Ping Pong, Senior/Adult Exercise equipment,  a Running Track and other enhancements to the 26th St Active Recreation Parkway. free recreation for youth under 18, $25 to  age 24, or 62 and older.

25th at East River waterside Plaza, playground,  social seating. Connection to south Age-Friendly Stuyvesant Cove walking trail
East River

See Also:
26th Street Active Recreation Parkway
The Swappable Park
Obesity Crisis and Community Board 5

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Tragedy of the Commons as played out in the Flatiron District/East Chelsea

The tragedy of the commons is an economics theory by Garrett Hardin, according to which individuals, acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group's long-term best interests by depleting some common resource. Wikipedia

 1-Madison Square Park- Seating, Art, Playground, Food Recreation
2-Worth Square Park-Seating Food Recreation
3-41 Madison Ave POPS-Seating, Food Recreation
4-Madison Green POPS-Seating
5-Flatiron Plaza North-Seating, WiFi Art Recreation, Food Recreation
6-Flatiron Plaza South-Art Recreation WiFi,  Seating Food Recreation
Adjacent to Public Spaces:Food Recreation (7)

 Food Recreation:12
Art Recreation 3
Dog Run 1
Wi-Fi 2
Children's Playground 1
Adult active recreation 0

Six  public spaces all offering adult passive recreation, but none offering adult active recreation. .This is somewhat analogous to The Tragedy of the Commons in that each of these spaces acting independently and rationally according to each one's self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group's long-term best interests” . The Flatiron District needs not only passive recreation for adults but active recreation also, yet all the public space entities have chosen to act in their own self interests to offer passive adult recreation activities rather then taking into account the needs of the greater community for active recreation in the Flatiron district and east Chelsea.

Madison Square Park is a passive recreation park for adults. In 2008 Flatiron Plaza was added adjacent to this area. What did it give the community? More passive recreation. It's not that we dislike the Flatiron Plaza seating, on the contrary its movable seating is really great, this make it one of our favorite seating areas. It's just people in the community need more recreation options then places to sit and eat

Friday, August 1, 2014

Expanding Active and Activities Recreation Opportunities in Community Board 5


Before the Arrival of Western Civilization all of Manhattan was a lush park where you could sit or play anywhere

As Land was Privatized the Streets became Our Playgrounds





...until some time in the 20th century when the automobile lobby won their war to ban mixed use of our streets  Today with the exception of a handful of  street seats, play streets and  54 DOT  plazas cars now rule  NYC's  streets.  

Nothing for Us

 A while back I was visiting Union Square Park, I talked to a young skateboard enthusiast  there  who  told me,” there's benches for the old people and a playground for the little kids but nothing for us

When it comes to Active Recreation "Nothing for Us" is the norm not the exception" in our area parks.

These 2 maps show midtown between 3rd to 8th Aves, 4th to 57th Streets. On the left, with the exception of Bryant Park , there is no public space active recreation for adults in this area of Manhattan. On the right is shown the “Food Recreation” locations in the areas public spaces. Plenty of food recreation, essentially no active recreation.

                                              Active Recreation locations =1                   Food Recreation Locations=16

 Flatiron Passive Recreation

 1-Madison Square Park- Seating, Art, Playground, Food Recreation
2-Worth Square Park-Seating Food Recreation
3-41 Madison Ave POPS-Seating, Food Recreation
4-Madison Green POPS-Seating
5-Flatiron Plaza North-Seating, WiFi Art Recreation, Food Recreation
6-Flatiron Plaza South-Art Recreation WiFi,  Seating Food Recreation
Adjacent to Public Spaces:Food Recreation (7)

 Food Recreation:12

Art Recreation 3
Dog Run 1
Wi-Fi 2
Children's Playground 1
Adult active recreation 0

The Need for Active Recreation

The Obesity Crisis and The Midtown Manhattan Active Recreation Exclusion Zone

In 1990 there was no state in the US with an obesity rate over 14%, Today many states are above 30% and no state is below 20%.” -Center for Disease Control

But while obesity may not be the Black Death, it is a severe public health crisis. Experts agree that as more and more obese children become obese adults, the diseases associated with obesity, such as heart disease, cancer, and especially diabetes will surge. That will mean a lot of sick people.”

Active park users were less likely to be overweight than those who had longer park visits and either used the park for passive activities or did not use the park at all “ link

Almost a third of the world is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades, according to a new global analysis. Link

The global analysis report says people are eating more and exercising less.

 Visual recreation (art exhibits) are wonderful, but are  not a substitute for active recreation in fighting our obesity epidemic

CB5 Population 51,673 

Adult Active Recreation facilities in CB5

2 Ping Pong Tables
1 Petanque Court
1 Putting Green
All facilities in Bryant Park 



Add Dynamic  Active Recreation Equipment to Our Existing Parks  and Plazas
            Locations: Worth Square Park/Flatiron Plaza, USP
    Advantages-can serve all age groups in a small space, Disadvantages-Staff
            MSP expanded children's lawn play area a la Rockefeller Park

Signage to Transform all NYC Parks into Active  Recreation Parks
               -Park Bench Exercise
           -Make all our parks rest stops on Walking Trails and in  Wandering Parks 

     -26th Street River to River Active Recreation Parkway and walking Trail 

View 26th St Age-Friendly River to Riiver Walking/Recreation Trail in a larger map

-Add Fixed Active Recreation to Existing Parks, Plazas and POPS
   Advantages-No staff , disadvantages-limited equipment offerings, cannot serve everyone

-Add Active Recreation to Sidewalks
    -China Fitness
-Build  new Active Recreation Parks and Playgrounds
-FIT Plaza
          -Atlas of City Property shows no unused spaces. Suggested locations?
 -New Affordable housing Rooftops

-Get all the BIDS and Parks Conservancy in CB5 to either hire their own or chip in for a Director  of CB5 Parks/BIDs Community health and fitness. As far as I can tell there are plenty of art and events curators in CB5's parks and BIDs  but no professional  coordinate Health and Fitness for the public spaces. Bryant Park seem to do the best job of active receation  in CB5.

-Do Nothing

see also: The Tragedy of the Commons as played out in the Flatiron District/East Chelsea link