Idealist.org Unearths NYC Blogs throughout the Five Boroughs

In response to the Sunday New York Times‘ City Section article, Idealist.org nicely compiled a list of NYC blogs throughout the Five Boroughs!

It’s a good way to test out my theory about the lack of Manhattan true neighborhood blogs (Brooklyn is overflowing with them!) – although I’ve been alerted to a number in the East Village and Harlem which sort of makes sense, right? If you were going to pick two Manhattan neighborhoods with a bit of edge, you’d probably pick those two. I will have to do my own informal surveying of the rest.

It’s unclear if Idealist considers Roosevelt Island its own borough…? Isn’t it part of Manhattan? And c’mon… Staten Island … one blog? There must be more to say there!

Neighborhood Blogs – What Happened to Manhattan?

The New York Times’ City section this weekend featured a cover story on what they termed neighborhood blogs (“You Talkin’ to Me?”). But, as Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York points out today: “The Times takes a look at neighborhood blogs–but I don’t see any Manhattan blogs named. Is that because Manhattan no longer has neighborhoods, but rather shopping centers and party areas?

Manhattan’s neighborhoods are increasingly so gentrified and so homogenized that it’s possible that people don’t identify themselves as part of the neighborhood in the same way people do in the outer boroughs, or else the lines are so blurred between nabes, that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the next begins. Otherwise, I believe we’d see a Chelsea blog, a West Village blog, an Upper West Side blog, etc. (In fact, that would have been an interesting story.)

(There is an East Village blog and that might be one of the few neighborhoods that defies this rule, hanging on by a thread to its character and uniqueness and letting a few wayward souls hang around. Harlem has a blog but also is a neighborhood fighting against being subsumed into the gentrification tsunami. And, of course, if I’m wrong about this lack of Manhattan “neighborhood blogs,” do let me know!)

Otherwise, it seems the Manhattan blogs, like mine, are devoted to specific places and issues — Chelsea Hotel, Stuyvesant Town, Vanishing New York, etc. — that have some challenge going on around them.

In Brooklyn, almost every neighborhood from Park Slope to Gerritsen Beach to Kensington to to Bed-Stuy has a blog! There is much to write about! I believe that gentrification destroys a certain collective creative spirit and that Brooklyn – made up of many people who left or had to leave Manhattan, people who’ve seen first hand what gentrification does and therefore have the will to fight to preserve – to meet that challenge, needs to work to retain the vibrancy that it, in particular, has.

Perhaps Manhattan fell first and so people who lived there weren’t able to catch it in time … perhaps Manhattan was considered so desirable that Wall Street and corporate America and the Bloombergs and Trumps of the world got a stronghold on it with their money and their “power.” Not to say that the outer boroughs aren’t challenged in Mayor Bloomberg’s New York but they have a bit more of a chance.

One day Manhattan will come back (let’s hope before it’s all demolished and replaced with shiny glass buildings and comprised entirely of NYU and Columbia University). Perhaps it’ll be long after Mayor Bloomberg is out of office (’09 preferably) but it’ll happen.

Photo: Annie Mole / London Underground Tube Diary

The article above is from British Metro.

Sunday New York Times City Section Cover Story 11/23: The Battle for Washington Square

Tomorrow’s New York Times City section features a cover story “The Battle for Washington Square,” an effort by reporter Graham Bowley to outline what’s transpired thus far around New York City government’s controversial redesign of this renowned park and dynamic public space over the last four years.

What’s transpired could be a multi-part series or a book (and is a movie), so it would be exceedingly difficult to get every last nuance into one story. I’m still assimilating the article but a few immediate comments – it’s puzzling that there are no current photos of the park under construction especially because the Times sent a photographer on my September Walking Tour highlighting the redesign elements of the park.  The online story only portrays pictures of Washington Square Park in the past which strikes me as a bit, um, odd.

There’s a nice synopsis of the Park’s value as a public space: “perhaps … [no park is] more valued than the 10-acre, 181-year-old Washington Square Park, the beating heart of Greenwich Village. Through the decades the park has been the haunt of some of America’s best-known artists, writers, musicians, anarchists and Beatniks, and a seemingly round-the-clock distillation of the frenetic spirit of New York.”

The reporter Graham Bowley walked with me through the Park a few months ago. There are a few inaccuracies as far as my comments. For example, Mr. Bowley quotes me as saying of the new exterior fence – currently being installed at 4 feet tall with unapproved “decorative spears” on top, vs. the current height of 3 feet: “That keeps you out. That is very threatening.” Actually, what I said is that it is not welcoming.

And I definitely think things can be done from here on. See my further comments: “On Washington Square Park’s Design Going Forward” here.

I welcome the New York Times covering the story – the story has been woefully un- (and under) reported to date – and I hope it leads to others. There are so many more pieces of what transpired to be told. And I’d love to hear other feedback from you.