Press Releases

The Center for the Living City at Purchase College Presents “Jane’s Walk” September 29 & 30

Date Released: 9/17/2007

The Center for the Living City at Purchase College celebrates the legacy of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs with “Jane’s Walk” a series of free neighborhood tours September 29 and 30 that emphasize the walkable and diverse nature of New York City.

“Jane’s Walk” offers New Yorkers a series of free guided tours, led by well-known locals and activists who speak knowledgeably about the people, places and history that make each community interesting and unique. These friendly strolls honor Jacobs’ belief that healthy cities feature walkable, compact, dense and diverse neighborhoods. These characteristics in turn help knit people into a strong, connected and resourceful community.

“Jane’s Walk” is organized by the Center for the Living City at Purchase College, a think-tank formed in collaboration with Jane Jacobs in 2004 devoted to furthering her ideas and concerns about cities and sustainability. The Center chair is urban writer and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz. For more information, call 416-642-5779 or visit www.centerforthelivingcity.org.

The Tours
“Pollution, Profit and a South Bronx Struggle for Restoration” begins at 10 AM on September 29 at 1231 Lafayette Avenue. The legacy of the loss of manufacturing jobs and the rise of waste and warehousing are featured in this tour of the South Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point led by Omar Freilla, 2007 Jane Jacobs Medalist and Director of the Greenworker Cooperatives.

“Miracle on Second Avenue” begins at 12 noon on September 29 at Astor Place, near the entrance to the historical kiosk for the Uptown #6 train. Public historian and managing director of City Lore/Place Matters, Marci Reavan leads a tour of the East Village, a landscape that still exists today because the Cooper Square Committee mobilized in 1959 to save local homes and businesses from a comprehensive Robert Moses urban renewal plan.

“The Atlantic Yards Footprint and Environs” begins at 2 PM on September 29 in front of Williamsburgh Savings Bank, the tallest building in Brooklyn, Hanson Place at Ashland Place. Ron Shiffman, planner and founder of Pratt Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED) and former New York City Planning Commissioner, and Norman Oder, the journalist behind the Atlantic Yards Report and veteran New York City tour guide, lead the walk. The walk reveals the historic and political context behind the controversial Atlantic Yards plan, beginning at the edge of downtown Brooklyn, where the borough’s tallest building is being converted to luxury condos, a dip into the embryonic Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) arts district, and a peek at revitalized Fort Green.

“Eldgridge Street Synagogue and Lower East Side” begins at 11 AM on September 30 at the synagogue, located at 12 Eldgridge Street between Division and Canal. The 1886 landmark, the first synagogue built by Eastern European Jews on the Lower East Side, will be rededicated in December after a 20-year, painstaking restoration. Restoration effort founder and journalist/author Roberta Brandes Gratz leads the tour of the synagogue and the surrounding legendary neighborhood.

“The Upper West Side” begins at 11 AM on September 30 at 29th Street at Broadway on the northwest corner in front of the First Baptist Church. Mosette Broderick, Director of Urban Design and Architecture Studies at New York University leads the tour of the Upper West Side, what was the city’s “new quarter for development” at the end of the 19th century. The Upper West Side parallels the changes in the nation from the 1890’s to the present day.

“Greenwich Avenue” begins at 2 PM on September 30, with a location to be determined (to pre-register for this walk, email director@janeswalk.net). New Yorker contributor and author Adam Gopnik and city retailing expert and writer Bill Bailey give a brief tour of Greenwich Avenue, one of the last remaining streets in Manhattan that displays the eccentric diversity of retailing, small strange shops catering to particular tastes in an exuberant and open-hearted spirit, a streetscape that makes New York New York.

“Eleventh Street—New York’s Literary Past and Hollywood Present” begins at 4 PM on September 30, with a location to be determined (to pre-register for this walk, email director@janeswalk.net). Dean Olsher, creator and host of The Next Big Thing on public radio, takes a walk across Eleventh Street where Marlon Brando, Charles Ives and Eleanor Roosevelt all lived at various times, and these days, it’s hard not to spot a movie star.

In 1961, Jane Jacobs put forth the simple yet revolutionary idea that dense, mixed use neighborhoods are the key to the health and survival of a city. Jacobs championed the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centered approach to planning, culminating in the historic showdown with planner Robert Moses that halted the expansion of the New York expressway system he wanted to blast through New York neighborhoods. The Death and Life of Great American Cities is Jane Jacobs’ definitive work on the inner logic of city sidewalks, parks, housing, streets and businesses.