the Center of New York City ニューヨークの本当の中心


A French theorist said that there is a huge emptiness in the middle of Tokyo and it symbolizes the structure of Japanese culture, meaning the strange role of the Imperial Palace. But hey! New York has it too. These pictures are from the real center of the New York City map. Manhattan is a small island at the North Western edge. This green belt composed of 8 cemeteries and parks is almost the same size as Central Park. From Forest Park to Highland Park it is 6km long and 1.5km wide and divided in half  in the longer direction by Jackie Robinson Parkway; which was made by Robert Moses (again). Probably this big highway was built in the middle of these cemeteries by taking an advantage of the cheap land value of the cemeteries, and who was going to complain? There is no path over the highway so that we had to make a ridiculously long journey to get to the exit. We walked on an undefined space along the shoulder of the highway, climbed up and down fences and walls of the cemeteries, hit dead ends and so on. It was a great adventure. We are so lucky we do not have a highway running through the our residential area, which was actually about to happen 50 years ago at Greenwich Village.



Jane Jacobs stood up and bravely started protesting by herself against Moses’ urban planning. She thought his planning was just focusing on the functional needs of the city; circulation, business zoning, easing traffic; all inhumane concerns. It was destroying public space and communities. Her activity spread over the world and generated a strong movement which reconsidered modernism. Moses finally gave up his plan and resigned. Besides this movement though, I have a question. Why aren’t the other people who joined Moses and played a large role in his plans ever mentioned? Why aren’t the other people who joined Jacobs’ activity at the beginning mentioned? Their activities are not scientific discoveries, then why is only one individual mentioned. Is it because it is easy to memorialize and represent the whole historical event in one person despite its complications? 

モーゼズはこの古い落ち着きのある町のど真ん中に高速道を通そうとしていた。これに反対して界隈を守ろうと、かのジェーン・ジェイコブスが一人で近代都市計画に反撃を始める。モーゼズの計画は、いかにして効率よく人や物が移動できるか、機能面だけで、人間的な視点を欠いていると彼女は批判した。市民の賛同が募って、ついにモーゼズは退陣した。前回のポストの続きになるけれど、ある考えが浮かぶ。個人が公的個人に対して、こういう戦いを挑むということは日本であったろうか?日本の政治行政の制度的な仕組みが影響しているかもしれない。たとへば、ニューヨーク市長は自分を補佐するを人材をどこからでも引っ張ってきて、行政組織の部局の長の席に付かせることができる。だから市長が変わるとガラリと行政組織が変わる。日本ではそれが起こらない。日本では首長が変わってもその下の行政職の役人組織がそのまま残る。日本の地方都市であった話だけれど、ある反対運動で活躍して、その勢いで市長選挙に当選した人が、既存の役人や代議士達から四面楚歌を食らって孤立し、ついに辞職させられた、その環境とはだいぶ違う。ジェイ コブスの果敢さに脱帽する一方で、彼女には抗議をすべき相手が誰なのかを考える必要さえなかった、そうゆう精神的土壌を考えてしまう。


In spite of the long traffic lines, the cemeteries are very tranquil. You can not believe this is the center of New York City. I will come again. It is not totally designed; not like Central Park which is meant to attract your attention at every step you take.



the Center of New York City ニューヨークの本当の中心」への1件のフィードバック

  1. Another great post from the Adventurous Architects. Who knew about this green belt in the Big Apple? In Japan, cemeteries don’t seem to have the associations with fear that they have in western societies or for that matter China, possibly because of prevailing Buddhist attitudes towards death. So, if this green belt was in Tokyo, in the spring it would be packed with hanami or cherry blossom viewers, and frisbies would soar in the summer. Thanks for checking it out Hiroki and Sandy!


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