Learning Places Spring 2016 LIBRARY ... - City Tech OpenLab Learning Places Spring 2016 LIBRARY /...
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Learning Places Spring 2016
LIBRARY / ARCHIVE REPORT Brooklyn History Society
Our trip to the Brooklyn History Society felt much like an investigation, where my “groupmates” and I
sifted through boxes and boxes of information. We were forced to filter out numerous texts, with the
keywords “Hudson”, or “Farragut”, “Housing”, “Robert Moses”, “NYCHA”, “BQE” and “Navy Yard” in
mind. The BHS had numerous folders which encompassed these subjects, but some of these
documents were incredibly cryptic. Terms were mentioned once or twice in the document, and
sometimes indexes in documents were neglected. Some passages and documents were so dense, that
it required referencing other texts or just trying our guts for finding leads.For me, it was mostly
difficult to not get distracted, as there was an expansive collection of documents regarding Cadman
Plaza , Robert Moses and fascinating Navy Yard documents.
I have never visited the Brooklyn Historical Society, but I have certainly heard of it’s incredible and
expansive collection. I am anticipating on not only being enamored by the Brooklyn Historical
Society’s architectural style, but I anticipate on finding numerous documents regarding NYCHA’s
housing placement in regards to the redevelopment of Downtown Brooklyn.
1. BrooklynQueens Connecting Highway, Proposed Scope of Contracts, late 1940’s.
2. General Plan Of The United States Navy Yard, New York, New York. June 3, 1912.
3. Memorandum to Stuart Constable, City of New York, Office Of City Construction Coordinator,
March 25, 1954.
4. Brooklyn Center now at MidPoint, November 5, 1955.
DOCUMENTATION of site & resources (maps/archival documents/photos)
The image above shows the construction document for the BQE, which is rendered in three
different ways: through the precision of a black line, a red line and red hatched lines/strokes. The
black line represents a portion of the BQE which opened in 1951, a year before the opening of
Farragut Housing. This portion describes and punctures the presence of tentative Housing Projects
(Ingersoll and Walter Whitman Houses). The red line represents parts of the BQE which would open
by 1949, as the hatched lines represent construction current to the document.
As you zoom in closer to the map, you will notice that the BQE as a line with several fragments
that is severed by streets. Numerals will describe the order of demolition for the city project. Thus,
the construction was strategically mapped out block by block, as key notes describe not only the
demolition date, construction date and the planting date, but the number of displaced families is also
recorded. The least of amount of families displaced belongs to the ends of this image, which is
described along Edwards street and Park avenue (5 families) and Hicks Street and President Street.
(13 families) The largest amount of families displaced, belongs to the strip which is adjacent to the
current NYCHA properties. (374 and 407 displaced)
This image shows the a general plan of the
United States Navy Yard prior to the
conception of the BQE. Though this drawing
does not directly relate to the issue of public
housing and the birth of Farragut Housing,
this drawing shows the proposed boundary of
the Navy Yard that is currently used. This was
a pivotal moment to Vinegar and the Brooklyn
Navy Yard, as idea of urban renewal granted
the separation of neighborhoods, as well as
the introduction of Navy Street and the
erasure of Hudson avenue (which bleeds into
the mega blocks of Farragut Housing)
This image describes a letter written to Stuart
Constable by Robert Moses regarding the site
conditions adjacent and between public
housing projects. Moses claims that the
blocks west of the Navy Yard are even worse
than the buildings built for Farragut Housing,
thus suggesting extending the Farragut
Housing Complex or creating an entirely new
small, but independent project.
The article of the left describes the
conditions of the redevelopment of
Downtown Brooklyn at it’s midpoint, or
halfway point. The document glosses the
project as a whole, as the writer provides
holistic statistics which convey the
construction and destruction of the city’s
project. Proposed expenditures were
overlooked, and were described to to reach
four times the original budget. A total of of
four hundred and twenty six parcels of land
have been purchased by the city, and two
hundredseventyeight properties have been
torn down. For me, this article describes
1. Neighborhood History
a. The redevelopment of Downtown Brooklyn required an immense amount of
manpower and revenue. This project involved an array of urban fragments, which vary
from the implementation of a highway (the BQE) to the introduction for building a
cluster of housing projects (Farragut Housing). The definition of transportation was
redefined through different means and scales (streets vs. highways) as the invention
of the automobile called for the necessity to expand Brooklyn. In tandem with the
invention of the BQE, public space was expanded and redefined. The Civic Center was
the heart of this project, as 17 new buildings were proposed around it. The Civic
Center, Cadman Plaza and the expansion of the Navy Yard was another physical
manifestation of urbanization. Each new project proposed by the city was integral for
the accommodation of the population increase, and these projects were instrumental
in shaping the perception of the new and improved society.
2. Key Events / Historical Dates
a. 1941 The board of Estimates authorized a study named “Brooklyn Civic Center and
Downtown Improvements” which sought to analyze the necessity for proposals for
the redevelopment of the area.
b. 1949 The first phase of construction for the BQE.
c. 1951 The completion of the Brooklyn Queens Express.
d. 1952 The completion of Farragut Housing.
3. Key Players
a. New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA which mission is to establish housing for
lowmedian income families. NYCHA has been established since the early 1930’s, and
is currently the largest housing authority in the country.
b. The Office of City Construction Coordination was a city run office in the 1930’s and
1940’s which sought to assist, coordinate and finalize the construction of large city
c. The New York City Planning Commission, or the NYCPC has been established since
1936. It has served as a pioneer in the development of urban planning in the nation,
d. Robert Moses was the mastermind of numerous projects regarding the
redevelopment and urban renewal of New York City.
4. Relationship Key Players
a. The New York City Housing Authority facilitated the need to build numerous housing
projects, including Farragut Housing and Walt Whitman houses.
b. The Office of City Construction Coordination facilitated and coordinated plans for the
construction of the BQE.
c. The New York City Planning Department facilitated, coordinated and designer plans
for the redevelopment of downtown Brooklyn. Their work is most prevalent through
the approach towards the Civic Center, as well as the planning of the Civic Center.
d. In this specific case, Robert Moses was found to be a key figure in the process of
moving bids, documents and designs forw