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InstaBlog: Boro Park

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Last month, I took a trip out to central Brooklyn to explore the urbanism of Boro Park, a neighborhood primarily centered along 13th & New Utrecht Avenues.

If the pictures don't make it obvious, it is immediately clear on the street just how Jewish a neighborhood this is. The vast majority of people wear traditional, conservative dress, and most stores cater to them in one way or another.

Borough Park (it is spelled both ways—a potentially contentious issue in this city) has seen significant Jewish immigration since the turn of the 20th Century—primarily Modern Orthodox. However, in the early 1980s, the neighborhood population began to transition from a mixed ethnic heritage to a now predominately Haredi (& especially Hasidic) one. (As a goy, forgive me for any nomenclatural mistakes!). This conservative population has made the neighborhood the baby boom capital of New York, something you can *feel* on the street: baby strollers, young children, and teenagers abound.

This all leads to a kind of unique urbanism: this is a neighborhood of extremely mixed incomes (few follow orthodox religion for financial gain), with very specific requirements, all of which creates a level of demand for traditional retail that is disappearing in other neighborhoods. There are bakeries and food stores (and kosher pizza!?), of course, but also books stores—need a Hebrew comic book?—toy stores, and clothing stores every which way. Between income and the particular demands of the clientele, this can almost feel like a world that online retail has passed by.

The clothing stores are particular notable: it feels like there are numerous examples on every block, which is more than a bit of a throwback to an earlier era. One presumes there is not a huge market for inexpensive, modest (tzniut) clothing that meets strict fabric requirements—especially for children—which allows these niche retailers to thrive.

Between shops, shoppers, children, and a population living out in the city, the result is a lively, active streetscape, any way you look at it.

Based on an Instagram post.
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InstaBlog: Hunter's Point Park South

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

As the weather has been getting nicer, and the days longer, I've finally been finding time to get out and explore more, and last week, I finally got to Hunter's Point Park South, in Long Island City, Queens.

Part of the ongoing redevelopment of Long Island City's formerly industrial waterfront, the beautiful northern part of the park had opened in 2013, bringing with it a spate of new luxury apartment buildings and a ferry service to serve them. The southern extension, nearer to the Midtown Tunnel entrance and further from the existing residential neighborhood, opened last year.

Insta(Photo)Blog: Harlem is Changing

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Harlem is changing.

I rarely post just single photos, but this juxtaposition of old and new Harlem couldn't be better. The classic community insititution of one community—the barbershop—sits right next door to the social institution of another, the relatively new Harlelm Coffee Co coffeeshop.

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InstaBlog: A Humble Rock

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Seen while walking on New York's Lower East Side: a rock.

All too often, we can get lost in the complexities of urbanism: inequality, over- (and under-) investment, aging infrastructure, the climate, the complex interplay of urban design and human behavior, the list goes on and on and on.

InstaBlog: "The Apartments"

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

These buildings, metonymically known as "The Apartments," are locally infamous to New York drivers. Located above the Trans Manhattan Expressway (I-95) on the approach to the George Washington Bridge, they are a perfect visual marker to mark the pace of the interminable traffic to and from New Jersey.

InstaBlog Photos: Ridiculously Photogenic City Is Ridiculously Photogenic

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!
#1: Looking south along Church Street into the Noe Valley, while waiting for the inbound J Church

Earlier this year I was in San Francisco, and while I normally like to focus on something a bit more intellectual, sometimes a place is just so gorgeous that all I can do is sit back and enjoy the aesthetics. Hope this series melts your urbanist heart like it melts mine!

Many more below!

Instagram link.

InstaBlog Photos: Ridiculously Photogenic City Is Ridiculously Photogenic

InstaBlog: San Francisco's Twin Peaks Tunnel Shutdown, Transit History, & an Urban Adventure

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!



On Sunday, June 24, 2018, I found myself on my way to San Francisco, for a week of urban exploration, research, and—yes—vacation. A few weeks before my trip however, I had gotten some frustrating news: the day after I arrived, the Twin Peaks tunnel—a major part of the city's light rail/subway infrastructure—was closing for a two month long reconstruction and refurbishment. This was a minor inconvenience, to be sure—even though I wasn't staying somewhere I needed to use the tunnel, no one wants to experience a city's major transit disruption. But more than that, I am a self-avowed transit nerd, and for all of my love of San Francisco, I had never found the opportunity to ride this part of its transit system in all my adult trips to the city.

InstaBlog: San Francisco's Bus System

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

So, after spending a week in San Francisco, I have to say that—and I'm sure locals will disagree—I found its bus system to be both exemplary and a joy to use.

InstaBlog: Sometimes, you just have to admit you were wrong.

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Sometimes, you just have to admit you were wrong.

For the past few years, I've watched this hotel—a Holiday Inn—being built in the Garment District, at 39th & 8th Ave. The developers clearly received a height bonus for including a public plaza, one of New York City's many so-called privately-owned public places (or POPS). POPS have a sad history: not only have they more often than not been dead, lifeless afterthoughts, but developers had an incentive to make them that way—after all, they had no desire for non-tenants to hang out on their property.

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