Accressibility - Simple does not mean easy - Le Corbusier
New York New York: it’s a wonderful city. In this article, as it is the warmest month of the year, I concentrated on accessible outdoor spaces in the city. The weather mostly obliged, except for one day of a very light drizzle. I tried to see the Ground Zero site, but it was more crowded than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, that expedition will have to wait until I can step on to the podium from the sidewalk. There is still a lot of construction work in progress on new buildings on the periphery, it is ring fenced and, therefore, inaccessible, at present.
One of the most stunning places in New York, is a new park raised about 15 meters above the general street level, The High Line as it is known, celebrates the old railway line, which transported goods from the meat packing district of the lower west side up north to 34th street. It is elongated, and quite narrow, (about 10m) and has become so popular that they almost have to draw a line down the middle of the street to separate the pedestrian traffic going each way. The area is filled with meadow-like plants, some flowers, grasses, and small trees, which leads on to a paved area for walking out of precast concrete elements, with seating integrated into it. Some natural elements, such as wood, have been incorporated into the benches. It’s an object lesson in accessible gardening. There are several places with lift access, and intermediate stepped entry too. The districts through which it passes used to be dilapidated, which has now has sprung to life and become a high-end development area.
However, a protest body has been formed to stop any further development because the atmosphere of the areas have changed so radically, that it is now considered as ‘gentrified’ and some of the older residents would rather it stayed as it was. This is a heritage site which has been seamlessly integrated into the surrounding environment and has been made accessible for everyone.
There is another beautiful park to visit which is located on the east side of the East River. The new park which is proposed to be built on 11 acres of land has commenced, with the opening of the 5 acres closest to Brooklyn Bridge, called, Brooklyn Bridge Park, to the south of the bridge. It is said that the park will feature walkways and playgrounds, to the southern end, with an architectural piece as a focus. I believe that this tourist attraction will be completely accessible to everyone, although a recent report in the New York Times suggests that it may not live up to visitors’ expectations. The article stated that it detracted from the aesthetics of the environment. It is a pity that the park is not fully integrated. The walk back over the Brooklyn Bridge, is in the center of the famous old structure with double traffic going both ways, on each side of you, but it is set out with separate bicycle tracks adjacent to the walkers. The ramp is a bit steep on either side, but provides wonderful views towards Downtown Manhattan of the100 year old Woolworth Building, and the new Tower at Ground Zero. This part of the city is also very popular with New Yorkers, and universally accessible.
There is an island, east of Manhattan Island, nestled between Manhattan and Queens, called Rooseveldt Island, which was previously known as Welfare Island, directly across the water from the United Nations Building, where a new memorial has been built. The memorial was designed by Louis Kahn, about 40 years ago, and has only just been completed last year. There was a bus load of tourists, but even so, a very quiet place, which contrasts the other places I’ve described. The structure is made out of huge slabs of rectangular marble, it is difficult to describe because of its simplicity. It features a sloping, double approach walk, and small trees planted in a regimented form like soldiers, all leading to the very southern end of the Island, where there is an enormous sculptured head of Fredrick D.Roosevelt, facing north. This area is also accessible which makes it a great experience for everyone and lots of seating has been integrated into the forms at the end.