Tree Planting on Union St.

Trees on Union St.

On the morning of Wednesday November 15, I saw the above scene–workers planting trees in front of 492-496 Union St.  This is great news.  They’ve been working hard all fall to make that building look nice and the trees are a lovely finishing touch.  My question is, who’s paying for this?  The building owner?  The city?

If it’s the city, the implication is that they have an interest in really making Gowanus happen.  The city can have a powerful impact in the improvement of a neighborhood.  See Columbia St. for an area where New York City has thus far made false promises, at least according to the entrepreneurs there.

I used to live in Wicker Park in Chicago where the gentrification was rapid.  The city was extremely obvious about promoting the gentrification.  In 2004, they renovated North Avenue between Damen and Ashland.  They installed fashionable, antique-looking street lamps and inlaid brick crosswalks.  It was pretty amazing.  They had previously done the same thing to Clark St. in Andersonville.  With this aesthetic improvement, however, comes a note of sadness.  Why does the city wait until the property values go up and the rich people move in before giving busy streets a face-lift?  What would happen if they made these kinds of improvements to impoverished neighborhoods?  Would we see a Broken Windows Theory effect?

Chicago is notorious for making selective improvements.  I don’t see it as much in New York, but having lived here for only 2 years and having nestled myself in Carroll Gardens, I’m not exactly an authority on the issue.  Anyone out there think they have the lowdown on New York’s civic activity?  Have you seen any patterns emerge?

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~ by jaredran on November 15, 2007.

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