Friday, March 26, 2010




ACTIVITY 6 - Gendered Spaces by Caitlin Butler

The only place that I found for evening clinics for working families is, The Center For Working Families. It is located on 1133 Broadway in New York City. They work on issues such as Healthcare, Green Jobs, and Taxes Reforms, etc. They also have and gather events for people to meet together and have meetings, when of course they are not taking care of their children, etc. There is also Daycare Clinics where parents can drop off their children off while they are at work. I found a couple. One is located on 410 West 40 Street and the other one I found is located on 420 West 42nd street. That one is called, Nylahs Miracles Family Daycare. I think it is really vital that families have places where they can go to and drop off their children while they are trying to work hard to pay the bills and provide food on the table for their children and themselves. And it is also vital for parents to go to an evening clinic after work where they can relax and have some time to themselves, without constantly having to be with their children 24/7.
The males places in m neighborhood which is Midtown, Manhattan I discovered was a cigar shop called Midtown Cigar located on 562 5th Ave. This is a place where all the men go to hang out and smoke cigars without having females there. This is their own space. This is good because they can bond and talk about male things only. It is important for men to have places such as these because they can escape their wives or girlfriends for a little while, while they relax and smoke with other males their age. It is good for them and keeps them out of trouble. Now as far as women spaces go, there’s this place called Rita’s in my neighborhood right on 38th street and 6th Avenue. It is a haircutting place where they cut hair, wax, do eyebrows, etc. Whenever I go in there, which is a lot, I have never seen a guy come in at all. It is only women that come in. I do not know why this is, but that is what I noticed and discovered. Maybe it’s because the name of the place that throws the outside men off. Maybe they think to themselves, okay this place is named Rita’s, which must mean only it is only for women. So maybe if the place changed it’s name, they would do better business. Now, for places where gay people claim the area for themselves I would have to say that would be in the Chelsea area. A particular place that I know where gay people go to meet one another a lot is at the Barracuda bar. This is located on 275 W. 22nd Street. This is where they have drag performances and gay people meeting one another there, mostly 20-30’s age range. I think the gay men pick these particular spots in Chelsea because they know that they are safe there and no one will really bother them there, since it is considered to be the gay area anyways. They feel like this is where they fit and belong. I think that’s very important. To go to a place where no one will bother or make fun of them. So, I did a search on Google of gay map of New York and I go this, http://www.nextmagazine.com/files/imagemisc/CLOSEDBARS.jpg This particular map lists of all the places where the gay people go for bars and clubs in New York City. It lists some bars in the Chelsea area, The Village, Midtown West, Midtown East, and Murray Hill area. I thought this was so cool. Everything is right there on one map. This was located in Next Magazine. This is good for someone who has no idea where the gay bars are. Now they can go to a new one each weekend and see which one is their favorite! I think this gay map is very helpful, colorful and friendly. It’s the perfect attraction.
The only place in my neighborhood that I could find where people are engaging in “private” activities in public is OTB, which is called off-track betting. It is located right near Penn station on 7th avenue. OTB is a popular gambling spot where mostly men go in to gamble their money away on horse races. This is private because they do it secretly, where they write down their bets on a piece of paper and then watch the horse race and pray that their horse wins the race, so that they can win the money afterwards. They are doing this here because it is inside where the men can be discrete about their gambling. Men will go right after work sometimes to gamble or even gamble during the day. You see a lot of poor looking men there gambling, trying to win big money. And then you also have middle class men go there as well. So, there are different groups of men that go there. But you will rarely see women there, except once in a while. I am sure there are other places where people engage in private activities in public, but one seemed the most obvious one to me, because some of the men are standing right outside the OTB building waiting around for the horse race to start. Most of them will be smoking and leaning against the building, talking to other gamblers there. The only reason I know all this is because I had a friend who’s dad used to do this like almost everyday. My friend would tell me how she did not like this because her dad was losing so much money. I guess that is the consequence sometimes to this sort of activity.Another place where people engage in private activity in public is this spa place right on 38 street between 5th and 6th Avenue.This place used to be a frozen yogurt place, but it changed to a spa place. Even though this place says spa outside, men who get massages inside, also get sexual things done to them like hand jobs, etc. I think is is gross and disgusting. The police department called the Vice Squad finally closed down this place. Thank god, because it is right near where I live and I personally don't want this type of hooker joint around my neighborhood.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Activity six - Zachary

This activity proved far more challenging than I thought it would. I expected to come back with a list of specific observations. Instead, I came back with a slew of general remarks and a few specific observations.
The easiest thing to find were services intended for working parents. Weirdly, however, they were all concentrated in a single square-block. I found a child development center, a pre-school, and a women's and pediatric health clinic all on a single block. Around the corner was a day care. All of this was at the far eastern edge of Chinatown, while the rest of the neighborhood, so near as I can tell, is entirely given over to restaurants, beauty salons, pharmacies, markets, and weird trinket shops.



I expected it to be quite easy to find specifically gendered spaces, but it proved quite difficult. Columbus Park is approximately 1/4 basketball courts. These courts were the most obviously gendered spaces I found as they were entirely populated by men. The rest of the park, however, seemed ambiguous at best. The playgrounds contained a mix of men and women watching children with no clear bias in either direction. The picnic tables were similarly diverse, in part, I am sure, due to the concert that was happening today. At other times I've noticed that these tables are used primarily by older men who play board games. I did not take pictures of the park because I felt extremely uneasy about photographing large numbers of children without the consent of their parents.
One fascinating thing about Chinatown is the lack of gendered hair and beauty salons. I saw over a dozen but, strangely, every one I looked into contained both men and women in a roughly equal mix. They aren't advertised as unisex and the choice of the phrase "beauty salon" initially led me to believe that they would be oriented towards women, but this was not the case.
Further, although I didn't find any specifically female spaces, I did notice a lack of certain kinds of markers of the street as a male space. Specifically, the quasi-pornographic advertisements that are so common almost everywhere else in Manhattan (just a few blocks down Canal street there are a slew of posters depicting a woman exposing her breasts to a security camera...which is apparently an advertisement for jeans) are entirely absent. There are, first of all, almost no corporate advertisements at all. What advertisements I did see were mostly associated with much smaller businesses and did not depict anything particularly gendered.
A place that I consider distinctly gendered is the Manhattan Criminal Courts building. Everything in my life has led me to believe that most cops are men. Further, I haven't taken a Women and the Law class just yet, but I know enough to know that women are frequently on the receiving end of legal repression. At the very least, I feel confidant in saying that the police have been used throughout American history to enforce the dominance of straight, white men and to control spaces in a way that imprints their desires onto the city.

One of the things that made this activity so difficult is that a 70 degree Saturday in Chinatown means swarms of human beings and, since what I am looking for requires me to pick up on subtle visual cues, this made things extremely difficult. What I saw, mostly, was a seething, chaotic mass of people filling every available inch of sidewalk.
This made it particularly difficult to find queer or gay individuals claiming space. Because of the hectic sidewalk life, it's entirely possible that I would have passed by extremely active and significant queer spaces and not noticed. Chauncey deals with this invisibility in 'Privacy Could Only Be Had in Public': Gay Uses of the Street: "[Gay men] were aided in [constructing a gay city in the midst of, yet invisible to, the dominant city] by the disinclination of most people to believe that any "normal"-looking man could be anything other than "normal"" I saw no one that had intentionally marked themselves as queer but, given the number of people I saw today, I find it difficult to believe that I did not see a single queer or gay person. I simply did not know.
I believe the crowding also explains why every space I found was absolutely given over to public activities. In over an hour I didn't even see a couple trade a kiss. What I did see were huge numbers of people, probably tourists, roaming about in traditional family units or with backpacks and maps. If I wanted to do anything that was usually private in a public space, I would have picked a different neighborhood. My guess is that most people did.
I looked up some gay maps of the city and found that the area I explored (the area bordered by Centre street, Canal Street, the Brooklyn bridge and the Manhattan bridge) was empty of anything of interest to the map-makers. That said, I imagine that only the tip of the iceberg of any subculture will make its way onto the internet. Google follows reality at a distance and social groups colonize spaces at a pace that exceeds even word of mouth.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lorraine O'Connell-- Activity #6

Lorraine O’Connell
March 19, 2010
Urban Studies
Assignment #5- sexualized, gendered, queer spaces

My neighborhood of Rego Park is a quite area with very little to offer to it’s residents. There are day care programs and after-school programs within the bordering neighborhood of Forest Hills but none of the programs reside in Rego Park. When it comes to evening clinics there are virtually none. The resources and convenience of these two neighborhoods is ridiculous. I go to school everyday from 8am until 2pm and then go straight on the train to work in Forest Hills at a Junior High School where I teach. I get out of work at 7pm and walk home, but as I walk home I have very little opportunities to take advantage of the little the community provides to its residents. Although the community does not provide the greatest of services it provides its residents with a lot of streets and an extensive amount of people, Jane Jacobs would’ve been pleased. So from as far as I know and I have seen there are very little places that provide the people with child care and or clinical help.
From my neighborhood the male and female designated places are very close to one another which I found very odd and to be something I never realized. The designated women’s place would be the nail salons, laundry mats, church, food shopping center and others. But these are the ones I found to be most densely populated by prominently women, which wasn’t so much of a surprise. But what shocked me is the location and closeness of the two gendered areas. I didn’t expect them to be so closely placed together. Like the one street was divided clearly by males and females but the breakdown of it was very odd. It was the laundry mat on the corner(women), then a barber shop(males), then a pizza shop(both), then a nail salon(women), then a bar(males), and then a tea shop(women). They alternated in how the stores or places would be gendered. I found that similar to a lot of the places I saw. Even in the park there was genderfication, I sat in the park to watch people and the females tended to stick together in a certain area while the males spread out. These areas are all known to be women or male spaces because they are prominently encompassed with the designated gender for the spot.
The park was an interesting spot to sit because not only did I see the gender issue arise I also got a taste of both the queer/gay and privatized activities being displayed. It was interesting to see and it shocked me at first. Because in my neighborhood you do not see many gay people and if you do it does a shock, due to the uptightness of the people inhabit the area. But regardless I knew it occurred but unaware of where and when. But I figured that out when I sat in the park for lunch that day, and I see a gay couple indulging in each other, so right there it became a queer and sexualized place. The people are what make the area a certain title, it is not the area that holds purpose. But another sexualized place that is known to all neighbors is the motel by my house. It is the definition of Sexualized for our neighborhood. Prostitutes, gay sex and so much more goes on in there and everyone knows about it, the neighborhood strongly hates it but feels they can do nothing to rid themselves of this “disgrace.”
When looking up a map of gay New York you get a lot of pictures of drag queens and also maps that break the city up by the bars and clubs. I found specifically interesting because I honestly didn’t think that there were that many gay bars and clubs. They aren’t as advertised and are not openly there. That’s an interesting discovery and glad I now know where a lot of the gay clubs and bars are. There’s to bad there are none in my neighborhood it would give the uptight neighbors a reason to really get upset because knowing them that would send them over the edge.
But regardless of all the findings of my exploration of my neighborhood I found out stuff about the way neighborhoods work in general. They usually are made for who the majority of the people are and what their desires and needs are. Whoever holds importance in the neighborhood gets what they want and that’s the only people who matter and get a say.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Activity #5 - Community Boards

Lorraine O’Connell
Activity # 5 –Community Board

I went to Community Board 6 meeting which is the Community Board for Rego Park and Forest Hills. I live in Rego Park and I work in Forest Hills so it was an ideal meeting to go to. The meeting was located at 73-05 Yellowstone Boulevard, Forest Hills, NY 11375, it was basically a store front which I found normal because I've been there plenty of times before but it is an odd image for a prestige thought like a community board. But the meeting went the same as it always did, the same people showed up and the same result came of the meeting, nothing.
I have to attend these meetings for work since I work under the Queens Borough President, so I am accustom to them and know the regulars who attend the meeting. So it wasn’t a new experience and there was probably one new person out of the fifteen people who were there including the board members. The Communities of Forest Hills and Rego Park are the communities that are represented and they are prominently white communities, on the richer side for the most part and of the older age. Forest Hills is a privatized community and is composed of white, Jewish, rich small families or elders. While Rego Park is the middle class section that is composed of whites, Hispanics and Russians. The two areas clash and this is always an issue within the community board meeting.
The Community Board meeting was two hours, which is the normal length, and it was about the new construction of a high school within the neighborhood of Rego Park. The school is under construction and has been a debated issue more than once. It is a heated issue because the surrounding neighborhood is afraid that the property value will go down around the school, the streets will become infested with bad teenagers and that there will be a higher rate of violence and added distributions within the area. This was easily understood coming from older people, because those are the people who make up the board and who make up the meeting not including myself and three other people in our teens or twenties. The argument became extremely heated when it turned into community versus community, because Forest Hills already has a high school and knows the impact of the teenagers who go there, but Rego Park is unaware and careless to the whole thought on it until now. But Rego Park is finding all ways to rid themselves of the high school. The argument continued and got nowhere within the meeting. Although other people brought up other issues like unfixed large pot holes that were causing accidents, and the continued running of red lights on Woodhaven Boulevard but the High School was the main and largest of concerns.
I being from Rego Park understood that the school would have an impact on the neighborhood but I didn’t take it as a bad impact I thought it would bring more business and culture to the neighborhood but I was told I only thought that way because I was young and na├»ve. Which coming from the elders of my community, who had seen neighborhood grow, was a compliment. They thought my thoughts on the matter were to positive and liberal. They understand that I am nineteen and are use to my opposing thoughts on the many issues they bring up in the meetings so it didn’t come as a surprise that I would oppose and debate with them, they didn’t expect anything less.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Scavenger Hunt #4, #7, and #8 - Maya Jourieh

4. Reverse commuting is when someone from the city commutes our into a suburban area on a daily basis; hence the term “reverse” given in the term used to describe such a commute, rather than traveling from a suburban area to an urban area (what would be thought of as a normal commute).

A man, who goes by the name of Paul and did not share his last name, from Brooklyn, New York, makes this commute everyday by going to Grand Central Station and using the train to commute to Westchester. He is a professor at Pace University at the Westchester Campus. I asked him a few questions and he seemingly did not mind to travel like this every morning. He, in fact, claimed to enjoy the get away from the city, it allowed him to have a every now and then. He did, however, explain that it is difficult to be working far away from his wife and four daughters.
Another thing I had found interesting but not so surprised about was that he stated to have an apartment right off campus just in case he needed to stay there over night. Such a place to stay does seem necessary, however, when working so far from home.

7. Staten Island seems to be one of the places with a high number of foreclosures, especially the homes of the North and South Shore areas.

A number of the houses in these areas have been foreclosed due to several reasons.
The area had a very depressed vibe to it. There were about six houses in the area that had been foreclosed. I walked into the morbid silence to look around, it wasn’t very pleasant.
Don’t get me wrong, the area is pleasant looking, however, the silence and the closed off houses gave it an eerie vibe.
As eerie as it may have been, I saw a family checking out a house. So it seems, that the area was bringing in business. Business or not, I was, however, curious as to how much these houses were now being sold for after the foreclosures. All the houses were one family houses, pretty big in size, and were detached. Although my curiosity was getting to me, I did not ask the real estate agent.

8. The Department of City Planning creates the zoning laws in New York City. Williamsburg has been one of the many places that have been affected by the zoning changes. The area of the Williamsburg where the water front is located has waste that the city wants to replace with a power plant, however, the community wants to replace it with a park instead.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Activity Four - Zachary

10.


Canal Street is two-way, with two lanes on each side of the double-yellow line. Traffic is regulated by street lights at each block. Most intersections are four way, but a few side-streets merge with Canal with stop signs regulating the flow of traffic on the side-street. There is no bike lane and most bicyclists ride in the right lane.



Christopher Street is a one-way street. Traffic is light. There is a large bike lane on the right side of the street. Traffic is regulated by stop signs except at major intersections (6th Ave, for instance).

11.

8th street between 6th Ave. and Broadway: Shops on both sides of the street face inwards. There are no gaps or alleys between buildings. There are generous sidewalks on both sides of the street and most shops have doors opening onto 8th st. There are few blank walls. The fire escapes and windows of the apartments above all face 8th street. Some shops are set above or below street level and have stairs connecting them to the sidewalk.

Centre Street between Canal and Worth Street: Buildings have no gaps between them. Some face the street and have doors opening onto it, but most offer only blank walls. The Manhattan Criminal Courts building and a non-descript office building across the street make a canyon out of the block between While Street and Leonard Street. The Courts bristle with security cameras. Few pedestrians pass by. At Worth there is a small park surrounded by municipal buildings and offices.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Scavenger Hunt - #1 & #6

(1) Find and photograph Philip Johnson’s “daring” AT&T Building in Manhattan [page 83].

AT&T Building – 560 Madison Avenue (at 56th Street)






(6) What is a “frontier neighborhood” [page 101]? Find one in the area and visit it. How do you know it’s a frontier?

A frontier neighborhood is one in which the American Dream can come to be. In James Howard Kunstler’s words the American Dream is “a detached home on a sacred plot of earth in a rural setting, unbesmirched by the industry that made the home possible; a place where one could play at cultivating the soil without having to rely on husbandry for a livelihood; a place that was most of all, not the city.” (The Geography of Nowhere, 101) But also, a frontier neighborhood, and thus the American Dream, includes being able to have a successful economic life. In the 1920s (when the frontier neighborhood idea basically began), the best business was that of land development. So the houses in such neighborhood would be fairly big with a nice back or front yard where one could have cultivate the soil or plant seeds without relying on it to survive. A frontier neighborhood, as Kunstler states in the last sentence of the above quote, is not the city. We can then assume that if someone lives (or lived) in a frontier neighborhood, they get out of that area to work.
Maspeth in Queens is an example of a frontier neighborhood. The “inside” of Maspeth (a few blocks down from Woodside or approaching Middle Village and Ridgewood) is very rural-like, with big house that fit in the Kunstler’s description. Many have a large front yard, where plants and some crops are planted. I’ve lived over two years in this neighborhood and enjoy walking around in it. I know virtually every one within 5 blocks of my house (in all directions). Maspeth is a small, close community- it’s really hard not to know who your neighbors are and talk to them every time you see them on the street. Hence, I know that many of them leave Maspeth to go to work and make a living to be able to live in the houses that they do. For example, my landlord has his own mechanical company, and although he does a lot of the work in the yard of the house, he is constantly going to Manhattan and Brooklyn where he does most of the business. Many of the neighbors just across the street work in Manhattan. If not, there are other people (such as me!) that work in Grand Ave or Metropolitan Ave, which are the most “urban”-like areas in Maspeth with too many business next to each other and apartment buildings.


*-*-Tania Damiano-*-*