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May 13, 2016


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I think there's not much to say about the advances in solar power. It remains to be seen how easy it is to adapt to an energy mix in which solar is a dominant component rather than a secondary one; there's that threshold beyond which you need grid-scale storage if you're not using fossil-fuel peaker plants.

...I have to admit, I find those Co-Op City- or Stuyvesant Town-style developments oppressively hideous, but they don't necessarily have to look like that.

Esthetics are esthetics, but Jacobs went beyond that. She claimed that there was something inherently dehumanizing about such construction, a flaw which older cities lacked.

Only Co-op City has proved to be an entirely pleasant way to fit 53,000 people per square mile. And it's remained a civilized low-crime area even as its population underwent a surprisingly rapid racial transition.

You can't say that for many of the old-style neighborhoods that Jacobs extolled.

Stuyvesant Town hits 150,000 people per square mile, meaning you could more than fit the entire population of D.C. into five of 'em.

I find both places pleasant. I grew up in and around that sort of construction. Spence lived in Stuy Town, G.T. in whatever that clump of buildings between 63rd Road and the LIE is called, Vaughn in LeFrak City, Finny in what was then called Manhattantown, Henry in 1199 Plaza and me briefly in Stanley Isaacs.

Oppressively hideous? What you need, sir, is a good game of handball in the sunlight surrounded by nice red brick.

Naw, it was called Park West Village when I lived there. Personally, I'm not a big fan of that style of development, because of the way it tends to kill streetfronts. If they pushed the buildings out to the side of the development more, and put commercial space in there, my opinion of them would be better. Some have one-story taxpayers on the avenues to provide commercial areas, and then I'm largely okay with them, but too many do not, and that I think is bad for cities.

And the NYCHA's WSUR (a bunch of renovated brownstones used as public housing on the upper west side) clocks in at 320,000 people per square mile.

That said, I'm happy to bulldoze the west village if that's what we need to do to get NYC's building stock up. Heck, as much as I love the UWS's brownstones... them too.

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