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Posts Tagged ‘redevelopment’

It’s a little hard to get my head around using this topic for an opera, but an article at FastCo Design makes it seem almost logical.

“A legendary 1960s battle over the urban design of New York City is getting its dramatic due. The struggle between urban planner Robert Moses and journalist/activist Jane Jacobs over Moses’s proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway will become an opera, thanks to composer Judd Greenstein and director Joshua Frankel.

“Moses and Jacobs had deeply divergent visions of New York City’s future. Moses was the powerful planner behind a swath of New York City expressways that displaced half a million people during his reign as the city’s master builder. He envisioned a city built for easy driving.

“Jacobs, who popularized the idea of eyes on the street — the notion that streets are safer and more vibrant when there are pedestrians on them — vehemently opposed Moses’s plans to raze Washington Square Park and much of Greenwich Village, where she lived, to build yet more miles of highway.” More here.

If you ask nicely, I will sing you the lyrics Arnold Horwitt wrote to the tune of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (substituting the word Moses) that the crowd sang on a ferry ride to protest a road Moses proposed for Fire Island.

Photo: FastCoDesign

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On mornings when I don’t walk in my neighborhood or in the Greenway near work, I’m more likely to walk around the emerging waterfront district than the Public Garden, the approach to which involves too much waiting at street lights.

The area near Seaport Boulevard and the harbor, though booming with construction today, still wears the remnants of its formerly neglected status: vistas of pitted parking lots, streets that end ­­­­­­in chain-link fences, highway underpasses filled with brown grass and fast-food wrappers. Then there is the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Voyage.

Unlocked, empty, and trusting, the tiny chapel has a basket for donations to the food pantry. Under a statue of Mary holding her infant in one hand and a ship in the other are votary candles. Someone in charge must think – or know – that no traveler seeking blessings will steal alms for the poor in front of Mary unless desperate. In which case, perhaps he will be welcome to it.

I picture Ishmael coming to a place like this (different denomination and in New Bedford) to hear the sermon on Jonah and the Whale before his ill-fated voyage with the obsessed Captain Ahab.

I wonder if sailors really go to the chapel nowadays and what will happen to it as the area develops at its rapid pace. Along the water, the mayor’s prized Innovation District is gathering steam. In the other direction, the Fort Point Channel area is bursting with restaurants, arts, and artists.

Less than 20 years ago, I visited one artist, the son of friends, who was squatting with other artists in the abandoned Fort Point warehouses where doors had no locks, broken boards and pipes littered the floors, and loose wires hung from the ceilings.

The chapel is part of that earlier world, when lighting a votary candle might have seemed like one’s best chance for making it until tomorrow.

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