Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Willets Point, NYC

At the moment on top of our design and audit work based in London on the A10 we are prepping for essays trying to get my head around the complexity of the research, where to take my research and the broad areas that need to be researched to refine my writing and thoughts.

One of the essays is a comparison study of Willets Points a proposed development site in the Queens area of New York and the near completed Olympic site in London.  Having recently, we a month ago now visited New York on a study trip we explored Willets point.  Sitting next to the Mets ‘City Field’ baseball stadium this ramshackle looking piece of land is a vibrant village of mechanic.  A place where the city comes to get its vehicles repaired at lower costs than the branded car dealers a thriving primarily Hispanic community makes their living.

Warned by the white Americans to not venture through the central muddy strip we decided to anyway. To understand the place and the people you have to take risks.  We were careful with our photography and only one woman shouted at us we walked through.  A sense that perception and actual experience of a place are always very different, many of the workers were gesturing poses, perhaps we were less threatening because we looked like students and we felt less threatened because we were in a group.  I suppose the main resent to be mindful of this mechanics island and our intrusion upon it is because it is on the edge of being disperse, irradiated by a tsunami of “redevelopment”.  The unwinnable force of the big developer meets small time trader.  The state using its power of Eminent domain, supposedly there to take land over for public need, instead has been used as a way of handing land over to the multi million pound development.  The value of the small local trader has been missed, lost amongst dollar signs.. How can these businesses be relocated successfully, they are a community routed in the urban landscape, self employed and independent traders employing their families and local tradesmen, servicing the wider community.  Their offer to the city may seam small to the big developer but their value in a non-monetary perspective is great.

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