Adventure Playground
June 18, 2010 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Adventure Playground: John V. Lindsay and the Transformation of Modern New York.

Excerpted from an essay in America's Mayor: John V. Lindsay and the Reinvention of New York, companion book to the same-named MCNY exhibition.
The ironies could not have been more stark. Just a few years earlier and a few hundred yards to the south, Robert Moses, with the blessing of Mayor Wagner, had sought to destroy hundreds of similar cast-iron buildings to clear a path for his Lower Manhattan Expressway, with no thought whatsoever for the area’s historic architecture. Now, under a new mayor, that same architecture was not only being saved (in part by new zoning provisions designed to encourage its reuse) but also being lovingly and imaginatively reinterpreted. The desire to actively enjoy the existing landscape of the city — to find delight in its idiosyncrasies, its mixture of new and old, its picturesque vistas and tucked-away corners — was no longer the private, somewhat suspect pleasure of a few eccentric individuals like Murray Burns, but had come to be societally approved and officially supported.
posted by enn (4 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Great piece, thanks for posting it. I'm surprised The Naked City wasn't mentioned, as it was famous at the time for NYC location shooting on the then-dingy Lower East Side back in the 40s.
posted by Bromius at 10:50 AM on June 18, 2010

This is very off-the-top-of-my head, since I'm at work and can't take the time right now to go deeper into the idea or back it up with research or anything; but I'm reminded of the notion of "preserving" a city's history and development the way many European cities seem to do. Does this hint that New York's "brash young upstart with something to prove" persona is shifting to something slightly more mature? A little less willing to sacrifice the past - or the present - in a mad dash toward the Future? I'm sure someone here can expand (or refute) that thought.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:57 AM on June 18, 2010

Robert Moses! So cranky! "We must soon decide whether we want a fun town [or] one guaranteeing outward order and decency." Sometimes I wish we could all go back in time and just give him a big hug.

Ssshh, Robert. It's gonna be okay. It's all gonna be okay.
posted by aparrish at 11:31 AM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

There was this "Tidy house is a tidy mind" thing all those Modernists had going, right? Like if you just make everything really clean and blank then people wouldn't get so excited and emotional and unstable - like vast expanses of cut grass (that you can't go on) would would be like putting Valium in the water supply or something.
posted by The Whelk at 1:07 PM on June 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

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