Author Archives: Ajay

Blog Post 4 – Jacobs/Moses

Jane Jacobs showed the world an interesting perspective, and a perspective that everyone should really consider. Robert Moses on the other hand, was a key person in the history of New York City who mainly just wanted to “rebuild” or “improve” the city. Jacobs was pretty much the complete opposite of Moses on many issues. Moses mainly cared about the future of the city, and he didn’t really consider what would happen to the people that were currently living in the neighborhoods that he wanted to change.

The Cross Bronx Expressway was one of Robert Moses’ most famous ideas. We might like the Cross Bronx Expressway now, since it made driving through the Bronx much quicker, in most cases. The issue with this was that people lived where the Cross Bronx now runs. Moses basically bulldozed his way and had the expressway built, but didn’t really care about the people that lived in the area.

Jane Jacobs fought hard with a group of people that had businesses or lived in the downtown Manhattan area. Moses wanted to also build a cross Manhattan expressway that ran right to the Lincoln tunnel from the Manhattan Bridge. This would’ve devastated businesses and historic buildings in the SoHo and Greenwich Village region of Manhattan. Jacobs got together with people who lived in the area, and protested enough to prevent the expressway from being built. It’s safe to say this is one of her bigger accomplishments, since Greenwich Village and SoHo are very important parts of the borough of Manhattan to this day. If it wasn’t for Jane Jacobs, we might not have those areas of Manhattan to this day.

My Brooklyn Documentary

My Brooklyn really showed gentrification from a different point of view. Gentrification really affected the Fulton Mall area, and from the perspective of people that lived there before the whole look of the neighborhood changed. Real estate developers were eyeing the neighborhood to build luxury condos, leaving the people that currently resided there, without a place to go. The people that were buying the neighborhood, decided to show that they did care about the people that were living there at the time, but it was more of just a publicity stunt. They just wanted to gain leverage to get the City’s approval to start the demolition of existing buildings in the area.

My Brooklyn also really depicted what it was like to live in the area of Downtown Brooklyn during the early 2000’s, when Bloomberg was mayor of the city. It was a great place to go for people of all ages, and the Fulton Mall was one of the most visited malls in New York at the time. If you head to Fulton St now, it is still crowded, but not nearly as it was before. Most of the people that lived in the area, and visited, had to relocate due to the high costs of the new neighborhood that real estate developers were building.

People thought that the city was going to make sure that this whole renovation was a good idea, because the city planned it and proposed it. The truth is that the city actually didn’t create the plan itself. Real estate developing groups, pitched the idea to the city, and made all sorts of guarantees, that they really didn’t end up living up to.

The Fulton Mall was one of the key parts of the renovation, and builders kept saying that it would be a much nicer place to shop around, but in reality, it lost a lot of business after the renovation was completed. A lot of people didn’t go there since the shops had also changed. The stores were much more high end, and the people that were living in the area weren’t able to afford to shop in the neighborhood anymore.

A lot of businesses in the area were basically forced out of their buildings. Real estate developers purchased the buildings, and they were forcing people out within a month, without anywhere else to move to. The documentary really showed this with the bagel shop, and the barber shop. Both of these guys tried to stay open as long as possible, by borrowing money from friends and family, but they still couldn’t do it. Big business in the end, won the war.

The documentary really showed what people in the area went through during the time period, mainly because we thought that new buildings would make the area a nicer place to live in. In reality, it didn’t. It only really benefited the people who could afford the luxury condos in the area, which wasn’t many that lived in the neighborhood prior to 2010.

Mr. Alexiou’s Presentation

Mr. Alexiou spoke about the Gowanus, and how it really came to be. We spoke about all sorts of things related to the Gowanus, such as how it originally started out, how it advanced through different time periods, and how it became this polluted place that currently exists now.

The canal was really essential to Brooklyn in it’s early days. Industries really wanted the property right around it, mainly because of the transportation routes. Mr. Alexiou even mentioned how it was a popular place to get fresh oysters from, which people used to advertise very proudly of, because of their size. In a way, the Canal was really the best part of the City of Brooklyn, before it joined the City of New York. The land in Brooklyn was perfect for a lot of factories to be built right along the canal, or near it. The land was sloped down to the canal in the surrounding areas. Germans were a major group to settle in Gowanus in the 1840s. This was right after the population increase, that nearly increased Brooklyn’s population from 2000 to 60000 people in a span of 40 years.

We also discussed how the land near the Gowanus was perfect to grow vegetables. It was primarily made out of Marshland, so it was soft to dig, and easy to plant into. The common misconception was that the Gowanus was once made up of swamps, but it’s mainly marshland.The canal allowed for an easy access to a water source. The water was also the perfect combination of salt water and fresh water to allow the perfect environment for oysters to grow and flourish in. Posters showed that they had the biggest Oysters in the country in the Gowanus, very proudly.

Since all of these factories and industries wanted to build right along the canal, there were a lot of issues that resulted later on, specifically in the 1900’s. There weren’t as many regulations (or any) that protected the canal like there are today. Factories would just dump waste right into the canal, and they did this for close to a 100 years. This really caused the canal to get really polluted, really quickly.

The government started to get more involved in the late 1900’s after it was clear that the Gowanus, a once great canal, is considered to be toxic. Some of the things in the Gowanus can cause you to become ill if you come in contact with them. We even spoke about the person who decided it would be a wise decision to go swimming in the Gowanus, even if it was for a good cause.

I completely agree with Mr. Alexiou when he explained how the city isn’t doing that much to fix the Gowanus. The feud that the federal and city government have had for a very long time now is starting to get in the way. The federal government definitely is interested in helping, and is forcing New York City to take action, but NYC is taking the “cheap” way out, and instead of using a long term solution, they’re more interested in taking the short term action, and the one which might save them the most money. This method most likely will not last for long, or even work that well. I do agree with Mr. Alexiou that there needs to be more done, as soon as possible. I don’t think that this issue will go away on its own, and that it will actually get worse.

Hicksville, NY

Hi, my name is Ajay. I live in Hicksville, New York. Hicksville is a town in Nassau County and a part of Long Island. Hicksville is a relatively quiet neighborhood, with all private residential houses, or some town houses that are slowly on their way out. Hicksville isn’t too deep into Long Island, it takes about 15 minutes to enter Queens. Hicksville is compltely suburban still, but I feel that this is going to change soon as other neighborhoods slightly west of here have been becoming more crowded and apartment buildings have started becoming more common.

There isn’t really one big place to recognize in Hicksville. Recently, a lot more Indian stores and restaurants have been appearing in Hicksville, and this is becoming a more Asian oriented neighborhood. About 10 – 15 years ago, it was almost all German and Irish people living here.

Hicksville has about 5 elementary schools, and 1 Middle School, and 1 High School. These elementary schools aren’t as spread out as you would think, a few of them are pretty close to one another. I live in between two schools, and ended up going to the one that is further away from my house.

There really is one main road that cuts through Hicksville. The official name is Rt. 107, but everyone here just refers to it as “Broadway”, because it has all the stores, and is basically the business district of this area. This is where all the Indian restaurants are, the supermarket is, and most of the American food chains are also on this one road.

The average household contains about 2 kids and 2 adults. The majority of the homes are single family, but there are a few two family homes around. Most of the homes were built in the 1950’s, but a lot of people now are opting to tear down the old home, and rebuild a new one from scratch. Most of the homes here look somewhat similar to one another, and most have some amount of brick on the front, with two doors, one in the front and one in the back. Not many homes have side doors here. There are about 40,000 people living here, so its not exactly a small town, but a medium sized one. Each home has about 3 floors, a basement, the main floor, and one floor upstairs. Attics aren’t too common here, but some newer homes do have them. My house is from the 50’s but it has been improved since then by the previous owner, and my family too. Homes here have pretty big backyards, and you could technically fit another home in the backyard, if it was legal to.

Commuting to the city isn’t too bad here, as long as you take the Long Island Rail Road. If you take the LIRR, it takes about 50 minutes to get to Atlantic Terminal, which is right next to Barclays Center, or about 45 minutes to get to Penn Station. If you choose to drive, it would take close to two hours if its during rush hour in the morning, or evening. At any other time you could go to the city within an hour to an hour and a half. I wouldn’t drive to the city too much, but i’d choose to take the train like I do to get to school daily.


Hicksville is overall a pretty quiet neighborhood. We’re still not too deep into Long Island, but only about 10 miles away from the Queens border. I think that in the next few years, we will slowly start become more gentrified mainly because we aren’t too far from the city, and the city would definitely benefit from more space.