After acts and regulations were being implemented to better peoples living conditions due to overcrowding, the demand for open natural places became greater. Providing a public space that flows gradually without interfering with major road ways is what came to define central parks features which emerged from the 1857 competition to design a park.
Central parks design was very much Influenced by England. Defined by its naturalistic design such as having ponds, bridges and follies (extravagant structures), these components were adopted for central parks design by Olmsted. As a way to weave the park into the city scape, Olmsted created natural looking bridges that pass over and under streets in a continuous manner where the surrounding elements wouldn’t be interrupted to give the visitor an ongoing experience without being disrupted by streets. This gives visitors a chance to feel close to nature and far from the city, just by adding tall trees to the park’s pedestrian pathways, blocks the visitors view to the emerging city buildings around it.
Some of the most prominent features in central park are scattered and put in places that seem as though no one else had discovered it. Steps that lead to deep and low points to small waterfalls that become rivers and flow to a nearby lake. Other steps lead to arches that give a sense of discovery or a checkpoint that’ll lead into another section of the park almost as a secret pathway. Other features consist of strategically placed hills and rocks. Hills are placed in a way that’ll lead you to walk over it to see what’s on the other side, where as boulders were placed for visitors to look towards a specific view that the designer wanted to emphasize. There are also Folly structures that are placed for visual appeal to enhance the visitors experience such as the Dairy, a gothic structure that gives the park a mythical or enchanting image. The band shell was also another feature designed as a folly to connect the new world with the ancient. All these components give a sense of curiosity and discovery while strolling through central park.
What factors precipitated housing crisis for immigrants and the working poor?
What needed to change?
How does this crisis mirror/relate to current conditions of housing in New York?
As more people begin to migrate to New York to find jobs and better opportunities, the population starts to sky rocket. High population leads to high demands in housing for everyone creating tight living spaces and a bigger income for land lords making land precious. Although this situation came to benefit land owners, it didn’t benefit the new incoming immigrants and the working poor. The mass amounts of tenants living under the same building and cramped street blocks, caused diseases to spread at a rapid pace and over crowding city blocks did not allow for natural light to come in, along with no space for nature or open areas for the general public.
The first main factor that affected immigrants and the working poor were the unsanitary health conditions that they were living in. As land owners began to realize that every inch of their land was lucrative, through providing housing to immigrants, they decided to cramp and make as many living spaces as they could. They achieved this by making each living space smaller to fit in more tenants to fully maximize their profit. By cramping in so many people, the amount of waste each individual produced was all collected on sight creating a foul smell and spreading diseases coming from feces that was left for days with out being cleaned up. At the time, their form of garbage disposal was throwing it out their window down to the street, next to their neighboring buildings that did the same within just a few feet apart. The Lung Block is a perfect example of the problems that arise from overcrowding. The Lung Block was an NYC block that was packed with over congested buildings and had to be demolished in order to solve disease expansion because it was the most disease infested block. Not only were the buildings unsanitary, the streets were also filled with horse manure and dead horses that were left rotting without being properly disposed of.
While overcrowding lots would cause unsanitary conditions it also blocked nature from coming in. As many landlords took advantage of their lots by building up to the property with a small gap in between each building lot, the amount of sunlight that would seep through the windows was very scarce. The lack of sun light would take a toll in tenants physical and mental health. Not only did this block sunlight out, but it also blocked clean air from ventilating properly though each space. A need for change was imperative.
In order to resolve these issues, there were competitions created to see who would come up with the best plan to organize a building lot shape such as the dumbbell scheme in 1879 through 1899 where a court yard was implemented in the middle. Along with these competitions there were also regulations being put in place in order to control these issues created in 1856. These acts would put rules in place to regulate the amount of lot coverage used to build, height limits to allow for sun exposure, number of toilets needed per tenant with windows and specified ceiling heights. All to help improve the way of living for the emerging growth population.
The early architecture and streetscape that shaped Brooklyn sprouted after the war where the British had control over New York. This led to a rise in economical and industrial development through trade and businesses opening up and attracting new comers to migrate to find work. New immigrants would come in by boat at the most convenient point to dock which was Manhattans low water edge. Creating a focal business point to provide immigrants with the necessities they needed as new settlers. All these factors influenced this seaports growth to keep up with its up and coming trade for goods and services. Brooklyn land owners also recognized its potential for growth by providing rented housing on its high grounds for those who wanted to escape the stress from the city. The molding of New York and Brooklyn’s streetscape was directed by their geographical water edge and the revival of federal and Greek styles and influences from the Dutch.
Brooklyn’s geographical features didn’t allow it to have a focal seaport like the one in Manhattan. The existing water edge is man made composed of landfill, it was originally met by a cliff. Manhattan had a lower water edge for boats to conveniently dock. This began to separate settlers that wanted to leave the city and move to the edge of Brooklyn facing Manhattan. Those who settled at the top of this cliff were able to experience a clearer view of Manhattan along with winds brought from the sea that hit the cliff.
This particular area became populated with wood houses. The land owners in Brooklyn heights became very rich and filled their properties with gardens in their front lawns. Many neighboring Brooklyn houses looked fairly similar because building developers would buy adjacent lots. Several facades in the 1830’s had a Flemish block binding pattern that came from the Dutch. Many of the designs in the front doors in Brooklyn were inspired by Greek revival or return of Romanesque from the 1840’s and 1850’s which included an arch around the front of the door. Manhattans streetscape was more influenced by the federal style being more decorative with its office and commercial spaces in its seaport side in south street where immigrants would arrive as opposed to the residents that settled in Brooklyn who had more houses than commercial or office spaces because of their differences in water edge conditions.
The beginning of Brooklyn and Manhattans urban development sprouted from what was first known as New Amsterdam. The first people who settled down chose their settlement based on geography and where they though was most convenient to travel around. Topography played a huge role in the places where most communities chose to settle. As new comers analyzed the terrain around them, certain spots became populated more than others, however each area such as Manhattan and Brooklyn, had its own organic form settlement because of their varying geographical features.
The urban development in Manhattan was much more planned out in comparison to the one in Brooklyn, however, it didn’t fully begin as such. The early development started with the Dutch settlers in 1664 who began their urbanization in lower Manhattan known as New Amsterdam. Occupying a new land allowed for settlers to claim their lots freely, usually maneuvering around the bottom of mountains for their convenience. Thus, creating unorganized and unplanned pathways until the Duke of York took over and began to create the 1811 plan which was a grid that expanded all throughout Manhattan beginning from wall street and above. This gave Manhattan a more simplistic way of organizing the streets using right angles disregarding the natural barriers intersecting the grids pathway and destroying any home settlement that was in the way of the new street grid. More and more settlers came along which began a demand for extra space and raising the value of the lots created. This dictated narrower lots and streets to sell for the newcomers.
At this time Brooklyn was already behind in the development that Manhattan was obtaining. The only urban settlements in Brooklyn at the time were the unorganized lots some brave Dutch settlers had created outside of the wall at wall street risking their chances with the native Americans that were already there. Much like the settlement in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn settlers chose their lots and the sizes of them as they pleased. These placements were much more respected than the lots in Manhattan. Many of the streets in Manhattan were directed by the lots positioning’s creating wider streets and greener areas than those being developed at the same time in Manhattan.