Below please find links and support materials to help you succeed in this course and beyond. If you don’t find the resources you’re looking for, just ask!

Research Question Development 

What is a Research Question?

The question that your research will answer and that is significant to your readers/audience.


Research Question: Is MetroTech a good example of city planning?

Thesis: MetroTech was conceived by New York City officials as a means of redeveloping Downtown Brooklyn, however, failed city planning, which included the destruction of blocks of residential housing and the re-drawing of streets, robbed the neighborhood of its vitality and left a neighbor of corporate businesses whose workers lived elsewhere and did not contribute to building community. 

As you write the research question and thesis (Problem Statement) be mindful of the following: 

  • Would the research add to the existing body of knowledge or revise existing knowledge on the subject?
  •  Is there evidence or authoritative opinion from others to support your research?
  • How many people were are stand to be affected by the problem?
  • Is the problem of current interest?
  •  Is the problem likely to continue into the future? 
  • Will more information about the problem have practical application? (Can we learn from it and apply it to prevent similar problems?)

Research Question /Problem Statement (Thesis)

  • A one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis of your topic
  • Generates the questions the research will answer 
  • The main point you are proving in your paper
  • Summarizes your point of view 
  • Specific, clear, not vague
  • Is restrictive in scope – can’t be broad 


Robert Moses, An Atlantic portrait

Slums and City Planning, by Robert Moses

Moses’ Prediction Angers Opponents of Manhattan Expressway

Eminent Dominion: Rethinking the legacy of Robert Moses.

How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering

Why Trump Never Stops Talking About ‘Our Suburbs’

New Yorkers Without a Voice: A Tragedy of Urban Renewal

A Walk Through Harlem, New York’s Most Storied Neighborhood

Regional Plan Association Timeline

Transcript of Blackout, a PBS American Experience documentary about New York City’s 1997 blackout.

The 1977 Blackout in New York City Happened Exactly 42 Years Ago

The New York Times, July 14, 2019. By Derek M. Norman

New York City Atlas of Urban Renewal

Housing Density From Tenements to Towers

You Are Now Entering An Active Urban Renewal Area, Urban Omnibus






NYC “Then & Now” Map Tool


New York, A Documentary: 06 City of Tomorrow, PBS

New York, A Documentary: 07 The City and the World 1945 2000

Citizen Jane: The Battle for the City – Official Trailer

My Brooklyn

The Human Scale

For the past 50 years, urban planners have gone out of their way to build grandiose cities, with large open spaces to accommodate traffic and awe-inspiring views to impress the inhabitants. Inadvertently, these cities that look inspiring from the window of an airplane or a car, offer very little to the pedestrian. Public spaces become uninviting and uninspiring, discouraging people from physical activities or from merely enjoying their surroundings. With obesity and other lifestyle-associated problems on the rise, it is more important than ever to build cities for people. Cities that move at 5km/h. Dubbed “the last living worldwide renowned guru in urbanism” legendary architect Jan Gehl has been rebuilding cities to accommodate the needs of modern societies throughout half a century. He has been involved in rebuilding most large cities imaginable, from Sao Paolo to New York, to Copenhagen, to Moscow, to Singapore.

The Tragedy of Urban Renewal


The Happy City Experiment

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Charles Montgomery explores what happens when you take an abandon city space in NYC and populate it with urban social experiments. The outcomes are unexpected as city dwellers explore this public space, interact with each other, and change their attitudes towards social connections, values, and each other. Charles Montgomery explores what happens when you take an abandoned NYC space and infuse it with social experiments. The results are surprising and inspiring. An award-winning author and urban experimentalist, Charles Montgomery is the author of Happy City which the New York Times recommended as essential reading for their city’s new mayor. Working with the BMW Guggenheim Lab, the Museum of Vancouver and other institutions, he creates experiments that challenge us to see our cities—and ourselves—in entirely new ways. Montgomery’s Home for the Games initiative led hundreds of people to open their homes to strangers during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Operating in cooperation with the BMW Guggenheim Lab and the citizens of New York City, he transformed an empty lot into a device to maximize feelings of altruism. His writings on urban planning, psychology, culture, and history have appeared in magazines and journals on three continents. Among his awards is a Citation of Merit from the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society for outstanding contribution towards public understanding of climate change science. His first book, The Last Heathen, won the 2005 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction. He currently creates programs with the Museum of Vancouver and other institutions that enable people to use their own cities as laboratories, and he continues to advise and conduct lectures for planners, designers, and decision-makers across America, Canada, and England. For more information, visit

The Happy City Website

Cars Almost Killed Our Cities, But Here’s How We Can Bring Them Back

Our cities are making us – and the planet – sick, and the problem lies in the automobile, which has taken over how we live and use space. Thankfully, new technology like autonomous vehicles and 3D printing has opened the door for us to bring our cities back from the brink, says transportation expert and city planner Gabe Klein. But we need to act quickly to ensure cities will be places we want to live. Gabe is the former Commissioner of the Chicago and Washington DC Departments of Transportation. In both cities he revamped technology platforms and government processes while focusing on putting people first vs. automobiles on city streets. This included launching two of the first and largest bikeshare systems in the U.S. and building protected bike lanes and better pedestrian infrastructure for vulnerable citizens citywide, as well as facilitating private services like carshare and rideshare that could help each cities mobility goals.

East Lake Meadows: A Public Housing Story


How Highways Wrecked American Cities

Renewing Inequality


Learning Places Fall 2020

Project Sites

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway – BQE 

The first of its kind in New York City, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway differed from the City’s parkways in that it was built to accommodate both commercial and non-commercial traffic. Part of a massive program to expand New York’s transportation infrastructure, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or BQE, stretches 11.7 miles from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel near the Red Hook section of Brooklyn to the Grand Central Parkway in Queens. The BQE was intended not only to relieve congestion on local streets but also to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time between the boroughs. 

The expressway was first proposed in the mid-1930s to alleviate increasing traffic congestion by providing a connecting roadway between the new east-west thoroughfares nearing completion in Brooklyn and Queens. Construction of what was then called the Brooklyn-Queens Connecting Roadway started in 1937 and initially linked Greenpoint Brooklyn’s Meeker Avenue, by way of the Kosciuszko Bridge (1939), to Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, Queens. The road enabled Brooklyn motorists to access the newly built Triborough Bridge (1936) and the 1939-40 World’s Fair site in Flushing Meadows, Queens.  Read more  (

The Future of the BQE New York City Council

The Cross Bronx Expressway 

The Cross Bronx Expressway is a major freeway in the New York City borough of the Bronx built between 1948 and 1963.  Envisioned and managed by Robert Moses, this freeway was an engineering marvel that brought opportunity and connectivity at the expense of local neighborhoods it destroyed in its path. In 1936, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) proposed an extensive network of expressways and parkways covering the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area with the goal of the expressway providing all traffic safe and uninterrupted roadways and solving New York’s traffic problems. The Cross Bronx expressway was one recommended route and would connect multiple bridges in the metropolitan area, serving as the only means of east-west travel through the middle Bronx [1]. This freeway was the brainchild of Robert Moses who was very active in many facets of the city’s planning and management.  He often controlled the City Planning Commission, came to dominate the city’s Housing Authority, and created a title for himself as the City Construction Coordinator which gave him authority over nearly every public construction project in the city of New York. Read more (

The Cross Bronx Expressway and the Ruination of the Bronx (

The Gowanus Expressway 

The Gowanus Expressway, which serves as the southern extension of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, also connects the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel approach, the Prospect Expressway (NY 27), the Belt Parkway and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Although guide signs and maps refer to this segment of I-278 as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, it is known locally as the Gowanus Expressway.

 Beginning in 1939, Robert Moses oversaw construction of the Gowanus Parkway, an elevated highway placed on top of the pillars of the old 3rd Avenue BMT Elevated Line through the Sunset Park and Gowanus sections of Brooklyn. It would eventually become part of a limited-access parkway loop encircling four of the five boroughs. Since the Gowanus Parkway was to be constructed atop a pre-existing elevated facility, Moses had little trouble getting his project approved by the New York City Council. However, the Gowanus Parkway would require more land for a wide roadway and entrance-exit ramps. This required the demolition of many homes and businesses along Third Avenue, a tightly knit block of Northern and Western European immigrants. In his 1974 biography The Power Broker, Robert A. Caro argued that Moses’ highway created a “Chinese wall” that accelerated the process of deterioration that began two blocks west, along the waterfront terminals. He also points out that residents fought to have the highway placed closer to the waterfront to protect the neighborhood. Read more ( Gowanus Canal History (

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.


Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. runs a huge performing arts complex in the center of New York City. The organization is both the landlord and administrator for the 12 resident organizations housed within Lincoln Center, and also a concert organizer and producer. Lincoln Center sits on over 16 acres of land in midtown Manhattan. Lincoln Center’s concert halls include the Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall, the New York State Theater, and the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Lincoln Center’s resident organizations include the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet, the School of American Ballet, the Juilliard School, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and the Lincoln Center Theater. 

While the resident organizations retain their own autonomous management, the groups do share the funds Lincoln Center raises, and are represented on Lincoln Center’s board of directors. Lincoln Center’s financial support comes from concert revenue, rental fees, and gifts from individuals, private foundations, and corporations. Lincoln Center’s constituent groups present some 5,000 concerts and performances annually, and the Center serves as many as five million visitors and concertgoers. Lincoln Center serves an additional 200,000 students each year through its educational outreach programs. Lincoln Center is also the home of many free outdoor events such as Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Midsummer Night Swing. Lincoln Center also reaches an audience of an estimated 35 million television viewers through its ongoing Live from Lincoln Center series of broadcast performances. Read more(

How Lincoln Center Was Built (It wasn’t pretty). The New York Times, Dec. 21, 2017

Lincoln Center (

These articles can be accessed remotely via City’s Tech library 

Foulkes, Julia L. “The Other West Side Story: Urbanization and the Arts Meet at Lincoln Center.” Amerikastudien / American Studies, vol. 52, no. 2, 2007, pp. 227–247. Accessed 21 Sept. 2020

Zipp, Samuel. “The Battle of Lincoln Square: Neighbourhood Culture and the Rise of Resistance to Urban Renewal.” Planning Perspectives, vol. 24, no. 4, Oct. 2009, pp. 409–433

“1939 World’s Fair Inspired Technology of the Future.” National Public Radio, 9 July 1995. EBSCOhost,

Brower, Brock. “1939: Now That Was A World’s Fair!” Esquire, vol. 61, no. 4, Apr. 1964, pp. 61–160. 

The Case Against Lincoln Center by Newsreel 

Groundbreaking Ceremony

The 1939 World’s Fair  

In April of 1939 the New York World’s Fair, “Building The World of Tomorrow,” opened on what was once a marshy wasteland in Flushing Meadows, just east of the great metropolis.  From its inception to its closing ceremonies, the Fair promoted one of the last great metanarratives of the Machine Age: the unqualified belief in science and technology as a means to economic prosperity and personal freedom.  Wedged between the greatest economic disaster in America and the growing international tension that would result in World War II, The World of Tomorrow was a much-needed antidote to the depression and confusion of the times.  It provided the one saving grace which all of America needed – it provided hope.  

Of course that hope was not to come without some cost, and counted among the limitations of The World of Tomorrow were its emphasis on product consumption and a hegemonic notion of the ideal American citizen.  The Fair’s established theme was one of international cooperation, but its true emphasis was on the “new-ness” of ideas, forms, and especially consumer products.  Like all things new, it was immensely exciting and at times naive.  However, in the words of Nathaniel Hawthorne, the “moonlight of romance” which surrounded the Fair inevitably gave way, and in two summers it ran its course, closing in 1940.  Nevertheless, its cultural legacy has lasted well into the late twentieth century and has helped shape and define the commercial, cultural, and political climate of post-World War II America and the world.  In a sense, we have lived through The World of Tomorrow, and the Fair has kept many of its promises, for better or for worse. Read more ((

From Ash Dump to Spectacle to Wartime Steel: The 1939 New York World’s fair


Collaborative Tools

Digital Collections

New York Public Library Digital Collections

Brooklyn Public Library Digital Collections

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Brooklyn Historical Society

NYC Municipal Archives

Green Book Online 

Guide to Researching Historic Buildings in New York City 

Historic Districts Council

Municipal Arts Society 

Municipal Arts Society A tale of Two Rezonings: Taking a Harder Look at CEQR 

Neighborhood Preservation Center’s designation report database 

New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission 

New York City Records & Information Services Municipal Archives and Library


Jane Jacobs:

Sample Project on Urban Renewal

Digital Platforms & Databases

Furman Center Core Data NYC Directory of Housing Programs

Department of Housing Preservation and Development Urban Renewal

Urban Reviewer

Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals


NYPL Map Warper



Social Explorer

Tableau Public

Urban Layers

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