Tag Archives: nyc

“highest and best use”

Reading the seminal Preservation case of Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York, I find it ironic that in 1978 the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Landmark designation, process and protection, contending that Penn Central was being whiney in demanding that they couldn’t build a big new Breuer tower directly over Grand Central Terminal. Penn Central Co. claimed they were being cheated out of the maximum profit, the court ruled, among other things, that while they had a constitutional right to make a “reasonable rate of return” no one in fact had the constitutional right to “the highest and best use” of your property. There’s a lot more in here, but what is ironic, is that, just as the court ruled back then (the terminal was making a reasonable return as it existed) today Grand Central, as it grows more and more commercialized—I’m especially thinking of the Apple Store here—the terminal is making very fine use of it’s profitability within the constraints provided. See? they did just fine.

the aesthetic of urban decay


I’ve never really thought about it before but i, like so many others, have long been enthralled by urban decay. I’ve sought out ruins for exploration and art. I’ve been in awe of their derelict structures, entranced by the beauty of their abandonment. It’s put me in search of Urban Exploration sects though i never too seriously sought to get involved, i’d totally go exploring one night if you asked me to! My exploring may have begun with Dad teaching us how to scoot under the chain link gate at LeFleur’s Bluff (and getting caught one of those times), and later on his midnight tree-planting on state property (or federal or city, whichever). At any rate, i’ve been an explorer for a long time, after all, it’s the whole reason my blogging ever began.

Bayside Cem smallpox the highline fountains and terraces high bridge park beginning of a very nice long cold walk Hotel La Rence Borden's

So, suddenly the realization that my research paper has evolved into something right up my alley is hitting home! it began as a “guided tour” of the Beltline, relating structures along a segment to the evolution of the American Built Environment. But comments from my teacher that suggested focusing on urban decay, unpoliced spaces and art (I was planning a section on atl graffiti) and then last weekends visit to the kiang gallery (previous post) really got me on this path of urban exploring which brings up unregulated spaces and how we act/react to them (do you tap your marta card when the bus driver is nowhere in sight?), which brings up unsanctioned art—graffiti—and sanctioned art—Art on the Beltline. And what does this obsession with, this aesthetic we’ve promoted out of urban decay say about us? where is development going? once urban renewal meant tear down and built new, now it means (more often than before anyway) preserve and celebrate the old and derelict.