Category Archives: Corey

Reaching the Beach

Jones Beach, 1937 (nydailynews.com)

There’s a long winter ahead but let’s jump forward, past the winter break and spring semester, to the summer time. Jones Beach State Park has been a popular getaway for New Yorkers since it’s opening in 1929, drawing 6 million of sunbathers, surfers and boaters every year. But for the vast majority of 1930s New Yorkers without cars, gaining access to this beach could be a challenge. A set of infrastructural impediments discouraged lower income and African American beach goers from reaching the Jones Beach.

Builders introduced grasses to hold beach sand together (flikr)

Jones Beach was the first major project completed by the young Park Commission President Robert Moses. When he first began setting plans for the park in motion, the 10-mile strip at the south coast of Nassau County was literally a swamp. The sand stood just 2-feet above sea level and would submerge completely during storms. Strong winds made the loose sand bite skin and eyes. As the beach was developed, designers added height to the beach and introduced grasses with strong root systems to hold the sand in place.
But when the park opened it became clear that not everyone was welcome. According to Sidney M. Shapiro, an engineer working closely with Moses, he was ordered to build low bridges across the Wantagh and Meadowbrook Sate Parkways, blocking access to the beach by bus.

According to the mandates of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, a Long Island bus needs a minimum of 14’6’’ of clearance to pass underneath. The stone bridges that choke the Parkways give a clearance of only 7’9’’ and 12’1’’ at their highest points. When it was proposed that the Long Island Railroad add a branch to Jones Beach allowing visitors to come by train, Moses vetoed.

One of the many bridges hanging 3 feet too low to allow bus travel (screen capture from google streetview, Meadowbrook State Parkway, Nassau County)

By limiting access by public transportation and by adding fees to parking (unusual for state parks at the time), Moses was able to discourage beach visitors along class lines. To limit access for African Americans who Moses regarded as “dirty” (according to Shapiro), Moses employed only white lifeguards in the most popular areas and assigned all black lifeguards to the least developed areas. This tactic imposed an unofficial but powerful segregating force on the beach itself.

Today, Long Island Bus service to Jones Beach is available from June through September along the same routes that still run under the same low bridges. It’s difficult to understand how a bus could fit under such a short bridge but it’s also difficult to get any information about the bus service so far before the summer service begins. It’s possible that the Jones Beach service uses special smaller shuttles to reach the beach.

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Twin Towers Re-Molded

7.5 tons of New York infrastructure sliced through the waters of the Hudson River as the USS New York made it’s way to Pier 88 in midtown Manhattan. The 7.5 tons of steel that once supported the twin towers has been smelted and reshaped into the hull of this battle ship. It made it’s way from the where it was constructed in Norfolk, Va. to New York, arriving on November 2nd.

USS New York under contruction in Norfolk Va.

The ship is visible from the bike path along the waterfront where it sits in the water like an island a little ways north of the USS Intrepid. My friend and I trekked past it one night on borrowed bicycles with out realizing what it was. The path was mostly empty but we had to weave suddenly as a procession of a hundred fully clad Marines blocked up the street. Up ahead, soldiers with machine guns stood around guarding the ramp.
We rolled onto a peer a little ways up and looked out over the black water. In the Hudson, little blue and red flashing lights zipped across the water. My friend and I were trying to figure out what they were when a stalky 40-somehting man answered our question for us. “Coast guard,” he said. “Can’t be too safe. How would you like it if they blew that up? They’d have to melt the scrap metal from that and build something new.” He introduced himself as Quint and told us he was a construction worker and had actually worked to clear rubble after the attacks of September 11th.
Quint pulled out a joint and lit it. “There was no law after the attack. If we needed bandages for someone who was hurt, we just kicked in the doors at the Duane Reed. Can you picture that?” Quint eyes got animated behind his glasses when he recounted the details. “All of us was just covered in dirt and dust. I look over and my buddy, a big guy, he’s muchin’ on something. I say ‘what’s that.’ He’s got a lobster tail! We’re all covered head to toe and he’s munching on a lobster tail! I said ‘where’d you get that.’ He takes us to Locanda Verde, [Robert] Deniro’s restaurant. They were cookin’ them up and handin’ them out!”
When the rubble had been cleared, tractors and cranes pulled our salvageable steel to send to Norfolk for construction. The ship remained until Veteran’s Day before it steamed back.

Photo Essay: Gentrification in Williamsburg

Gentrification

Location: Bedford Ave at North 3rd St.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gentrification 2

Gorilla gets out of his car

 

Really Really Free (for real)

At the south end of Washington sq Park, at the Judson Memorial Church there’s en economic experiment in progress. On the

Pic 2

People grab free stuff outside Judson Memorial Church

last Sunday of each month people come to participate in the Really Really Free Market, a pre-figurative economic system completely free of money, barter or trade.
All goods and services, from books and food, to tax advise and haircuts are completely free. For most New Yorkers it’s hard to imagine getting anything for free without some kind of catch but According to Rob Freeman, that’s the whole point: to challenge New Yorkers’ imagination.
“We want to introduce people to alternatives to capitalism and new modes of sharing,” says Rob Freeman, a twenty-something Anarchist organizer whose name seems serendipitously fitted to his activism. For those unfamiliar with systems of Anarchist coordination it’s a little hard to understand what Freeman’s official title is within the decentralized structure of the ‘Free Market. According to Freeman, he “bottom-lines,” certain aspects of the ‘Free Market.
People are encouraged to bring stuff to give away but it’s not required. Some arrive at the ‘Free Market empty handed, stay for a free acupuncture treatment, and leave with a microwave.
“We want to show that scarcity is a myth, that there is enough to go around.” Says Freeman. What he sees in our world is not scarcity but unnecessary waste. What the ‘Free Market aims to do is eliminate waste and reduce gratuitous consumption in a single stroke.
The Free Market though is more than just a place to grab free stuff, it’s a place to make connections and for people to network

Pic 1

Meahgan cuts hair at the Really Really Free Market

and for activists to recruit. Alongside tables of free vegetables and racks of free clothes, activists hand out independently produced ‘zines hoping to get others involved.
Meaghan Linick-Loughley, 22, was introduced to the Really Really Free Market in 2006 by a friend and fellow antiwar activist.
“I didn’t bring anything the first time, but I took some literature some pins and some ‘zines. I cut hair once. I started cutting my own hair 4 or 5 years ago. People liked the way I cut my own hair and started asking me to cut theirs. I can’t remember how many I cut that day, maybe 10.”
Rob Freeman whose head was a little shaggy that day was one of her first. “It took a while because she was being really careful,” recalls Freeman, “but she rocked it that’s for sure.”
“I like that it’s trying to pose a different economic model,” said Meaghan. “Cool music cool people. I brought friends there and they really liked it. One of my friends started playing music there.”
The next Really Really Free Market will be held November 29th.

Their Myspace is: http://www.myspace.com/anewworldinourhearts

Losing the Power of Cash

T-Pep (Source: Gothamist)

T-Pep (Source: Gothamist)

Remember when the cabs didn’t have television screens in the backseat? Cab commuters have acquiesced quickly and most take the little news anchors in the back seat for granted.  For the commuter the new technology is, at it’s worst, a minor annoyance, but for the cab drivers they represent a serious shift in the profession.

In March of 2004, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) mandated the implementation of T-PEP computers in all New York yellow cabs. In the following 3 years, despite union organized protests and a short strike, the TLC mandate was carried out and the T-PEP computers were installed in every medallion vehicle.
Jenna, a cabby  hailing from Haiti has been driving since 1987. Jenna was kind enough to talk about his experience with T-PEP units. “We have no choice. I don’t think any drivers like it,” said Jenna cruising down Broadway. For Jenna the biggest problem isn’t the surveillance or the monitoring that these machines place on the cab, its’ the credit card swiper. “We lose the power of the cash,” said Jenna. “When you swipe the card the money doesn’t go to me, it goes to the company. It takes maybe three or four days to go through, sometimes more. Us drivers are now the 3rd party.” Jenna pulled out an envelope from the glove box and shows me a stack of cash and receipts. “That’s real money.”

Since the appearance of the T-PEPs Jenna has seen a huge increase in the number of fares paid in credit as opposed to cash “For every $200 maybe we get $130 on credit.”

The Taxi and Limousine Commission web site has a long page describing the benefits of the new technology. The site reassures drivers that that the GPS system will not be used ”to track drivers,” and that the system increases safety for drivers by reducing the amount of cash on hand.

The insult added to the initial injury is that drivers like Jenna will be forced to pay for the maintenance of the new technology. “They said that we would not pay for the computers, but that was just the installation that they paid for.” After 3 years cabbies will be required to pay $50 a month for T-PEP maintenance.

Source: TLC

Source: TLC

Trivia

How are fares calculated?

Calculating the price of a ride can get complicated. Here is the official formula for calculating a fare as mandated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC):

$2.50 upon entry
$0.40 for each additional “unit”
The unit fare is:
One-fifth of a mile, when the taxicab is traveling at 6 miles an hour or more; or
60 seconds when not in motion or traveling at less than 12 miles per hour.
Night surcharge of $.50 after 8:00 PM & before 6:00 AM
Peak hour Weekday Surcharge of $1.00 Monday – Friday after 4:00 PM & before 8:00 PM

Civic Engagement Fail

Living Outside the Box