Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card #24: Avoidance of “Border Vacuums?” NO

This is evaluation item #24 (of 47) of the Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card

Avoidance of “Border Vacuums?” NO

Jane Jacobs pinpointed and described a phenomenon that is readily possible to observe many places in almost any city- What she called “border vacuums.” She observed how borders that interrupted the flow of the city and city streets tended to create areas of deadness surrounding them. Among other things, she observed that projects built like Atlantic Yards on superblocks visually separating themselves from the city created these borders and associated vacuums notwithstanding that they might offer paths and promenades for pedestrian travel.
JJ Cites: [Railroad tracks are the classic examples of borders. . . p. 257 And if we look at the parts of te cities most literally attractive- - i.e. Those that literally attract people, in the flesh- - we find that these fortunate localities are seldom in the zones immediately adjoining massive single uses. The root trouble with borders, as city neighbors is that they are apt to form dead ends for most users of city streets. They represent, for most people, most of the time, barriers. Consequently, the street that adjoins a border is a terminus of generalized use. If this street, which is the end of the line for people in the area of “ordinary” city, gets little or no use from people inside the single-use border-forming territory, it is bound to be a deadened place with scant users. This deadness can have further repercussions. Because few people use the immediate border street, the side streets (and in some cases the parallel street) adjoining it are also less used as a result. They fail to get a by-the-way circulation of people going beyond them in the direction of the border, because few are going to that Beyond. If those adjoining streets . .therefore, become too empty and therefore in turn are shunned, their adjoining streets may also be less used. P. 259. Some borders damp down use by making travel across them a one-away affair. Housing projects are example of this, the project people cross back and forth across the border (usually, in any appreciable numbers, at only one side of the project or at most two side). The adjoining people, for the most part, stay strictly over on their side of the border and treat the line as a dead end of use. P. 261]

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