By Carol Tannenhauser
Monday, May 23, 2022
Early morning clouds followed by sun. High 76 degrees.
Our calendar has lots of local events! (Click on the lady in the upper right corner.)
This weekend, the news yielded two questions to ponder: What is the point of a city?; and, Can Bill de Blasio be popular?
“In the age of Zoom, when white-collar workers are increasingly untethered to the office, cities need to be more than skyscrapers,” writes Mark Sappenfield, editor of The Christian Science Monitor. “They need to be livable. In other words, if you can live where you want, then cities need to be a place you want to live.”
Through the centuries, public health crises have played important roles in making cities more livable, Sappenfield points out. “A 2021 United Nations report notes that during the bubonic plague, Lucca, Italy, required all its residents to clean the street in front of their houses every Saturday. In the 19th century, concerns about tuberculosis in the United States led to a demand for more open spaces. The result was public parks like the Emerald Necklace in Boston and Central Park in New York.”
We are still at the point of recognizing and analyzing the changes COVID-19 has made to New York City, and their effects on livability. What of the dining sheds, with their advocates and detractors? Or the rise in bicycle riding and ownership, leading to more bike lanes and less parking spaces? Or the continued push for more open spaces, such as open streets. Will we one day say that COVID-19 challenged the pre-eminence of the automobile in New York City, and led to a re-evaluation of the use of public space, including sidewalks and curbsides, in the name of livability?