The transformation of New York City’s public spaces

Deep as the blue water off Manhattan is, one of the city’s most prominent landmarks boasts a white salt-brick wall. In 1984, this wall reeled in the wrecking ball as part of a renovation…

The transformation of New York City’s public spaces

Deep as the blue water off Manhattan is, one of the city’s most prominent landmarks boasts a white salt-brick wall. In 1984, this wall reeled in the wrecking ball as part of a renovation of the Zuccotti Park area: This was the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that became the iconic symbol of the Occupy Wall Street protests. This slideshow showcases how the “People’s Park” transformed into one of the world’s most vibrant arts and design districts. View More

To mark the 35th anniversary of the protests, we asked artists and designers at the intersection of social and political issues how they’ve evolved in New York City, and what it takes to reshape an entire neighborhood. Here, George Morgan and Pat Feagin talk about how Dumbo—the busy stretch of street known for its maritime history and hustle—has been transformed from a bleak, raw neighborhood to a living, breathing, highly social, and multiracial community. View More

In the mid-1980s, a group of artists, frustrated by the efforts of the local Realtor to change the neighborhood from public spaces to private parks, took matters into their own hands. Inside a house along West Street, they started the Dumbo Arts Initiative, setting out to reclaim their neighborhood as public space.

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The artists who put together this slideshow were part of one of the group’s most powerful experiments in community self-governance—a pilot program in which artists designed a park that students at two Bronx high schools and their teachers began cultivating during the spring and summer of 1987. By April of the following year, the 17 acres were fully open to the public—and decades later, the park is a well-attended destination for locals and tourists alike. View More

In 1968, 5,000 people took to Bryant Park for a protest against the Vietnam War. But they had no idea how much they would gain from that night’s battle. Now, the park—a popular concert venue, social gathering place, and residential neighborhood—has grown into one of the country’s leading cultural institutions. View More

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