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ablarc
06-01-2007, 05:53 PM
UTOPIA IN QUEENS

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In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he's had the pleasure to have known
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello.

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Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she's in a play
She is anyway.

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies...



Penny Lane!



* * *


You get there from Penn Station.

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The train takes 15 or 17 minutes --much faster than the subway.

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You?re greeted by a proper station?

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?and a proper station square to arrive at:

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The view is inspiring...

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And the quality of detail is primo:

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Art Nouveau. Vienna Secession?

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Mother Goose.

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Hector Guimard?


* * *


It?s obvious you?re in a community. Why, the residents are so civic-minded they maintain their own public spaces. Personally:

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At town-center Station Square, Art Nouveau Tudor Revival, a heady brew:

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The style was pioneered by Lutyens and Unwin at Hampstead, but here it?s much developed?

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?and ends up looking vaguely Hungarian:

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A miniature skyscraper. Could you get this by the NIMBYs today? Originally the station hotel, this was converted into old folks? apartments just in the last decade.

The skyscraper?s context: since it?s there, the NIMBYs love it. If it weren?t and you proposed it, they?d kill it on the grounds of height alone:

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European.

You know where you are. You?re in the place with the red tile roofs:

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Mediaevalized Beaux-Arts Planning with an Art Nouveau sinuosity.

Village life romanticized. An Arts and Crafts architect?s drawing:

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Towards the center, the paradigm swells to town, as filtered through an illustrated children?s book:

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* * *

Noblesse oblige. Forest Hills was paternalistically conceived in 1908 by society lawyer and visionary activist Robert de Forest --who espoused ?social betterment [and] improvement of the hard conditions of our working classes, making their homes and surroundings more healthful and comfortable and their lives happier?-- and by Olivia Sage, who was even richer.

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Robert de Forest.

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Olivia Sage. She didn?t think the development needed to make money.

Together they hired land planner Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (Rick) ?son of Central Park?s eminent mastermind? and patrician architect Grosvenor Atterbury to cook up their socialist utopia. This was to be a romantic, verdant redoubt from dark, satanic mills --to restore staunch workmen to their rustic roots.

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Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (Rick).

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Grosvenor Atterbury.

Atterbury?s schema sprang from picturesque considerations. Though these bore a social agenda, then as now: to get a distinguished place, you start with a legible visual rendition of concrete reality --not a bunch of prescriptions, formulas, rules and numbers.

First the design, then the zoning. First the concrete, then the numerical abstraction:

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1908: recently conceived was England?s Hampstead Garden Suburb (1907), where architects Parker and Unwin had endowed Ebenezer Howard and Friedrich Engel?s theories with concrete form, bucolic eclecticism and a spectrum of social classes. There too, the key to happier lives was thought to be trees, bushes, grass and vaguely medieval architecture.

Kropotkin?s rosy reverie of kingless camelot would spring to life.

Noble villagers and townsmen would set an example for us all.

Country-club socialists and aristocrat-anarchists would hover paternalistically over these adorable peasants to see that everyone was ?healthful, comfortable and happy.?

?Why don?t the rich share their wealth and well-being?? I hear you ask. Well, sometimes they do, and Forest Hills is evidence. (It?s not just Bill Gates.)

The Twentieth Century?s first decade in North America and Europe was actually rife with utopian planning; it produced most of America?s best suburbs ?best because all were still walkable and rail-based. They had to be somewhat urban because not yet everyone owned a car.

Preceded in social engineering by Philadelphia?s equally utopian railroad suburb of Chestnut Hill, Forest Hills wasn?t really America?s first example of the genre. It was also predated as a planned community by Palm Beach (aimed at the rich, 1902ff), Carmel, CA (targeting artists, 1904ff), Kansas City?s Country Club District (for the merely affluent, 1906ff), and L.A.?s Beverly Hills (1907ff).

In turn, it helped inspire Cleveland?s Shaker Heights railroad suburb (1912ff), and Miami?s streetcar-based Coral Gables (ca.1925). Along with these projects, it has also godfathered Stern/Disney?s rail-less Celebration and Peter Calthorpe?s recent rail-based California projects ?all of which fall a bit short.

As is too often the case, the earliest examples were also the best. The suburb never got any better, but it sure got plenty worse; truth is, Forest Hills? biggest legacy was the American automobile suburb. Though Forest Hills was conceived for the car-less proletariat, and though it?s head-and-shoulders better than today?s suburbia, it?s not hard to see that codification of some of its elements could lead to the formulaic junk that stifles American life today and threatens global ruin.

As it developed over the succeeding decades, Forest Hills itself lost its breathtaking creative inspiration, as the small-minded took over and reduced it to the familiar nostrums now enshrined in zoning ?quaint in the belief that inspired planning could be numerically codified.

We all know what that preposterous delusion has brought us; it surrounds us on every side.




Conceived at the dawn of the automobile age, Forest Hills forebodes with a dusting of primordial garages:

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And, these days, Lincoln Navigators:

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Like a modern suburb it features nice lawns?

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...and loads of gables:

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But unlike its modern counterparts, it also has pedestrians who aren?t just jogging or out of gas:

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This gives it the essential urban characteristic: people walk to conduct their daily business.


* * *


You leave station square through arched gateways:

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Station Square: dry and sunny. Its environs: contrastingly leafy and lush.

The mix of housing types that greets you is dazzling in variety, picturesque in massing and symbolically manorial. Strewn willy-nilly but always with an eye to composition you?ll find a smorgasbord of apartment buildings?

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...row houses (some are conceived as freemen?s cottages)...

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Though composed as an organically accreted country fiefdom: yes, these are row houses. Not only row houses but row houses comprised of 2-family units. Look where the paths go and count the front doors.

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See?

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This is also a range of row houses. Look at the separated front yards.

Row houses composed as the squire?s manse:

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The end unit in the range even turns its entrance to the side street. A mock service entrance?

More row houses of a different sort:

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Thought it was a big ol? house, huh? Look again.

...semi-detached?

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Connected at the garage (but not twins). French --and still medieval.

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Masquerading as a mansion. Observe the individual stoops.



* * *


...and detached houses, just like the ones in modern Suburbia:

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...and yet others composed into romantic village groupings

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Houses arranged as in an English village, not all lined up as in standardized Suburbia.

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Entrance to one house doesn?t face sidewalk. Where is the ?front? yard? Where does the path lead?

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Front yard as auto court.

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Density on a roundabout.

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Where are the fronts?

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Setback? What setback?


* * *


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Setback: one car length for the squire?s house, zero for the stone garage.

An American quirk is that many yards are elevated a bit to separate private from public...

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...while elsewhere there?s delight in intimate mixing:

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Houses entered off an alley: a condition you might associate with Charleston.

To a superficial observer Forest Hills looks somewhat like many another suburb. As should be evident, however, it abounds with urban conditions most conventional suburban zoning bans by fiat. Such conditions (all collected in one place) include Zero Lot Line?

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?houses off alleys?

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Or would you call this a shared driveway?

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Or this?

A house with its front door idiosyncratically located off a little automobile court:

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Some places, zoning specifically forbids such a condition in its drive to enforce conformity.

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* * *


Non-standard conditions wherever you look:

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As you go outward from Station Square, the inventive place-making gradually dwindles into the present era of banality. Fresh thinking is replaced by the ritual conventions of standardized Suburbia, as it?s familiarly codified all over this land.

The result is still pretty, because the individual houses are built to a very high architectural standard --but the utopian planning fire in Forest Hills? belly ...bit by bit ...fades out:

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Forest Hills Gardens was built along with Gamble Rogers? Gothic colleges at Yale. Forest Hills shares their zeal for ?authentic? medieval detail:

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Some days in the Middle Ages, the bullock cart delivered brick, most days it was stone. You used what you got, but you applied a very high standard to architectural detailing and craftsmanship.

As though to drive home the point that convention had taken over after a while, some houses even crept in dressed in Colonial style, though their roofs stayed red:

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Red roofs: that was the last part of the original concept to go; at its outskirts Forest Hills wears grey conventional roofs, and you?d never know you were in a place that had started life as a visionary pipedream. The triumph of standardized Suburbia was now complete.

In Forest Hills you can walk from velvet-revolutionary, eleemosynary, utopo-anarcho socialism to Ozzie and Harriet in a dozen blocks. The metamorphosis itself took a bit over a dozen years.

If you?re an architect designing a building where rules and regulations subjugate creativity, you don?t have to personally visit the property for which you?re designing because the site?s physical characteristics are made irrelevant by the rules; the future building?s exact location and its relationship to its neighbors is precisely dictated by regulations.

The context of regulation is wholly abstract and numerical; it applies equally to all properties in its zoning category --regardless what their particularities might be. Those particularities can?t become form determinants; only the abstractions of regulation count to determine form and placement. And abstractions can be fully conveyed by dashed lines on paper; all you need is a property-line survey with the setbacks indicated.

?Character? retreats to the actual styling of the house, not its placement.

It makes not a whit of difference what?s next door; each lot is an asteroid in space, and no building is part of a larger concept.

You know this place well; it?s everywhere there?s suburban zoning.




And though it may be easy on the eyes...

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...you won?t find it improving the common run of man.

Anyway, the working man for whom Forest Hills was conceived long ago moved on to other parts of Queens.

You wouldn?t catch him walking a ridiculous dog like this:

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* * *

Apartment buildings echo themes established in Station Square (clipped gables, Tudor details, red tile roofs, half-timbering):

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Craftsmanly detailing to match romantic composition. Celebrations of handwork by and for the noble workman:

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Brick joints around retrofitted air conditioning units repointed by a klutz. A unionized klutz, a not-so-noble workman? A workman worthy of his hire?

Here?s the gateway to the city, to shopping and to Forest Hills itself. It provides a pretty homey welcome:

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In and out of Station Square is through gateways, whether you?re on foot or in a car:

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Pedestrians walk from train:

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Arrival side of the tracks if you?re coming from New York.

Station sits atop its Art Nouveau micro-acropolis, while Robert Moses? better idea for Queens looms beyond:

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Railroad viaduct (right) works exactly like a city wall, complete with city gates:

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* * *


You depart your leafy Eden through the needle?s eye?
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?for serious shopping just yonder in the banlieue which functions as Forest Hills? downtown:

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On the station?s departure side, you grab a paper just before you board, either on the station side?

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?or across the street, where an Indian gent operates what might be the world?s smallest shop. There?s exactly enough room inside for the owner to stand:

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To his regulars he provides daily banter; to me it?s camera batteries.

Or you can grab a snack before your train:

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But leave your dogs outside:

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71st Ave leads from Station Square (can you spot it?) to cozy Austin St., the main drag, and Queens Boulevard (Hwy 25), scaled for Godzilla --but with subway stops:

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On the Boulevard, a banker?s digs proudly emblazoned with mosaic representation of his community and its relationship to Manhattan:

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On the corner is a banker with a motorcar,
The little children laugh at him behind his back.
And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain - very strange.

The representation?s skyline retains twin towers:

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Another rendition of same:

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Spot the green arrow.


* * *


Outside the walls at Austin Street?s eastern end, the scale?s augmented, as in Paris. Apartment living in the Tudor manner (Tudor manor?):

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Some sport crenellated battlements:

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Others could be seen as tenements with style:

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A style graft.

Bambi at home in battered storybook surroundings:

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West of 71st Avenue, Austin Street features high-intensity Tudor shopping (though Value Depot?s been shorn of style):

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Chains among the mom-and-pops:

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Plenty good shopping:

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Heavy pedestrian traffic has generated a ploy to max out bucks with multi-story commercial. The towers are elevators from the sidewalk:

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Times Square at 10 cents on the dollar and in miniature?

Cartoon Tudor variation on a similar theme:

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* * *

People must read in Forest Hills; there?s even a Barnes and Noble, complete with coffee, pastries and an escalator:

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Perhaps incongruously --but probably because the railroad preceded DeForest and Sage?s land purchase-- station, shopping and Main Street are all at Forest Hills? northern fringe. At the development?s actual geographic center, you?ll find the vast public school:

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There?s a tiny parking lot for a few of the teachers; the kids doubtless walk to school.

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The school?s architecture remains staunchly Tudor:

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DIGEST

Along with the red roofs, Forest Hills? imaginative, organic planning and architecture faded out with time and distance into predictable, zoned suburbia complete with standardized setbacks and the resultant uniform relationship of building to lot (lower left):

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Notice how the pattern and color change as you work your way southwest from Station Square near top, left of center. In the grey-roofed southwest corner: zoned (and consequently, regimented) Suburbia exhibits the order of machine parts. Big building near center is the public school. Forest Hills Tennis Club and stadium appears at upper left, home of U.S. Open prior to construction of tennis stadiums in Flushing Meadow. Railroad clearly visible, then fine-scaled Austin Street, the commercial downtown of Forest Hills, and finally grossly-scaled Queens Boulevard (upper right).

Grossly-scaled Queens Boulevard:

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Not fit for man or beast. The subway, however, runs here.

Austin Street?s commercial jangle:

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It may be tacky, but its scale is human.

Austin Street with Queens Boulevard beyond: two development patterns juxtaposed. Two buildings, two attitudes toward place:

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Deadeye Rick Olmsted would be appalled:

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Is that what you call vision? Kid had it.

Forest Hills appears on just about everyone?s list of best New York neighborhoods. It long ago shucked its working class population, and its present dwellers can afford to pay market rates for housing. At market rates, the Forest Hills model if precisely followed in a new development would likely turn a profit today, except that now as then a developer can find even higher profits in other development patterns. Does this mean you need a do-gooder to get a Forest Hills?

DeForest Hills?

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* * *



Footnote: a few more pictures.

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Wait a minute!! Is that car in the last picture a Trabant?

We of the worldwide web think interconnected global idea communication is a recent phenomenon. Truth is, far-flung professionals were about as conversant with each others? works in 1908 as they are today.

By the time this little stone monument was placed in proper Arts and Crafts format, Budapest?s Wekerle Estate was fourteen years a-building:

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Celtic font, runic format.

This makes it exactly contemporary with Forest Hills; little wonder they?re hard to tell apart. The ideological inspiration here as at Forest Hills derives from the Anglo-American utopian socialist and visionary planner, Ebenezer Howard, who in turn got his ideas from Friedrich Engels (utopian theorist, bleeding-heart capitalist, company-town developer and co-author of The Communist Manifesto) and Prince Piotr Kropotkin (utopian theorist, serf-owner, historian [The State: Its Historic Role], anarchist political philosopher, revolutionist, promoter of the noble savage, and romanticizer of most things medieval).

Like Forest Hills, Wekerle Estate was developed for the working stiff by a rich philanthropist:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0020.jpg
Sandor Wekerle (1848-1921), three-term Prime Minister.

And the proud architect, conversant with the latest theories and styles, both architectural and sartorial:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0022.jpg
Karoly Kos (1883-1977).


* * *

With its generous tree cover, red roofs and prominent town square Wekerle Estate uncannily resembles Forest Hills from the air:

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Rail access: streetcar arrives lower right corner of the estate.

The estate:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0027.jpg
Can you see a little Andres Duany in the layout?

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0028.jpg
As at Seaside, a nicely informal refusal to sort cars from pedestrians. Such efforts are pointless where the pedestrian is king.

Architectural style shows the same Art Nouveau touches as Forest Hills. Parabolic arches a la Gaudi or Guimard:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0029.jpg

Red tile:

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Clipped gables and lush landscape:

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Intimate streetscape:

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European Suburbia:

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And those gateways into the main square, which here is a green, not a paved plaza:

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The style is Transylvanian.


* * *

Peasants are homebodies. Their storybook style appeals to the yuppies who displaced them here as in Forest Hills. The yuppies are the new noble peasants:

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Arts and Crafts exoticism retrofitted with wiring:

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Peasants like bright colors...

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...and so do many yuppies:

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Or that rustic look of varnished wood:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0150.jpg

A wee touch of Lutyens or Norman Shaw?:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0152.jpg

A cheerfully ramshackle cottage such as you might find in the contemporaneous planned community of Carmel, California (1904ff):

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0160.jpg
In Carmel, you might find a movie star inside.

And a densely overgrown street such as those that grace (with a different species) the contemporaneous streetcar suburb of Coral Gables:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0170.jpg

This one reminds me a bit of the not-so-planned city of Charleston:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0190.jpg

And this one belongs to an old lady in Charlotte who doesn?t mow her grass:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0195.jpg


* * *


You?ll likely still find workers in the apartment buildings:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0604.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0612.jpg

Like Forest Hills, an eclectic mix of styles: Art Nouveau, Arts-and-Crafts, folk-tinged Medievalism:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0691.jpg

How the paradigm looked --way back before the 20th Century ladled on the Art Nouveau, the Arts-and-Crafts and the rural folksiness:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0693.jpg
Freiburg, Germany, from SSC.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/0710.jpg
Freiburg.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1042.jpg
Wekerle.

Wekerle Estate is connected to the center city by rail transit. Most of Budapest is a whole lot more urban, however:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1254.jpg

Though it also has a subway, you could think of it as the streetcar capital of the world:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1472.jpg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1480.jpg

Streetcars penetrate even the suburban wilds:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1488.jpg
Street lights uncannily resemble New York?s.


* * *


Towers with an obvious shared heritage:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1897.jpg
Wekerle.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1933.jpg
Forest Hills.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1960.jpg
Freiburg

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1966.jpg
Wekerle.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/wekerle/1980.jpg
Wekerle.
(Most above photos of this neighborhood by Aniko Kern.)


Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back.

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
Penny Lane?

?a global idea
(but perhaps insufficiently applied).


Why are Forest Hills and Wekerle Estate not the current models for Transit-Oriented Development?




In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he's had the pleasure to have known.
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello.

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar,
The little children laugh at him behind his back.
And the banker never wears a mack
In the pouring rain, very strange.

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and mean while back

In penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
And in his pocket is a portrait of the Queen.
He likes to keep his fire engine clean,
It's a clean machine.

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
Full of fish and finger pies
In summer, meanwhile back

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And tho' she feels as if she's in a play
She is anyway.

In Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer,
We see the banker sitting waiting for a trend.
And then the fireman rushes in
From the pouring rain, very strange.

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and mean while back.
Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes.
There beneath the blue suburban skies,
Penny Lane.

statler
06-01-2007, 07:09 PM
Thanks ablarc!

Great stuff as always. 8)

kennedy
06-01-2007, 08:44 PM
so...many...pictures

but this forest hills is very nice, but very dallas-ified.

kz1000ps
06-01-2007, 09:25 PM
My goodness Ablarc, you are nothing if not thorough. You need to put a disclaimer up on this thread: "warning, you'll need at least a half hour to go through allllllll these photos." I should be out drinking right now, but this thread sucked me in!

Seriously, this was great. I've ridden through Forest Hills on the LIRR dozens of times, yet I've never gotten to explore the place. Now I feel compelled to get there before the summer's over.


Alright, ENOUGH Forest Hills, now it's time to kill a few brain cells..

briv
06-02-2007, 01:20 AM
Gadzooks Ablarc! Great stuff, and thanks for posting it.

This is a monster post, even by your standards. A lot to digest here...

I shall return.

vanshnookenraggen
06-02-2007, 01:33 AM
Oh man, it's been so long since there was a good epic ablarc post! I need to come back to this when it isn't so late. Thanks!

ablarc
06-03-2007, 11:47 AM
this forest hills is very nice, but very dallas-ified.
Probably more accurate to say Dallas is Forest Hills-ified. If you scratch beneath the surface, though, you'll probably find you can't live in Dallas without a car. In Forest Hills, you can.

Scott
06-03-2007, 02:45 PM
Could you imagine such things for the new Fairmont stations? It would radically change Dorchester's inner-city neighborhoods.

vanshnookenraggen
06-03-2007, 04:17 PM
It would also radically change the socio-economic make up of those neighborhoods.

These types of developments would be better for new "subdivisions" out in the suburbs along train lines rather than some urban renewal. If they ever reactivated the line to Dover and Millis there could be a few of these instead of your standard sprawl.

ablarc
06-03-2007, 04:52 PM
It would also radically change the socio-economic make up of those neighborhoods.
Part of the point is that neither development did that at first; they were built for the working class (!!). That was possible because the developers had noble motives. It took Forest Hills 35 years to go middle class, and the Hungarian example didn't convert until after the fall of communism.

These types of developments would be better for new "subdivisions" out in the suburbs along train lines rather than some urban renewal.
But why?

The real principle in both places is tender, loving care --and artistic creativity.

All you need is love.

justin
06-04-2007, 12:53 AM
True to form, ablarc... great post, especially the Budapest trick. Oddly, my favorite picture was this

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/pennylane/4075.JPG

Maybe I just prefer gritty to pretty, but the sudden bustle after all the dead sidewalks was startling and reassuring.

I suppose that if the human weakness for shrubbery must absolutely be indulged, Forest Hills is the way to go. It's a nice suburb, but it is a suburb; I'm with vansh., Boston needs more urban development.

justin

ablarc
06-04-2007, 06:17 AM
...the sudden bustle after all the dead sidewalks was startling and reassuring.

I suppose that if the human weakness for shrubbery must absolutely be indulged, Forest Hills is the way to go. It's a nice suburb, but it is a suburb; I'm with vansh., Boston needs more urban development.
It is urban, justin; everybody walked to that bustle. And they walked there for exactly the same reason as they walk into Harvard Square from its leafy outskirts: there is no off-street parking. For the same reason, they walk weekdays to the rail transit that takes them to their jobs.

In Forest Hills the apartment buildings provide about the density of Harvard's dorms, and the rest is free-standing buildings of various occupancies --including single-family.

Kirkland Street or Harvard Street no more teem with pedestrian traffic than the residential streets of Forest Hills --even on a Saturday. (And anyway, you don't point your camera at folks on the sidewalk in leafy surroundings even if you're amazed at their frequency. as I was; those deserted sidewalks are me being courteous and a photographer looking for an unobstructed shot of buildings.) Walkers among the lawns of Forest Hills are about as common as they are among the lawns on Garden Street.

No, this is not a suburb, though it may superficially look like one --as Brattle Street certainly does. When a Forest Hiller leaves his front door to go somewhere, more than half the time he doesn't head for his car.

The paradigm here is not Suburbia but the Anglo-American town, which features residential districts that look a fair amount like the ones you find in suburbs --but where people walk. Check out Nantucket or Bristol RI for other examples (or Salem, though that may have been converted into a suburb by driving?). I think it's accurate to refer to Forest Hills as a town embedded in the suburbs. Isn't that what Coolidge Corner is? Or Charlestown?

If you did a density figure-ground of Forest Hills, you'd find it resembled Harvard Square quite a bit: densely-packed free-standing residential with a fused commercial centrum where the rail transport lies. Other examples are Davis Square (could do with more apartment buildings) and maybe the pre-parking-lot town of Wellesley. In London, you'll find Hampstead, Richmond and Greenwich.

Don't be fooled by the azaleas.

You can have pretty and urban, too.

I'm with Scott on this one.

LeTaureau
06-04-2007, 10:08 AM
Would this "planned neighborhood" be considered part of the City Beautiful movement, and if so, what are other examples in the US of such neighborhoods? Although it was originally developed for the working class, it seems too patrician to me to fit that original purpose - but that comes back to the central ideals behind City Beautiful. Elevation of the poor and disenfranchised through beauty. A failed idea?

ablarc
06-04-2007, 10:45 AM
Would this "planned neighborhood" be considered part of the City Beautiful movement...
You bet.

...and if so, what are other examples in the US of such neighborhoods?
Palm Beach, Coral Gables, Carmel, Shaker Heights, Chestnut Hill PA, Country Club District Kansas City, Beverly Hills, Seaside and Celebration FL (recent examples), Miami Beach of the Thirties. See text of the original post. In England: Hampstead Garden Suburb, Letchworth, Welwyn, Poundbury.

Although it was originally developed for the working class, it seems too patrician to me to fit that original purpose
Working folks don't deserve beauty? Wouldn't know what to do with it if they had it?

- but that comes back to the central ideals behind City Beautiful. Elevation of the poor and disenfranchised through beauty.
Yep.

A failed idea?
If so, it's because you can't keep monied folks from snatching up beauty wherever they find it.

Have you noticed that all the world's beauty spots are now preserves of the rich? Yesterday's Provencal perched village with goatherds is today's glitzy resort with a three-star Michelin restaurant.

czsz
06-04-2007, 10:29 PM
Unsurprised by the Hungarian example. Loads of such developments were built in Central Europe during the interwar years...though primarily in the 30s, when fascism came into vogue and there was an emphasis on "traditional values". They were competition for the "white cities" of low, narrow apartment blocs promoted by social democrats. There are some interesting examples of white cities ringed by Forest Hills-esque developments around Berlin.

Of course the white cities never caught on in the US...the planned Tudor village archetype can still be seen in many period suburbs. There are a number near Chicago.

ablarc
06-05-2007, 06:29 AM
Unsurprised by the Hungarian example. Loads of such developments were built in Central Europe during the interwar years...though primarily in the 30s, when fascism came into vogue and there was an emphasis on "traditional values".
Yeah, but this one predates fascism.

...the planned Tudor village archetype can still be seen in many period suburbs. There are a number near Chicago.
Most emulate not much more than the Tudor styling of the houses. Oak Park might be an exception (railroad suburb).

Miss you on WNY.

czsz
06-06-2007, 12:08 AM
I should return to WNY, but whenever I do I'm overwhelmed by the number of projects and posts. Soon enough I'll make the plunge.

I came here first, though, as I'm semiofficially a Bostonian again (or newly minted Cantabrigian)...starting either this year or next.

ablarc
06-07-2007, 04:27 PM
Loads of such developments were built in Central Europe during the interwar years...though primarily in the 30s, when fascism came into vogue and there was an emphasis on "traditional values".
On further consideration, this project predates even the brief Communist takeover of the Hungarian government in 1919.

The impulse here comes directly out of Friedrich Engels.

czsz
06-07-2007, 10:12 PM
Interesting. And fair enough.

ablarc
06-09-2007, 06:58 AM
The impulse here comes directly out of Friedrich Engels.
Well, I meant directly out of Engels via the country club.

ablarc
06-16-2007, 05:55 PM
ANOTHER QUEENS UTOPIA IN THE NEWS:

Sunnyside landmark status divides nabe

By Magdalene Perez

Special to amNewYork
(http://www.amny.com/news/local/newyork/am-sunny0615,0,2664335,print.story?coll=am-topheadlines)
June 14, 2007, 6:13 PM EDT

A bid to landmark Sunnyside Gardens is bitterly dividing the historic Queens community, once envisioned as a utopian oasis of green spaces and neighborly cooperation.

Built as a planned development in the 1920s, the 17-block stretch of modest brick row houses and expansive courtyard gardens was intended by architects to encourage a sense of shared community. But that ideal has been marred by infighting over a proposed landmark designation, which would impose strict regulations in a community where everything from back porches to high fences are already banned.

"People have been caught in the courtyard taking pictures [of their neighbors' homes] and reporting them for violations," resident Elaine Nickolai said. "This is not the community I grew up in."

Many residents expect the Landmarks Preservation Commission will approve landmark status in a June 26 vote. The City Council would then make a final decision. Commission spokeswoman Lisi De Bourbon would not comment on the vote's likely outcome, but said the community is "worthy of historic district status."

Homeowners are upset to see how the debate has torn the community.

"It seems to have caused a divide," said Hillary Fox, a 10-year Sunnyside resident. "Which is sad because that's not what the community is about."

Landmark supporters argue the community has not been adequately protected by regulations that exist under a special zoning district. They point to illegal driveways and bay windows as proof.

"We're trying to preserve the look of the neighborhood," said Arthur Pearson of the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance. "Right now if folks want to change stuff they can basically do it."

But other residents worry landmarking would limit their freedom to make changes to their homes and drive up the cost of repairs. Longtime residents David and Laura Sidoti said their dreams to build an addition to their third floor would be "virtually impossible" under the new rules. They argued designation reduces the homeowner to a mere "custodian of something you bought and paid for."

Designation would make Sunnyside Gardens the largest historic district in Queens, with more than 600 private homes.

An April hearing turned into a five-hour stretch of testimony. The majority spoke in favor, De Bourbon said, but anti-landmark residents accuse the other side of beefing up support with letters from preservationists who don't live there.

The argument has cut deep to the community's philosophical roots, provoking debate over whether the neighborhood is defined by its buildings or its gardens. Tom Angotti, a professor of urban planning at Hunter College, argues the most valuable historical aspect is the unique design of open spaces.

"In terms of the architectural details Sunnyside is not especially unique," said Angotti. "You can't keep it preserved by making sure every architectural detail is maintained."

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

ablarc
12-25-2007, 12:54 PM
Although it was originally developed for the working class, it seems too patrician to me to fit that original purpose - but that comes back to the central ideals behind City Beautiful. Elevation of the poor and disenfranchised through beauty. A failed idea?
Do you mean beauty can't elevate the poor?

What, then? Money?

Also, do the poor need elevating?

If so, whose responsibility is it? Are we responsible for ourselves?

Is "affordable housing" inherently patronizing?

Yet, most folks would agree Forest Hills was better than public housing from Day One.

vanshnookenraggen
12-25-2007, 07:15 PM
Do you mean beauty can't elevate the poor?


In Manhattan the projects are next to the museums and mansions on 5th ave; they don't seem to be helping.


What, then? Money?


Yes, but there also needs to education behind the money so they don't go out and blow it (this goes for everyone really).


Also, do the poor need elevating?


Only if they want it.


If so, whose responsibility is it? Are we responsible for ourselves?


It seems very American to say that we are ultimatly all responsible for outselves in the end but I do belive that.


Is "affordable housing" inherently patronizing?


"Affordable" means different things to different people in different places.


Yet, most folks would agree Forest Hills was better than public housing from Day One.

It wasn't run by a government beurocracy only concerened with public tax dollars. This works out well in Europe but I guess we just see things differently in America.

ablarc
01-02-2008, 06:42 AM
This works out well in Europe...
Truth is, public housing ain't so hot in Europe, either.

...but I guess we just see things differently in America.
Every man for himself.

PC lip service for the poor. But where's the beef?

ablarc
03-27-2009, 12:46 PM
Could you imagine such things for the new Fairmont stations? It would radically change Dorchester's inner-city neighborhoods.
This is exactly the thing to imagine.

Lurker
03-27-2009, 04:22 PM
Public housing tends to work more often in Europe because of the history of Feudalism. Governments have had more of a social contract to provide housing for their serfs/subjects/citizens because of the evolution of that contract.

Since the US was founded in stark contrast to the collectivist bent in Europe in preference to individual liberty, and thus promoting self sufficiency, the inherent attitude toward housing is different. It also didn't help that the majority of land lords in England were part of the entrenched political class and made it hard for those who made their fortunes in industry or trade to control their own land. Private land ownership was, and still is, seen as a form of protection from government interference. Hence why eminent domain is such a legal battle royal and covered in the Constitution.

blade_bltz
03-27-2009, 05:18 PM
I think someone is putting the cart before the horse. Or maybe putting them side by side...

Individual liberty is not OPPOSED to the outcome of a social contract (in which govt intervention of some sort is inevitably justified). Individual liberty arises out of that contract.

ablarc
03-27-2009, 05:30 PM
"The idea is quite unfounded that on entering into society we give up any natural right." --Thomas Jefferson to Francis Gilmer, 1816.

czsz
03-27-2009, 06:11 PM
Ask the English what they think of council housing and the "feudalism" thesis doesn't really hold up. There is as much vilifcation of public housing there as in the US, with the stark difference that many of the estates in the UK were sold off to private owners under Thatcher, whereas public housing has actually been maintained as a much more prevalent institution in the US.

In fact, the US' bourgeois revolution was mirrored by France's, and by peasant emancipation across Europe. State provisions to alleviate poor housing conditions occurred because of laissez-faire capitalism, not in spite of it. Even the pattern of private home ownership to prevalent in US suburbs occurred to a significant extent because of government intervention in the form of the GI Bill and other stimuli/incentives.

Shepard
03-28-2009, 11:38 AM
Brilliant original post.

Reminds me a bit of Newton Centre (http://www.terrain.org/unsprawl/2/) minus the tackyish EPCOT-world-showcase-esque medievalism ... although please, will someone bury Newton's parking lot under a post office square?

Take the red roof glitz and paternalistic ethos legacy away from Forest Hills and I think we have quite a number of good transit-oriented neighborhoods here at home.

If I may weigh in on the public housing debate here, and whether affordable housing developments are in some way inherently paternalistic - I think it depends on how it's done, and who's involved. Mixed income residents will often, from my experience, enhance a community. But done wrong it can create strife and divisions - both aesthetic and social. I've lived in London for a while. Over there, most of them fail because communities were not involved. There is an "us" and "them" - with "they" having been brought in by the nanny state. Do this right, however, and it need not be anything like that.

ablarc
03-29-2009, 10:40 AM
... please, will someone bury Newton's parking lot under a post office square?
Better still, a large multi-story garage with ground floor retail. Vent it mechanically and wrap it in a veneer of residential.

kennedy
03-29-2009, 11:48 AM
Better still, a large multi-story garage with ground floor retail. Vent it mechanically and wrap it in a veneer of residential.

They're getting very good at this in suburban St. Louis. Every other new project are residential condos, ground floor retail, all wrapped around an interior parking garage. I guess it's better than new strip malls or sprawling subdivisions.

My favorite so far, whenever I'm there, is "The Boulevard at St. Louis." (http://theboulevard.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=26) If one stays along the 300 yards of street, they'll feel like they're in a big, cosmopolitan city...sort of.

ablarc
04-06-2009, 06:42 PM
^ It's the building type of the future.

Justin7
04-07-2009, 09:16 AM
The Globe should give you a job doing these photo tours on Boston.com. I think they would be very popular even with a larger audience.

kennedy
04-07-2009, 10:44 PM
^ It's the building type of the future.

But then, everyone can have cars!:eek:

Justin7
04-09-2009, 08:17 AM
With (mainstream) electric cars finally looking like a reality within the next decade or two, and a fully renewable energy supply now technologically feasible, I doubt people will actually be forced to give up their cars in the long term.

People will need to focus on pedestrians and mass transit within cities because it is desirable, not because they are forced to. People will need to revolt against suburbia's urban sprawl because they see how much better things can be.

ablarc
04-18-2009, 04:31 PM
People will need to revolt against suburbia's urban sprawl because they see how much better things can be.
Need to change, overlay or eliminate zoning laws.