Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Urbanism related obituaries 2019

Sometimes I read obituaries of people who were numeraries in fields I'm not interested in, out of respect for their accomplishment.  A few years ago, like the "Lives they lived" special issue of the New York Times Magazine, published every December and featuring obituaries of noteworthy people who died that year, I decided it would be good to an annual feature on people and elements notable to urbanism.

I can't claim this is exhaustive.  It's based on obituaries and notices I've come across, which is dependent on my reading of certain newspapers primarily.

Paweł Adamowicz, Gdańsk mayor ("Gdańsk mayor stabbed on stage during charity event in Poland," Guardian). The murdered mayor was a liberal critic of the ruling party’s anti-immigrant policies.

Florence Knoll Bassett, modern office space, open work spaces, grouping furniture for informal discussions.

Barneys and Henri Bendel Department Stores, Manhattan

Joseph Boardman, railroader.  Among his positions was CEO of Amtrak, the national passenger railroad corporation ("Joseph Boardman, 70, Amtrak Chief During Record Growth," New York Times).

Lee Botts, environmentalist, brought attention to the Great Lakes ("Lee Botts, Champion of the Great Lakes, Is Dead at 91," NYT)

Chicago Defender stops printing as a daily newspaper (it still publishes online). I always thought this newspaper was cool because it was an albeit small but daily newspaper focused on providing news and editorial coverage from a decidedly black perspective.  (The Brooklyn Daily Challenge does something similar in Brooklyn.  The no longer published Atlanta Daily World did too.)

Douglas Costle, one of the early creators of the Environmental Protection Agency and was key to the agency's efforts in creating the "Superfund" for remediation of contaminated sites (usually former industrial sites) and various air quality improvement measures ("Douglas Costle, Who Helped Create the E.P.A. and Then Ran It, Dies," New York Times).

Urban air quality improvement is one of his legacies.

Elijah Cummings, US Congressman from Baltimore ("Elijah Cummings: The Larger-Than-Life Congressman With a Common Touch," Politico).

Durgin-Park Restaurant, Boston.  Was in Faneuil Hall.  But sometimes "old" places don't maintain their quality...

Kenneth Gibson, first African-American mayor of Newark, New Jersey, first African-American mayor of a northeastern city ("Kenneth Gibson, 86, Dies; Newark Mayor Broke Race Barrier," New York Times).

Mike Greco, Salumeria owner, Bronx, NY ("Mike Greco, Salami King of Bronx's Little Italy, Dies at 89," New York Times

His store, now owned by a son, is in the Arthur Avenue Market in the Bronx.  The market has been an anchor of Little Italy in a time when the borough experienced from rapid demographic change.

Ben Hamilton-Ballille, UK architect-advocate for "shared [street] spaces" ("Ben Hamilton-Baillie obituary," Guardian).

Richard Hatcher, Mayor of Gary, Indiana, first Black mayor in the US in modern times ("Richard G. Hatcher, Ex-Mayor of Gary, Ind., and Champion of Urban and Black issues, dies at 86," New York Times).

Nipsey Hussle, black musician, entrepreneur and community revitalization proponent, Los Angeles. I meant to write about this death earlier in the year. He was shot to death in murky circumstances. A musician, he also invested in community improvement in his neighborhood, opened a clothing store and a co-working space, and buying the small shopping center where he ran Marathon Clothing.

Charles Jencks, writer, historian, architect.

Herb Kelleher, former CEO, Southwest Airlines.  In the US, we might call what Southwest Airlines did as a form of "city break" vacation promotion.  In any case, the firm pioneered lower cost airplane travel (which makes it that much harder for passenger rail) using peripheral airports, e.g., BWI instead of National Airport.

George Kelling, co-author of The Atlantic magazine article and later book, "(Fixing) Broken Windows," which unfortunately transmogrified into the theory of zero tolerance policing, but was originally co-equally focused on physical maintenance and other community improvements ("George L. Kelling, a Father of 'Broken Windows' Policing," NYT).

John Laytham, co-owner of Clyde's Restaurant Group, Washington, DC.  One of the pioneers in the field for creating multiple concept restaurant groups.

Hi Duk Lee, founder of Los Angeles' Koreatown ("Hi Duk Lee, visionary who founded Los Angeles’ Koreatown, dies at 79," Los Angeles Times).  From the article:
Lee arrived in Los Angeles in 1968 after escaping South Korea’s military dictatorship and working briefly as a miner in Germany. But when he looked around, he deeply missed his country’s charm and felt there was a hole in his new community.

“They didn’t have any good restaurants for entertainment or a meeting place,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2001. “I planned to make Koreatown. Chinese people have Chinatowns everywhere: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montebello. But there’s no Koreatown.”

Lee’s first success came in 1971, when he opened the Olympic Market at Olympic and Normandie, one of the first Korean-owned groceries in Los Angeles. He purchased five blocks in the area, where he would go on to build the Korean Village, with some 40 shops and restaurants in an area that became known as the heart of Second Seoul.
Linda Lee, proprietor of Hunan Chinatown restaurant, DC, which closed in 2004, as a harbinger of real estate capital-driven change in Washington, DC and the almost total elimination of the Chinatown district ("Chinatown Loses A Fixture on H Street Restaurant," Washington Post).  Ironically, she was an advocate for the opening of the then MCI Arena, now Capital One Arena in the Gallery Place neighborhood, which significantly increased the velocity of change in the neighborhood, redirecting it away from its Chinese roots.

William Lee, founder of Sacramento's African American focused community newspaper, the Sacramento Observer ("The man who built Sacramento’s African American newspaper," Los Angeles Times). From the article:
... {I}n 1962, when Lee founded the Sacramento Observer. It was a time when African American voices were still largely absent from the dominant narrative of Sacramento.

“There were no African Americans on TV, no African Americans writing for the Sacramento Union or the Bee, no black judges or elected officials,” Lee said of the paper’s founding in a 2013 interview. “There was no way for our community to see hope and realize there were opportunities.” ...

The record of Sacramento history is different because the Observer was there to report it.

“If you could imagine when the Black Panthers were walking into the California Statehouse with guns, the story you might read in the black press would be very different than the story you’re going to read in the dominant white press,” Cal State Sacramento University Library director Amy Kautzman, who helped bring the paper’s archives to the city, explained.

But the Observer was also there for the ordinary and intimate, doing neighborhood-level reporting that put African American lives at the center. “The births, the deaths, the graduations ... none of those things were captured by the mainstream newspapers, the Bee or the [now-defunct] Union or anybody like that,” Lee’s son Larry Lee, who now runs the paper, said.
Lord and Taylor Department Store in Manhattan.  One of the last big, grand department stores in New York City.  It was known for lavish window displays, especially for the Holiday season.  The building was sold to WeWork and the initial plan was to keep a smaller department store in place on lower floors, but eventually that plan was scuttled.

For a time when stores were much smaller, Safeway deployed this particular design, in markets across the country.  In DC, some of these buildings still exist as spaces used by nonprofits, which were given to the groups when Safeway closed the stores in favor of larger spaces.

Peter Magowan, San Francisco, Safeway Supermarkets and the SF Giants.  I think he is interesting because he ran Safeway when the company closed many of its smaller stores in cities in favor of larger stores serving multiple neighborhoods, shifting the way people went to the store from on foot to the car and from having multiple stores peppering single neighborhoods--although partly this was in response to fighting off takeovers, and needing to increase return on investment.

He also formed a local ownership group to keep the SF Giants baseball team in the city, when it was on the verge of moving to Florida, and then shepherded the construction of a new waterfront stadium, which has helped to anchor some of the city's revitalization.  The stadium was an example of the thread in baseball stadium construction of creating new "throwback" parks in decidedly urban locations, using a traditional architecture approach.

Deborah Marrow, former director of the Getty Foundation ("Deborah Marrow, longtime Getty Foundation director and arts funder, dies," Los Angeles Times). As grants administrator and then director of the Getty Foundation she spearheaded a couple of initiatives that are great models for any community.

The now titled Getty Morrow Undergraduate Internship program focuses on providing opportunities for more diverse students to intern at museums and other cultural organizations in SoCal, to broaden the demographics of staff.

The second was the Pacific Standard Time set of exhibitions which brought together dozens of Southern California arts institutions exhibiting around a common theme.

Fitzhugh Mullan, physician and public health professor focused on racial and economic inequity in the health system ("Fitzhugh Mullan, Foe of Health Care Disparities, Dies at 77," New York Times).

New Orleans Times-Picayune.  In June the paper's owner announced it had been sold to the Georges Family, which owns the Baton Rouge Advocate.

A few years ago, when the NOTP was converted to a few days per week print edition from every day ("New Orleans Times-Picayune to limit printing to three days per week," Washington Post), the community rebelled, and the Georges Family began producing a seven day a week New Orleans Advocate edition.

(Advance Newspapers has done similar changes, reducing the number of days the paper is printed with the hope that readers would be happy with the digital presence the other days, with other of its newspapers such as the Harrisburg Patriot-News.)

Given that the Georges family is Louisiana-based they were more committed to maintaining a journalistic presence in New Orleans and the state than Advance Newspapers, which eventually decided to sell.  But the merged paper hired fewer than 10% of the staff at the NOTP.

The Times-Picayune won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Back when I worked for the consumer group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the NOTP, was rare in that it still had a consumer beat, with a multiple days per week column covering consumer issues.

Newseum Museum, Washington, DC, dedicated to journalism, located on Pennsylvania Avenue, and charging an admission in a city where the major museums are free ("Newseum hailed free press, but got beaten by free press," AP).

The Newseum had a bunch of issues.  They wildly overspent their endowment, paid people huge salaries, and started just as the newspaper industry, the primary funders of the facility, tanked.  But it had some cool exhibits--I always found interesting items from their posted front pages, and they committed to the city when that was still seen as risky.  They sold the building to Johns Hopkins University to get out of debt, and they aim to open another facility, but it sure won't be as grand.

Speaking of their financial issues, the Newseum is an indicator of how the city Attorney General's office needs to step up its oversight of nonprofits ("When BTMFBA isn't enough: keeping civic assets public through cy pres review").

It's also an indicator of a need to do more expansive cultural planning. Some of their issues were similar to that of the Corcoran ("Should community culture master plans include elements on higher education arts programs?").

L. Brooks Patterson, Suburban politician, County Executive, Oakland County, Michigan.  Spent his career doing everything in his power to benefit Oakland County at the expense of the City of Detroit and by extension, Wayne County ("Revisiting stories: the death of L. Brooks Patterson, County Executive, Oakland County, Michigan").

Neal Peirce, columnist and consultant on city/metropolitan issues ("Neal Peirce, urban affairs columnist who championed inclusive cities, dies at 87," Washington Post).  Interestingly, the Washington Post Writers Group syndicated his weekly column, but they ran it in the paper only about once every 18 months, which is how I first came across his work.

-- "Main Street Niches in a Mass Sales World," sample column
-- more sample columns, c. 2004/2005
-- "Neal Peirce, chronicler of cities and regions," CNU Public Square

I am not too familiar with his "Citistates" work, which working with newspapers as "metropolitan integrators" published reports on how to leverage the power of regions vis a vis states.

Sadly, there is no easily accessible archive of his past columns.  I wonder if it's something that could be pulled together.

Bill Phillips, Ogilvy & Mather (died 12/26/2018), popularized New York City as "The Big Apple" as a way to build the city's image and reputation in the face of various troubles, including looming bankruptcy ("Bill Phillips: an appreciation," O&M). From the article:
... a sense that New Yorkers have a love-hate relationship with their city, and suggested a campaign that could be realistic about that.
A few days later, Jay had the line – a variant on a quote from Representative Bella Abzug: “You have to be a little crazy to live in New York, but you’d be nuts to live anywhere else.”
At the same time, the Visitors’ Bureau was promoting the City as the Big Apple, an expression used by jazz musicians – “You can play all over the country, but New York is the Big Apple.”
A Big Apple and the “crazy” line made a great ad and poster. Jay’s group turned out variations with car cards in buses and subways – “You have to be a little crazy to live in New York …. “… crazy about museums. We have 95 ….” “… crazy about restaurants. There are hundreds ….” “… crazy about beaches. There are over ten miles of them ..."
Bill presented the campaign to Mayor Abe Beame, saying the agency would use free media so no City employee would be fired to pay for it. Production costs were covered by selling posters, some signed by notables like Robert Redford, artist Peter Max, and former Mayor John Lindsay.
Garth C. Reeves, community leader and publisher of the Miami Times, the city's oldest black-owned business, a newspaper focusing on the African-American community ("Former Miami Times publisher Garth Reeves Sr. dies at 100, Miami Herald).

Rob Restuccia, Health Care ("Rob Restuccia, a fierce advocate for improving health care, dies at 69," Miami Herald).

Felix Rohatyn, Wall Street financier led the program to resuscitate the City of New York from bankruptcy ("Felix G. Rohatyn, Financier Who Piloted New York's Rescue," NYT).

John Salter Jr., participant in Civil Rights lunch counter protests ("John Salter Jr., demonstrator in 1963 Mississippi lunch counter protest," Washington Post).

Marilyn Saviola, disability rights, including physical accessibility issues ("Marilyn Saviola, Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 74," NYT).

In this Aug. 19, 1957 file photo, a crowd gathers in front of the new home of Bill and Daisy Myers in Levittown, Pa. SAM MYERS / AP.

Samuel Snipes, lawyer, represented the first black family attempting to live in the suburban development in Levittown, Pennsylvania ("Samuel Snipes, 99, Dies; Lawyer for First Black Family in Levittown, Pa.," New York Times).

Sterling Tucker, former director of Washington Urban League, first elected City Council Chairman.  Mr. Tucker had been appointed to the City Council that existed before Home Rule. In the 1978 election, he ran in the Mayoral primary against Marion Barry and Walter Washington, who had been the appointed Mayor and then the first elected Mayor.

According to the Washington Post obituary, Marion Barry's "confrontational and aggessive style in demanding rights and equality was more suited to the times than the moderate approach associated with the Urban Leagure or the "black establishment" represented by Walter Washington.

Sidney Verba ("Political scientist Sidney Verba dead at 86," Harvard Gazette), authored seminal texts studying civic participation in society including The Civic Culture with Gabriel Almond.

Patricia Wald, lawyer, judge ("Patricia Wald, First Woman to Preside Over D.C. Appeals Court," NYT).

Youngstown Vindicator newspaper.  Youngstown, Ohio, once a thriving industrial town focused on the production of steel, has seen massive shrinkage since the decline of the industry.  The newspaper was a stalwart supporter of the city (actually Growth Machine posits this, as local newspapers are dependent on a thriving economy to generate advertising and subscriptions) and was a part of the pathbreaking Youngstown 2010 initiative, which aimed for revitalization in the context of population loss and industrial decline.  The newspaper lost money almost every year for the past 25 years, but the committed owners kept publishing.  Finally, they threw in the towel.

Technically the newspaper still exists, as after the closing was announced, it was bought by the Ogden Newspapers Group, which is active in nearby West Virginia, but the paper is more an edition/nameplate of another paper in the group, which happened to the New Orleans Times-Picayune as well ("So Youngstown will have a daily named The Vindicator after all. But it’s a brand surviving, not a newspaper.," Neiman Lab)


At 12:00 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Whitney Gould, former urban design writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

After she retired in 2007, she served on the Milwaukee Planning Commission.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Edward Rutkowski, Baltimore, founder of the Patterson Park CDC


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