After some hard importing/copying work and on-the ground observation, I’ve finally assembled this map of all legally marked streets and alleys in DC. Next up, sidewalks, then buildings and property, and finally land use. I’ll start doing mashup comparisons of these maps for the walkshed and green space requirements. Plus, I think I came up with an particularly useful modern variation on the Nolli Plan, which should make any archi-map geek excited. Comparisons to topography under the fold.
Generally, it’s interesting to see how the grid and the avenues flattened the topography. If I do a historical map, then the comparison would be fascinating, but historical topography is not relevant to my goals. Also note the amount of parking on the avenues, and how alleys nicely eliminate driveways in front of houses. Finally, Tenleytown is at the pass over the ridge line that begins at AU and ends near Chevy Chase. The hills and valleys in the area almost necessitated that the Georgetown-Frederick Pike go through this area at this spot.
It’s old news to the residents of upper Manhattan, but this six-month-old playground in Morningside Heights seemed to be succeeding in many ways when I visited it recently. To be totally honest it looks like a lot of fun and full of the sort of structures I enjoyed as a kid. The multiple levels, ambiguous spaces that encourage imagination, and little side playgrounds seem to create a little paradise where kids can run free enough to feel free.
But what is more interesting in terms of architecture is how the playground was developed: It’s a really good example of both community involvement and responsive government. The new, complex playground is a drastic improvement over the grimy 70s play yard it replaced, but the process took nearly a decade. In 1999, the Friends of Morningside Park began surveying residents, including those with children and those that wanted children, about what they wanted. They took that information, developed a master plan to restore and improve Frederick Law Olmsted’s original design. Using this plan, the neighborhood worked with the City through long-term activism to eventually get it built.
The whole process took ten years and a lot of gentrification happened in that time, but it’s still a great reminder of what is possible if a community organizes to make their common environment a little better. I think, like any good urban space, the results speak for themselves, so do be sure to go up and see it when you’re up in New York or have a look at some of the pictures in the linked blogs.