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jerryking : city_builders   7

A Whisper in an Age of Shouting
AUG. 25, 2017 | The New York Times | By ARIELLA ROSEN.

A tribute to Charles Stover.

Stover was also involved in efforts to preserve Central Park and develop more parks and playgrounds in poor neighborhoods. In 1898 he founded, together with Lillian Wald, the Outdoor Recreation League, which sponsored the construction of playgrounds as a substitute for unsupervised street play. As parks commissioner, Stover created the Bureau of Recreation, which built dozens of playgrounds in its first three years, including DeWitt Clinton Park, Seward Park and Jacob Riis Park.......So why has Stover been forgotten? Although a prominent and influential figure, he did not seek fame or fortune. In a letter to a friend in 1927, he wrote, “My real preference is to be writ in water — just such complete obliteration as the poet Keats feared would be his fate.” He never married and kept no house of his own, preferring instead to live at University Settlement. He was a very private person, prone to bouts of depression, and was known to vanish occasionally with no explanation.......Stover believed — and his life proves — that it is possible to make a difference in the world without yelling. It is easy to get caught up in the shouting of politicians, or to want simply to walk away from it all. That is why it is more important than ever to listen to the stories of those around us.

I plan to go on looking for Stover, but his bench has already taught me an important lesson: Sometimes the most powerful words are the ones that are whispered.
city_builders  New_York_City  Robert_Moses  playgrounds  Central_Park 
august 2017 by jerryking
Pam McConnell 1946-2017: A true public servant
JULY 10, 2017 | Spacing Toronto | BY JOHN LORINC

Pam McConnell was a former teacher turned school trustee who had moved from the Toronto Board of Education to council in 1994, representing Ward 7 following a narrow victory. In office, she made it her mission to correct some of the failures of social planning that had rendered St. James Town such a challenging place to live. As she’d point out in interviews, families living high up in those apartment blocks had no backyards and needed local amenities, especially a fully equipped community centre......her stick-with-it-ness was legendary. McConnell’s fingerprints are all over the east half of the Toronto Centre riding, from the demolition of the eastern tail of the Gardiner Expressway to the waterfront projects that have sprouted between Yonge and Cherry.
Former mayor David Miller asked her to chair the Toronto Police Services Board, a job that has produced many perils for the women who’ve served previously in that post......McConnell was absolutely the best person for that position, not least because she knew, from her constituents, all about the social geography of low-income communities.
Indeed, I’d say her signature accomplishment was pushing the City and Toronto Community Housing to produce a “social development plan” (SDP) for the redeveloped Regent Park. ..... McConnell is most visibly associated with her advocacy of the new Regent Park pool and central park. But I’d say the plan may well be her signature achievement. It forced City officials to fully confront the reality that the low-income communities which stand in the path of speculative redevelopment pressure are so much more than two-dimensional collections of crime and socio-economic statistics housed in deteriorating buildings.

See also https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/07/12/pam-mcconnell-left-a-huge-legacy-to-toronto-and-a-big-legacy-project-for-her-council-colleagues-keenan.html
redevelopments  public_servants  city_councillors  women  Toronto  obituaries  tributes  John_Lorinc  St._James_Town  sticktoitiveness  Regent_Park  revitalization  social_geography  Corktown  Distillery_District  social_justice  city_builders  Yonge_Street 
july 2017 by jerryking
Robert Bundy: Powerful bureaucrat helped shape Toronto - The Globe and Mail
OLIVER MOORE
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jun. 08, 2017

Robert Bundy, the powerful Toronto civil servant who oversaw the expansion of the city’s parking system and parks, eventually meeting his match in the stubborn residents of the harbour islands, died of heart failure on May 8 in Toronto. He was 94.

A property developer who had served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and was decorated twice by Russia for his role in the Murmansk Run supply convoys, Mr. Bundy moved into public service at a time when city bureaucrats enjoyed substantial clout......Early in their marriage, Mr. Bundy joined the city bureaucracy. His construction business had been successful and “he didn’t have to worry about finances,” his son Brock said. “He really truly believed he was doing something to make everyone’s life better, and you can see that all the way through.”

The elder Mr. Bundy became general manager of Toronto’s parking authority in 1958, a time when creating plentiful and cheap parking was seen as crucial to helping the city compete with the suburbs. A 1968 annual report for the agency shows that in his first 10 years in the role the number of municipal off-street parking spaces nearly doubled to 14,440.

In the late 1950s, he also chaired a committee trying to ensure that sufficient development followed the route of Toronto’s east-west subway line. And he pioneered the concept of a business improvement area, which recruits local merchants to help make their surroundings more attractive and marketable.

The importance of abundant parking, however, remained a passion for years. He was co-founder of what would become the International Parking Institute and travelled to learn from his peers across the continent. Decades later, when he was part of a pitch to redevelop Toronto’s Greenwood Raceway, the proposal was built around extensive new parking.

However, he was cognizant of the needs of non-drivers as well. As Metro’s parks commissioner, he oversaw great swaths of new green space. His family said he was particularly proud of Rosetta McClain Gardens in Scarborough, a park specifically designed around the needs of people with disabilities.

During his tenure, the city created bicycle trails in some of its green spaces, routes that proved so popular they led to friction between cyclists and other users
Toronto  cities  parking  WWII  bureaucrats  parks  obituaries  city_hall  property_development  veterans  leaders  Royal_Navy  BIAs  public_spaces  city_builders  civil_servants  redevelopments  green_spaces 
june 2017 by jerryking
Why Robert Moses Keeps Rising From an Unquiet Grave - The New York Times
By DAVID W. DUNLAPMARCH 21, 2017
Robert Moses.

Builder of infrastructure. Ravager of neighborhoods. Maker of omelets. Breaker of eggs. Never mind civics texts. “The Power Broker,” Robert A. Caro’s biography of Mr. Moses, is the book that still must be read — 43 years after it was published — to understand how New York really works.

The reputation of Mr. Moses, good and bad, has outlived those of every governor and mayor he nominally served, with the possible exceptions of Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, who had the sense to get an airport named after him, and Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, whose name speaks for itself.....“Before him, there was no Triborough Bridge, Jones Beach State Park, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, West Side Highway or Long Island parkway system or Niagara and St. Lawrence power projects. He built all of these and more.”

“Before Mr. Moses, New York State had a modest amount of parkland; when he left his position as chief of the state park system, the state had 2,567,256 acres. He built 658 playgrounds in New York City, 416 miles of parkways and 13 bridges.”

“But he was more than just a builder. Although he disdained theories, he was a major theoretical influence on the shape of the American city, because the works he created in New York proved a model for the nation at large. His vision of a city of highways and towers — which in his later years came to be discredited by younger planners — influenced the planning of cities around the nation.”

“His guiding hand made New York, known as a city of mass transit, also the nation’s first city for the automobile age.”
Robert_Moses  New_York_City  urban  urban_planning  cities  political_biographies  power_brokers  city_builders 
march 2017 by jerryking
Robert Moses “The Power Broker,” : Toronto Public Library
power broker: Robert Moses and the fall of New York,
[1st ed.]. --
Caro, Robert A.
Book, 1974.
Robert_Moses  TPL  books  New_York_City  political_biographies  power_brokers  city_builders 
november 2014 by jerryking
Meet the man who shaped 20th-century Toronto - The Globe and Mail
JOHN LORINC
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May. 18, 2012

Rowland Caldwell Harris – who began a 33-year term as works commissioner a century ago this week – left his civic fingerprints all over Toronto, building hundreds of kilometres of sidewalks, sewers, paved roads, streetcar tracks, public baths and washrooms, landmark bridges and even the precursor plans to the GO commuter rail network.

“The significance of Harris a hundred years later is that we’re still living fundamentally in the city he imagined,” observes Dalhousie architecture professor Steven Mannell, who studies his career and has advised city officials on an extensive rehabilitation of the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, due to be finished next year.

Mr. Harris famously added a second deck to the Prince Edward Viaduct in anticipation of a subway line that wasn’t built for decades. What’s less well known is that Mr. Harris was a photo buff who, in 1930, presided over the city’s first planning exercise – a process that led to construction of congestion-easing arterials such as Dundas Street East and the parkway extension of Mount Pleasant through Rosedale and up towards St. Clair.
John_Lorinc  Toronto  trailblazers  R.C._Harris  architecture  wastewater-treatment  infrastructure  municipalities  urban  urban_planning  landmarks  bridges  foresight  imagination  TTC  '30s  city_builders 
may 2012 by jerryking

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