Most of the time the system works flawlessly, and invisibly, and so sewage gets less attention than other infrastructural issues, like transit and communications. Plus sewage is just gross.
Since fights over sustainable streets usually involve bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and traffic initiatives like congestion pricing, you may be surprised to learn that the city's pothole-strewn black roads are one of New York's greenest components. That's because over the last fiscal year, the city Department of Transportation ripped 300,000 tons of potholed or damaged asphalt off the ground, carted it to city-run facilities and reconstituted it back into usable pavement, effectively recycling the city's roads.(1)
Before the flood: New York City is just beginning to gird for the '100-year storm,' if it's not already too late
Recent efforts from the Bloomberg administration will significantly reduce the city's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in the future. What they won't do—can't do—is reverse what may be very real dangers the city faces as a result of environmental changes already well underway. Specifically: Sea-level rise.(2)
Say you own an apartment building in New York City and would like to make it more energy-efficient.
One way to do this, in theory, would be to add insulation to the outside walls, which generally adds about four inches. But that would violate the zoning law that regulates floor-area ratio, which determines the maximum floor area allowed on the size of the lot.
Bloomberg's PlaNYC head on the 'challenge' of relying on state and federal money, and the importance of the humble bench
Earlier this month, David Bragdon, the director of Michael Bloomberg’s office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, was dispatched to a small grey-and-white lecture room in Avery Hall at Columbia University to talk about the administration's views on urban planning to a half-dozen smaller-city mayors.
The talk was part of the annual gathering of the Mayors' Institute on City Design, in which mayors from across the country convene for lectures and site visits, and also for closed-door sessions in which they consider the future of cities.(1)
The thing about the planners and engineers and architects whose job it is to create municipal infrastructure—for example, the extension of the No. 7 subway line from 34th Street to 11th Avenue—is that they tend to think of people as problems to be solved. People can't be allowed to stand still for too long; they can't be packed too tight in enclosed spaces; they can't be encouraged to move aimlessly, or in ways that will interfere with the more purposeful movements of others.(1)
To get from the neighborhoods on the west side of the Bronx River to Concrete Plant Park, which is on the west bank of the river, requires crossing the intersection between Whitlock Avenue, which runs parallel to the river, and Westchester Avenue, which crosses the river and turns south. Westchester Avenue in this spot runs over the Sheridan Expressway, and under elevated tracks for the 6 line. It is also where trucks and cars leaving the Sheridan to go to the Hunt's Point Market, one of the largest food distribution centers in the world. It is the sort of intersection where it not all the participants have agreed to the terms of an intersection.(2)
On a 50-acre piece of land on the border between Brooklyn and Queens is three-basin reservoir that was once part of the Brooklyn water supply system, and that hasn’t been touched in at least 40 years. Inside the chain-link fence around it is an impossible landscape: thick forest, wet meadows, a small lake ringed with reeds; the Ridgewood Reservoir has been restoring itself to its original ecology for decades. Standing in the right place on the 1.25 mile path, the place smells, sounds and looks like the marshes on the coast of New England. And it’s virtually unknown.