The Collect Pond: New York’s First Source Of Water Was Filled In To Become “Five Points,” The Worst Slum In American History

 Lopsided buildings along Mulberry Street, a legacy of the soggy ground on which they were built.

Lopsided buildings along Mulberry Street, a legacy of the soggy ground on which they were built.

18th-century Manhattan was a decidedly beautiful and peaceful place. Home to roughly 30,000 people in the years just after the Revolutionary War, New York was a far cry from the glass-and-cement jungle of 8 million it has become today. It was a relatively pristine utopia of rolling hills, old-growth trees, and babbling brooks ambling into a series of small ponds.

One of the more notable of these ponds, which was actually fed by an underground spring, became known as “Collect Pond.” For nearly two centuries after the Dutch first settled Manhattan Island, Collect Pond was the bustling village’s main source of water. It covered approximately 50 acres and was up to 60 feet deep in places. For a growing town, nothing was more important than a constant supply of clean, drinkable water, and the Collect Pond provided just that. And, as an interesting note, it was n Collect Pond that, in 1796, Connecticut inventor John Fitch tested the first successful steam-powered paddle boat. Later iterations of this invention would revolutionize American industry.

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Kate Tissington On The Right To The City In South Africa

Urban land is of symbolic significance in South Africa because it is land that people of colour were historically denied access to. But the historically privileged still own, occupy and enjoy the best urban land.
The question is, why hasn’t our government been able to unlock well-located land in urban areas to provide housing for the people who need it most?
The historically disadvantaged continue to live on marginal land on the peripheries of South Africa’s cities and the apartheid city remains untransformed.

Both The South African Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung South Africa Office (FES) wish to promote discussion about the transformation of the apartheid landscape in an effort to foster social cohesion in South Africa’s still largely racially and economically segregated society. The organisations co-hosted a panel discussion to interrogate the issue on 17 April 2014.
The event was opened by Renate Tenbusch, Resident Director of the FES South Africa office and the panellists who spoke at the event included, Mark Napier: Principal Researcher at the Built Environment Unit of the CSIR and co-author of the book, “Trading Places: accessing land in African cities”; Thembani Jerome Ngongoma: Member of Executive Committee of Abahlali baseMjondolo (shack dwellers’ movement); Louise Scholtz: Manager at World Wildlife Fund South Africa and leader on joint project with National Association of Social Housing Institutions; and Kate Tissington: Senior Researcher at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa.

Overall, as a result of the contributions of this panel as well as questions and comments from the floor, it became clear that there is stasis, a lack of imagination and a lack of political will to house the poor and to transform South Africa’s apartheid cities. Much of this is happening within a highly corporatized free market environment where municipalities would rather sell off their land for short-term profit than invest in the long-term sustainability of their cities for inhabitants and future generations. Rent collection and maintenance of rental housing stock are activities that South African municipalities simply do not want to burden themselves with.
Kate Tissington argued that her organisation’s work was to help extend poor people’s right to the city. For example, by resisting evictions and pushing local government to provide alternative accommodation when people are being evicted or when shacks are being demolished.
The absence of a pro-poor developmental local government perspective to deal with the housing backlog is a fundamental problem, she argued.
The odds are against the poor in terms of improving their access to the city. There is major contestation over well-located land. But those with money are winning, as the drive towards gentrification targets better off residents.
Consequently, affordability is a major constraint. For example, more than half of Johannesburg’s inner city residents earn less than R3,200 per month. They are typically employed as domestic workers and security guards. Thus, there is a massive gap between what people are earning and what is made available to them in terms of housing options.

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Kyrgyzstan ~ A Country Remarkably Unknown

Kyrgyzstan is a remarkably unknown country to most world citizens. Since its conception in the 1920s, outside observers have usually treated it as a backwater of the impenetrable Soviet Union.
There was little interest and even less opportunity to gather information on this particular Soviet republic. But even within the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan was relatively unknown. It is as likely to meet a person from Russia or the Ukraine who has never heard of Kyrgyzstan as someone from the Netherlands or the USA. As one of my informants who has a Kyrgyz father and a Russian mother said:
I was raised in Kazan in Russia and went to school when the Soviet Union still existed. The kids in school did not understand that I was Kyrgyz. I sometimes explained, but they still thought I was Tatar, or from the Caucasus. We were taught some facts and figures about Kyrgyzstan in school, but that was it.

Kyrgyzstan briefly became world news in March 2005, when it was the third in a row of velvet revolutions among former Soviet Union countries. President Akayev, who had been the president since 1990 (one year before Kyrgyzstan’s independence) was ousted, to be replaced by opposition leaders who had until recently taken part in Akayev’s government.

A few years before that, Kyrgyzstan had become a focus of interest in the War on Terrorism, because of its majority Muslim population and its vicinity to Afghanistan. The country opened its main airport Manas for the Coalition Forces, who all stationed troops there.
The lack of a solid general base of background information gives the study of Kyrgyzstan a special dimension. Researchers and audience do not share images of the country that are based on a large number of impressions from different sources. Thus, every morsel of new information becomes disproportionally important in the creation of new images, and may be taken out of perspective. It also means that the researcher does not have an extensive body of knowledge to fall back on. Questions that are raised can often not be answered, as there is no corpus of data and general consensus. This can give the researcher a sense of walking on quick sand, but it also keeps the researcher, and hopefully her audience as well, focused and unable to take anything for granted.
In this paper I will give an overview of images of Kyrgyzstan as it is portrayed in journalist reports, travel guides, and works of social scientists. This will provide the reader unfamiliar with Kyrgyzstan with a framework of background information that cannot be presupposed.

Kyrgyzstan Located


Map of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 198,500 square km, is about the size of Great Britain. Its population of 5 million is considerably less than that of the UK, however, because of the mountains that cover the larger part of the country. Kyrgyzstan’s impressive mountain ranges, known as the Tien Shan, Ala Too and Alay ranges, are extensions of the Himalayas. Ninety per cent of Kyrgyzstan’s territory is above 1,500 metres and forty-one per cent is above 3,000 metres. Perpetual snow covers about a third of the country’s surface. Large amounts of water, in the form of mountain lakes and wild rivers, are a consequence of this landscape.
Kyrgyzstan is landlocked and bordered by four countries, three of which are former Soviet Union republics. Kazakhstan lies to the North, Uzbekistan to the West and Tajikistan to the South. The Eastern border is shared with China, or more precisely: with the Chinese province Xinjiang, home of many Turkic and Muslim peoples.
Administratively, Kyrgyzstan is divided into seven provinces (oblus, from Russian oblast) and two cities (shaar). The two cities are Osh city and the country’s capital Bishkek. Bishkek was known as Frunze during Soviet times, named after Red Army hero Mikhael Frunze. In 1991, four months before independence, the city was renamed Bishkek (Prior, 1994:42).
Kyrgyzstan is commonly divided in the North and South. The South consist of three provinces: Jalal-Abad, Osh and Batken. Batken was separated from Osh after the invasion of Islamic guerrillas in August 1999. The North consists of the Chüy, Talas, Ïssïkköl and Narïn provinces. Looking at the map, it is clear that ‘North’ and ‘South’ are not so much geographical indications, as Ïssïkköl and Narïn are at the same latitude as Jalal-Abad. A mountain ridge with very few passages, however, separates the North from the South, making them far apart in people’s experience. If one travels from Osh to Narïn, for instance, one usually takes a triangle route through Bishkek. There is a road that traverses the mountain ridge that separates them, but snow often renders it impassable. Until 1962, there was not even a road between Osh and Bishkek (then: Frunze), the railway that connected the two cities ran by way of Tashkent.
The term ‘Kyrgyzstan’ is a choice out of a number of names for the country. Presently, the official name in the Kyrgyz language is Kïrgïz Respublikasï. In English, it is ‘the Kyrgyz Republic’, after the ‘h’ in Kyrghyz was dropped in 1999. One year before independence, shortly after Akayev’s appointment as president, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan became the official name for the republic after it announced its sovereignty (Rashid, 1994:147). In May 1993, this was changed to the Kyrghyz Republic. Another often-heard name for the country is Kirgizia, which is based on Russian, who substituted the ï (usually transliterated as y) by an i to fit Russian grammatical rules. Popular in the country itself is the word ‘Kyrgyzstan’. This term is not new, but was already in use in the early days of the Soviet Union. In this dissertation, I will join with popular habit and refer to the country as Kyrgyzstan. Read more

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Alexandra Lange – Radical Cities: Across Latin America In Search Of A New Architecture By Justin McGuirk – Review July 2014. “Considering ideal conditions is a waste of time,” Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner write in their 2005 book, Informal City. “The point is to avoid catastrophe.” The two architects, partners in the international practice Urban-Think Tank, are known for the cable car system they designed for Caracas, connecting barrios in the hills with the city in the valley. Part of the allure of these cable cars, and U-TT’s work in general, is the way they make a virtue of leftover spaces. A shelter for a football field becomes a “vertical gymnasium”. A shelter for street children, built under an overpass, gets another football pitch on its roof. As design critic Justin McGuirk writes in Radical Cities, his survey of urban experiments in Latin America, in “engaging with the informal city, U-TT developed a methodology of maximising the amount of social activity that a tiny plot of land could deliver”. They went small – “strategic” and “urban acupuncture” are the terms du jour – looking at what the city had become, and what individual neighbourhoods needed, rather than masterplanning a cycle of demolition and straight lines.

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Tamsin McMahon – The (Literal) Rise Of The Anti-Condo


Small-scale densification: Alternatives such as tiny laneway houses and ‘parasite’ buildings are popping up in lieu of big-box condos. (Curated Properties) July 2014Stacked on leafy buildings, floating above an alley: creative expressions of urban density are popping up in surprising places.

Intensification is the mantra of today’s North American urban planners. In Canada, that increased density has inevitably come in the form of a big-box condo. Douglas Coupland dubbed Vancouver “the City of Glass.” Toronto is building more condos than New York. For many, the condo is the only route to affordable downtown living. Architects and home buyers alike still love the charm of houses, but sky-high land prices have put an end to new single-family homes in our biggest cities.

Gary Eisen and Adam Ochshorn of Curated Properties have found a creative solution to that problem. They plan to construct a dozen high-end townhouses on top of a vacant 1950s municipal office on Dovercourt Road on Toronto’s west side. Rather than try to blend into the muted brick exterior of the original, the ultramodern two- and three-bedroom townhouses will be clad in metal panels, with large, deeply inset windows that hang over the roof of the office below, so that the development has the feel of neither a loft conversion nor a glass-walled condo.

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Ridley Scott & Kevin Macdonald ~ Life In A Day

Life In A Day is a historic film capturing for future generations what it was like to be alive on the 24th of July, 2010.
Executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.

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