Author Archives | alexsommer
weeksville heritage center photograph

1873 Weeksville and Pool’s infamous Picnic

POOL’S PICNIC Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 27, 1873, page 4     When “Big Six” thundered along the pavements of New York, George Pool was her keeper; now he is, if not the “Boss,” a very popular man among the colored people of Weeksville. During the last eleven years, Pool’s picnics have been the great […]

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STROLLS UPON OLD LINES: Crow Hill and Some of Its Suggestions.

  The Bedford Hills – A Region Now Traced by the Eastern Parkway The Genesis of a Name – French’s Stopping Place.  [editor note: this article was first published in thee 1888 Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Article was retrieved from and transcribed by PlaNYourCity]   There was a rhyme in one of the children’s magazines […]

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Cities lose big in Obama’s 2015 US Budget

Looming medical costs, a retiring workforce, defense department spending, and immigration reform were some of the major discussion points of the 2015 U.S. Government Budget, released on March 4th. With what’s been touted as alarming deficit spending, the Obama Administration and Congress chose to make large cuts to domestic environmental and science programs, as well […]

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Air Rights, Historic Preservation & the battle for NYC Real Estate

  The Three-Headed Cerberus of NYC Air Rights article by guest writer Kamini Ramdeen New York City prides itself on being one of the most forward-thinking cities in the world. Situated on a small island filled with history, the city has an obligation to continue to push the boundaries in whichever form they may come. […]

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Should the internet be a public utility?

About two months ago, I received a letter from my internet service provider, Optimum Online, stating that my monthly bill was about to increase again, to nearly $60 per month. This price has been rising steadily from $30 about two years ago. Optimum’s service hadn’t improved, increased in speed, nor had the number of internet […]

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alex webb petropolis extraction

Event 2/21: Resource extraction and urbanism

Storefront for Art and Architecture Presents: The Petropolis of Tomorrow: Environments of Extraction Join Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York for a discussion with Neeraj Bhatia, Dr. Paul Fennelly, Rob Holmes, and Justin Fowler on the occasion of the launch of new book The Petropolis of Tomorrow. An excerpt from the Storefront’s event […]

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A love letter to urban scents

Dear urban olfactory overexposers, You’re not quite like the unpopulated wet forest, smelling of mud, decay and heavy timber; nor like my tiny oceanside hometown filling the air with brine and sundried seaweed. Rather you have a grand variety of lowpoints and highs; a combination of heady delicacies and nauseating wafts… The mysterious night bakery […]

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image via Flickr 'PT Money'

What’s the cap rate, buddy? How to get development your community actually wants

A brief summary/disclaimer: All too often, terms like gentrification and displacement are tossed around, community residents are treated as passive actors, and the ensuing conflict between market-rate developers and affordable housing non-profits plays out in the media, like a spinning, frustrating wheel with no clear concessions or answers. At the end of the day, market-rate […]

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Steve jobs iphone

What if Steve Jobs was a housing developer?

A recent Urban Land Institute (ULI) conference posited a question to a panel of developers: “What if Steve Jobs had been a residential developer?” This question attempts to get to the root of disruptive technologies which could be applied to the housing industry, a business sector which has remained relatively unchanged since the mid-20th century […]

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Public employee rally in Iowa. Photo via flickr user Phil Roeder

Cutting pensions is the only way to save Cities

Or so James Spiotto would have you think. Spiotto, a partner with Chapman & Cutler who specializes in bankruptcies and workout deals, is recommending the formation of state-mandated Public Pension Funding Authorities. The New York Times delicately explained the role of these new authorities in that they “would offer independent, quasi-judicial powers to sort out the […]

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