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Shaping the City; New York and the Municipal Art Society
     

Shaping the City; New York and the Municipal Art Society

5.0 1
by Gregory F. Gilmartin, Gregory Gilmartin
 
The Municipal Art Society was founded in New York City in the wake of the World's Columbian Exposition, when the Great White City in Chicago ushered in a new conception of what American cities could achieve through coordinated planning and the collaboration of the nation's best classical architects and artists. In 1890s New York, much of the population lived in

Overview

The Municipal Art Society was founded in New York City in the wake of the World's Columbian Exposition, when the Great White City in Chicago ushered in a new conception of what American cities could achieve through coordinated planning and the collaboration of the nation's best classical architects and artists. In 1890s New York, much of the population lived in apartments that had no toilets; developers considered it their inalienable right to build a skyscraper on a twenty-foot lot; and graft, not need, determined the city government's construction priorities. If this situation has changed, we owe it less to the councilmen and mayors who enacted legislation than to the citizen activists who persuaded them to do so.

Shaping the City is a stirring account of a century of just such citizen activism, not a dry institutional history but the inside story of city government as it affects the physical environment. We know of MAS today as the organization that led the fight against overdevelopment at Columbus Circle and the battle to retain the honky-tonk character of Times Square. but in its early days. MAS was the guiding force behind the City Beautiful movement. Its members built the city's great classical ensembles, and they ushered in a golden age of municipal architecture with their designs for bridges, park pavilions, monuments, even lamp posts. MAS was among the first organizations to demand the introduction of zoning to New York. It also pioneered the concept of community planning and undertook the seemingly hopeless task of protecting landmarks, persuading Mayor Robert F. Wagner to sign the Landmarks Preservation Law — a model for the rest of the nation.

In these pages,Gregory F. Gilmartin has looked beyond the narrow scope of architectural history and focuses instead on the people, policies, and politics that shape the cityscape. He is frank in his portrayal of politicians and dirty tricks and encouraging in his portraits of citizens and programs that have made a difference.

Shaping the City is addressed not only to those who are specifically interested in architecture, art history, parks, preservation, and urban history, but also to the more general reader who loves cities but is disturbed by the destruction of neighborhoods and the overwhelming scale of new developments. The book is especially valuable as a demonstration that the political process can be made to work for the public interest. The result is not nostalgia, but will convince readers that they — as the Municipal Art Society has done and continues to do — can participate shaping the agenda for the future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is the involving story of a century of skirmishes between a dedicated group of New Yorkers committed to creating and preserving a beautiful, livable city and powerful real estate interests and indifferent or corrupt politicians. Founded in 1893 by architects and artists, the Municipal Art Society grew to include many of the city's elite, who joined in its battles. Among its notable recent victories were its campaigns to save and restore Grand Central Station; to oblige Donald Trump to modify his plans for skyscraping the Hudson River front and Mort Zuckerman to alter his designs on Columbus Circle; to prevent demolition of many architectural gems and historic sites; and to protect the city's diminishing light, air and open spaces. But it could not prevent the destruction of the old Penn Station and the encroachment by the Metropolitan Museum of Art on public areas of Central Park. The society has sparked more broadly based citizens' groups, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and legislation on building codes. In detailing the history of its valiant battles, Gilmartin (New York 1900) bares 100 years of power plays and manipulations that have made the cityscape a horror and a wonder. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Gilmartin serves up a spicy, anecdote-laden story of The Municipal Art Society (MAS), which has been in the forefront of every major battle concerning New York City's growth and development. Along the way, the fascinating social history of New York's urban planning is closely reexamined. The book moves chronologically, with chapters anchored to specific incidents in building or development, e.g., the Manhattan Bridge or the Port of New York. Colorful characters like Robert Moses and Calvin Tomkins speak out, and their comments are considered against the backdrop of the MAS's vocal opposition or support. Activities relating to historic preservation are of keen concern to Americans today, and the history described here is relevant and charged with meaning for those studying urban planning and community quality of life. A viable academic and public library acquisition crossing into the disciplines of architecture, city design and local history.-Paula A. Baxter, NYPL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517585740
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/15/1995
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
532
Product dimensions:
6.65(w) x 9.45(h) x 1.68(d)

Meet the Author

Gregory F. Gilmartin is the coauthor of New York 1900 and New York 1930, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 1987. He lives in New York City and is currently a designer with Peter Pennoyer Architects.

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Shaping the City; New York and the Municipal Art Society 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!