April 29, 2006

Urbanism in Charleston: house, porch, and garden

Renee Chow describes Charleston's (South Carolina) historic urban fabric as follows: "The alternation of houses and gardens gives one the impression of being in both a densely built neighborhood and an extended garden." The porch and garden are typically located with a south or west orientation. A door separates the sidewalk from the porch but a transparent gate or low wall allows a view of the porch and garden. Recently I was in Charleston and remembering Chow's elegant description photographed two houses with gardens. Photographs by local Ecology (localecology.org) Quote from Renee Chow (2002) Suburban Space

April 26, 2006

Lucky in plant life

Note: This post was edited on Jan. 20, 2007. Hotlinked image(s) were removed. Follow the link(s) to the image location(s).

The University of California Berkeley is hosting a plant sale. I picked up a postcard from a local cafe. The card is quite beautiful but I could not scan it. Instead, the information below is directly from the website. As with lots of other things, this event is marked in my calendar. I hope I can attend.

*The UC Berkeley Botanic Garden Spring Plant Sale* The Member's Sale and Silent Auction is on Friday, April 28, from 5 - 7:30 p.m. Note: the Garden closes at 3 p.m. on the 28th. The Public Sale is on Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. (free of charge). For details visit the Garden website.

Lapageria rosea 'Collinge' aka 'Dr. Bullock; Coreopsis gigantea View the images are on the postcard flyer.

April 25, 2006

Etymology lesson: park

Note: This post was edited on Jan. 20, 2007. Hotlinked image(s) were removed. Follow the link(s) to the image location(s). The park is at the center of the neighborhood unit as articulated by urban designers from Clarence Perry to Andres Duany. Given the centrality of this urban space, I felt it was important to know the history of the word "park." The Online Etymology Dictionary is one of my favorite etymological resources. The following information is from the Online Etymology Dictionary: search park.
park (n.)
c.1260, "enclosed preserve for beasts of the chase," from O.Fr. parc, probably ult. from W.Gmc. *parruk "enclosed tract of land" (cf. O.E. pearruc, root of paddock (2), O.H.G. pfarrih "fencing about, enclosure," Ger. pferch "fold for sheep," Du. park). Internal evidence suggests the W.Gmc. word is pre-4c. and originally meant the fencing, not the place enclosed.
Found also in M.L. parricus "enclosure, park" (8c.), which is likely the direct source of the O.Fr. word, as well as It. parco, Sp. parque, etc. Some claim the M.L. word as the source of the W.Gmc., but the reverse seems more likely. OED discounts notion of a Celtic origin. Welsh parc, Gael. pairc are from English.
As a surname, Parker "keeper of a park" is attested in Eng. from c.1145. Meaning "enclosed lot in or near a town, for public recreation" is first attested 1663, originally in ref. to London; the sense evolution is via royal parks in the original, hunting sense being overrun by the growth of London and being opened to the public.
Applied to sporting fields in Amer.Eng. from 1867. New York's Park Avenue as an adj. meaning "luxurious and fashionable" (1956) was preceded in the same sense by London's Park Lane (1880).
1: A-Park, Radburn, NJ; based on the neighborhood unit,
designed by Clarence Stern and Henry Wright 2: Lake Carolina Central Green, Richland County, SC, designed by Duany Plater-Zyberk

April 9, 2006

The Neighborhood Unit

Note: This post was edited on Jan. 20, 2007. Hotlinked image(s) were removed. Follow the link(s) to the image location(s). In the 1920s, Clarence Perry standardized the quarter-mile as the optimal daily-routine distance for the neighborhood unit. Writing in the New York Regional Plan and its Environs (1929), he developed the neighborhood unit as "the framework of a model community."

The neighborhood unit was designed to support 6,125 residents or 1,241 families. The spatial unit is centered on an elementary school as well as small parks and playgrounds. At 160 acres, the neighborhood radius is one-quarter of a mile or a 5-minute walking distance. Heavy through-traffic is confined to major arterials at the edges of the neighborhood and an internal street system accommodates local traffic. Local shops are also located at the periphery of the unit. These are the principles for a low-cost suburban development. Perry provided criteria for several types of neighborhood units including an industrial section, an apartment house unit, and a five-block apartment-house unit (or "how a slum district might be rehabilitated"). The Neighborhood Unit Concept, Clarence Perry, 1929 (Washington State Univ.) The idea of the neighborhod unit has evolved over time. Iterations of the neighborhood unit have been developed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright in Radburn, NJ (a garden city with several neighborhood units organized around a common green and train access to Manhattan), by Jim Rouse (the Columbia New Town: eight villages grouped around a town center which also serves as a regional shopping mall), and a more recent incarnation advocated by the Congress of New Urbanism.

Plan of Radburn, NJ, Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, 1929 (Queens Univ.) Miami Lakes Town Center (CNU Florida)

April 3, 2006

Crafters in my neighborhood

I enjoy eating ice cream. I have become lactose sensitive so traditional ice cream is often too creamy. Gelato is a great alternative. Berkeley has two gelaterias: Naia and Gelato Milano. Gelato Milano is made daily, on site, and is the first of my two crafters. Gelato Milano is 0.7 miles from my location, greater than the neighborhood unit dimension of a quarter mile (more on this in a future posting). I have visited Gelato Milano once. I bought a picolo (2 flavors) of yogurt and mango. Rating: Delicious. The yogurt at Gelato Milano tasted like fresh yogurt and the mango tasted like a freshly peeled mango. The combination was like a mango lassi (the owner said this is a popular combination). The second crafter in my neighborhood is Bison Brewing. Bison brews its beers on site and the brewey is definitely within my neighborhood. The Bison brewery offers tours by appointments. I have not been on a tour. But I have purchased their beer at a local cafe. My favourite style is the Belgian ale (trippel style). The brewery offers a seasonal hefeweizen which I have not tried. Rating: The brew is very similar to the trippels I had in Amsterdam!

April 1, 2006

"Neoliberalism at the garden gate"

Note: This post was edited on Jan. 20, 2007. An update to the South Central urban farmers story by Tom Philpott available from CounterPunch.org. "The fate of LA's South Central Community Farm, the nation's largest community garden, hinges on a dubious back-room deal between a developer and an ambitious city attorney. According to the Los Angeles Times, though, it's all pretty straight-forward." (more)