The Invention of Public Space chronicles how the Lindsay administration’s aspirations could point the way forward for today’s architects
By Karen Kubey
Current debates around public spaces in New York—the future of pandemic-born streeteries, say, or police-enforced curfews in Washington Square Park—assume that these spaces should be for everyone. Within this discourse, public space is seen as inherently democratic and the place where we celebrate the city’s diversity, among other things. But Mariana Mogilevich’s new book upends this wisdom. The Invention of Public Space challenges the notion that the city’s open or free spaces amount to an “unalloyed, universal good” whose civic underpinnings can be traced to the ancient Athenian agora. It emends and dramatically condenses the historical trajectory of the titular spatial invention, dating it to the 1960s and 1970s, during the John Lindsay mayoral administration.
Mogilevich insists on the point. “New York City in the early 1960s did not have ‘public space’ as such,” she writes. “No one referred to it that way,” here or in any other city. It was only through experiments in inclusive space-making and public participation that the constellation of spaces that are now commonly understood as making up “public space”—parks, plazas, vacant lots, sidewalks, waterfronts, streets—came to be identified by that name. These efforts took on outsize meaning against a backdrop of urban crisis, where design proposals, big and small, could open a door to utopia. “Each space,” Mogilevich writes, “was conceived not as a part of the city or as a space apart from the city but as a metaphor for the city as a whole.”
Read on >>>> Source: ArchPaper The Invention of Public Space shows the city as a product of negotiation