This semester we will focus on reporting and writing in-depth feature stories on a neighborhood of your choice. The idea is to learn everything you can about a given neighborhood –its infrastructure–what makes it tick.The idea is to find stories that others have missed, stories that are “under the radar.”
We will try to unearth answers to the following questions:
Who lives there and why?
Where do children go to school and what is the quality of local schools?
Where do people work?
How do local businesses thrive and/or survive?
What community services are there in the neighborhood
What are the biggest issues/conflicts in the neighborhood and what do local residents think can be done about them?
Whenever possible, you will be encouraged to add slideshows, podcasts, and video to your stories.
Meanwhile, see you all at our first class on August 27th. Our first reading will be E.B. White’s Here is New York, due for September 1st..
Amy Fox’s piece “Battle in Black and White” was similar to the Bagli piece in many ways. We are seeing another case where housing becomes difficult for groups in a minority race. In her article, Fox talks about the challenges veterans and people of color faced when trying to live in Stuyvesant town as well as relocate when they were driven out of their current apartments. Bagli’s piece focused on the high rent prices that were driving out the current residents and making it challenging for relocation. Through these two articles, it is clear to see that they emphasized how challenging it was to relocate for minority groups. Fox backs up her point of view by analyzing and reporting on the stories of her past, while Bagli uses the current situation at hand in order to get her point across. I really enjoyed Fox’s piece, because she gave the reader an inside look on her family tree. The bravery of her grandparents to try and integrate Stuyvesant Town years back was truly remarkable.
While fixing things that are not broken seems to be a recurring trend in city planning, City Council member Julissa Ferreras’ plan for the 111th Street extended highways intends improvement for a neighborhood that has not asked for any in the past 40 years. For routes to Manhattan and Brooklyn, cars use the Queens Expressway to merge into the Long Island Expressway, only adding noisy havoc during peak hours. For LeFrak City residents, these problems can take away from the convenience of living by the train station. The highway on 111th Street and 114th Street, however, does not experience the same traffic, allowing residents a much more peaceful morning with the only noise pollution being that of children rushing to school with their parents on their daily commute.
The last two town hall meetings for Queens District 21 have divided city council members and supporters of their agenda with Assembly members who have tendered the frustration of the residents on 111th Street. The extended highway separates 111th Street from Flushing Meadow Park, but does not generate traffic hours. The city council has created an action plan to make better use of the highway, by tendering to the needs of local residents who walk and ride bikes. Since no alarming problems have arisen from the highway, not a lot has changed along 111th Street for long-time residents nor has such a change been desired.
Growing interest is the first move for increased support
Highways in New York burst with cars, jammed and staggered in traffic, filling the air with polluted gas while horns synchronize to pierce ears of residents around those highways. For Corona, the highway adjacent to Flushing Meadow Park, along 111th Street down to Roosevelt Avenue is used mostly by bikers who ride without a lane to protect them. Still, they feel at ease using the highway in lieu of cars plate-to-plate, flooding the street during the busy hours of the morning. Often, one will catch pedestrians crossing the highway on green light signals because of the low traffic.
Terrace on the Park is one of the more visited venues on the 111th Street Highway.
For mothers strolling their children to the park and the bike commuters of the Corona district, supporting council member Julissa Ferreras’ plan for the area will prove beneficial. Since being elected to the Council in 2009, Ferreras has aimed to improve and protect the growing immigrant community in Corona. Changing the landscape of the area can potentially lead to a host of tourists and local residents visiting the venues and the park located along the highway.
The Vision Zero outreach project for District 21 is a branch to the mayor’s goal of completely eliminating all traffic fatalities. In April 2015, a Vision Zero one-year report was released, highlighting the mayor’s efforts to improve street design: lowering speed limits, cracking down on dangerous driving and reducing pedestrian fatalities to the lowest levels since 1910. For Corona, transportation improvements may be forthcoming for the highway on 111th Street through 114th street following the discussions at the October and November town hall meetings for District 21. A correspondence from CM Ferreras was sent on September 12, 2014, asking for improvements to the highway. Since then, it’s been a priority on her agenda, growing awareness and battling local residents who live adjacent to the highway against those who want increased parking in the neighborhood.
Several public workshops have been held to spread the interest of redesigning 111 Street. Anchoring the project, CM Ferreras wants to increase the support of local residents and gain awareness of the issue faced by bike-riders and local residents. The first workshop was held last year, October 23, at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadow Park. A panel spoke on the leading practices from industries that operate fleets in NYC, followed by a keynote addressing distracted drivers and driver alert systems.
In the the Queens Community Board 4 Transportation Committee proposal, the action plan states 111th Street is a Vision Zero Priority Corridor with 4.9 pedestrian killed or seriously injured per mile. Furthermore, it stated that they have received complaints about the long crossing distance on 111th Street, across from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park because the road is long and dangerous and the park is a major destination.
111th Street changes proposed
CM Ferreras and supporting council members have provided visuals in their proposal, demonstrating a way to make better use of the highway. By minimizing the space of the moving lane, more can be done to accommodate other Corona residents who do not drive.
On the western sidewalk of North Corona, where the houses are located along the highway, there is an 18 feet combined parking and moving lane, and 23 feet of moving lane to the planted median on the highway stretching 20 feet. With the proposal, there would be 14 feet and 9 feet of parking lane sandwiching 11 feet of moving lane, and 7 feet of buffer between the parking lane and planted median.
Creating parking space on both sides of the western sidewalk benefits residents around the area, but will create more noise for the residents on 111th Street to 114th Street. “Increased parking is going to make the neighborhood busy. I barely drive anymore, but I walk around and the air feels fresh without so many cars just taking up space,” said Tony Laudon, resident on 114th Street.
The installation of parking spaces would ease drivers who come home later at night, when most parking spots are filled with cars maximizing every inch of space to fit their cars. “I get to the neighborhood at 9:30pm from work, but sometimes won’t step inside my house till 11pm” said Pedro Collado, a resident on 108th Street who drives to his office in Maspeth. Like other residents who drive, often sacrificing up to an hour commute to work on the train proves to be more time efficient, forcing drivers to circle around the neighborhood for two hours to find parking at night.
On the eastern sidewalk, along Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the 22 feet of combined moving and parking lane would become 8 feet of bike lane and 8 feet of parking lane, separated by just 3 feet of buffer. The moving lane would become 11 feet only giving 3 feet of buffer separating it from the planted median. The 2-way bicycle-lane would be protected by the increased parking spaces.
Installing new pedestrian crossings and expanding pedestrian space on the highway is an extension to the highway enhancements Ferreras proposed. On 111th Street, from 43rd Avenue to Corona Avenue, there are currently five intersections with crosswalks. The crosswalk on Corona Avenue is most used by families as a route to the “Playground for All Children”. It’s located on a four-way intersection, and generates the most traffic, pushing drivers to merge onto the Long Island Expressway.
From 46th Avenue, pedestrians move unprotected by a crosswalk for four blocks to 50th Avenue. The same problem exists on 52nd Avenue onward toward Corona Avenue, where the existing pedestrian crossings are 1250 feet away from each other; walking almost 5 blocks without signals to protect them.
As pictured in their action plan, the proposal looks to reduce the moving lane and maximize that space for bike riders and pedestrians.
With the proposal, four crosswalks would be installed, reducing the maximum distance between pedestrian crossing to 550 feet. A crosswalk on 47th Avenue, 49th Avenue, 54th Avenue and 55th Avenue would be created between existing crosswalks, improving the pedestrian paths that cross the Grand Central Parkway. Safety islands and median tip extensions would be painted on the extended highway to protect pedestrians while crossing the highway.
walking from 50th avenue to corona avenue, only three crossroads were present, although I never had to cross a moving lane, only a few drive-in lanes. With ferreras plan, every crossroad would take the time it took for me to reach the second from the first (hand indications)
Addressing the issue can potentially improve the community because of the high demand for parking and excess roadway capacity for an area that has low vehicle volumes and high bicycle volumes. However, the highway’s awkward location in a mostly residential area brings peace to residents in the neighborhood.
“The money invested in parking can be used towards improving the overpopulation in these schools. Parking is not a real problem,” said Laudon. Now 63 years old, Laudon has lived in Corona his whole life but has never thought that the highway needed to change. Up until Mayor Bill de Blasio made Vision Zero a priority on his agenda, Laudon admits that he never heard about it. The community board stated that the “street acts as a barrier to the park rather than a gateway.” Laudon disagrees with that notion. “The street is a barrier to ruckus and noise. There are so many different entrances to Flushing Meadow Park, that changing one entrance won’t change much,” said Laudon.
Prices rising in Corona Real Estate
Corona is a culmination of ethnicities, from older Italian residents to incoming Hispanic immigrants that make up a majority of the area’s population. The real estate in Corona is getting more expensive with the growing number of clients interested in moving into the area. Henry Beltran, realtor for Century 21 Best, says that there are no vacant houses for sale along 111th Street. “I get the most calls for that area because it is a convenient area to live,” said Beltran, who works with housing in Flushing and Corona. “The attractions around the area are great. People want to go to the [New York] Hall of Science and [the location] is close to Citi [Field],” added Beltran. He was not aware of Ferreras plan for the 111th Street highway. Regardless of possible changes, the price of real estate will continue to rise because of Corona’s growth as a landmark for diverse cuisines and attractions.
The 111th Street Highway is the simplest walking route to Hall of Science, Citi Field, Queens Zoo and the “Playground For All Children”. Pictured on 49th Street, there is no crosswalk but signs indicate where all the places are for people walking and driving by.
Most of the residents Beltran works with on 111th Street are older. Some have been around longer than his tenure as a realtor in Corona. If the city council gets approved for Ferreras plan, families with children will add themselves to the list of clients who desire to live there. Along Corona Avenue, the houses are close to P.S 14, and the entire 111th Street highway is adjacent to Flushing Meadow Park. Prices are going to continue rising, but the kind of client inquiring about the homes can change according to the people who benefit most from the plan. Families, bike riders and car owners will have more convenience in their lifestyles if bike lanes, parking spots and crossroads are created to better protect them and enhance the neighborhood.
For the FY2016 budget, the total amount pledged to be funded for CM Ferreras winning projects is $921,000 for District 21 Most notably, P.S. 307 Queens Pioneer Academy’s New Smartboards project was approved for $186,000 and increased lighting was approved for $550,000, to help improve the night vision on Roosevelt Avenue from 82nd Street to 90th Street and in Junction Playground.
CM Ferreras has allocated $2.7 million in capital funds for safety improvements along 111th streets, including the rebuilding of existing medians on the extended highway. The upgrades are expected to be implemented in early 2016. The concern expressed by board members at the March 2015 Queens Community Board 4 meeting is the possible traffic congestion during special events. By creating a bike lane, increasing parking and creating more crosswalks, the highway becomes a local route, and for special events and games, the highway is no longer an express route.
The area is known to be quiet, but during special events around the area, the highway becomes the route for residents to enjoy their festive, and extend their celebrations. During the World Series, 111 Street was alive with fans venturing across the highway, all in royal blue and orange garments, headed to Roosevelt Avenue for the walk to Citifield. The potential changes will make these routes safer for people during special events in the area.
The 49th Avenue entrance to Flushing Meadow Park has no crosswalk on the highway, but is still one of the primary entrance to get to the baseball fields and Queens Zoo.
The drive-in entrance to NY Hall of Science is on 49th Avenue, next to the walk-in entrance for Flushing Meadow Park.
The Department of Transportation monitored traffic during special events to address these concerns. From two months of gathering statistics, the report states that traffic congestion is not expected to increase as a result of the proposed travel lane reduction on 111th Street south of 46th Avenue, where the highest hourly vehicle volume occurred during their two-month research.
By planning to mitigate the possible increase in traffic, signage would be updated on highways and parkways to direct Citifield-bound traffic directly to the stadium parking lot and not through the neighborhood. The DOT already came to an agreement with the New York Police Department to deploy traffic enforcement agents on and around 111th Street when needed. If the plan gets approved, this may be a partnership used often because of the decreased size of the moving lane.
The visual opening was a careful decision that Sheri Fink used that instantly draws the reader into what she has to say. She follows the dark and powerful introduction with some historic context that sums it up for the reader. By selecting certain visuals – the grisly tableau, the decisions made and the amount of corpses taken out – the writer is able to take the narrative in the direction she desires. I think that Fink effectively drags the lede, and follows each point thoroughly to lead the reader into her most important facts that help shift her story: more people were involved than originally understood. It is evident that the writer had time to do research, and for anything she could not get, she acknowledges that they were not available for comment: a slick way of portraying that the topic is still sensitive and people are not comfortable commenting. She questions the medical ethical decision, and is careful not to take a bias, unveiling the story behind what happened in the hospital, and allowing the reader to decide what was right in the situation. Nonetheless, Fink reveals facts without overloading them into the readers mind. By using other voices, it’s evident how Fink feels about the decisions made in the hospital that day.
Critic Philip Hamburger has described Back Where I Came From as a “love letter to the City of New York.” Do you agree or disagree? If so, how and why does Liebling express his views? What techniques does he use as a reporter/writer?
I agree that Back Where I Came From is a love letter to the city of New York. The style that Liebling exhibits is very much like the pace and lingo of a New Yorker, and he admits to not having anything other than his New York roots to turn to. Many of the things he mentions about the city, whether it be the undertaker or tummler, Liebling describes people that make up the New York culture. Its sense of timelessness makes it something that can be referenced in todays society, even though the piece was published in 1938.
By describing people through their routines and how they associate with other people, Liebling is able to draw the description that allows him to describe characters that define New York City culture. The people he writes about are more than just their name and their niche in the community; they are all symbolic of what makes New York City so busy and rich in culture.
Describe the reporting and interviewing techniques used by Kirk Semple in this story.
The reporting technique that was used is pretty good it is clever and weaves in the landmarks in Queens. The statistics are also well woven into the article giving it a level of objectivity. The interviews cover on both ends from executive chiefs and presidents of companies to Tourists in queens with their thoughts about Queens
The Stuyvesant town that Amy Fox reported on is considered a nobel area to live in. There were Post World War II efforts to provide affordable housing, but a lot of tenants did not want to allow the blacks to ruin the appeal of the neighborhood, and a conflict seemed to arise from the country’s involvement in the Cold War. Black tenants were flagged as communists, giving more incentive to evict them and increasing the blatant racism that was occurring.
In Charles Bagli’s reporting on Stuyvesant Town, the reference back to 2006 highlights the problem with eviction in 2006, and what the new owners had done to the neighborhood, a reference to the Stuy-town that Fox had reported on in reference to her grandparents and their struggles to not get evicted. Now, it seems as though preserving affordable housing is the main agenda, after years of the town trying to protect its value and aesthetic. The meaningful integration that was once lost, as reported by Fox, seems to be on the horizon, and more is being done to protect those who need affordable housing to live in New York City.
In both pieces, obtaining affordable housing in New York City is difficult because of everything being done to improve the city. While it seems as though more incentives are out to protect those with affordable housing, the rules and regulations to obtaining these homes is difficult. Bagli highlights this issue with statistics. Fox used the anecdote with her grandfather to show how long the issue has been unresolved.
How is the recent story related to the Fox’s piece?
They are related because both talk about how people are trying to live in the Stuyvesant Town and are encountering difficulties in moving there. Fox’s article is about a racially charged issue and how the citizens try to overcome the staying in their neighborhoods. In Bagli ‘s article however it talks about a type of solution ten years later by blocking 5000 apartments for 20 years for “traditional families” no matter their race but focused more so on their income families like construction workers teachers and firefighters as well as other rational jobs. With the history of Stuyvesant town which is mentioned in this article from Fox’s article after ten years since the article and 65 years after the battle black veterans went through to live here seems to finally be resolved with the mayor’s 10 year plan to provide affordable housing for residents.
Critic Philip Hamburger has described Back Where I Came From as a “love letter to the City of New York.”
Do you agree or disagree? If so, how and why does Liebling express his views? What techniques does he use as a reporter/writer?
I agree. In a way Liebling isn’t writing to uses readers but the embodiment of new York itself the that can read it and if we are one of the three types of New Yorkers in a way we can somehow communicate it to the spirit of New York. The writing talks about the New York he grew up in fondly retelling the memories like one would retell a story of their summer as a child. Or good memories of ones childhood.
What do you think of New Yorker Editor Harold Ross’s calling Joseph Mitchell’s profiles: “highlife-lowlife” pieces? The profile is that in a way. The profile on Joe Gould is a high life- lowlife due to how the profile of Gould is written, I wouldn’t say like the way Fitzgerald writes his characters but it is written with care about almost like Gould is this character in a novel that the narrator who is also in the story is like Caraway. Like when he discovered the origins of Gatsby after befriending him. T still has a low life element to it though. Since Gould is homeless and struggling to have purpose in his life other than just surviving. Gould holds a level of being a loveable character. His eccentrics are something that is enthralls the reader with interest but also with pity not only for Gould but also for Mitchell as we read on. Both of these men were at points in their lives well respected. And they have gone down the worn path of the artist. The dark rode no one wants to trod after falling. Falling from the leap of trying to articulate their genius to have something to showcase to the world be for their inevitable death.
Readers expressed praise and criticism for the NYT Dasani series by Andrea Elliott.
Comments included: 1) Criticism that her last name was omitted. 2) Story ran too long 3) Times did not disclose the extent to which it was involved –months of following her every move 4) Not enough attention to the policies and politics of how homeless people are treated in New York City 5) Risk of relying on a single story. Did it become a caricature of larger and more complex issues?
Please comment on these criticisms and add your own criticism or praise.
The story has to run long. This story is nt just about Dasani. This story talks about the secret world of the homeless. It is a success story before it gets big. Dasani on the surface is a student a sister a daughter. But her struggles as a person who is fighting for the American dream is realized through this Article. The article also gives a history of how new ork is changing how it alludes to the changes that are happening and how it effects the residents that are here. People who have experienced displacement and the story of how children can still fight for something better. The details amazing and the times not disclosing the amount of time it took seems unimportant from a readers perspective. If the reporter was present for questions I would probably ask her how long it took and some tips for covering this type of magnitude of a story. I don’t think it became a caricature of a larger more complex issue that happens. Articles focus on the macro and how it effects multiple people using quotes to tell their story. These series of articles I believe is a rare refreshing delight to tell about issues on a close up view. Homelessness is difficult to cover as a whole. Getting people to talk openly talk about their lives in this way isn’t easy for getting cooperation as well as the protections that are placed on them for privacy that could affect their lives. So this story is a jewel for allowing us to see into this rare issues through a child striving upwards. It holds a level of realism talking about the parents the environment and just as it is.