1. The Main Street Arcade Lives On

    The last months of grad school were a blur and before I knew it, I was standing in front of a jury for my final critique. I presented my project for the very last time, retracing my process and realizing how far I had come since I began the journey in January of 2011. But at the same time, I realized how much I have left to probe, to question and to develop with regard to the Main Street Arcade.

    Now that I’ve had some time to recover from graduation craziness and reacquaint myself with the life I put on hold while in school, I’d like to return to writing this blog. My thesis has been printed, signed, bound and archived in Pratt Institute’s Library. However, the intangible version - the one that has less to do with school and more to do with my personal connection to the island - that version remains unresolved. 

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  2. Food for Thought: Addendum

    Confession: Back in my “Food for Thought” post, I omitted a very important food option available on Roosevelt Island. I did so intentionally because:

    a) it’s an anomaly, in that it’s not *always* an option.
    b) I wanted to dedicate an entire post to it.
    c) it would have totally undermined my rant.

    So, here’s what I left out: there’s a Farmers’ Market that takes place every Saturday on Roosevelt Island. According to the Main Street Retail Study, the market is the fifth most frequented “shop” on the island (following the grocery store, diner, deli and dry-cleaners*). Impressive, considering it’s only around one day a week. (Although I suppose it’s not hard to make the top five when there are only, like, seven “shops” in total on Roosevelt Island.)

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  3. Zooming Out

    After focusing on the specifics of the arcade in my previous post, I want to zoom out and provide some more general site context. Here’s a little diagram I made to illustrate the ways in which Roosevelt Island connects to the rest of the city: 

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  4. Makeovers and Plastic Surgery

    You should never judge a book by its cover. (Says the girl who buys books based on how much she likes the title’s typeface.) Likewise, you shouldn’t judge an island by its architecture. Because if you WERE to judge Roosevelt Island by its architecture, you might think we are cold, unfriendly, inhuman, ugly, creepy, dull and depressed. 

    Unfortunately, those are the vibes brutalist architecture gives off. The original buildings on Main Street (erected in the 1970s) are examples of this style, named after béton brut, the French term for “raw concrete.” With the exception of some glazing here and there, the Main Street arcade IS raw concrete. The angular geometry and repetitiveness also contribute to its distinct ugly brutalist character.

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  5. History Lesson, Part II

    Note: I said I’d stay away from text-heavy posts. Oops. BUT: I bolded the main points, so you can always just read those. I’ll never know!

    In the 70s, Roosevelt Island was in its early stages of development as a residential community. It was an experiment in urban planning that brought together people of all ages and races / real sweet faces / every different nation, Spanish, Haitian, Indian, Jamaican / Black, White, Cuban and Asian. (That’s actually a line from Will Smith’s song “Miami”, but he might as well have been rapping about Roosevelt Island.)

    My parents immigrated to America in the early 80s. They were living in Queens and one day, decided to visit their neighbor Roosevelt Island. It was love at first tram ride, but they assumed there was no way they could ever afford to live there. Little did they know about this thing called Mitchell-Lama.

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