Parkchester: Bad Urban Planning at its Best

I took these pictures of Parkchester in the Bronx the last time I was biking in the area.

Parkchester was built as a middle income housing project, similar to Stuy Town in Manhattan. On the surface someone would probably classify the development with other failed urban renewal schemes styled as "towers in the park," but there are some positive qualities that set Parkchester apart from comparable projects and developments.

Unlike other developments, Parkchester has two fairly major streets passing through it: Metropolitan and Unionport

While a lot of the smaller dead ends within the complex are very sparse, and contain only building entrances set back from the street, the main streets serve as commercial arteries that interact with the towers very successfully in my opinion.

In the Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs prescribes inserting a grid into the parkland, and replacing the footprint of the spread apart towers with storefronts closer in. I imagine if lower income projects in New York ever were remedied in this way, it would look a lot like this.

Jacobs framed this as more of a "best case" for integrating towers into a neighborhood, while favoring the smaller scale of her native Greenwich Village. I think this is an example of how nuanced urban planning problems can be. A place like this is a more vibrant and accessible community than Greenwich Village today, and it gives hope that urbanism can survive in areas that on paper may seem like urban wastelands.

Check out Forgotten-NY's post on Parkchester as well for some pictures of its whimsical art.
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