In order to celebrate the history, architecture, art, and community organizing initiatives that preserve livable urban neighborhoods, volunteer- led neighborhood walks have sprouted in cities across the globe during the first weekend of May, Jane Jacob’s birthday week. Since 2016 is a special celebratory year for Jane Jacob’s 100th birthday, these “Jane’s walks” have proliferated. Over 200 walks in all five boroughs in New York City were held during this past weekend, May 6 – 8. The weather was horrible, rainy, cold, dark, but how could I let this stop me? This was a pilgrimage trip, a way to get inspiration for a year of blogging for “Jane Jacobs in the Woo”.
Visiting Jane's Greenwich Village
From Greenwich Village to East Harlem
It was a true culture shock to go from one of the wealthiest to one of the most economically distressed neighborhoods in Manhattan. Despite the prevalence of monotonous, brick public housing projects, we experienced seeds of urban vitality in “el barrio” of East Harlem. This tour brought us past murals, community gardens, health centers and budding food businesses, the art show in the Marcus Garvey park… all signs of a healthy urban ecosystem emerging in the neighborhood.
In 1936, the public market, La Marqueta was founded under the tracks of the MetroNorth railway. In its heyday, La Marqueta housed over 500 vendors selling everything – food, Latin music, traditional medicines. It was a community gathering space and a haven for businesses displaced by large urban renewal projects. In order to breathe life back into La Marqueta, the New York City Economic Development Corporation contracted with Hot Bread Kitchen to have an anchor storefront for selling artisanal breads and to run an on-site kitchen incubator providing 3000 feet of commercial kitchen space for new food entrepreneurs.