Former New York City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden is credited with the revitalization of forgotten public spaces in her city.
Under the Bloomberg administration, Burden and her team were given the daunting task of identifying unused public spaces necessary for housing a thriving New York population.
The city was already bursting at the seams such that the prospect of creating new and accessible locations amidst the clutter appeared impossible. Although, by researching successful local models, such as Paley Park, the team was able to identify features that served as a guide for future projects. This tiny park, complete with greenery and movable seats, provides a much needed sanctuary for locals surrounded by the urban environment that they call home. Research showed that locals felt more "comfortable" within a public space where they weren't restricted by seating or the anxiety of feeling like a "trespasser." Paley Park also features a waterfall which helps to drown out the sounds of the surrounding city.
Another innovative project credited to Burden's administration is the rehab of the Manhattan High Line, which opened in 1934. During the 1980s, the High Line had become somewhat irrelevant due to the rise of the interstate trucking industry.
While community members advocated for the High Line's demolition, some groups were determined to preserve the structure on the grounds of historical significance. In 1999, The Friends of the High Line was formed by local residents who campaigned to reuse the "Line" as public space. When Burden was officially appointed as the City Planning Commissioner, she adopted these goals and made it a priority to transform the forgotten relic into a thriving public space.
In 2014, Burden gave a lecture on the TED stage discussing her revelations and experiences regarding innovative placemaking. During this talk she reveals her honest opinion that cities are what they are because of people, not buildings and side-streets. This perspective was embraced completely during her time as a public servant and is evident in the projects that came out of her administration. Even a sprawling urban environment like New York City is subject to the wheels of progress as pedestrians and business-owners alike begin to reevaluate what attracts the public and (key point here) keeps them coming back for more!
Many of the principles and values explored by Burden and her team are alive and well within the Curb'd process. By creating spaces that welcome and encourage interaction, policymakers and citizens alike can take control of their environment.