Plan for New York City, 1969
These volumes comprise New York's official "Master Plan," enormous and far-reaching in scope but designed for the speediest possible implementation. The independent Regional Plan Association has called it "the first comprehensive plan for New York City."
Like any bold and innovative undertaking, the proposals of the plan have caused much controversy and even disruption since their first public presentation in November 1969. Reactions have ranged from high praise as "a strong and extremely significant document" to charges of being "merely a listing of problems rather than solutions" and to chants of "damn the masters' plan." From the point of view of the New York Times, the Master Plan is "in part one more call, a particularly urgent and persuasive one, for the unshackling of the cities by the states and a reordering of national priorities."
These proposals are addressed to the people of New York City (and involve, by extension, the survival of all large metropolitan centers) as well as to the planning community. It is not a plan for a futuramic year 2000 but is concerned rather with current, key problems now facing the city: it stressed objectives, goals, methods, and techniques. It is a social document as well as a physical consideration of people's needs. There is as much concern with the solution of drug addiction and other social dilemmas, as there is with blueprints and data control techniques to resolve problems.
Each of the volumes is profusely illustrated with black-and-white photographs and full-color maps and charts (in all, there are 200 maps, 800 photographs, 750 charts). Volume 1, Critical Issues, introduces and summarizes all the main recommendations contained in the subsequent volumes. It contains an atlas of New York City, with numerous multicolored maps; a photo essay of historical New York; a sociological summation of New York's past and its present; a plan for the city which derives from human and social needs rather than physical and topographical reconstruction as the central program. In this sense, the first and subsequent volumes are a unique approach to city planning. There are no monorail, geodesic, archigram, or other "world's fair" conceptions; if it has a bias, the bias is toward an effective and realistic approach, to be put into practice as soon as possible.
The literary draftsman of Critical Issues was William H. Whyte, author of The Organization Man and the more recent book The Last Landscape. He devoted 15 months to the job of writing the 90,000-word design for better living in New York.
Volumes 2 through 6 pertain to each of the five boroughs of New York: Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Each work treats in great detail recommendations for the particular borough. Each borough is thoroughly mapped by aerial and conventional cartography. A historical introduction of each is sketched, including subplanning districts within the borough. From that point the planners move to a description of the assets and liabilities of each district. Traditional concern with land-use, housing, zoning, and transportation are discussed fully; recommendations concerning job training, community action, education, health, and recreation are made within the actual context of the physical and social environments.
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