The Travesty Of The Transit Authority Trollups…

coliseum

Let’s start this drop with a little bit of NYC history. There used to be an office building slash exhibition center at Columbus Circle called the New York Coliseum. It was one of the many edifices commissioned by municipal developer ROBERT MOSES. Every thing that you hear about this man is true, the good and the bad, at the end of the day though he is the reason that New York City is NOT Washington D.C. or Boston. Those are both great cities, but horribly mismanaged from the aspect of infrastructure and transit.

A city with great architecture but poor infrastructure and poor transit systems isn’t really a city at all, The buildings only serve as tombstones to landowner’s desires. The infrastructure and transit systems are like the veins of the body. They carry the fresh blood and oxygen that makes the body alive. ROBERT MOSES understood this and this is why he consolidated so much power into the MTA and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. There is NOTHING more powerful in New York City than the land we walk on.

You are on an island for crissakes! You can’t really add anymore land to an island. You have to build upwards. MOSES’ seat of power was in an office complex and exhibition hall right off Columbus Circle called the New York Coliseum. The Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority had their executive offices there until the construction of the World Trade Center was completed in the early 1970’s. The site was great because of the access to the various subways, the West Side highway and easy crosstown jaunt over the Queensboro 59th Street Bridge.

I remember the building so well even to this day. DALLAS, my biological dad, took me to a Walt Disney World show at the Coliseum. I have only two memories of being with him and one of them is going to this circuslike show. I will remember the building’s facade marquee forever. I first met the rabbi, who later hired me as his draftsman, when I worked as a mailroom messenger in an office building across from the Coliseum. I was awoken one New Year’s Day on the benches outside of the Coliseum after I passed out leaving a party on Central Park West. Only good times at the Coliseum.

I knew the Coliseum building well inside and out and I would agree that it was time for a re-visioning of that property, but mainly because the Transit Authority let it languish with minimal care or consideration. The managers at the MTA know how to take money from the system, but they are considerably lax when it comes to preserving the architectural and infrastructural elements of the system. Proof of that is how hard it is sometimes to distinguish a bus depot from a Sanitation Department facility. The Coliseum needed to be retrofitted and the MTA took their sweet time in selecting a developer for the job. Now we have the Time-Warner Center at the site and this building kicks major ass.

tw ctr

I’m not one of these longtime New Yorkers that hates new development. Understand that what I’m doing at my day job right now while you read this drop is working on a project that is brand new construction in an area that was blighted. New York City needs this constant retrofitting because of all the new blood and fresh air that move through her veins. But at what price do we mortgage this new development? The Metropolitan Transit Authority is practically giving Forest City Ratner the Atlantic Yards site for a fraction of the initial offering.

Like I just said to you earlier, I LOVE new construction. This is what keeps my lights on and my sneakers crispy. That is until Mountain Dew cuts me a check (prA’li in Nevuary 3009). The Atlantic Yards is an expansive site that needs consideration, and not the reckless whoring that the MTA is providing. Keep in mind that the things that make this city great are her infrastructure (roadways, waterways) and her transit system (buses, subways, commuter rails). These things move us through the city expeditiously and safely. Since the Forest City Ratner plans have little consideration for these elements the plans should be reconsidered.


Barclays Bank, Forest City Ratner’s underwriter, is offering the MTA 200K per year to rename the Atlantic Avenue transportation hub ‘Barclay’s Center’ for the next twenty years
!?! The only two words that accurately sum up that proposal are “Negro Please”. The prA’li link is still up and running. I wonder if we could raise that same amount of cash to rename the Franklin Avenue station “MTA Kiss My Grits”? I reluctantly eschewed profanity but since I know that kids use the subway system I figured we should keep the name 100 for the children. O.D.B. would be happy.

The MTA just passed fare increases on all of their assets because the nearly 6.5 million daily users weren’t generating enough cash. Along with all the branding that now exists overtly, and discreetly throughout the system I have to wonder where is all the money going? And if times are so hard on the boulevard inside of the MTA’s coffers why are they giving away important real estate for pennies on the dollar? The Atlantic Yards development project must be subject to additional review.

The arena plan for a Nets team that perennially languishes in last place is laughable. Especially since that team’s overwhelming fan base is in New Jersey and the brand new Prudential Center that hosts the Devils could benefit more from the additional tenancy. I just visited a mixed use residential district in Philadelphia that was vibrant and flourishing with open space and economic activity. I like that plan more than some bowl shaped void that is only in use for what is technically two months out of the year. The arena proposal is shitty and gives Brooklyn no value. The same can be said for the corporate branding of the subway.

I can still remember when graffiti artists were considered scofflaws and derelicts. Maybe it was because we couldn’t afford the 200K it costs to put our brands on the side of a train?

subway

21 Responses to “The Travesty Of The Transit Authority Trollups…”

  1. Another gem. Nice work, Dallas.

  2. mercilesz says:

    I remember handing out flyers for the upcoming lost boyz album there at a black expo when my friend worked for the universal street team. it was like 95 i think. good times good times.

  3. Polotron says:

    DP drops FTW…

  4. Polotron says:

    I have to add that the Nets have finished ahead of the Knicks consistently for the last….

  5. Lion XL says:

    Its funny, since I live and work in NJ now I rarely take the subway, but last week I roaming around the city with my cousin when I noticed the damn arms on the turnstyle were endorsed by H&M!!! there was branding everywhere I looked and still they find it b=necessary to raise fares. I mean seriously what type of fools they got running the show over there??????

    Polotron…I see you……btw eff the nets…….knicks all day!

  6. LM says:

    Your posts on “Do the Right Thing” and here are among the best pieces of writing I’ve had the pleasure to read all year.

  7. Amadeo says:

    I’d like to find out who designed Bmore’s Subway and beat them with a bag of nickels. We may not be one up cities that don’t have one at all.

  8. the_dallas says:

    Polo what up? Lion what up? LM what up? Amadeo what up? Merz what up? eB what up?

    Madoff level fuckery going down with the MTA budget.

  9. P-Matik says:

    Zephyr/Revolt FTW.

  10. TheRevolutionWasTelevised says:

    Forest City=Staten Island among the many other names

  11. SOUNDWAVE says:

    Pure genius my dude. Polo what’s up?

  12. fredMS says:

    great read.

  13. big rils says:

    DC can’t fuck with NY when it comes to infrastructure, but Metro is better than what a lot of major cities in this country have, and there are plans (that hopefully won’t get axed) to expand it – albeit mostly to serve suburban DC. I’d like to defend my hometown Boston, but I always found public transportation and infrastructure (even after the big dig, which lasted my whole life time) fairly lacking.

    The Verizon Center in DC is a good example of a way to develop an arena that is knit in to the fabric of the neighborhood and adds vitality to the area year-round, instead of just during NBA/NHL time. I’m with you though, some open, mixed-use development will always be better than a stand alone NBA arena.

  14. Grand Master says:

    eff the ads, and RIP Iz the Wiz. We should all go out and burn one up (and I don’t mean weed) for him (but i won’t… but i should)

  15. p-city says:

    D…

    Check it out, boom, this how you freak em, boom
    You wanna write a book, right? Boom
    Now now, all you all you is make the book about about architecture and infrastructure and graffiti and the rabbi, nawhatI’msayin?
    But it’d be like, MTA and Barclays and Madoff, nawhatI’msayin?
    Shit like, brothers don’t even know this stuff
    Word is bond… you can reach brothers this year, on the real
    nawhatI’msayin?

    Yo son, I had crazy visions.

  16. VEe says:

    I just recently learned about Robert Moses. Apparently he was New York. The Power Broker supposedly ethered him after his death. His urban renewal project like the Cross Bronx Expressway was partly responsible for the urban decay in the Bx, the displacement of many poor folks and . . . eventually he helped create the atmostphere that produced Hip Hop! Well that’s how some folks sees it.

    Cool drop. Didn’t know that DP was also a closet urban city planner. Then again, that makes sense. D, did you also know about the number of underground construction projects that are going under way right now? I believe MTA is paying for some of them. Their work is hardcore, dangerous and thankless. Yeah, the ads are ridiculous

    Forest City Ratner stays getting over spending other people’s money. Then again so does the Steinbrenners. They all use the same weak argument “we’re bringing jobs to the city.”

    ————–
    Polotron…I see you . . . btw eff the nets . . . knicks all day!
    (Word to Lion XL)

  17. the_dallas says:

    VEe,
    I would need several drops to fully discuss Robert Moses. I don’t believe for one second that his development in the Bronx and in the city in general is what caused the poverty class to broaden. If anything he was the one city official that at least gave the poor and the working class some attention. I’ll go in on Robert Moses later so don’t believe the hype from anywhere else.

    Our infrastructure is more important than the buildings that we consider high art architecture. The massive water tunnels that move water to and fro are what keep us from having another plague here in the city. I was driving some friends from O.T. into the city one night and I told them to imagine for one minute that all the lights you see in Manhattan represented people going to the bathroom. Where so you think all the waste water goes?

    Infrastructure party people, get into it.

  18. Vee, give me an hour or two and I’ll GLADLY ether Robert Caro, the author of “Power Broker,” who hates Moses ** A LOT ** more than he actually gives a goddamn about the full range of New Yorkers of all skin tones and classes. That makes for an entertaining book but hardly a true one.

    Remember, lies of OMISSION (or carelessness, either way) can be just as hurtful as any ol’ bullshit.

    “Good liberals” and some other misguided people blame Robert Moses ** for their own racism (classism) **, i.e. if we vilify this one man, then it absolves the rest of historic complicity, disinterest and so on. In addition, some of the Moses’ criticism strikes me as racist itself, i.e. VERY paternalistic/patronizing poor folks generally but blacks and Latinos specifically.

    As a quick artistic corrective to Caro, I’d ask you to read the “Landsend” chapter of Hubert Selby Jr’s novel, “Last Exit To Brooklyn.” It’s set largely in Red Hook Houses and all but one of the primary characters you’ll meet is not-black. (And the one black dude, Abe, is AWESOME.)

    This isn’t to say I imply I agree with all of Moses’ design philosophies– not at all! The “superblock” especially is really bad and to all the BK kids here, compare Flatbush Avenue with Metrotech to the one without, if old enough to remember. If a young’un, just ask yourself why there are not– can not– be any ground level biz there which would make that part of Flatbush part of the larger downtown area?

    There are LOTS of other bad issues with Metrotech (which was done by the same jackoffs pushing for Atlantic Yards) but that’s the most obvious one.

    This is a partial reply but I’ve been waiting to put Robert Caro on blast for a while! The best is yet to come…

  19. the_dallas says:

    We could go at this discussion for days. The basic truth that I hold about Robert Moses is that he was a visionary who experimented through urban planning.

    The fact that we still have all of these arterial byways, highways, roadways, waterways and agencies to monitor their maintenance is his legacy. The fact these agencies are mismanaged isn’t Moses’ fault.

    Robert Moses didn’t make the slums, rich landowners did. The same rich landowners that are always being gifted large parts of the city to be their own personal fiefdoms. Fuck with Moses and he would build an interstate highway right through your property.

    Also, let’s not forget how hard Robert Moses went in for the Parks and Recreation Department

  20. Definitely, D. Moses might have been on the wrong side of history in some cases or unnecessarily inflexible in others but, for the most part, I see people blaming HIM for their and society’s inability (unwillingness) to adapt/recognize the newly multi- EVERYTHING place NYC had become via both Great Migrations (PR, Southern black) and the later changes in immigration law that would fucks with what people “knew” (i.e. their perceived “stability”) even more.

    We gotta get the inter-blog handball league going re: Moses & Parks but there’s a line somewhere I find esp. offensive, something like even when R. built pools… he put stairs or fenches or whatever their TO KEEP BLACK FOLKS OUT.

    What?! This is a “liberal” critique mind you, as if ya’ll don’t have two feet and free will like everyone else.

    Bottom line: for the most part, people blame Moses for their own and America’s historic stresses and shortcomings. Moses is long gone, so who’s at fault now?

    (I won’t even get into the Dodgers crap, tho’ I’ll say Walter O’Malley was entirely to blame, HIS greed took ’em to Los Angeles. They made PLENTY $$$ out there on Bedford Ave, he just wanted more more more and Moses wasn’t gonna give him– a PRIVATE biz, just like the Nets– a hinky deal.)

  21. the_dallas says:

    WWIB,
    You are exactly right. People throw poop on Moses because he made NYC too accessible. Being poor was filled with enough ignominy, but some of these haters wanted the poor to be disenfranchised from even PUBLIC spaces.

    The shit that I personally love the most is the the Clearview Expressway / Grand Central Parkway interchange. It is a structural engineering marvel and a great place to copp some throw ups if you have a can or two of Rust-O-Leum.

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