Public Public

Let us look with fresh eyes at one area in Brooklyn, not so different from other neighborhoods in its layout, but famous and heralded for its location, amenities, and gentrification: Fort Greene, Brooklyn.


Looking at this map, or a map of many other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, one does not need a degree in planning to notice that public housing was used in the 20th century as a buffer between industrial zoning and private residential neighborhoods.  Of course, with the transition from heavy and light industrial to digital production, Etsy, and commercial design offices, what used to be a buffer now sits on prime real estate. One might consider this evolution in land use to be poetic justice, deriding planners’ initial intentions. More frequent, however, will be calls to build revenue generation into existing public housing, integrate retail and commercial activity, plug in some market rate housing – i.e. a slippery slope to privatization.

The map above shows Fort Greene, Brooklyn and surrounding neighborhoods, including Farragut Houses and Walt Whitman Houses along with Brooklyn Navy Yards, Fort Greene Park, DUMBO and adjacent neighborhoods, up to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the East River.  In a simple way, this map considers New York City parks and New York City Housing Authority open spaces together as one system of public space.  What if NYCHA’s public spaces were open to the public?