Event> Zoning the City

Lower Manhattan, 1961

Lower Manhattan, 1961

Attention Zoning Wonks! In honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Zoning Resolution, City Planning is hosting the Zoning the City Conference on November 15.  Mayor Bloomberg will open the conference, while planning commissioner Amanda Burden will moderate with Harvard planning guru Jerold Kayden (a recent AN commentator). AN plans to blog live from the event and City Planning will be tweeting away @ZoningTheCity. The event, co-sponsored with Harvard and Baruch’s Newman Institute, has already been dubbed “the Woodstock of Planning” by one at least one registrant.

Yesterday, Planning got the ball rolling by placing the original 1961 zoning resolution online, along with a dozen other related manuals and public testimony as part of the DCP History Project. The city’s—as well as the nation’s—first zoning manual from 1916 hints at just how far the process has come, from broad brushstrokes to highly specific overlays and special purpose districts.

A few of the documents have anecdotal tidbits, such as a 1916 business district that lists some of the businesses as fat rendering, rag storage, smelting, and horseshoeing. A 1950 study commissioned by Planning begins with a cover letter salutation that would never fly today: “Gentlemen, …”

Most of the documents are a pretty dry read, but the public testimony is downright riveting. The 1960 transcripts provide much-needed colloquial voices to balance out the graphs and charts.

It’s no surprise that some of the zoning trailblazers down in the Village weighed in. Robert Jacobs, whose wife Jane would soon release a book related to the subject, lobbied the commission to consider rezoning “a fairly mixed up area” in the Far West Village to allow residential construction to replace decaying industrial buildings. If he could see it now!

 Zoning the City speakers and panelist:

Rohit T. Aggarwala, Hilary Ballon, Rick Bell, Matthew Carmona, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Daniel L. Doctoroff, Paul Goldberger, Toni L. Griffin, Rosanne Haggerty, Errol Louis, Thom Mayne, Jack S. Nyman, Peter J. Park, John Rahaim, Jonathan F. P. Rose, Kairos Shen, Robert K. Steel, Robert A. M. Stern, Mary Ann Tighe, Harriet Tregoning, Carol Willis.

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