Tinton Falls: Upset at Intersections

Scenic Tinton Falls is small township in Monmouth County not far from the shore, Red Bank and a variety of parks and hiking trails, although none of these places are actually in Tinton Falls. From my perspective, Tinton Falls is a sleepy suburban town, wrapped around the parkway, whose residents spend their time driving to slightly more interesting places. So what is in Tinton Falls?

The Tinton Falls

Scenic Tinton Falls in Tinton Falls, New Jersey

Well, for one thing, the eponymous falls. The town has done an interesting job downplaying their namesake feature. Just to find this hidden chunk of nature one has to travel onto a somewhat hidden path off of the main road and down a creepily overgrown set of chain link fences and down a poorly maintained pathway. There’s very little signage to indicate the falls even exist. I had never visited it until just this summer, even though I only live about 600 feet away.  The main feature surrounding the falls is actually “downtown” Tinton Falls.

Over Tinton Falls

Intersection over the Falls

The more historic part of town, this intersection has existed since before the Revolution, when the entire area was farmland and mines. The building on the right overlooks the falls and was initially a Colonial era mill which then became the Grist Mill restaurant which was then bought out by the MJ’s pizza chain. (4/5 Pizza)

Slightly off camera is a small outlet that was constructed in the past 2 years, adding to the small handful of restaurants and delis surrounding the intersection, and every year, a memorial day event is held at the small park immediately to the right of the intersection. The event is potentially disruptive to local traffic, but slight detours are added causing very minimal traffic effects, making for a very successful intersection, if a little space consuming

Tinton Falls ImageA very unsuccessful intersection happens  mile down the road at the intersection of Hance and Sycamore, an accident prone road designed for about half of the traffic it receives. Purposefully or not, the road is a “collector” road for the various neighborhoods that surround it and every bus in the school system travels the road sooner or later. The road is narrow and uncontrolled, unlike adjacent intersections. IF you squint you may even see the traffic lights for the Sycamore/Hope Road intersection, which sees less traffic because who-honestly-uses-Hope-Road but for some reason has traffic lights. Also of note is this intersection further down, which connects to Rt 13.

Good Intersection.jpgThe Hance/Sycamore Intersection gets much of the above intersection’s thru traffic, at less than half the road width and no traffic lights. The intersection and surrounding roads is also incredibly pedestrian unfriendly, especially for a road so close to the various schools, as there is a distinct lack of sidewalks, crosswalk, or streetlights, making the road incredibly intimidating to walk down at night.

 

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Likes and dislikes of some European cities.

For my blog post this week, I decided to take a different approach on the likes and dislikes of a city. Being that I was confined to the same four walls of my room all weekend, I chose to post the likes and dislikes of cities from other some European countries that I have traveled too.

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This picture of empty tables was taken outside of a random restaurant in Amsterdam Netherlands. There were many reasons I fell in love with this specific area, one being that I was finally able to sit down after walking for almost four hours straight. While sitting down, I was able to just look at how the city functions. In this city, where there are more bicycles than people, you finally get to see that you don’t necessarily need a car to function like we do in the U.S. The streets are designed for pedestrians and bicycle riders in mind. I found it incredibly amazing that I was able to get around almost the entire city


IMG_1295by either foot, bike, or public transportation. This city has found almost a perfect solution to relieve the stress of vehicles on the streets. On the right, I posted a picture of what seemed to be a parking lot… but for bikes.  These small lots could be found everywhere in the city and they contained thousands of bikes! I wish I took this picture in the morning just so everyone can see the sheer amount of bicycles in one area.

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One down-side to transportation in this city was the fact that they relied pretty heavily on a tram system. While I did find that these systems were incredibly reliable, I found myself almost getting run over like twenty times a day. In the busiest areas of the city, it’s incredibly difficult to see where you’re standing due to the amount of people near you. This lead to me, and other people having to quickly get out of the way before a tram hit us. This little annoyance can add extra travel time to commuters since the driver has to slow down and wait to safely cross.

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This photo was taken in a random neighborhood in Paris France. One big reason I like this area was that it looks incredibly charming. Prior to this photo, there were a group of kids playing safely on the street and it just made me realize that this would be a place where I could see my future children playing in. IMG_0617

While the picture above shows a pretty nice French neighborhood, this one shows a neighborhood that needs some cleaning up. This area was very congested. The sidewalks and streets were very narrow which sometimes made it difficult for a group of pedestrians to walk together on the same sidewalk. Many of the streets in this neighborhood were riddled with litter, which shows that the residents of that area take no pride in their neighborhood. Also, it’s very clear that some of these buildings were run down and have been that way for a while. Overall, I got a very dark and grungy feeling walking down these streets. I felt that there was absolutely no life to this area at all.

 

Aberdeen/Matawan: A Quaint Town with Ups and Downs

Like: My Home and Neighborhood

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This picture is one of my home from across the street in front of my neighbors house. The reason I enjoy my neighborhood so much is the fact that everything is pretty widely separated without being unwalkable. I have a long driveway that separates me from the street and people walking through the neighborhood. The streets in my neighborhood are also fairly wide which is convenient for two lane traffic and providing additional space between my home and my neighbors. Additionally it gives children an opportunity to use the space to play with friends when there aren’t cars passing through. Another thing about my home that I like is that there’s a decent amount of property so each person has a relatively large front yard with a respectable sized backyard. My neighborhood would be classified as a T3 sub-urban zone area given the fact that there is a substantial distance between my home and the road.

 

Dislike: Intersection of Lloyd Road and Ivy Way

The most common way people exit or enter my neighborhood is through this intersection of Lloyd Road and Ivy Hill Drive. Across Lloyd Road from the end of Ivy Hill is Lloyd Road Elementary School. The reason I dislike this intersection is because it is nearly impossible to make a left turn or go straight into the school for student drop off. At the opposite sides on this part of Lloyd Road are two traffic lights that are completely out of sync. This road is extremely busy so your options are to make the right turn and take the long way to your destination or wait up to 10 minutes to attempt to make that left. Additionally, the cross walk that goes across Lloyd Road is hardly respected at any time other than when the crossing guard is there for the children who walk to school. This is a prime example of bad planning with the attempt to urbanize this town.

 

Like: Samaha Farm

One of my favorite things about my town is the fact we have a farm. It’s not very big, but it is extremely popular for the locals of my town as well as neighboring towns to come here to shop for produce, a variety of plants and flowers, and other goodies like New Jersey blueberry honey and fresh baked pies. They even grow their own Jersey fresh corn and tomatoes! Samaha Farm is also a popular spot in the fall because they have pumpkin picking, hayrides, and a corn maze through their corn field; attending Samaha Farms for their fall festivities is a tradition for many families in my town. Having a farm in my town makes me think of Ebenezer Howards ideal of a Garden City. Though my town isn’t structured like a Garden City, the ideal of combining town and country can be seen. We’ve also become a bit decentralized because less people in my town rely on going to the major grocery stores we have in the downtown since they can go straight to a local farm and get a decent amount of their essentials there. However, this farm is located on a rather busy road which can be a bit of a nuisance.

 

Dislike: Church Road

The segment of Church Road that leads to our main street is one of the least favorite things about my town. This street is extremely narrow and has uneven pavement. To make matter worse, there’s a ton of construction happening right next to this horrible section of street, and if you didn’t think it could get any worse, there is a Henry Hudson Trail crossing that goes right through the middle of it. The speed limit here is 25 mph, but it is rarely followed. The way this street curves up, you can’t see the Henry Hudson Trail that goes across the street so it gives you little to no time to slow down when someone is utilizing the trail. This is in the Matawan area of my town where there are a lot of people who walk or bike instead of use cars since the area is downtown. With the addition of the construction, this road has become extremely dangerous to pedestrians with even more limited sidewalk space. This area goes against the basic standards of the 1927 Manifesto for the Planning Profession as it does not promote street safety, it is crowded, and it is an eyesore to say the least.

Bergan-Lafayette, An Example of New Urbanism

The Bergan-Lafayette section of Jersey City, where I live, is a good example of New Urbanism as discussed Contemporary Urban Planning and in class lecture. With close proximity to public transportation, a Citibike station and extensive walking paths, this section of Jersey City encompasses many aspects that neotraditionalists believe in. However, Bergan-Lafayette is still a work in progress; there are still many areas of the neighborhood that needs work/improvements to make this area a better functioning space.


munchmanhattan.jpg       One of the greatest parts of this area is how close it is to Liberty State Park. The park is an example of a T2 zone within the context of the T4/T5/T6 zones that Jersey City is made of. It is a great incorporation of extensive green space that is protected as a State Park which cannot be encroached on by the surrounding urbanized areas.In less than a ten minute bike ride or a fifteen minute walk with my dog, I can be completely surrounded by nature while also admiring the architecture and sights of both New York City and Jersey City.

 

Right before the entrance to the park is the Ethel Pesin Liberty Footbridge, which has only existed since 2013.  footbridge.jpgThis footbridge is an excellent example of what neotraditionalists strive for because it allows for a continuous walking path that connects Bergan-Lafayette, which is more residential, with the more vivacious downtown/Grove Street area. It also allows for those who live in the more urban center/urban core zones to easily access greenery in Liberty State Park without having to get into an automobile. As stated in Contemporary Urban Planning, “the excessive dependence on the automobile degrades the quality of life in many ways”; the footbridge is a great way to replace the use of a car with a simple pleasant walkway to get around in the city.

Bergan-Lafayette can be categorized as a T4 zone, or general urban area. On my street, most of the buildings are residential and attached on both sides which creates a great sense or “neighborhoody” feel on my block. My apartment building is monitorstreet.jpgthe grey three-story to the right of the green and red ones. Most of the buildings on this block have between two and six units in each building. Most of the parking is on-street, with a few private driveways, which I like because there are far fewer black top areas dedicated to solely parking. The streets tend to be a bit narrow with bigger sidewalks, which allow for much more pedestrian activity. The surrounding blocks are set up as a grid which makes navigating the area very easy.

 

Although there are many great aspects of this section, there are alsoabandoned building quite a few shortcomings. This is an abandoned building located at the end of my street. The street beside it is a dead-end. The building is quite an eyesore and the dead end causes the traffic on the cross street to build up because there is only one road that can take you out of Bergan-Lafayette and into downtown if you are using a car. There also tends to be more “riff-raff” that happens there due to the access to an abandoned building. I tend to avoid going near this building at night.

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Around the corner from my building is the “more commercialized” section of Bergan-Lafayette, although the “commercial” aspect doesn’t really hold up. Most of the commercial business units are boarded up, while the residential units above them have tenants. There are a few bodegas open in the surrounding blocks of my apartment, but most of them look like this picture. It creates quite a depressing walk when I need to walk past several closed and boarded businesses in order to get to the tiny bodega that is actually open.

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There are quite a few large spaces that are fenced off with nothing built on them. On my block  alone there are four fenced off, privately owned lots with nothing on them and often with overgrown grass and garbage littered about them. This is the biggest unbuilt lot on my block, just a few feet away from my front door. While I would not like to see a huge building built here which would obscure this view of the Goldman Sachs building and the Freedom Tower, I also dislike that there is so much open space here that is not being used by anybody. As of right now I am unsure what will eventually be built here, although if it is a luxury high-rise building my biggest concern would be the parking situation. Right now I enjoy free on street parking, but larger developments will probably change that.

I love my neighborhood. I know most of the people who live on my block and overall it is a very uplifting place to live. I would like to see more neotraditionalist/New Urbanism techniques implemented, mainly in the more commercial areas.

 

Works Cited:

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

 

 

A Neotraditionalist’s Perspective on Urban Design in Edison

In Levy’s chapter on urban design, I went through a moment of self-discovery. “Neotraditionalists argue that excessive dependence on the automobile degrades the quality of life in many ways” This is how Levy describes Neotraditionalists and after reading it I realized I hold very similar beliefs and opinions. I especially related to Duany’s quote that highway engineers “want cars to be happy”. After spending a lot of time in the downtown of New York City and on the College Ave campus of Rutgers, I feel so restricted when I am in other places where there is a larger dominance on cars.

With this new Neotraditionalist eye, I will take a look at the types of design philosophies that permeate Edison, the city I reside in.

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First, just stepping out of my house I see a key characteristic of conventional suburban design, “spaghetti streets”. As you can see from the pictures above, no matter which way I look the road and residential properties just extend on as far as the eye can see. This affects every day life, by forcing people to own a car to get anywhere. A point that Levy brings up is that children less autonomy because we have to be driven everywhere and this was a reality that I lived.

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Another side effect of this is that the public library is located on a busy road, which might make it more accessible for cars but it destroys any possibility of people deciding to walk to it because crossing this road is too dangerous.

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Due, to the very strict zoning there is no diversity or mixed use of the land. The shopping center shown above supports a large area but is not close to any residence and requires anyone who wants buy groceries or eat a restaurant to drive. This explains the massive parking lot and the many cars captured in this picture as well.

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Edison, isn’t completely plagued by conventional suburban design. I did find common spaces like parks that are both accessible by walking and by automobile. And even more surprisingly, there seems to be some Neotraditionalist urban designers operating in Edison because some of the new development in south Edison seem to be following some tenants of the New Urbanism movement. As you can see below, the building complex being developed has mixed use buildings with businesses on the first floor and condos on top. And behind this building is a mix of single family and multifamily buildings. I think that this very large development project shows a shift in the urban design of Edison and we might see more New Urbanism design philosophies being brought to reality in the future development of Edison.

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Works Cited:

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 11th ed. New York: Routledge, 2016. Print.

New Brunswick, a picture of new and old urbanism

New Brunswick, New Jersey is a primarily T4 neighborhood, a general urban zone, that most resembles Le Corbusier’s “Radiant City” out of the three early urban utopias. The residential areas outline the gradual descent of Easton avenue into the financial district of George street, which is the center city. The financial district contains high rise structures that line the streets with commercial amenities such as restaurants, stores, banks, and professional corporations. This area is mostly commercial however it does incorporate many residential units, making it a mixed use downtown. There are sidewalks that line the main street, George Street, and all the side streets coming off it making the financial district pedestrian accessible.  Due to the high volume of pedestrian activity, there are crosswalks and traffic lights at the intersections of every cross street that meets George street. There are bus stops, benches, and waste baskets provided for all visitors to utilize in this section of town. For the reasons of pedestrian accessibility, street safety, and public health efforts I would say the financial district beginning at George street and Albany is a good representation of New Urbanism and a built environment I really like.

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Inside the center city I enjoy the built environment of the municipal park off Bayard street, a street that comes off of George Street.  In this section, there is the grand, beautifully designed municipal building and courthouse, the historically preserved New Brunswick Post Office, the police station, and multiple small restaurants that invite constant business from the attorneys, judges, residents, and visitors who come to this section of the city every day to work (or answer to the court). All the municipal, commercial and residential structures that reside in this area compliment and complete the urban area, they are  compatible uses.

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There are other areas of New Brunswick that are not as new, or well planned as the financial district. The small section of Easton Avenue leading into the financial district, before the train station, has some questionable characteristics. On street parking is difficult and promises almost inevitable damage to vehicles. There is always traffic here, especially at peak hours. One built environment here that I found especially strange is the hair/nail salon above the mediterranean restaurant. Another is the residential units right above the very loud Golden Rail Pub. This section of town is not exactly the best planned or attractive example of new urbanism in New Brunswick.

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weird salon and restaurant

Hartwell street off of hamilton street is another built environment that I think is counterproductive. Hartwell street is a very narrow one-way street. Parking is scarce compared to the number of houses on the street and the street is almost always packed with cars on both sides. The issue I have with this are the instances when delivery trucks or cars stop in the street, because there is no space to pull over to the side. This causes traffic, and because it is a one way, once you are stuck behind someone, there is no turning around.

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New Brunswick is a versatile urban area with compatible and incompatible uses. The examples I’ve provided above give clear evidence to the areas that are well built environments, followed by the examples that are not as well thought out.

A Hub of Contradictions

As a student without a car I walk a lot, regularly making the trip down George St. from College Avenue to Cook/Douglass campus when I don’t feel like waiting for the bus. Even still, I have barely ventured off of that narrow path, and so this morning I was excited to take an hour and a half out of my day to wander off of my normal route and see a little more of this largely unfamiliar city that I call home.

The overwhelming sense that I got of the city on the walk was one of contrast. The built environment of New Brunswick was capable of impressing upon me feelings of interest, boredom, discomfort, and beauty in the space of a block. The very nature of the city, with it’s moderately dense, often struggling residential neighborhoods and it’s small, low rent mixed-use commercial centers stacked against the impervious feeling center-city buildings is one of intense contradiction, and so it was easy to find spaces that I liked, spaces that I disliked, and a surprisingly large overlap between these two extremes.

A city of churches and parking garages

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Fig. 1 – Parking garage on the corner of French and Prospect St.

Too frequently in the city, I would find myself enjoying the street before me, only to turn a corner and find the entire block dominated by a hulking mass of concrete with a shadowy driveway and an otherwise largely blank (and boring) facade, such as the corner of Prospect Street and French Street shown in Fig. 1 below. This poor street is dominated by the parking garage attached to the Children’s hospital, which casts into shadow the quiet residential street that opposes it. Interestingly enough, there are a plethora of tree grates, a touch that I enjoyed on a street where few people are likely to spend enough time walking to enjoy them.

 

More pleasantly, I found myself wandering across a number of very pleasant buildings, especially a number of old and ornate buildings, and especially churches that are littered throughout the city. From the stately old buildings on Livingston Avenue to the odd church on a narrow residential street like High, these buildings lend life to the street and make it more interesting, especially to the pedestrian in passing. (see Figs. 2 and 3 below)

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Fig. 2 -The lone church on High St.

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Fig. 3 -Livingston Ave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missing teeth 

Another issue that I encountered throughout New Brunswick was the presence of missing teeth. I would be walking down what was actually a fairly pleasant street, with on street parking and trees, only to be confronted with an empty lot or a sea of asphalt to my side. One notorious example of that is the George St. Co-op off of Livingston and Morris where I sometimes volunteer. The frankly plain building is overwhelmed by the parking lot that almost comically isolates it from the buildings on its sides (Fig. 4).

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Fig. 4 – The George St. Co-op in a sea of gray

Trees and the pleasant pedestrian experience

Much to my pleasure, the City of New Brunswick is full of trees. From countless tree grates around various institutional buildings to the rows of trees on quiet residential streets, there is often a very pleasant isolation from vehicular traffic.

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Fig. 5 – The tree lined side of Somerset, with mixed residential and commercial uses

When this is coupled with an interesting, mixed use streetscape, like the left side of Somerset Street coming up to Easton Avenue, one can often have a very pleasant pedestrian experience, as can be seen in Fig. 5.  

 

Built Environment: The Beauty and the Ugly

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This picture was taken in Central Park located in New York City. Here you can see a good mixture of nature and urban life. I really like this environment because inside a busy city, a place like central park helps people feel like they can slow down, and just enjoy the beauty of nature. Positive feedback is shown by people when any elements of nature is involved, such as trees and flowers. More positive feedback means an increase in the land price surrounding that area, and overall a healthier and sustainable city. The great part about central park, is that it can be accessed either by walking or by public transportation easily for people who live near the area or are just visiting . Personally for me when I visit Central Park, I sometimes forget that I am still in one of the busiest places in the world, and it amazes me that such a different environment could be create inside an urban area.

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This picture was taken in Philadelphia in front of 30th Penn station. I particularly like this environment because it allows people to sit, relax, and talk in the middle of a city. If a place was just filled with high rise buildings and streets, but no place to sit down and rest, then that is a failed planning. The variety present in this area adds to the reason why I personally like this area. For example, there are different arrangements, allowing individuals to pick and choose, giving them options such as a swinging bench, regular chairs and tables, and benches.

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This picture was taken on a random street in New York City. I put this picture in the blog mainly because I liked the pavement style of this street. The pattern and type of pavement used makes the street more pedestrian friendly and instead of humans looking out of place, the automobile does.

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This picture was taken inside of a car heading towards University City in Philadelphia. I disliked this environment, because although I was only 5 to 10 minute away from entering the city, there were just so many automobiles and you can not tell in the picture, but the pedestrian walkway was very slim. Just like Levy said, the main goal is to minimize car use and maximize public transportation and walking in order to make the city more sustainable and healthy. Yes, this was technically not in the city, but if a 5 to 10 minute car ride away from the city looks like this, then there are still many improvements to make in the planning aspect.

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This picture was taken inside a train going from New Brunswick, New Jersey to Penn 30th station, Pennsylvania. To be blatantly honest, I dislike everything about this picture and the environment. It is not pleasing to the eye, and is just depressing. Taking public transportation over a car is already annoying enough for some people, in terms of the extra time it takes to get to their destination, but having to see this when looking out of a train window, just makes the commute even worse. There are absolutely no trees, no buildings, just metal and wires.

Four activity areas in Rutgers Campus: Two likes and Two Dislikes

Like: Livingston Dining Hall

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This photo was taken in Rutgers Livingston Campus. This is Livingston dining hall which provides students with a place to enjoy food and chat with friends. This skyway which connects the second floor of the dining hall with that of student center (did not appear in the photo) is the biggest reason that attract me. John M. Levy mentions that “The skyway plus the connecting corridors in commercial and public building form a five-mile system.” (182) Likewise, skyway in Livingston campus saves students’ time spending on looking for meeting rooms in student centers and encourages students to shop like buying coffee in Dunkin’ Donuts in student center.

Like: Livingston Plaza

These two photos were taken in Rutgers Livingston Campus. These two buildings are Apartment A and Apartment B, the living halls for Rutgers students. These two living halls are part of the plaza which provides students with conveniences. After a whole day’s class, students could easily enjoy Chinese and Mexican food; After a whole week’s class, students could step into drink stores like Starbucks to sit down and chat with friends. Furthermore, the street int the second photo is so wide that it is safe for pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles to pass through at the same time. Levy lists “2. Minimum conflict between pedestrians and vehicles” (185). as one of criteria for urban design, and in my opinion, Livingston plaza greatly satisfy this rule.

Dislike: Busch Silvers Apartments

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This photo is taken in Rutgers Busch Campus. This building is one of silvers apartment. As an apartment for students, this building is inconvenient for two reasons. First of all, as we can see, there is only one path in front of this building. That means pedestrians and bicycle derivers need to share it together. So, it is possible to create frictions when students and bicycle drivers neglect the existence of the other ones. Moreover, the distance between random two apartments is so close that students could clearly hear the noise from the party which held in another building. Levy lists “2. Minimum conflict between pedestrians and vehicles. 3. Protection from rain, noise, wind, and so one” (185). as criteria for urban design. I don’t think this building satisfies those two rules.

Dislike: Science and Engineering Center

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This photo was taken in Rutgers Busch Campus. This is the Science and Engineering Center. There are two reasons that this building is not satisfying. First of all, the lack of plants around the building could not provide enough shades for pedestrians. There is a stone bench near the building, but no one will be willing to sit on it when it is boiling hot in summer and covered by snow in winter. After that, we can see that the path to the building is too narrow. Students and bicycle drivers will have conflicts easily. This building contains lecture rooms. When class ends, there will be a lot of students rushing out of the building. At that time, frictions will easily appear. So, this building is not qualified for “2. Minimum conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.” (185) as Levy mentions as criteria for urban design.

Works Cited:

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Demarest, NJ.

When I moved into Demarest from the neighboring town of Closter 10 years ago I was barely interested in the beauty of the duck pond or the intricacy of the after-school traffic patterns.  At that point in my life I was just entering the 5th grade in a brand new town where I only knew a couple of people.  For the first few years of my school career in Demarest I was driven to school and I did not gain much appreciation for my surroundings but that changed around the time I entered the 7th grade.  When I grew old enough my parents decided I could bike to school instead of getting a ride since it would be good exercise and I loved riding my bike.  I used to cut through the woods near my house and take back roads right to the school, usually arriving in a sweat because the journey had a few hills.  It was on these bike rides in the early years of my life where I learned to love the beauty of my small town.

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One feature of my town is the Demarest duck pond.  The duck pond is expansive and it extends deep into several other towns surrounding mine.  Here, I was standing on a bridge that is used every day that effectively splits Demarest in half.  This is the view from the south side of the bridge.  I have fond memories of this bridge since I would cross it every single day after middle school to walk into our downtown area.  I think the sound of the calm water combined with the lush green environment created by all the trees makes for a really pretty scene.  This brings me to the first ugly part of my town, which is coincidently placed directly next to the duck pond.

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What makes for a more beautiful picture than our gorgeous, natural duck pond area blocked off by a nasty, metal information board that ultimately informs the public of useless info?  The town decided to place this digital sign here several years ago for some reason.  I do not understand what motivation they would have because while it does give out info, it is truly placed in the worst spot in the town.  Luckily the view is preserved from many other angles.  Still, this is a corner of an extremely busy intersection and it should look nice in my opinion.  The next issue I have with my town revolves around this intersection.

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This is the intersection of County and Hardenburgh roads.  These roads are normally only moderately busy since Demarest is a pretty small town but at peak times, specifically after school gets dismissed, they are a nightmare.  The problem here lies in the traffic lights inability to compensate for the volume of traffic driving straight on County.  In the picture above, County is the road that black Ford is turning onto and Hardenburgh is the road the silver Lincoln (I think) is driving on.  Right up county road, toward the direction the black Ford is heading is a middle school that dismisses everyday at 3:05 PM.  This becomes a huge problem because County road fills up with traffic and anyone trying to make a left from County onto Hardenburgh can end up waiting 15 minutes for one turn.  Sometimes the town hires a traffic cop to try to alleviate some of the congestion but it is truly an unworkable solution without simply adding a protected left to the light.  Still, this congestion and traffic is limited to about 1 hour after school is dismissed and it is quiet most of the time so this is not a major problem.  Since the town is so small (approx. 1 mile square) police and fire response time is excellent, which is another factor that makes Demarest a safe and secure town.

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Located directly in the middle of the town, the Demarest Fire and Police departments are perfectly positioned geographically.  When viewing the town from above on Google Maps, it becomes clear how centered the stations truly are.  This is a great feature of my town because it means that when the police or fire are called, they respond immediately.  I have had to call police to my house in the past and they have arrived in under five minutes.  This is probably somewhat standard for small suburban towns, but it is something that I like and think the town thought out well.  Demarest is well designed because it features a healthy balance of form and function for the most part.  The Demarest volunteer firehouse is functional as it houses firetrucks; but it is also elegant and it looks really nice.  Little details like this show in a town’s design and they matter.  Just down the street from the stations is a little gazebo that is on your right as you enter Wakely field.

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Located directly across the street from the pond in the first picture, the gazebos stands proudly in a green field right next to Wakely field and Demarest down town.  While I never personally spent that much time in this gazeebo, I have watched as the town has had small concerts where people will set out blankets and have picnics as they listen to the live music.  This kind of small building, while insignificant in size can have such a massive impact on the public’s quality of life.  It also perfectly counterbalances our extremely ugly downtown area which is my final complaint about Demarest.

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Taken from the parking lot of Bank of America, welcome to Demarest Downtown.  While there is also a deli, a dry-cleaners and a nail-salon down the road a bit, this is the main stretch.  We have a liquor store, a pizzeria, a Dunkin Donuts and a Greek place which has terrible Greek food.  The reason the downtown is so disappointing is because both functionally and formally, it is terrible.  The grayed out bleak colors of the buildings matched with the scarcity of them makes the town seem colder than it is and without life.  I understand the town is probably trying to avoid congestion and traffic by not placing more commercial business but it seems like it has a negative net effect.  All in all it adds an ugly stain to an otherwise beautiful town.  That is how I feel about Demarest in general.  It is a beautiful town with ugly blotches here and there that take away from but do not eliminate its beauty.