info 02.9.05

Place Matters

'Out with old, in with new' is part of the city's DNA, but ever since the razing of Penn Station, New Yorkers have sought ways to connect to the city's past — a little more nurture, a little less nature. One of our preferred methods is via Place Matters, a project started in 1998 by City Lore and the Municipal Art Society.

At the core of Place Matters is its Census Explorer, the dullest name possible for what is actually a lot of fun. There are over 500 NYC sites in the database, all of which are "valued for their power to mark history, keep traditions alive, support social networks, store memories of group experiences, or otherwise enhance an area." In other words, cool places in the five boroughs, and anyone can nominate a favorite.

So, for instance, someone nominated the Empire Rollerdrome in Crown Heights, Brooklyn's last large-scale roller rink. You get a pithy profile of its 60-plus-year history and an accompanying photo (not all entries have pics). You can learn about Spaghetti Park, the oldest and largest casita (small houses surrounded by gardens to recreate the ambience of the Puerto Rican countryside), McGuirk's Suicide Hall on the Bowery, Fiorello LaGuardia's "lucky corner," and Calder's Terrazzo Sidewalk.

There are plenty of gaps in the database and many wonderful places are not yet included — that's where you come in.
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The Gates
Questions? Answers.

From a reader: "How could you leave out Benjamin Moore? As an architect, when we have clients who won't pay for Donald Kaufman, that's who we turn to. Also, both Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball sell sample pots of their colors…very useful for color choosing so you don't make a big, expensive mistake."

Another reader wrote in about the Benjamin Moore color viewer that "lets you 'paint a room' virtually. They have all the rooms of the house furnished in several different styles. You click on any of their colors and it instantly paint the walls. It's so much fun. It also helped me realize that dark orange, while it looks cool on the color title, looks really icky on a room with modern light wood furniture."

The Stadium
The mail to MUG runs about 8/10 anti-stadium, 2/10 pro. As we've written before, we're not opposed to a stadium, but we think it's a terrible idea on that site. To those who write in asking why we're opposed, we cite precedents (recommending the book Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying For It by Mark S. Rosentraub), the concerns of the city comptroller, and the rosy projections for the stadium's salutary effects on the city that include everything but peace, love, and understanding. We have asked every person who has written to us for any supporting facts. Not one has written back with a single fact. One stadium booster wrote "I don't believe there to be any hard facts for either side of this discussion. A project such as this is speculative in nature. Embracechange, advancement, and development, don't fight it." No facts, all blind faith? Come on. Call us crazy, but we're not enthusiastic about spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a wing and prayer.

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