in the Public Realm
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Previous Newsletters Vol. 1 Issue 4 - July, 2011

Over 250 people joined us Wednesday night for the opening of our exhibition Mapping the Cityscape at the Center for Architecture which commemorates the 200 year anniversary of the 1811 Commissioners Map which established the New York City Grid. Curating this exhibition has been an extraordinary opportunity to research how cartographers have documented our city over time. It showcases an incredible range of maps from the Mannahatta project that re-envisions the island of 1609 to Google Earth's 2011 satellite map. Significant historical maps from New York Public Library's collection include the 1874 Viele which documents the island's original waterways. There are planning/ GIS maps from OASIS, Transportation Maps from John Tauranac Maps, Civic Data Maps from the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia and cultureNOW's Public Art map. It also includes projects by the Environmental Simulation Center and NYU's Experimental Media Lab.   The impressive turnout inspired Rick Bell, the Executive Director of the AIA NY, to keep the exhibition on until the end of August.  So, if you are planning a 'summer in the city', stop by. In the spirit of the exhibition, this issue of our Newsletter celebrates New York City.

Abby Suckle, President, cultureNOW



The Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched its Arts for Transit program in the 1980s as part of a massive effort to revitalize the subway system with an initial project to transform the subway gates. The collection has expanded to include anything that might enrich the commuting experience. Works can be found in underground and aboveground stations, subway cars, and even lightboxes.

See it Split, See it Change (2009) ) © Doug & Mike Starn, South Ferry Station, 1 line, MTA NYC Transit. Commissioned and owned by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts for Transit. Photo: Doug + Mike Starn

Carrying On (2004) © Janet Zweig and Edward del Rosario, Prince Street Station, N, R lines, MTA NYC Transit. Commissioned and owned by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts for Transit. Photo: Cathy Carver



"Art is essential to a complete education and intrinsic to a child's development" (Mayor MIchael R. Bloomberg). Michelle Cohen, former Director of the Public Art for Public Schools program of the New York City School Construction Authority, adds "art inspires students and teachers and reaffirms the value of education."

The City's Department of Education manages the collection of over 1,500 artworks in schools around the city.

Fables of La Fontaine (1954) by Mary Callery
NYC Public Art for Public Schools

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (1973) by William Tarr
NYC Public Art for Public Schools



The City’s Department of Cultural Affairs oversees the Percent for Art Program, an initiative which mandates that one percent of a city-funded construction project’s budget be spent on public art.  Passed in 1982, the Percent for Art law is responsible for over two hundred works that enrich the City’s buildings and public spaces. 

Tomorrow's Wind (1995) by Melvin Edwards
NYC Percent for Art

Harriet Tubman Memorial (2008) by Alison Saar
NYC Percent for Art



The Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for curating, installing, and maintaining the City's large collection of sculptures, memorials, fountains, murals and plaques in public parks. An important component of the program Art in the Parks traces its beginnings to a 1967 outdoor exhibit called Sculpture in Environment which re-envisioned underutilized public spaces as outdoor galleries in which to display contemporary art. Notable temporary exhibitions include the Gates and this summer's Sol Lewits in City Hall Park.

Balto (1925) by Frederick George Richard Roth
NYC Arts in the Park

Gay Liberation (1992) by George Segal
NYC Arts in the Park


Interesting Finds
Click here


Mapping the Cityscape Symposia:

July 12: From Maps to Apps-CultureNOW's Museum Without Walls

July 19: Mapping Manhattan

July 21:
Mapping Risk

July 25: Blurring Boundaries

July 26: Planning for the Future

All events are 6-8 p.m. located at the Center for Architecture:
536 Laguardia Place New York, NY


Annual nighttime walking tour of Revolutionary War New York

in partnership with the Fraunces Tavern Museum

Over 60 history buffs showed up at 2 am for the all night tour of Lower Manhattan led by James Kaplan. Believe it or not most of them lasted till breakfast at the Tavern restaurant.

If you've ever happened upon a bronze plaque set into a New York City sidewalk, chances are it's the work of local artists Gregg LeFevre and Jennifer Andrews. Operating out of their Bleeker Street studio, the artists have created hundreds of works throughout the country aimed at depicting the untold history of a place, often through the vehicle of mapping.  In the spirit of our exhibition highlighting Maps of Manhattan, it is only fitting to select an artist to feature who is also a cartographer. This week LeFevre shared with us the backstories of several pieces including the historical maps in Union Square, and the Architectural medallions on Park Avenue in front of the former Architects Building. He is quite a lively and entertaining storyteller, so be sure to check out the podcasts!

Union Square Timeline
photo © Andrews/LeFevre Studios

History of Foley Square
photo © Andrews/LeFevre Studios

Featured Architect: ROBERT A.M. STERN
Robert A.M. Stern has long demonstrated a commitment to the history of our city.  He has written one of the most thorough architectural studies of New York  as a series of four books that document the built environment beginning in 1880. He was host of a PBS series on the Pride of Place and is the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture.  Headquartered in New York, his firm has completed many significant projects in the city. Pictured here are two recent cultural facilities in Manhattan.
Museum for African Art
photo © Neoscape for Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Kaufman Center
photo © Albert Vecerka/Esto for Robert A.M. Stern Architects