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States of Incarceration-New School-NYC-Untapped Cities

The Sheila C. Johnson Center at Parson’s New School For Design in Manhattan recently opened an exhibit on the prison system of the United States titled States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue of Local Histories. More than just an exhibition on the formation and history of prisons and the treatment of inmates, it is also a dialogue between students from universities across the country and the conditions of prisons nearest them.  (more…)

See Rikers-Stickers-Campaign-New School-Prison-NYC

In 2013, after we spent some time working with the juvenile population inside Rikers Island jail, we published a piece about how the island kept disappearing and reappearing on MTA subway maps, depending on the version. We went all the way back to 1939 to show the inconsistencies and we also discussed the island’s ambiguous standing geographically and politically.

Yesterday, we were excited to hear about the guerrilla campaign #SeeRikers by graduate students in the Design Studies program at Parsons the New School for Design. The campaign uses clear stickers printed in red with “RIKERS IS HERE,”  that can be placed on top of the maps in the subway. As the students, Estefanía Acosta de la Peña, Laura Sánchez, and Misha Volf explain, Rikers Island’s absence on the maps is “emblematic of a broader cultural willingness to overlook the places, policies, and practices that support the systemic violence of mass incarceration.”

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Groundswell-Art Mural-Rose M. Singer Center Rikers Island-The Freedom Within-NYC

The Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island is the women’s barracks of Rikers Island, opened in 1988 as a $100 million state-of-the-art correctional facility under Mayor Edward Koch. Despite forward-thinking initiatives like job training programs in horticulture, nursing, sewing and cooking (there is even a restaurant called The Rose Garden that was designed by prison staff), the women’s prison has seen its fair share of problems, most recently a lawsuit alleging a “pervasive culture of rape” by correctional officers.

Yet, in a rare instance of positive news recently, Groundswell, a New York City organization for community public art, in partnership with the NYC Department of Correction and Department of Education, worked with the female inmates to produce a mural inside Rikers Island titled “The Freedom Within.” The mural was dedicated in a ceremony on June 12th.

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other-bridges-of-nyc-round-up-5

We all love our iconic, innovative, and picturesque bridges (insert photos of the Brookly, Manhattan, and Queensboro Bridges here), but New York City is home to far more bridges, each with its own unique story to tell. Below, we round up some of the city’s “other” bridges, who have made the cut either for their obscurity, their interesting history, or their other distinguished features. (more…)

The Rikers Island GreenHouse garden, run as a collaboration between The Horticulture Society and the NYC Department of Correction, provides an oasis of green on an island more known for its barbed wire and concrete.   Image credit: Google Maps, © 2013 Blue SkyThe Rikers Island GreenHouse garden, run as a collaboration between The Horticulture Society and the NYC Department of Correction, provides an oasis of green on an island more known for its barbed wire and concrete

The following piece is based on the experience of Matthew DelSesto, a graduate student in urbanism at the Parsons School for Design. 

For the past year, I’ve been an intern at the Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort), working for the GreenHouse program. GreenHouse is a jail-to-street program for sentenced inmates and detainees at Rikers Island Correction Facility in New York City.  As a collaboration with the NYC Department of Correction and Department of Education, GreenHouse represents an innovative approach to prison programs that give inmates the opportunity to work in a garden, classroom and green house space.

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LaGuardia Airport-Boundaries-Runway Extension-2013-Rikers Island-Queens-NYC

While researching the WPA-style wastewater treatment plant in Astoria, we came across this proposal to extend LaGuardia Airport’s runways. The Draft Environmental Assessment was completed in August 2013 for public review and the public comment period just ended on September 23rd.  While the reason behind the extension is pretty standard airport safety stuff, it was the map that surprised us. The boundaries of LaGuardia Airport extend into the water and basically touch Rikers Island, although nothing is built there currently!

Back to the proposal, the 180 feet extension on two runways responds to a Congressional mandate to increase the size of runway safety areas for emergency purposes. The runways in question are currently built over the water and are shorter than the new standard.

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