Urbanreviewer.org Examines Legacy of Urban Renewal in NYC - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Urbanreviewer.org Examines Legacy of Urban Renewal in NYC

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SOURCE Urbanreviewer.org

596 Acres and SmartSign.com Revisit Past Plans, Discover Present Impact

NEW YORK, June 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Urbanreviewer.org is New York City's first detailed, annotated digital map of master plans from the Urban Renewal era. The tool details plans for top-down neighborhood redevelopment throughout the five boroughs, starting in 1949 and continuing through present day.

From neighborhoods demolished under eminent domain to open spaces that were never developed, the map provides an archive of New York City's changing landscape and priorities. 596 Acres, an organization of land access advocates that help inform the public of community land options, created Urbanreviewer.org with presentation funding provided by SmartSign.com, a Brooklyn-based sign retailer with local roots. 

The searchable map allows users to learn more about their neighborhoods throughout the city's history. Users can search the map by address, zip code, and master plan name. Users can also filter results by mayoral terms.

"Urbanreviewer.org dovetails with SmartSign's efforts to help connect community activists with resources," said Conrad Lumm, Director of Marketing at SmartSign.com. "This time, instead of just supplying signs, we're helping disseminate information that we hope New Yorkers will use to learn about their neighborhoods' histories, but also to drive action."

Between 1949 and 1974, federal funding spurred the demolition of neighborhoods that were deemed "blighted" to make way for new development. Inspectors working for the Slum Clearance Commission during the early period of Urban Renewal and employees of The Department of Housing Preservation and Development during the later period determined the "blight" designation.

These departments created plans for the blighted neighborhoods to get demolition approval. The demolition used an expanded version of eminent domain to acquire land, relocate people and businesses, and demolish buildings. The lots received designations like "housing," "industrial," or "open space." Urbanreviewer.org analyzed these paper-only plans from The Department of Housing Preservation and Development and transformed them into digital maps accessible to the public. On the maps, users will be able to see every lot that was designated for "renewal" and what form that renewal was supposed to take.

A dedicated team of researchers, urban planners, designers and other experts have been working with Paula Z. Segal, Esq., Executive & Legal Director for 596 Acre's NYC Community Land Access Project. Segal hopes the project will raise public awareness of vacant lots that could be used for community space.

Segal said, "I am excited to make the plans accessible because it'll help us find places that were cleared with the intention of creating open public spaces. In our work through 596 Acres, we have already found two of these and helped neighbors transform them into something better." These spaces are The Keap Fourth Community Garden in South Williamsburg and The Edgemere Urban Renewal Farm in Queens.  The map connects all of the currently vacant publicly owned lots that were created through the adoption of a master plan with their corresponding page on 596acres.org.

For more information and to discover the past, present, and future plans of New York neighborhoods, visit www.urbanreviewer.org. Please contact Conrad Lumm, conrad@smartsign.com, for additional information about SmartSign's participation in the Urban Reviewer project.

About SmartSign
SmartSign is one of America's fastest growing e-commerce companies, and parent of MySafetySign, MyParkingSign, and nearly 40 other sites. The company manufactures and distributes a wide range of signs, tags, mats, and labels. Customers can tailor their signs to meet their individual needs, and through content-rich and authoritative retail sites, the company provides specific solutions to specific problems, such as preventing accidents in the workplace. For more information, visit:http://www.smartsign.com

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