Gentrification critique and reasons
Chinatown has been established for many decades, but as of this moment it’s history and existence is threatened by a process called gentrification. Gentrification is defined as the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. However, this renovation and improving directly affects the lower class, making it so that the residents of poor neighborhoods are displaced and relocated. There are many problems that arises when trying to come up with a solution as to what to do with the lower class, some examples include appeasing the residents, landlords, and investors on all these three agendas, political, economic, and social issues. The questions to ask are what are the ideas and effects and/or criticisms of gentrification being taken into action and what can be done for the residents of Chinatown.
To understand gentrification better, the idea behind gentrification is to improve the area in order to get more investors for financial gain for the city in general as well as decreasing the crime rate in and surrounding that area. This is due to the increasing number of middle class people coming into Chinatown, land and property value has increased. From the purchase of land and property, businesses and corporations are able to create fancy buildings and stores to attract new customers. This is what is able to give the state more money in general, as well as being able to save more money due to the decrease of crimes. “They determined that crime dropped by an extra 16 percent because of the end of rent control, saving city residents on average $10-15 million annually. …When the researchers drilled down further, they found that a reduction in violent crimes, specifically, resulted in the largest economic gains.” (Linke) From the definitions and the wanted effects of gentrification, one may find gentrification to be appealing. It makes sense seeing as how it does help lower crime rate and helps build a more stabilized economy. However, when talking about gentrification, only the land and area is described as changed. This, however, doesn’t tell the story of the current residents in Chinatown because gentrification is specifically for the middle class and not the lower class. If the lower class were to be moved to another area, the problems are fixed purely for the middle class and not anyone else. The problems of the lower class still exist no matter where they are relocated. Although there are problems that arise, the focus on who to blame should primarily be focused on the government. “The most negative effect of gentrification, the reduction in affordable housing, results primarily not from gentrification itself, but from the persistent failure of government to produce or secure affordable housing more generally. Moreover, cities that attract more affluent residents are more able to aggressively finance affordable housing.” (Byrne) This would mean that overtime, the overall benefit for all residents of New York City would be very good. However, that does not mean that immediate effects cannot be brought to life without being addressed, and one of the effects is majorly rent and resident allocation.
Due to the increase of fancier places, the rent of nearby residents also increased due to the huge tax burden that is laid upon the landlords in order to keep the apartments running. Since there’s a tax burden, landlords will usually try to convict or harass tenants out of their building in order to sell their apartment to people. Typically, the landlord would start by giving the tenant 3 chances to move out, each chance a bundle of cash is presented to the tenant. The second chance would increase the cash, and by the third refusal the tenant will either be evicted or be harassed to the point of moving out. Harassment included not turning the heater on in winter but during summer, random check ups that falsify damages in order to evict or sue the tenant and more. Sometimes, the harassment is large enough to where the tenant is taken to court, and due to time off work the tenant loses their job and income for the time being, therefore being forced out of their home without a job. However, there have been laws that have passed that prohibits the harassment of tenants and routine checks are dealt upon the apartments of Chinatown. The government has also allowed a tax break to the landlords that allow low rent in order to encourage low rent apartments. There is two criticism of this, however. Although landlords are allowed these tax breaks, that does not necessarily mean that the rent increase is illegal. “The gentrifying neighborhoods experienced a 20 percent increase in turnover. This indicates that some people who previously lived in rent-controlled apartments were likely priced out of the area and did not reap the benefits of gentrification.” (Linke) One fifth of the population in Chinatown were stilled forced to move out of the area due to the increase on rent. There’s also the fact that this doesn’t make being incredibly rude and condescending towards their residents illegal.
An organization named CAAAV has listed a few problems, one of them says that the loss of businesses in the local area also creates the loss of jobs. The loss of businesses is due to the surrounding businesses having a more middle class agenda. This would mean the loss of customers, and on top of that the price of maintaining businesses are also brought up. Most of the businesses in Chinatown is restaurants, and with the increase in prices, the quality of the ingredients of the food has to go down while the quality of the food when consumed has to remain similar in order for business to keep attracting customers. For those who worked around food, this is a very hard process since the quality of food is going to hugely impact quality of taste and service. This, on top of harassment from landlords (although it is illegal to harass tenants), but majorly the harassment of rent increase, has also had community programs and services be cut. This makes it so that the residents of Chinatown have a higher chance of being unemployed due to the loss of businesses, being harassed by landlords, unable to find support from programs and services, being forced into overcrowded apartments or shelters, all the while trying to pay an increasing rent price. From the increasing immediate pressures of the residents, it’s safe to assume that a lot of people want to move out, but there are a couple of things that tie the residents to stay in Chinatown.
The very obvious yet overlooked reasons are that a lot of friends and family reside within Chinatown and the cultural values and differences between American and Asian are usually the opposite of each other. Specifically, American values typically come from a place of moving away from the family and being able to take care of themselves as an individual. The Asian values are typically about family first foremost and co-operation amongst themselves. There are usually multiple generations and sometimes even friends living under a single household. Knowing this, the Asians are typically a very tightly-knitted pact. Knowing that the housing plan to relocate all these residents into one specific area does not exist, seeing as how there’s no news on mass relocation, the relationships between people tie people down to this place. A lot of people that reside within Chinatown are not young Asian Americans who adopted American values and can easily move out of their homes. The residents are of the older generations that migrated from China and built their lives from nothing around this area, getting contacts and support specifically from this small community. Because traditional Chinese beliefs are built around a tightly knit pact, specifically within their own kind, and the relationship between friends and family are highly valued, this is the only place that the older generation is able to thrive freely amongst themselves. There’s also the fact that they themselves brought themselves up from absolutely nothing in the past.
Imagine coming into the country with nothing but a few cents and extremely limited English but having the ability to learn a bit of knowledge of English to be able to own a small business to survive. This is the story for most of the residents in Chinatown and it’s what majorly creates a sense of belonging or ownership to Chinatown. Although the older generation is used to moving and adapting, seeing as how they already came from nothing and they can most likely start again from nothing, they are still older than before. People can’t just suddenly age backwards into their teen-youth years. They are not willing to move when their whole lively-hoods have already been established from moving and settling once before, especially because they are older now and not younger. They don’t have the energy to wake up at 4 in the morning, deal with inventory and cleaning for a couple of hours, open shop at 8, deal with thieves, deal with unruly, condescending, and racist remarks from customers, close at 10 at night, and then come home to take care of their family, home, financials, business, and sleep for 3 hours, and then start the process over every day for the next 365 days at the age of 65+. They are not as young and full of energy and enthusiastic as before. They are also not willing to do this again as their children deserve a chance at education and not be forced to work in their parent’s stores for most of their career. There’s also the fact that Asians are experiencing racism, especially from the ghettos of which they are most likely going to relocate to if they were to move out, and that the Asians typically do not want to go through their racist encounters again.
Owning and working at a store in the ghettos are not as simple as paper pushing. They don’t sit down for 14 hours a day, file, organize paper (which is now usually online and faster), and only speak to their boss and co-workers. There’s also the physical aspect of the whole store that they need to worry about, the environment around them (which usually leads them to get robbed a couple times a week, especially in the ghettos), experience racist remarks from non-Asian people (especially in the ghettos where Asians are being targeted just because they are Asian from actual African American and Latinx criminals, not people as a whole, whom shield themselves with the excuse of race and current age acceptance of outcry of which everyone is willing to speak and act out against any action that sparks an purely emotional response, even if not proven to be actually factual or looked upon a microscope, and act upon that rage to target the Asians by actually committing a crime and then proceeding to threaten with the word of spreading news that the Asians are racist and more. The Asians of which can’t speak out otherwise they’ll be called a bigot, lose business from an actual criminal spreading false news, and due to the communication barrier and outcry culture of the current age cannot fully express their opinions better), and more. This whole process takes a tremendous toll at one’s mental, emotional, and physical health and will spark hatred, even though there is now hatred due to the many years of aggressive play from all sides amongst the Asians, African Americans, and Latinx people. Being forced to repeat this process again, especially at old age and when they thought that their lives were stable enough, is a hugely unwanted process.
The relocation of the residents is also usually to a ghetto, which is not something that the Asians would want to do. Coming from experience, one can walk down his/her own block and home in the ghetto as an Asian and be ganged up on, beat up, robbed, be called racist remarks specifically from African Americans and Latinx and not be able to do anything about it simply because if one were to speak out against this violence from African Americans and Latinx humans, especially in the current age, they would be called racist for, “assuming that all African Americans and Latinx people are criminals” when the Asian is specifically talking about a specific criminal and no one else and everyone would refuse to accept that this incident is racist. One has also had experience of his/her own father being stabbed and left to die in the streets of who was luckily saved, and a cousin, whom deeply affected the family, was also stabbed and bled to death at the young, inexperienced age of 19, all by African Americans. There are also instances of which an African American would steal something, get caught, and say, “What, you believe that I’m a criminal just because I’m black? All of you are racist. I’m going to spread the word.” when race plays absolutely no part in this interaction and the only thing he/she is being accused for is specifically for the act of stealing and nothing else. By saying this, this is the interaction that most people shield themselves with the idea of race playing a part in anything, and as of mentioned before, is the usual way that Asians can be harassed when it comes to owning a store or simply existing in the ghettos. One cannot feel safe in his/her own home simply because they born as an Asian, something of which they cannot control, and live in the ghettos.
This can be further proven when talking about the nail salon brawls. Specifically, the nail salon brawl that used broomsticks to fight. In an NBC news report, the customer, an African American female, “first customer was unhappy with her eyebrow job and refused to pay, leading to the fracas.” and then followed by protests towards the Asians. People typically glance over this situation and viewed it as Asians being brainwashed from being the white man’s right hand and that it’s common knowledge that Asians were always racist towards the African Americans. However, if one were to view the footage themselves, closely examine the circumstance and situation, and not focus on the emotional outcry by the African American, one can clearly see that the Asian was trying to get the money that the African American owed and refused to pay after the service has being provided. This is theft because of the denial of pay for service. The owner of the store even says, “I said ‘sit down, let me call the police. If the police say you can go, you pay nothing. (If the) police say you pay for the pedicure, then you pay for the pedicure. No eyebrow, no problem.” This is a simple solution to do as the African American should have just waited for the police to sort the situation. However, the African American’s friend then proceeded to aggressively shove the Asian, which is the first engagement and is classified as assault, and then proceeded to aggressively go towards the Asians while one held a broomstick out to stop the advance. That’s when the Asians finally started fighting back with broomsticks when they realized that one of their own coworkers was getting attacked. It’s justified that they used broomsticks as weapons because they are physically weaker and trying to find an object to defend themselves with, as one can later see one of the African Americans drag one of the workers on the floor despite being hit with broomsticks. They were merely defending their own store and coworkers because a human, not an African American, was now aggressively coming after the Asians and throwing punches because she refused to pay for the service that was already provided instead of being calm, sitting down, and waiting for the police to arrive and assort the situation. This then was followed by a public outcry by many African Americans of whom refused to see the situation as a whole, who most likely were driven by only emotional rage that they felt and refused to see the footage and look at it under a microscope because they felt that one of their own was being targeted because they were black, not because they were actually committing a crime.
In the news report, one African American female says publicly as a speech, “They don’t have the right to be here, to take money from this community.” The public and those around her then begin to agree. That is blatant and open racism because the word “they” specifically refer to the Asian population and is too generalized and is claiming that all of the Asians do not deserves a single chance in, “this community”. What is, “this community” supposed to represent? By saying, “this community”, she is implying that only African Americans belong in, “this community”, when there is also Latinx, Asians, Whites, and more who live in, “this community” under the same conditions. At the end of the day, the Asians are still stuck in same communities but are now being targeted and ousted just because they are Asian. The African American also says, “to take money from”, which implies the meaning that the Asians are stealing from, “this community”. This is the exact thought of how one thinks of the Asian population in the ghettos, as a race that only cares about money and would willingly steal from any other person because they only care about money. However, this is completely overshadowing the fact that these Asians in this salon worked for their money and yet did not receive a single penny for the service that they provided. In the same speech, she even claims that the Asians, “don’t have the right to be here” as if these Asians are not people because they are different from the rest of the community. This is free labor under the justifications of being, “unhappy with her eyebrow job”.
Understanding this, who is the one that’s stealing from another person? In this context, the person who provided the service and did not receive any payment, defamed, harassed, and outcasted because they, “don’t have the right to be here, to take money from this community”, is the one that is being stolen from. Just as the slaves in the past did not receive commission for their work, and when they did, their masters took their money from them because they had the right to it, or in this case was, “unhappy with her eyebrow job”. “This community” is supposed to be filled with humans, not Asians, not African Americans, not Latinex, not white, and more. “This community” is human, nothing more, nothing less. However, everyone refuses to see this speech as racist because an African American female is speaking, which somehow refutes the fact that African Americans can’t be racist towards anybody and gives them immunity from such claims simply because the speaker is an African American and her race has experienced centuries of slavery and racism. However, wouldn’t that be hypocritical for the African Americans to claim that they want racism to end and yet follow their remark with tons of racist claims towards the Asians, claiming that the Asians are the white man’s right hand when they, the Asians, themselves had nothing while abandoning their homes and families and built their own businesses from their own hands (even while being harassed by the whites throughout U.S. history), was demanded free labor and then be harassed by the people who wanted free labor because the Asians are viewed as racist money grabbing thieves who care not of lives and are viewed as outcasts, claiming that the Asians are the ones that are racist and yet they, the African Americans, themselves are causing the scenarios of which forces the Asians to fight back, creating public outcry to engage an emotional response, not a factual one, and speak out, target, and fight against Asians and, in certain instances, claims that they, African Americans, are the victims when this clearly, originally, does not have a place in a battle of race? This also explains about how they, the Asians, do not deserve to set up shop and have an opportunity in life and jobs purely because they are Asians who live in the ghettos, which is an ignorant and racist claim.
In this whole incident the Asians are the ones seen as villains for being, “racist”, and yet the only people that have tried to smooth the situation out is the Asians by letting the authorities handle the situation and having the African American sit down and be calm. The people who created this scenario by attempting theft, began the assault, and turned this into a racist incident by playing as the victim, even blatantly being racist themselves but being excused because they are African American, causing public outcry and destroying a shop because of an actual criminal, is the African American female that refused to pay for the service that she already received and is due to pay for and is now seen as the hero / victim? To see further prove of this, one can visit the article by Yakas, Ben and see it littered with remarks from people that have not even been to the store and yet post underlying tone of racist remarks towards the Asians. One Heyward Johnson, under the username Blackheywood, even states, “It’s hard to say Asians or other ethnics raping Black communities is a moot point”, and, “They don’t live or invest in those communities, they are just as others who used Black people as cash cows to build their own wealth. I’m sure other communities will welcome the nail shops, bodegas and the business in their communities. SHUT EM DOWN and create our own.” The African American clearly states that he does not want anything to do with the Asian population, and how the African Americans view the Asians as racist rapists who only care about themselves.
Despite all the racism going towards Asians, people still refuse to accept the fact that there’s racism going towards Asians from the African Americans and thus the Asians are very oppressed when it comes to speaking out against the deeds that are done to them, especially with the fear and threats of their businesses being closed down and the current age of public outcry acceptance. Because of the blatant, clear, and open racism towards the Asians, yet no one seems to care or notice the racism whilst even skipping or denying that these racist events happen, and the Asians not having the ability and chance to express and speak out against these claims, otherwise have their own words turned against them, the Asians typically do not like the ghettos because of what they have been through. This creates a scenario of which Asian people would want to stay in Chinatown even more simply because they do not want to have anymore stress than what they have experienced / are experiencing until today.
To further prove that these events can and do happen, one can look into the incident of Jussie Smollett, an infamous African American actor who falsely reported of being attacked by Trump supporters. Although one might not agree with Trump’s ideas, one can look into this incident as an entity itself and see the reactions of the people and how they played the scenario. Imagine if Jussie’s incident became true purely because he said that it was true, which is exactly what happened. A lot of people immediately jumped to Jussie’s support without waiting to see the facts and verdict, simply because he’s an African American born in a time where racism is highly accepted to be true regardless of the facts. The realistic reason as to why Jussie’s case was solved was because it was a national deal, not a small local incident, so a lot of government agencies were involved. What if they never took a look into Jussie’s incident and purely focused on his social media for “evidence” that racism existed and that he was the victim whilst only agreeing with the public’s verdict? That is what happens in smaller areas. Not only do they not look into the incident, the community’s opinion has already been accepted with the thinking of how racism and racist events is 100% true all of the time without further investigation. What can a small, lonely business owner who’s an Asian, a preconceived money grabbing racist outcast in the ghettos, whom isn’t used to and can’t speak out against a whole community do? How can they be protected in any way from their home community and the country that cannot look into the facts, and can only express emotions mostly purely of rage? What happens when the Asians experience racism and can’t speak out otherwise the whole country will turn against them due to outrage culture? Judging from Jussie Smollett supporters, some of them even accepted and didn’t care that Jussie was lying and even said that because these incidents still do happen, so what if he lied? That is the major issue. How many people feel this way? To accept all incidents as true and disregard the fact that false reports can occur? Does this mean that racism doesn’t exist and is always false with the African Americans? No, racism does exist towards the African Americans. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that false, misinformed reports can occur. People are too prone to jump to emotions quickly, taught that thinking of trusting the words of other people without doing their own research and jumping to conclusion without all the facts and evidence present is acceptable.
If Jussie’s incident was never investigated, can one really guarantee that Jussie would have faced justice, if never investigated to the fullest extent from the government, for his lies? On the other hand, one can guarantee that Jussie would have been accepted as a victim despite his lies if this was a smaller, uninvestigated incident. Not only is this incident not a one time thing, but it also can, and has, happened in stores, specifically Asian stores in the ghetto. The only difference is that these nail salons, Asian businesses, are more to a smaller community and public, and with the increasing number of people using social media, false information and incidents can be written down and be accepted as the truth without individual investigation. With these things in mind, the only way to inspire every resident for the want to relocate is to relocate all of the residents, not just a few people, to an area that is close to the city and are able to reimburse the cost of the stores and restaurants that have been opened by the people in this area so business can keep thriving independently. Most Asian residents have already experienced a huge amount of stress because of being near the ghettos or owning stores in one. To have to start the process over again, especially in a community that views, berates, and outcasts them as nothing more but money grabbing thieves and racists, is not something that is viable, which is why individual allocation due to gentrification is not suggestable. This being said, this is only addressing the issues with financial and social issues, but not about crime.
When it comes to crime, the idea of which it decreases crime rate is true to an extent. Gentrification has allowed the area to be able to afford more security due to investors setting up more preventative measures towards crime activity. “Of the $2 billion total appreciation of Cambridge housing value attributable to the end of rent control, approximately 10-15 percent, or $200 million, was due to public safety improvements.” (Linke) Due to the increase in security, they are able to save even more money and in turn is able to create even more security. It is shown that a 16 percent decrease is happening, and 16 percent crime rate reduction is a huge win for anyone. That’s nearly one fifth of people being spared from crime. However, this argument is only for those that are specifically within that area. This means that New York City as a whole does not experience a decrease in crime rate in total due to gentrification alone. ““There is evidence in the criminology and economics literatures that sometimes, when you disrupt violent social networks, crime declines in aggregate. For example, researchers found that when Chicago demolished certain public housing projects and former residents end up scattered, crime went down in total.”” (Linke) The statistics show that gentrification does help with the reduction of crime as the criminals spread. The problem is, are these criminals reformed criminals or are they still criminals located in another area. It is difficult to prove this theory simply because the crime rate of New York City and the whole country has gone down as a whole for the past decade, but that can be due to a numerous amount of reasons besides gentrification. It is not purely because of gentrification that crime rate goes down as Francis states that it is mostly due to an increase in police members and more criminals in jail. “If a given block is gentrifying, the biggest effects are with a quarter mile of this block,” Palmer said.” (Linke) This means that the effects of gentrification only extend up to a certain point. Although research is hard to find when it comes to what happens to surrounding neighborhoods crime rate, what this means, when thought about logically, is that the crimes are not solved or stopped in any way. Criminals will find a way to fall back to their old habits despite moving to another area, all they have to do is find a new group. This can be thought about when talking about recidivism. Recidivism is the tendency of a criminal to reoffend. The National Institution of Justice states, “Within three years of release, about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested. Within five years of release, about three-quarters (76.6 percent) of released prisoners were rearrested. Of those prisoners who were rearrested, more than half (56.7 percent) were arrested by the end of the first year. Property offenders were the most likely to be rearrested, with 82.1 percent of released property offenders arrested for a new crime compared with 76.9 percent of drug offenders, 73.6 percent of public order offenders and 71.3 percent of violent offenders.” Although the percentages will have a toll over time as old criminals stop committing crimes, that doesn’t stop new criminals from being developed or inspired. From personal experience, being in schools in the ghettos were always about finding a way to survive, be tough, and protect one’s dignity. Authority is not respected unless it’s their own neighborhood and kind, and everyone themselves is the authority, no one else. Education is on the lower end of the list of wants. Schools are unruly places to be in as the teachers usually have no enthusiasm to teach because the students will not give the teacher a chance to teach as this creates a spiraling, dangerous cycle of the teacher not caring, the students (those who do and do not care) realizing and not caring, which furthers the teacher’s sense of laziness and so on. One can walk around the block and see people with guns hanging out their pants, hitting their bodies with metal poles to toughen their bodies, and more. One has seen adults teaching small little children how to punch, possibly kill someone just because they talked something bad about them. These things are what inspires people from poor neighborhoods and what helps keep criminals fresh and continues the cycle no matter where they are. Even though criminals do still commit crimes after prison because of a lot of reasons including not being able to find jobs because their records show that they commit crimes, those who have been to prison and have relocated to another area will still experience the same things they did in their old homes. Those who have not went to prison and moved to another area simply understand how to survive in a new environment and will eventually find a group of people to still want to commit crimes with, especially because most of the ghettos are similar, just with different people. They are merely making another area take in the problems of Chinatown. To say that the pay off for one area having a decrease in crime rate but due to the movement of unconvicted criminals to other areas, of which most likely increases the crime rate a slight bit in those areas, is hypocritical. It does not better the situation as the crimes, in general, do not go down due to the relocation of criminals. The crimes are merely allocated to another sector of the city. A thought would be that most likely these criminals typically move to Brooklyn or Bronx as those two areas are usually known for low rent, especially in Brooklyn. This can also be said with the increase of security in gentrified areas. If criminals cannot target a gentrified portion of the city, that doesn’t stop them from being able to commit crimes in other areas within the city. With the whole city being renovated and barely making space for low income families, eventually they will be forced to move out of the city into another city. However, this process will continue to repeat until they have no place else to go, increasing the likelihood of criminals being created due to financial insecurities. In spite of all of this, resistance towards gentrification have been made, an example as the CAAAV group has been created. What have these group(s) and other ideas that can be done in order to, at the very least, slow down the effects of gentrification and help the community?
The most problematic thing to try to find is the voices of Asians when it comes to outspoken outrage as the culture generally makes it so people speak amongst themselves. In order for solutions to arise, one has to take into context the Asian values when talking about issues and studies that arise amongst the African americans and white people in gentrification. Knowing that Chinatown is a tourist place for people to find themselves in, most of the business that stores have mostly come from tourists. The only way to get tourists, if residents are relocated, are if the city is able to have easy transportation between the new Chinatown and the city itself. However, this could also be a business for the Chinese as there are multiple buses that are Chinese owned. “Reformers have urged the enactment of statutes or adoption of judicial doctrines to facilitate the migration of poor minorities to suburbs. They have seen migration as opening up employment and educational opportunities for the poor, while relieving them from urban concentrations of poverty and crime. Such prescription could find support in the Gautreaux studies, which demonstrate enhanced educational and employment attainments by poor blacks relocating to predominantly white, middle-class suburbs from segregated Chicago public housing pursuant to a federal decree.” (Byrne) This would mean that educational opportunities amongst the Chinese can increase, a highly valued asset amongst the Asian culture, and must be set. This is especially important because they don’t want their children to work in a store most of their youth and worry about finances. They want their children to have a chance to be in a higher status than what they grew up in. There should be government funding and assistance when it comes to employment and the loss of businesses and homes. If there is enough money from the government to fund everything, the immediate effects of gentrification can be nullified. This in turn can help smooth out the process into long term gentrification of which can be more beneficial as more high pay jobs are introduced as well as educational and business needs are met within the community. There is also the idea of zones of which the Asian population can get a certain area of Chinatown to reside in. In this way, the Asian population can still be within their comfort zone while getting a chance to have middle class jobs from the growing businesses directly around them. The Asian population would also still be able to interact with each other because they are still within the same area, just in a couple of buildings specifically for the Asian population.
Overall, one can be in agreeance to the allowing of gentrification. If gentrification works, it can provide jobs to residents, a more safer neighborhood, and generally more economic stability and wealth to the city as a whole. However, the reason why it doesn’t seem to work is because the government has repeatedly failed to provide housing, or at the very least support lower income families. They fail to regulate rent and allow the corruption of the market and the idea of which people are good at heart to take over the thinking that people want to provide housing to lower income families. Quite possibly, there can be sectors or zones for the Asian population to reside within Chinatown so that they are still close to home and close to each other. But, due to the increasing pressures and racist actions towards the Asians, the Asian population cannot be individually moved to different sectors but instead be together. Gentrification works if allowed to continue in a long-term strategy. However, the problems are mostly within the short-term problems which arise immediately once the process of gentrification begins. The only two questions to ask left is whether or not the community can convince each other to move and relocate and whether or not the government and state is able to fund a massive bill in order to relocate every resident within Chinatown, especially when it comes to a rezoning plan so the residents can still stay in an area that is familiar to them.
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• “Menu.” Neighborhood Projects, eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.edu/beemanneighborhoods/solutions/.
• “Menu.” Neighborhood Projects, eportfolios.macaulay.cuny.edu/beemanneighborhoods/gentrification-2/.
• “New York’s ‘Poor Doors’: A Next City Explainer.” Next City,
• “Rezoning Campaign.” CAAAV.org,
• Savitch-Lew, Abigail. “Chinatown Zoning Plan Meets Resistance in De Blasio Administration.” City Limits, 2 Nov. 2016
One who knows me well might ask, “Why would you pick Williamsburg as a place you’d like to further explore when you practically live there?” It is true, I consider Williamsburg, Brooklyn a second home. It all started when my parents first separated, and my father had moved to Ridgewood. Ridgewood is a city in Queens that is along the border of Bushwick, Greenpoint and of course, Williamsburg. I have many memories of us traveling into Williamsburg to get a quick bite to eat at the various restaurants they offer. One restaurant that stands out most was the Puerto Rican-Chinese fusion restaurant that he had once brought me and my brothers. I remember at this time, the block on which the restaurant was located, had just started to become gentrified. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure what that had meant. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, gentrification is defined as, “the process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.” (“Gentrification”). I can envision everything so clearly in my mind as if it was yesterday. There are rows of restaurants and brownstones followed by kids sitting outside on their stoops. Graffiti along the walls while the sounds of the hustle and bustle flow through Grand Street. This is nothing too different from Metropolitan Avenue which ran alongside my father’s house at the time. Then once my friends began to get their first cars, we began to drive up Metropolitan Avenue into Brooklyn. This was often a place we drove to on the weekends. There were always events taking place such as “Smorgasburg”, a food fair with every cuisine you could possibly think, which is especially fun during the warmer months. We would then go to the pier during the night and enjoy the slight breeze coming from the East River. There you can admire the beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline across the river and new, modern condominiums being built around it. Here, I began to visit thrift shops which was all new to me. To this day, I am thankful for my dad bringing me to Williamsburg for the first time. He opened my eyes to new people, new restaurants and new environments that seem to change here at every corner. A part of my heart lives within Williamsburg and this is why I chose this neighborhood as the place I’d love to further explore.
I chose Williamsburg as the place I’d like to explore for many reasons, including the fact that everywhere you go it so different. In North Williamsburg, the area is almost completely gentrified. The luxury developments are modern and the restaurants more expensive to fit the glamorous lifestyle of those living in such buildings. But if you travel more towards South Williamsburg, you see its true colors, residents that have been here their entire life and hidden gems on every couple of blocks. Something about the vast differences in both places piqued my curiosity. How has Williamsburg transformed so quickly and where is the in between of these two vastly different areas?
North Williamsburg, home to the perfect date night spot along the waterfront at East River State Park, a favorite of my friends, boyfriend and me. Here you can find what I like to call “Whole Paycheck” also known as “Whole Foods” and trendy boutiques that line Bedford Ave. As you step straight out of the L train station, you are welcomed by overpriced bars that are downstairs neighbors with apartments right up above them. South Williamsburg has many popular, traditional restaurants as well as various art museums and stunning street art seen against walls on most corners. It hasn’t always been this way though. Dating back to the early 1900’s, Williamsburg used to be an industrial city in which immigrants lived in order to work. If you take a look at your surroundings, you can still see refineries and factories within most blocks! There was a very large Jewish population among the different immigrants that traveled to South Williamsburg. As stated by the Brooklyn Public Library, “With the building of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, thousands of Lower East Side Jews crossed the river to a better life in Williamsburg.” (“Our Brooklyn”). The Northside between the years of 1900 and 1920, became home to a large Polish and Italian population. In the 1960s, many Hispanics such as Puerto Ricans, gathered together to live in crowded tenements. Many of the different religions and nationalities had faced discrimination and worked hard to keep up with the changing neighborhood. Struggling artists were later welcomed in and would soon after convert abandoned warehouses into lofts, art galleries and shops, gentrifying much of Williamsburg. Although the neighborhood used to mainly be home to low income residents, the incline of real estate and businesses have changed Williamsburg fairly quick. It is evident that these diverse neighborhoods are being taken over by hipsters and high-rise buildings.
In this image, there is graffiti seen against a wall in a heavily gentrified area of Brooklyn. A question that arises after further investigating the neighborhoods is “How has Williamsburg transformed so quickly?” Well, the answer is quite clear. Brooklyn is connected to Manhattan through bridges such as the “Williamsburg Bridge” and easily accessible trains much like the L train line. The Williamsburg Bridge’s main purpose is to connect the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Brooklyn. Delancey Street is where you would end up once you have crossed the popular suspension bridge. Here you will see yet another developed neighborhood, which also happens to be one of the fastest in the New York City. Much like Williamsburg, the Lower East Side was once full of working-class immigrants and artists looking to pursue what they believed was the “American Dream”. With this is mind, it makes perfect sense that just over the bridge the same thing is happening, gentrification. Taking a closer look at the L train, it is known to transport those from Brooklyn to Manhattan or vice versa, all within three minutes! The first stop in Brooklyn would be Bedford Ave followed by some other popular stops such as Graham Ave and Grand St. Once these few, couple of stops have let out subway riders, it seems to be less crowded and the whole tone of the subway cart begins to change. Riders that get off at the first stop in Brooklyn are usually travelling for an expensive bite to eat, a trendy tattoo shop or long blocks of shopping right outside the train station. This is the cheapest and easiest way to do so with the fare currently at $2.75 and an estimated three-minute train ride between 1 Ave and Bedford Ave.
In more recent news, the L Train has recently been shut down for critical, maintenance purposes. It has been predicted that the hipsters of the neighborhood will flee with the shutdown of the L train on the weekends. It is no longer convenient for those who rely on the train to live in Williamsburg as this was the fastest and cheapest way into the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This leaves many second guessing whether or not they should renew their lease for the following year. Many of those who rent out their apartments have found themselves pleading with their tenants to stick through until repairs are complete after the “promised” fifteen weekend period. There are even such cases where buildings are offering up to 3 months rent free. According to the online article written by the New York Post, “Vittorio Faricelli, a Citi Habitats broker who was born and raised in North Brooklyn, told The Post that some buildings are offering as much as three months of free rent for those who sign an 18-month or two-year lease.” (“Hipsters Flee Williamsburg as L Train Shutdown Approaches”). Although, it seems to be unfortunate to others, long-time residents who have survived the gentrification are in luck. With the lack of weekend service of the L train, many apartment owners have had to lower their prices which may be helpful to those who once could not afford it.
Where is the in between of these two vastly different areas? The Northside and Southside of Williamsburg share many avenues and streets such as Wythe Ave, Bedford Ave and Grand Street. These streets can be seen as borderlines when comparing the two areas. As you walk further towards the south of Williamsburg, vegan restaurants become bodegas. People shift from pea coats and business attire to others uniquely dressed in thrifted clothing. The in between lays within those that have survived the gentrification, the residents that still reside in the brownstones and sit on their stoops in the summer months.
According to Jason Patch, there are three types of residents currently residing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. These residents include the original inhabitants, urban pioneers and the recently arrived. “The interiors of these three groups differed depending on tenancy and class position. Original inhabitants shape their interiors according to functional needs. Urban pioneers, early gentrifiers, are fetishistic collectors of antiques, pop art and obscure Americana. The pioneers convert their homes in order to display their collections. The recently arrived, wealthier gentrifiers tend towards minimal, white, modernist interiors.” (“The Embedded Landscape of Gentrification”). By examining this information provided by Jason Patch, it is clear that the original inhabitants keep Williamsburg roots planted despite eviction notices for up and coming developments. The original inhabitants, those who are considered to be lower class, keep things old fashioned in comparison to the recently arrived whose magnificent penthouses are used as a space to display their simplistic, modern interior. Those who still reside in the neighborhood and have seen the effects of gentrification, cannot afford to change and are unwilling to conform to the new set of standards put in place by the wealthy, recently arrived. No matter where you are, whether it be Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Ridgewood, Queens, the stoop kids will never leave their stoops. They have been part of Williamsburg before and after its changes. Now these are the type of people you turn to for the best food recommendations in town, not Yelp.
Williamsburg has always had so much to offer. Immigrants travelled here by foot and now hipsters in their new, advanced Tesla cars. The history here runs deep and it is often still seen throughout with many restaurants repurposing old, warehouse pipes and other scrap materials. This is what draws me in, not the gentrification, but knowing that I tend to always learn something new, or something new sparks my interest each time I return. Although I find myself here on most days, I happen to leave with a different experience every time. Once you think you’d seen it all, there is still so much to explore in Williamsburg as new shops and events are constantly popping up at every corner. Through writing this paper, I have learned so much and connected the dots as to why Williamsburg is the way it is today. Different ethnic groups that came here once as immigrants looking to pursue work, give reason to the Puerto Rican-Chinese fusion restaurant that my dad once brought me to many years ago. Although Williamsburg has gone through its fair share of gentrification, the roots within South Williamsburg are planted deep and the northside offers those a grand experience. With public housing developments on one block and the most exclusive brunch spot on the other, you cannot say you have seen it all until you’ve lived through the gentrification and rough patches that Williamsburg, Brooklyn has to offer.
“Gentrification.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gentrification.
“Our Brooklyn.” Our Brooklyn – Williamsburg History, http://www.bklynlibrary.org/ourbrooklyn/williamsburg/.
Patch, Jason. “The Embedded Landscape of Gentrification.” search.ebscohost.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=15637052&site=ehost-live.
Gould Keill, J. and Perez, C. (2019). Hipsters are fleeing Williamsburg as L train shutdown approaches. [online] Nypost.com. Available at: https://nypost.com/2018/08/08/hipsters-flee-williamsburg-as-l-train-shutdown-approaches/.
Galapagos Santa Cruz Island
In Ecuador my mother would tell me stories about islands far from the the coast of South America. Islands that contained many wonders and formed part of important events in life. This islands are now protected and heavily guarded by laws. Specially one Island named Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz island is the second largest land formation in the entire region, the laws in the island are strict for the population because it has been the area with highest population growth leading to a changes in the environment since the time when Charles Drawing arrived. Puerto Ayora has been the area with most of the population in the Galapagos. The rest of the island is part of sectors called Sanctuaries which are protected areas for the wild life. Human population in the island is limited and and the Ecuadorian government asked for the people to live in the coastal regions of the island. However the population in Puerto Ayora continues to grow due to the increase of tourism, industrialization and government’s expeditions.
The People who lives in Santa Cruz island doesn’t have an easy life. The laws inflicted in the island restrict them from exploiting resources that they might need, even though they live in coastal regions they must have a limit or might not even have permission at times for fishing and agriculture, the government has to be monitoring these actions to prevent an environmental change on the island.
In order to understand the laws in the island, I have to generalize and talk about the entire region of Galapagos. The laws inflicted by the Ecuadorian government doesn’t come only from the country’s free will, it also comes from officials from the UNESCO. The scientific organization named the so Called Enchanted islands a national treasure in 1978 due to its rich ecosystem. This means that the islands are been monitored by the country itself and also by an organization that values and protect places that have historical and scientific value to the world. The Galapagos island is part of Ecuadorian territory located around 1,000 km away from the coast of South America. It contains 19 islands in which 2 areas are considered protected areas. The two protected areas are large areas and that makes the populated coastal regions very small and limited for inhabitants and tourism.
I used to still live in Ecuador when a law of zero tolerance was applied to the islands. The law was in part a transit control law, but it also contain an deportation permission for those with irregular status in the islands. Santa Cruz been one of the highest populated island was affected. This law was implemented due to the increase of immigration, giving chance to a better control in tourism.
Santa Cruz island is an island with a high historical value, The laws in the island is to prevent an environmental crisis that could lead to the extinction of animals and flora. For example one of the latest known extinct species from the island was named the lonesome George, it was the last of the Giant Tortoises species and it got extinct in 2012 due to environmental changes. Due to events like this the Ecuadorian government and other organizations implement harsh laws for the island, which has limit the entrance and stay, to a week or so. If those laws are not been respected people would have an irregular status and deported back to Ecuador to press charges depending on how long or what actions have a person taken in the island prison could be an option.
BBC- The history of the Galapagos islands (historia de las islas galápagos).
Galápagos national park-protected areas
Laura-En los dos lados del atlántico
People today-Isla Santa cruz
Cambridge University Press-Distribution and abundance of Darwin’s finches and other land birds on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos: evidence for declining populations
Kalpesh Vyas 5/20/19
Prof. Riazi ENG 162W
Banning the Yatra Pilgrimage
The pilgrimage known as the “Yatra” should be banned due to the horrific amount of tragedies and conflict that has been circling Amarnath temple since its discovery. Amarnath temple is a religious sanctuary located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The temple sits on top of a mountain that is 12,756 ft from ground level. This temple is known for the ice sculpture known as the “Linga” that resides in the cave of this temple as well as the backbreaking pilgrimage people make to reach it. The cave itself is 130 ft high and the trail that leads to it is surrounded by encampments made by people to rest from the long pilgrimage (Yatra). Jammu and Kashmir is on the northern border of India and is rather close to the border of Pakistan which recently has seen a lot of conflict. Currently the pilgrimage or Yatra is organised by the government with assistance from the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board. The government makes money by taxing pilgrims as well as provide local opportunities for people to earn money. There was a tax controversy in 2010 that required vehicles that are going to Amarnath has to pay 2000 indian rupees and then a additional 2000 indian rupees per day after.
This ice monument has been all over the news in India due to the religious tie in it has with the Indian god Shiva. But due to its religious significance it has become a target to most terrorists. In the Hindu religion it is believed that Shiva and the goddess Parvati were together and Parvati asked why is he immortal. Shiva tells her that he can’t say the story in the open cause people will here so he chose this cave and called it Amarnath. As Shiva explains the reason for his immortality Pravati falls asleep and the story is heard by two white pigeons. When he discovers that the two pigeons were listening to his story he becomes furious and was about to kill them. But when he was about to one of the pigeons said if you kill us then the legend of this story will no longer exist, Shiva then lets them live. The story of its discovery has its own tale of controversy as well since people have tied it to Muslims and Hindus. The mythology of this cave is that a muslim shepherd named Buta Malik was given a bag of coal by a Sufi saint and as the shepherd traveled home he then realized the coal turned to gold. When Malik went back to talk to the saint he instead found this cave with the Linga. Some people claim that the story of Buta Malik might just be folklore or a fake story created by liberals so Buta Malik will become a hero. Some Hindus despise the fact that a Muslim Family owned and took care of Amarnath Temple. Another legend is that Bhrigu Muni (a sage) discovered the cave, after the flooding of the Valley of Kashmir. The stories seem harmless but a conflict can ensue once a person from the Hindu religion meets a person from the Muslim religion and they both believe in their separate stories.
There is a road that runs up the mountain leading to the temple and people actually walk all the way up to the temple. The Indian people consider this as a pilgrimage called the “Yatra”. There is also the other options for transportation up the mountain you can have someone pull you up the mountain in a cart or just drive. Obviously people cannot walk all the way up to the temple in one shot so they have motels,lodges,tents for people to rest at. The problem with the lodges is some of them are unsanitary and are owned by locals who don’t know how to properly run a lodge/motel and are just trying to make some money. These facilities are not checked by the government to see if the conditions are sanitary, they are mostly checked to see if there is any crimes occurring in them. There is only 2 routes ascending up to Amarnath temple both take at least 1 day to travel there. The shortest route to Amarnath is through the Amarnath Valley which is 16 km long but the climb is very steep. In 2011 Amarnath received about 634,000 people participating in the Yatra which is the highest recorded visitors for the site. The giant number of people attending does not make the journey any better, it would actually make it even more difficult for people to not only climb up the path but to see the shrine itself. The routes/paths are rather narrow and since there is tents,lodges,motels there it leaves even less amount of space for the actual hikers. The other route goes through Pahalgam and takes about three to five days to travel up to the temple. This journey is not easy of course, the path through Pahalgam is technically the easiest due to the fact that it is much less steep and is more secured by the state authorities. Cell phones are also useless in these areas so if someone does collapse and if they need immediate attention they would have to run to a security checkpoint. Another reason that makes this journey dangerous is the education level of some of these people. In India a vast majority of the population is severely uneducated and this can lead to people getting lost or not being able to understand the problems the journey causes onto one’s body. In 2012 there was total of 622,000 pilgrims attempting to climb the mountain out of that 88 people died due to exhaustion and not being physically fit enough to walk the path. Another 42 people died due to road accidents, for a total of 130 deaths.
From 1991 to 1995 the act of performing Yatra was banned due to threats of terrorism. In 1996 when the ban was lifted and people started to ascend up the mountain again a blizzard claimed the lives of 242 people. In 2000 there was a terrorist attack resulting in the death of 32 people. In 2001 a terrorist in the middle of the night threw a grenade at a camp and killed 13 people. In 2002 there was 2 terrorist attacks that killed a total of 11 people and injured 30. More recently in 2017 there was another terrorist attack in which 7 people died by a gunman. The tension between India and Pakistan is rising constantly and for Amarnath temple being located in between them, makes it a prime target for terrorists. The terrorists come from two seperate groups, one group is fighting to keep Jammu and Kashmir independent from India and Pakistan, the other group is for returning Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan. There is no real stopping to terrorism and no amount of security will prevent terrorism fully, just lessen the chances of it happening. Since Amarnath temple is at the center of the conflict between India and Pakistan it will be targeted by both groups of individuals.
The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board is however currently updating their operations to make the journey safer by adding more security and more medical facilities. They have also added more motels,lodges to accommodate more people that show up to the Yatra. The board also restricted the amount of people that are able to register for the pilgrimage for example in 2019 only 75,000 people are allowed to sign up for the pilgrimage. They also have an age restriction now, children below the age of 13 are not allowed as well as any elderly person above the age of 75 and pregnant women to perform the Yatra.The state has also provided buses and helicopters to make the journey easier but this defeats the purpose of the Yatra itself. The state government uses Amarnath temple for mostly tourism, since hundreds of thousands of people visit which in return gives them a good chunk of money. Also if the yatra does get banned then some people will be outraged because they would be denied their right to practice their religion in their own way.
Performing the Yatra in my opinion should be banned. The journey is just too dangerous for most people to handle. In the past there has been a fair amount of tragedies that does cause people to hesitate before making the decision of performing the Yatra. The steps they took to make the Yatra more safe and easier to navigate does help in some ways. But this does not stop the terrorism that can come in the future and it does not stop people from performing the Yatra since it is tradition. The religious conflict between the Muslim and Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, India about the Amarnath temple and the lore behind it and will surely escalate as time passes.
Holidify. “Shri Amarnath Yatra 2019 – Route, Dates and All You Need to Know.” Amarnath Yatra 2019 – Routes, Helicopter Booking, Dates, Holidify, 3 Apr. 2019, http://www.holidify.com/pages/amarnath-yatra-414.html.
BHAT, ZAMEER AHMAD. “ASSESSMENT OF OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF TOURISM INDUSTRY IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR.” CLEAR International Journal of Research in Commerce & Management 4.4 (2013).
Trench Town, Jamaica is known to be an iconic place that holds historical significance to Jamaican culture. Trench Town is in the parish of St. Andrews. St. Andrews shares a municipality of Kingston, the largest city and capital of Jamaica. Trench Town has influenced Jamaica by being the birthplace of Reggae, it has left an impact on the social culture, it has inspired the community through the Trench Town Reading Centre and has kept the history alive with Reggae music and the Trench Town Culture Yard Museum.
Trench Town, originally known as Trench Pen, was established in the 1940s. Trench Town was once 400 acres of land used for livestock by Daniel Power Trench, who was an Irish immigrant. In the late 19th century, Trench and his family had abandoned the land. It was later developed into one of Jamaica’s most ambitious social engineering projects (Rhiney and Cruse 2). It was transformed by the Jamaican government in order to develop housing projects These housing projects were a necessity to provide low cost housing to Kingston’s rapidly increasing urban population and growing number of squatter settlements. Totaling only 60,000 people in 1900, Kingston’s population had increased rapidly to 380,000 by 1960. Many Jamaicans who were living in impoverished neighborhoods would flood into these projects from the rural parts of the country searching for a better life. Trench town and other projects were set up with residential communities by the Central Housing Authority (CHA). These residential communities would later occupy housing, schools, a theater, a park, a health clinic and many more. In the 1950s and 60s these government owned houses would have milk and bread be delivered door to door to ensure the tenants were paying twelve shillings per month after they were occupied. In the early 1970s Trench Town had become unstable and dangerous due to the large concentration of marginalized and impoverished households (Rhiney and Cruse 2).
Trench Town was a prime target for the two rivalling Jamaican political parties—the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). In the mid-1960s, new housing units were built to accommodate a high population of political supporters of whichever party was in power (Rhiney and Cruse 3). This had later created politically-motivated violence between people who supported the two rivalling parties. The violence continued within the 1990s, taking many lives that were residing in the highly impoverished neighborhoods of West Kingston—including communities like Trench Town, Denham Town, Tivoli, and many more (Rhiney and Cruse 3).
Although Trench Town had high levels of unemployment, poverty, political and gang violence, and overcrowded neighborhoods, Trench Town was also recognized as being unique and iconic for being the birthplace of Reggae music. Reggae has largely impacted the life in Jamaica and became the country’s dominant music by the 1960’s. Reggae’s roots stem from the history of both slavery and colonialism. It is the most important genre of music that originated Jamaica because it expresses the resistance to oppression and poverty. Culturally, it had played many roles in society. Reggae has created an understanding of the Jamaican culture and lifestyle for the world (Aimers). Songs that used to be about celebration of life, love, and sex, started to change and shift focus. Lyrics discussed themes such as crime, poverty, racial discrimination, political violence and discrimination, homelessness, and spirituality. This started to become an important shift especially for the lower social classes who were living in ghettos, shantytowns, and rural parishes. because they can express the conditions that are affecting them, the community, and the country (Aimers). It had become very popular internationally, particularly in the United States, Britain, and Africa because the injustices and the experiences were relatable and could be used as a form of protest. The government in Jamaica didn’t like Reggae music discussing the truths to the country, but over time the Jamaican government has used reggae music for their own social and political gains, such as using the music to attract tourists in order to revitalize the economy and depicting the genre and Rastafarianism as the official culture of the island (Aimers).
Rastafarianism is a religion based on social change that started in the 1930’s and it uses reggae music to spread ideologies, attitudes, and beliefs. It has been used to create political movements concerning oppression and to break free from the economical, political, and social domination from the government (McAlister). It awakened the Jamaican people to become closer to their African identity, to have more black pride and to be more conscious (Aimers). There was a new voice for the masses and a new form of self-representation which lead to a better relationship between African and Jamaican culture (Rhiney and Cruse 7).
Rastafarianism contributed to the cultural significance of Reggae music as well. Many musicians were encouraging for people to get closer to Rastafarianism and murals were painted in Trench Town to display images of Rastafarian culture and beliefs. Rastafarians in Jamaica supported the relocation of the African diaspora to Africa, worshipping the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I, and endorsed the use of ganja, known also as marijuana. Rastafari’s most significant impact was within the music used by the singers of reggae music (Aimers). It was apparent in the lyrics and performances of the musicians and it became more than just entertainment. Rastafarianism was one of the main mediums to speak against political and social injustices. The messages from Rastafarianism has been spread worldwide by reggae artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and many others who grew up in Trench town
The messages of Rastafarianism were broadcasted world-wide by Bob Marley making him one of the most influential musicians in Jamaica. When Bob Marley entered the music industry, he opened the door for other reggae artists to further spread the ideas of Rastafarianism.
Bob Marley also developed passion for music at a young age and was inspired by his childhood friend Neville “Bunny” Livingston to learn how to play the guitar. Marley moved to one of the poorest neighborhoods in Kingston, Trench Town, in the late 1950s. Although he struggled in poverty, he always found inspiration in music around him because Trench Town was considered the Motown of Jamaica and had many successful performers. After devoting much of his time to music and working to improve his singing abilities, he would later form the Wailing Wailers with Livingston and Peter “Tosh” McIntosh (Rhiney and Cruse 7). Later, in Marley’s life, he started growing in interest in Rastafarianism. The building where Marley’s famous “No Woman, No Cry,” and “Trench Town Rock” was written, has been converted into the Trench Town Culture Yard Museum. This museum is a primary tourist attraction in the area because it contains Reggae memorabilia of Bob Marley’s first guitar, the Wailer’s old tour bus, and a collection of photographs of Marley (Rhiney and Cruse 7).
The Trench Town Culture Yard Museum, opened on February 6th, 2000, holds significance and is a place that commemorates Reggae musicians who grew up in the community. The Museum has selective images of Bob Marley and the Trench Town community. This museum is where Bob Marley spent most of his adolescent years and became a tribute where Marley was inspired to write most of his internationally renowned songs (Rhiney and Cruse 7-8). Most of the murals were custom-made by Marley Foundation to pay homage to the contributions made by Bob Marley and other reggae icons such as Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer to Jamaican music, as well as other important black figures such as Marcus Garvey. The Culture Yard is used to attract visitors both locally and abroad to gain insight of Marley’s life and a better understanding of where Reggae music originated. With most of the murals within the Culture Yard Museum, there is an emphasis on Rastafarianism because of its contribution to Jamaican music and culture (Rhiney and Cruse 7-8).
In 1993, The Trench town Reading Centre, a non-profit, community based, organization was developed. It is a library, a school, and a community in which it is enriched by reading and learning. The Trench Town Reading Centre emphasizes critical thinking, literacy, and education. (Ellison). It has developed over the years to encourage and provide a place for education and community activities. They also provide many children and adults with current and unobtainable material, in a welcoming and accessible environment. The Centre is great burden for struggling parents because school is costly and books, supplies, uniform and shoes must be purchased with extra school fees added. Jamaica’s economy is suffering, and the educational system is not the best because the resources and the money are not there. Children’s education is often scattered when they are unable to attend when financial resources cannot be found (Ellison). That’s why this Centre was created in order to move forward out of the cycle of violence, poverty and exclusion.
Trench Town has been known as small area in the ghetto enclave of Jamaica’s capital since the 1970’s. Trench Town has been abandoned and avoided by both the public and private sectors of the Jamaica. It has been isolated, mistreated and threatened by crime and gang violence. Trench Town has and is a community struggling to be safe, trying to move forward, away from violence. For the younger generation unfortunately, crime has resorted to be the only route to survival (Ellison). Despite the violence and poverty, it is recognized and respected worldwide because of its birthplace and has the roots of Reggae music home to many accomplished and world-famous individuals.
It is amazing to know that a small place can be the originator for something that is significant and meaningful for people all around the world. to Trench Town contains a lot rich history especially with Reggae. Reggae music has helped Jamaicans and many people all over the world be aware of injustices and has helped people to define themselves. It is a way in which voices can be heard and people are able to express themselves and the conditions that are affecting them and the country. The social impact of reggae music has largely impacted life in Jamaica. It has created an understanding of Jamaican culture and lifestyle. With Trench Town and its rich history, it has become a place for people to celebrate their nationalism and life.
Aimers, James. The Cultural Significance of Reggae.
Ellison, Roslyn. “ Trenchtown Reading Centre.” Trenchtown Reading Centre, 2010,
McAlister, Elizabeth A. “Rastafari.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 May 2019, http://www.britannica.com/topic/Rastafari.
Rhiney, Kevon and Cruse, Romain. “Trench Town Rock: Reggae Music, Landscape Inscription,
and the Making of Place in Kingston, Jamaica,” Urban Studies Research, vol. 2012. pp.1-
20 May 2019
“The Statue of Liberty”
Freedom, hope, democracy is what she radiates! This powerful energy that fills so many people around the world with this promise of hope & opportunity. She is a reminder to the world that you should never feel hopeless; where there is a will there is a way, you just need to have faith. She is the Statue of Liberty. For me she is a strong reminder of my mother and our bond. The Statue of Liberty has different meanings in my mind and heart. My mind understands her historical meaning, significance and her importance. My heart on the other hand has been fighting its own battle. My heart has been fearful and afraid to face her for a long time. With this paper I hope to gain knowledge and enlighten everyone with important facts about Lady liberty and gain the confidence to face my fear.
When I was a little girl I visited lady Liberty every spring with my mom and brother. It was like a tradition for us. We’d take that amazing ferryboat ride which I looked forward each time. The sight of the large buildings as we were approaching the Island where this woman stood tall, was spectacular. This empowering symbol of strength and power in middle of all this water and island. Running off the ferryboat when we’d arrive and running towards lady liberty. “Oh how I could visualize it as if it were just yesterday.” This was always a fun trip.
After my mom passed away when I was only 9, I was never able to go back. My brother was older than I, and always tried to get me to go but I always made excuses. Even as an adult I have not been able to return to Liberty Island. I feared facing Lady Liberty because of my mom. It would be a painful reminder that my mom had died. Facing the memories and déjà vu while being there scared me. I stayed away because it kept me in control of my feelings; well at least that is what I thought till recently. As I started the proposal for this paper, I realized there is so much about the beautiful national landmark that I do not know. The memories I have are all personal and visual; I don’t know any real history besides the obvious symbolizations that I learned in school. My fear has interfered in me connecting with my past and with an important part of history, but that ends now.
I finally built the courage to face my fear head on. I’m nauseous with motion sickness from the ferryboat, or is it my nerves, my fear? As we get closer my hands are getting sweaty, and I feel butterflies in my stomach. There she is this beautiful work of art, she is a green patina color; she was once copper but began to oxidize and have the color she has now. She is front and center on Liberty Island on the Upper New York Bay. As we approach my butterflies start to disappear, my heart is palpitating with excitement and emotion I feel like I crying. As we step off we are handed a brochure, there is a new museum they just unveiled. There have been updates and work done inside of lady liberty. My girls start reading and directing us but I don’t need guiding, I never forgot her. How could I… I walk towards the pedestal and I get flash backs of asking my mom why was it so big and so special? Why did everyone take so many photos of what I called, the stand? As I remember her response, I instinctively start explaining to my daughters that there is a museum in the lobby of the pedestal. It houses important artifacts and information about its history.
A tour guide comes over and we all circle around him. He announces “Liberty Enlightening the world, was a gift from France to the United States in 1886!” We follow as he continues on describing that it was meant to commemorate the alliance of France and US. Right across is Ellis Island, which is where so many immigrants arrived for entry into the United States. Once they saw the Statue of Liberty they knew they were at the end of their long journey to freedom. My daughters are mesmerized by all the information he was presenting. We begin walking up the steps as he describes that French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was assigned the task of building a representation/ monument of liberty. It was built in time for centennial for declaration of independence. (Editors, History.com. “Statue of Liberty.” 2009)
My daughter whispers “Mom, her robe makes her look like a beautiful Goddess holding up powerful armor.” She was describing the torch. It was in in reality a guide for the sailors and their and those looking for protection and freedom along their path to freedom. It was meant to light the way t freedom. I hold both my daughters tight as I remember when my mom held me the same way during our visits. We continue the tour and ask questions. We learned many fun facts. Lady Liberty holds a tablet, which till this day I thought was a book. The tablet has the words JULY IV MDCCLXXVI inscribed on it. That translates to July 4, 1776, which represents the date of the United States declaration of independence. (“How Tall Is the Statue of Liberty?” World Atlas, 2017). Finally! We reach the crown up top. Lady Liberty wears a crown, which has 7 points that represent the seven continents and the seven seas. I get emotional as we look out of the windows on the crown. I remember each time my mom and I ended up there I would cry when it was time to go back down. I loved being up top. I was amazing looking down. I remember being up top and, my mom yelling that we had to hurry or we would miss the ferry back to the city. I remember running, racing down the steps and running through Liberty Island rushing to make it back to the ferry in time. What amazing real memories. I feel my mom with us as we tour. Although it’s been over 20 years I remember it all now. All the memories came flooding back. I cannot believe I hid from her for so long. The tour guide announces that we are lucky to have access to the crown as it was temporarily closed again, due to recent political resistance. The Statue had been used in protest against political motives. An activist, a woman by the name of Theresa Patricia Okoumou climbed lady liberty in protest of all the undocumented children being held in US detention facilities. (“Woman Who Climbed Statue of Liberty in Immigration Protest Found Guilty.” 17 Dec. 2018) She climbed on the fourth of July, which if the US day of Independence. The brought forward the very opposite of what was being celebrated on the 4th of July. These were children being held NOT free, and what better day or better way to protest than on July 4th, by climbing the very symbol of freedom, opportunity. These are political issues that continue to grow and this was her way to shed light and put attention on what is going on with these children. Prior to the attempt to climb we face terrorists threat, especially right after the September 11 attacks. To protect Lady liberty, it was closed to the public for 100 days. It was a no fly zone near the statue. When she was eventually reopened the crown was off limits for approx. 5 years. When it eventually reopened, reservations had to be made in order to access the crown.
“Next stop is the new museum”. My heart melts as I watch my girls go ahead me in in excitement. There is an immersive theater where we get to learn about her history. The view is amazing. We learned about some of the symbolizations, like the crown, which I’d mentioned above. We learned that Lady liberty also has chain/ shackles that represent freedom and the abolition of slavery. The Statue of Liberty gets approximately 3.5 million visitors per year. This spring/ summer it is expected that many more will come to embrace this new museum and theatre. This museum is meant to educate and to give visitors a deeper understanding of the history and significance of the Statue of Liberty. Prior to the unveiling of this museum, Lady Liberty currently has a museum in the lobby of the pedestal. It houses important artifacts and information about its history. Many of the artifacts have been moved from the museum in the statue to the new museum. The original torch is now displayed in the new museum.
I wish my mom were here to take this journey one last time with us. I didn’t say it but my daughters felt it. They knew this journey for me together with them has been bitter sweet. It’s been a blessing but at the same time it brought a little sadness for me because I wish I could have had the experience with my daughters and my mom together. I will no longer take Lady Liberty and my personal connections for granted. It’s a blessing to have a place a symbol that represents the bond and connection I had with my mom. After we are done with the museum experience, we go to one of the shops to get food. We then have ice cream. The Ferry soon arrives and the horn blows to signal to everyone that it’s arrived. We head back towards the ferry, we board and once the ferry takes off we face Lady Liberty, and we wave. My daughters surprise me with a souvenir of Lady Liberty. They tell me that it’s for my mom and we will go together to visit her and place it at her grave. I can’t explain how overwhelmed I felt. My daughters are 2 amazing young ladies and their grandmother would be so very proud. We made this journey together and learned many new things. This green patina women that holds the this torch so high and bright is more powerful than anyone can imagine. She is a symbol of hope, democracy & liberty. She has lived up to her symbolization and has liberated me from my fears. I am grateful for the past memories and the new ones.
Bekiempis, Victoria. “Woman Who Climbed Statue of Liberty in Immigration Protest Found Guilty.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 17 Dec. 2018, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/17/statue-of-liberty-climber-trial-us-immigration.
Editors, History.com. “Statue of Liberty.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2 Dec. 2009, http://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/statue-of-liberty.
Hoenig, Leonardj. “The Statue of Liberty’s Complexion.” JAMA Dermatology, vol. 149, no. 3, Mar.
2013, p. 306. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.2415.
Kiprop, Joseph. “How Tall Is the Statue of Liberty?” WorldAtlas, 22 Nov. 2017, http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-tall-is-the-statue-of-liberty.html.
Juan Franco 4/14/2019
Nature is a scary but beautiful phenomenon that we humans sometimes take for granted and do not take the time to appreciate or even take care of the things we can control. I once read a quote by famous Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho ”I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.” (2017). Although this quote talks more of Natural disasters I believe it applies to the whole nature itself because nature reacts to our actions. This quote means so much to me because it tells the exact way I feel about nature, and how people should feel about it. Nature has always been very important to us, it is a necessity in our life and we are not helping it, with the excessive use of our natural resources, destroying ecosystems, the act of deforestation, pollution. We are slowly killing nature without knowing it, and all because we want to focus more on advancing in technology and growing industrially. We must value and look out for what we have now especially with all the construction being built around, we are starting to have more buildings than trees.
The way I appreciate nature is that I spend a lot of time in parks, the greener the better for me. I feel a sense of peacefulness and like the smell of the trees and grass surrounding me, I take it as a type of meditation for my mind and body, as it can relieve the stress from having a bad day or a bad week just by simply sitting on the grass letting the wind bring the smell and sound of nature. There are many city parks here in New York that are worth visiting and spending time in but Central Park is the one that steals the show with its stunning appearance and all year long functions and events. This park represents the city of Manhattan so it is very important for us the people the inhabit in this city. According to Central park’s official website ”Moving though these orchestrated views would be the antidote to the congestion and unforgiving pace of work and the crowded conditions in which much of the soaring population lived”(These grand pastoral scenes …). This was the purpose of the park itself, and I believe if does a good job for the people. Everyone that comes to visit they do it to relax and enjoy the views on their days off maybe, or even the tourists that come to visit New York City. Going to Central Park is a must if you are visiting from another state or country.
This beautiful public park has a big influence on the city of Manhattan. We all know that trees give us oxygen and helps us survive in this world, that is why big parks like this one have been given the name ”The lungs of the City”, this park is surrounded by houses, buildings and all the traffic that goes on, so it is very important to have this massive amount of green life in between, it works as a filter for many forms of pollution happening all over the city, and ways to store air to breath. The city of New York is all about growing and building new things to attract consumers so imagine how life would be without the natural aspects that the parks provide for us, we would be living in a dead city that just has us working hard with barely air to breath. Also for this particular city, the tourism depends on the Central Park, Central Park is one of the most popular destinations to tour. As stated by an article in the daily mail’s website ”It’s a bucket list every keen traveller should be ticking off: the 50 most-visited tourist attractions in the world. […] In third place is Central Park in New York with 37.5 million visitors a year.” (Carol Drive, 2014). There are many people that also depend on this park for example the people that work giving tours to people around the park on their carriage or their bikes, the people drawing portraits inside the park, the businesses that entertain the visitors and many more.
There are also other parks that are similar to Central Park with a lot of nature. There are Prospect Park and Highland Park that are located in the north of Brooklyn, New York and there is my personal favorite park Flushing Meadows Park in the center of Queens, New York. I have a very strong connection with this park because I have lived many significant moments inside this park. Even though I have always lived in walkable distances from this park I would travel far just to come here, it has got everything I want from a park, Soccer fields and open green spaces for picnics or just to relax and enjoy the weather. I treat this park with respect and try to do my part by keeping it clean and not damaging anything while I see other people doing the opposite, throwing garbage on the floor, mistreating the trees and bushes, smoking anywhere, and vandalizing the park. While I like to connect with the nature in my own way sometimes it is hard to do it when there is people disturbing that do not care for it, it is sad to see people mistreat something that is so important in the world.
Making a connection with nature is very significant to us and to nature itself, many people think plants and trees are just there for decoration but they feel and react to the way we treat them. A couple of years back I had a friend from school perform an experiment on two plants that he had in his house, everyday when he would come home he would salute and give positive energy to one of the plants and then do the opposite to the other plant by cursing and saying unpleasant things to it, he would do all of this while still taking care of them and watering them. After days he noticed the plant that he was giving the negative energy was starting to show signs of decaying while the other remain the same or even in better condition. This proved to me that plants have life and feel our energy so we must take care them.
When I read Wisdom Sits in Places by Keith H. Basso, I immediately understood the importance of the connection a person has with nature and how it affects both parties. In this book we learn how important culture, land and nature was to the Western Apache tribe located in Cibecue, Arizona. ”Now they are clearing the fields of unwanted plants, putting them in something to later take them away. “I am looking after you, just as I would my children,” they are saying. “Because of this you will grow strong and tall and give us much to eat. I am praying this will happen.”They were careful to do everything correctly. They didn’t rush or try to hurry their work. They depended on their corn, so they treated it with respect. This would help it to grow. They did everything correctly.” (p. 22) These are the lines that brought back the memory of my friend’s experiment. The elders from the tribe knew taking care of the land was a priority in order to survive and eat, they knew the land responded to the way they treated it so they prayed to it and took care of the land and the corn that would later feed their families. To me this is proof that being one with nature is beneficial to both nature and the person.
At the end of the day we depend on nature much more than nature depends on us, sure we speed the process of destruction by polluting the air smoking, destroying natural zones with excess of garbage accumulation, power plants burning fossil fuels and many more things but only nature with its’ unpredictable and uncontrollable reactions is the one that decides and acts upon us, If we are meant to be punished for not taking care of nature I am prepared to accept it because we deserve it. We must love and protect the land and air that gives us life, we would be nothing without it and some people just fail to see that or at least they fail to do something about it. Any little positive change we make can make such a huge difference in the world. Nature is life and we must respect it.
Coelho, Paulo. ”Nature.” Twitter, 8 Dec. 2017, twitter.com/paulocoelho/status/939143163276558337. Accessed 14 Apr. 2019.
Conservancy, Central Park. “Park History.” The Official Website of Central Park NYC, http://www.centralparknyc.org/visit/park-history.html.
Basso, Keith H., 1940-2013. Wisdom Sits in Places : Landscape and Language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque :University of New Mexico Press, 1996. Print.
Driver, Carol. “From Japan’s Spa Land, to the Las Vegas Strip: The 50 Most-Visited Tourist Attractions in the World Revealed.” Daily Mail , 7 Apr. 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2598724/The-50-visited-tourist-attractions-world-revealed.html.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
When you study any form of art, the biggest inspiration can be taken from anywhere. One of the biggest inspiration to my decision to pursue a career in art history would be The Metropolitan Museum of Art. While I have been to many other museums, The Met was the most wonderful experience that I had ever had. My favorite being the Ancient Egypt Wing that hold the statues of Queen Hatshepsut. As I started to visit the museum more, the more I wanted to learn about the artworks on display. It was full of history of different culture and time period but in the form of art. Every exhibition different from the other and unique in it own way.The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was built nearly 150 years ago, holds over 5,000 years worth of art. A tourist attraction to many that come to visit New York, it has a visitation rate of nearly 7 million people per year. The Metropolitan or also known as The Met Fifth Avenue due to its other two location, The Met Breuer and The Met Cloister is the biggest of the three as it takes up close to four blocks in the eastern side of Manhattan. The museum is a wonderful place to visit if you can to learn something new through art.
The idea of creating The Met Fifth Avenue originally can be dated back to 1866 in Paris, France, in which a group of Americans, one of them being the lawyer John Jay wanted to bring art to the American people.. While in Paris, he thought of the idea of bringing a national gallery of art to States. The official creation of the museum was on April 13,1870 when the New York Legislature established it (Heckscher 5). The institute was to help the general public learn about art. However it did not have a building or a collection to present. A group of trustees was made consisting of several businessmen who would help manage the museum. The building in which The Met currently resides in at Central Park, was in the beginning stages of being built and it would take a few years for it to complete it. Due to this, the museum trustees had to find a suitable building to store and display the 174 european painting it had bought in 1871 from one of its founding trustees William T, Blodgett and the Roman sarcophagus it had adquire as a gift in the same year.( Heckscher 7) The building that was chosen was the Dodworth Building on 681 Fifth Avenue in which a lease was signed on December 1, 1871. The museum officially opened its door in February 20, 1872 displaying its painting and sarcophagus. (Heckscher 7) The collection stayed in the Dodworth Building until 1873 in which the doors were closed to the public.Due to its growing collection and the Cypriot antiquities the museum was about to purchase, the Dodworth building was no longer suitable to hold the collections and a new home was to be needed.” History of The Museum” The museum trustees were able to find a private New York building that was suitable for the displaying artworks.. The building was five time more spacious to that of its previous location. In 1873, a leased was signed for five years then later add on more. The museum opened its door once again on October 1, 1873.(Gelfard) The Douglas Manson held the first loan exhibition, which were 112 entries from 32 different lenders. It consisted of painting from many different artist that were famous. However the conditions of the mansion were not great..Though the museum was now bigger and had more artworks for the public, the lack of heat led to a decline of visitation.It was said that those who visited would tell who they knew that the museum lacked heat to keep them warm. A reception was given on February 14, 1879 and the door to the Douglas Mansion closed. The collection was then moved to the Fifth avenue location before it was completely finished.
The new location of The Met was very different in 1879 than it is now. The area around what we call Central Park was still very rural with unpaved ground, and abandoned farmlands.
( Heckscher 8) The area that was more prominent was south on Fifth Ave. However the location that the museum was built on was not the one the museum trustees wanted. The location was originally decided by the commissioners of “The Central Park” who had full power on how the park was going to be built and managed. The creators of the parks plan did not want any large building in their designs for the park. Due to the pressures to make public structures the creators decided to make a section for the museum. The location was to be by a pre existing street which was the on Fifth Avenue. In 1871 the New York State legislature authorized $500 thousand dollars as funds to create the building for The Met. (Heckscher 10) The construction of the building was given to the commissioners of the park . They were authorized to pick whichever architect they saw fit to complete the project. Their names where Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould. Both were also on the plan design of Central Park. Vaux and Mould had the same idea of using Gothic style to be part of the architectural design of the museum. The building was officially opened on March 30, 1880. However due to the building not being completely done the reviews of the museum were mixed. (Heckscher 18) While the interior of the building was completely done to showcase the collections the exterior of the building wasn’t complete. The annual report of that year stated that the building was only part of a larger scale.(Heckscher 18) Many people including the museum trustees were not satisfied and disappointed by the exterior of the building mainly because of it Gothic style in which to them was outdated. Some of the original building built in the late 1800s is still part of the large museum what we know today and can be seen in the European Sculpture Court.
With the disappointment of the building design the museum trustees looked for a new architect to complete the remaining if the building. The museum trustees were able to pick the architect they wanted unlike before. The north wing was designed by Theodore Weston and Arthur Lyman Tuckerman and completed in 1894. The next section of the museum that the committee wanted to focus was to create the area that face Fifth Avenue in a bold way, for it to make a statement that was made for its institute. The task was given to Richard Morris Hunt who drew up the sketch of the east wind and the facade with its fours large classical columns.
(Heckscher 30) However Hunt died before the it was started and the task was then given to his son Richard Howland Hunt. Though he was completely experience like his father with the help of another architect Hunt finished the drawing and submitted them to the museum trustees for approval. One the east wing was built its main area being the Great Hall and the facade that was inspired by Beaux-Art. The building was received well by the critics and the public for its gorgeous classical style of the facade. Though it is said that the facade wasn’t ever finished. As the years progressed other extensions were added onto the existing building making larger andthe collection of the museum grow larger the one we know today.
While the history of The Met is very important because it can relate to the advancement of the state of New York and the development of the surrounding area in Central Park. It also helps us understand why The Met building looks different in certain areas both inside and out. While The Met wasn’t always center of attention in the time it was open due to its location, now a days it holds events that are idea catching to the public. One of these events is called the Met Gala which one you may have heard about.
The Met Fifth Avenue also has one very important night every year and its known as the Met Gala. The biggest fashion orientated night of the year in New York, the gala is suppose to be a fundraiser to help raise money for the institute and introduction of the Costume Institute Exhibition for that year that last until September or October. This years theme is “Camp” and the previous of was “ Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination “ . Many celebrities attend the Met Gala wearing luxury pieces that represent the theme that was picked. The theme is normally announced in October, one month after the end of the exhibition. The new exhibition starts on the first Monday of every May and the fundraiser is held on Sunday before its opening. Last years exhibition “ Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and The Catholic Imagination ” was one of the biggest and most visited exhibition with 165 million visitor to both The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloister.( “ The Costume Institute”) The exhibition was is the spotlight due to it relation of fashion with the Catholic religion. It was a beautiful exhibition, with detail designs that incorporated many art elements such as designs dedicated to Byzantine Art. ( Farago).. The exhibition had many loans from the Vatican which hadn’t ever left Rome (Farago).
This years Met Gala theme was ‘camp’ a theme taken from the 1964 essay by Susan Sontag titled “Notes on Camp,” in which the exhibition will have ” the elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration are expressed in fashion.”.( Garcia ). To other the meaning of ‘camp’ is “ means the unique ability of combining high art and pop culture.” ( Friedman 2018 ). In basic understanding the theme of ‘camp’ is supposed to touch open what the world may be going through today, of it over dramatic expression in fashion , art and society.The exhibition will be open starting May 6 to October and like it previous exhibitions it will include designs that take on the theme of ‘camp’. While I haven’t personally seen the exhibition myself, the theme seems to go with the political struggle and news that is going on today. I do look forward to it the Costume Institute exhibition on ‘Camp’.
The Met which holds over 5,000 years of art has an interesting background history and today exhibitions. A must see if you like art or if your visiting New York City, The Met has a variety of history. From when it was first established in 1870 by the state, to its first piece into its collection being the Roman sarchaogahus which was gifted and its purchase of european painting. Its two temporary homes that were needed due to its growing collection and the lack of completion of the site at Central park. The role that political power that played in the decision behind that location is an interesting factor to its history. The yearly Met Gala fundraiser that the museum holds attracts the attention of the public with its ties to art and fashion. While this may have not been the intentions of the founders, The Met has grown in many ways. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an inspiration not only to me but to other and it is a wonderful museum to visit.
Heckscher, Morrison H. “The Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Architectural History.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 53, no. 1, 1995, pp. 1–80. JSTOR
Gelfard, Aleksandr. “Today in The Met: March 1”The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2013. https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/features/2013/today-in-met-history-march-1
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2019.” History of The Museum”. https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/history
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2019. “ The Costume Institute
Garcia. Kira. “ Met Gala:what does ‘camp’ mean in 2019?” CNN Style , 2 May 2019,
Friedman, Vanessa. “ The Met Gala 2019: Everything you need to know.” The New York Times
4 May 2019,
Friedma, Vanessa.” Met Costume Institute Embraces ‘Camp’ for 2019 Blockbuster Show.” The
New York Times. 9 October 2018.
Farago, Jason.” Heavenly Bodies Brings the Fabric of Faith to the Met” The New York Times.
9 May 2018.
The Acropolis in Athens, Greece
Greece is known as being the birth place of democracy, home to great philosophers such as Aristotle and Socrates and great mathematicians such as Pythagoras. Greece is the beholder of rich history and the acropolis is the landmark that defines it. Athens is the capital of Greece and home to the acropolis, one of their most famous landmarks, having around 14.7 million visitors per year, the acropolis has people from all over the world fly in to see its beauty and rich history. I too have visited the acropolis, being from Greek decent I have been wanting to learn more about my culture and ancestors. Having the opportunity to walk on the grounds where the Parthenon sits is breathtaking and while researching the acropolis it got me thinking “how did the acropolis come to be” and “what does the acropolis mean to the people of Greece”. Throughout this essay I will be exploring these questions in learning more about the origin of the acropolis and its significant to its people.
The acropolis in Athens is a citadel that sits atop of a hill overlooking the city of Athens. The acropolis has around 11 notable buildings, the most famous building being the Parthenon. Many people get confused and think the Parthenon is the acropolis. The Athens acropolis is not the only acropolis in the world, as any fortified structure on top of a high hill would be considered an acropolis. For example, people in Greece may consider the castle rock in Edinburgh, Scotland, to be an acropolis, as well as many other similar structures around Greece and in the world. The acropolis in Athens is approximately 156 meters or 512 feet high, made up of limestone rock. In times of war the acropolis was a place of refuge and offered sanctuary being high up and away from attackers made it beneficial during these time.
There are many mythological tales and historical facts that describe how the acropolis came to be. To get a well-rounded understanding of the acropolis I will begin looking into the mythological stories that divulge into the lore of the acropolis followed by historical facts. By looking into mythology, we get an understanding of the place through the eyes of story teller. Similar to what we learned in class while reading “Wisdom Sits in Places” by Keith Basso, Greek culture and the places in Greece are heavily influenced by folk lore and mythology. Greek history has been passed down through stories of mythological characters that inhabited and impacted the land similar to the Native American who worshiped the land they lived on and passed down many stories.
Our first story takes us to how Athens got its name, it is said that the way Athens got its name was from a battle between Poseidon the god of the sea, earthquakes and horses, and Athena the goddess of war, wisdom and courage. A top the acropolis the two brought forth gifts to offer to the people of Greece. Poseidon struck his trident into the ground and a water spring gushed out. This gift was to insure the people of Greece had an abundance of water. Athena’s gift was an olive tree, this gift was to insure the people resources like food, oil and firewood. The people of Greece chose Athena to be there patron as they felt the olive tree would be better for them rather than Poseidon’s salty water. Although this is all mythology and there is no actual proof that this has happened, the folk lore and stories passed down through generations are symbolic to the land and the people who reside on it. Before Christianity and Greek orthodoxy claimed Greece, ancient Greece used to be polytheistic, this means the belief or worship in more than one god. Religion plays a major role in the history of Greece including the origin of the acropolis.
Jumping to historical facts to explain the origin of the acropolis I am pulling information from two resources. There is no specific date of when the acropolis began to develop but we can speculate that it is “as early as 5000 BC. In Mycenaean times – around 1500 BC – it was fortified with Cyclopean walls enclosing a royal palace and temples to the cult of Athena.” (rough guides) Mycenean times were the final phase in the Bronze Age and represents the first advanced civilization in Greece. The Bronze Age is a period in history from around 2900 – 2000BC when people made tools from an alloy metal mixture of tin and copper known as bronze. The production of stronger weaponry and armor was now easier and more efficient. The introduction of bronze made an impact as soon as it came to Greece. This aided the Myceneans in being the first to start developing some of the structures we see atop of the acropolis today. The acropolis would be where religious festivals would take place, worshiping the gods and presenting them with buildings and structures in their honor.
It was not until around 490 B.C. that the Athenians would build the old Parthenon, the structure so famously known today. The Parthenon began construction after the Persian sacking of Athens in 480 B.C, it was not until 490 B.C that the “architect and sculptor Fidias created almost everything you see today in an incredibly short time: the Parthenon itself took only ten years to finish. The monuments survived unaltered for close to a thousand years, until in the reign of Emperor Justinian the temples were converted to Christian worship.” (Rough Guides) the acropolis was under many different controls as years passed on going from Greek to roman designs and then to byzantine churches to roman cathedral, the Parthenon and structures however never lost their initial beauty. The Parthenon was destroyed in 1687, as a result of the Venetians igniting a Turkish gun powder magazine, causing the roof of the Parthenon to be blown off and a fire that would last for two days and two nights. Archaeologist tried to preserve what was left of the ruins of the acropolis and what is left can be seen today. Luckily the Parthenon is made from limestone rock which does not burn like other materials. The damages were mostly due to the explosions and force but the flames did not cause any further damages. The Parthenon still standing strong today is a metaphor for the strength of the country, regardless of what troubles they face Greece will always stand strong.
The acropolis held many purposes throughout its times, being a place of refuge when Athens was under attack, home to various temples and offerings to the gods as well as a place to hold official government affairs. It Is at this point I feel we should dive into my second question “what does the acropolis mean to the people of Greece?” for this part of my research I read the purpose of the acropolis, but I also asked friends and family members who are from Greece, what the acropolis meant to them. One of the responses I received was that “the acropolis is a symbol of our history” just like how we have the statue of liberty the acropolis plays a pivotal role in the history of Greece as well as the identity of its people. The acropolis today is also a reminder of where Greece started from, and where Greece has developed from through the years and where Greece will continue to go.
In the present day, the acropolis serves as a tourist attraction. No longer a place to host religious festivals or present offerings to the gods the acropolis welcomes 14.7 million people a year compared to Greece’s population of only 6 million. Just across the street from the acropolis is the acropolis museum that has exhibits and sculptures that beautifully represents Greece’s culture. The top 5 ethnicities to visit the acropolis museum as represented by the museums highlight report from June 2017 – May 2018 revealed that 309.461 or 29% were Greek, 295,696 or 27% were English, 97,082 or 9 % were French, 62,545 or 6% were Spanish and 53,115 or 5 % were Italian. This is only a 5 out of the eleven groups that were reported. The history of the acropolis means a lot to not only Greek people but to people of all kinds of nationalities. The acropolis museums structure is beautiful as well, having glass floors and underneath you can see original old ruins and structures that have been dug up by archeologist. When I visited the acropolis museum it was as if I was looking into a history book. The marble sculptures were so elegant and the history behind every structure on display as well as the view of the acropolis takes you back to ancient Greece. The museum is unique in displaying the history of Greece and the acropolis, as there are no barriers keeping you at distant from the art, you can ask questions to the employees who are more than happy to enrich the minds of the history within the museum.
The acropolis and the acropolis museum not only symbolize years of Greece’s rich history, the museum also aids in helping Greece’s economy. The acropolis and the acropolis museum both charge for entry, to see the acropolis it cost around 20 euros, the price can change if you are a student or of you are 16 years old or younger. At the moment Greece’s economy is supported by tourism, tourism aids the country to keep moving forwards and flourish during the summer months. Having the acropolis and the acropolis museum as a tourist attraction brings in much needed money to the government. Greece is experiencing a suffering economy but can always count on the acropolis bringing in people to see its rich history. It is a chain of events, tourist comes to visit the acropolis and pays money to get in, tourist learns about Greece’s history and can also support the local business during their time in Greece. Greece has also been experiencing an investor boom, investors building new hotels in Athens with amazing views of the acropolis, people converting their homes into air BNB’s to make some extra cash, and tourism becomes a lifestyle.
The acropolis is the symbol of Greece, whenever children learn about Greece in school they learn about the acropolis and where it came from, when I was a child I did a report on mythology of Greece where every research took me to Athens, Athena and the Parthenon. It is amazing how history can impact people and places, being a child and firs learning about the acropolis I had a much different perspective. I saw a huge stone building that was all broken up but I did not truly understand its impact. Being a college student now and researching this topic once again I am flooded with more information that I can now comprehend.
The acropolis is not only a beautiful piece of architecture but the root of Greece’s history. learning about how the acropolis came to be both from a mythological standpoint and a historical standpoint gave me a well-rounded understanding of the rich history behind the acropolis. Learning about what the acropolis means to the people of Greece also opens my eyes to the impact the acropolis has had on its people. I am grateful to have the opportunity to once again visit the acropolis this summer now with the knowledge I obtain it will be an entirely new experience. The acropolis will continue to stand tall as long as we preserve its structure and its history to the best of our abilities.
“A Brief History of the Acropolis.” Rough Guides, Rough Guides,
Ακρόπολης, Μουσείο. “Acropolis Museum – A Highlights Report (June 2017 – May
2018).” Issuu Inc., 19 June2018, issuu.com/theacropolismuseum/docs/_cropolis_report_web_en.
N., Athanasopoulos. “History of Athens.” Athens Sightseeing Tours with Athens Happy Train,
Hurwit, Jeffery M. “The Athenian Acropolis.” Google Books, 1999,
RKO Keith’s Theater, Flushing, NY: Final
Through the yearn to explore the RKO Theater in Flushing, New York, I found that the history was even more deeply intertwined with the neighborhood that I reside in than I had previously found to be the case. This history helped me to gain a deeper understanding of why Flushingites throughout the neighborhood feel so strongly about preserving and reconstructing the once great architecturally stunning theater which they had been graced to ponder upon its beautiful interior and exterior while it was still an active theater. The inquisitiveness and first-person accounts of what this great theater once had led me to investigate further for myself. My interest was piqued to the point of no return, and I found myself drawn to even the most miniscule details of this theater and its inevitable fall from grace.
Upon a crowded street in the heart of Flushing, Queens, New York lies a building. This building tells of a once prosperous past, but is now a graffiti-riddled shell, cracked under the weight of the corruption and greed which fuels local politics. This building stands the test of the time, for the memories which were developed within the confines of the walls tells a story of a theater which thrived upon its ability to entertain the likes of an entire community, something which no amount of immoral and mammon-driven actions can erase. Due to the significance of this building, I decided to delve deeper into the historic aspects of the building beginning with its conception. After researching through various sources I found a chronological take upon the history of the theater. The theater originally went by the name Keith-Albee Vaudeville, later to be renamed the RKO Keith’s theater, which opened its doors on December 25th, 1928 at 1:00 P.M. This theater was one of around 700 theaters that the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Corporation opened throughout North America (NYT.) These various theaters were opened to entertain the masses, who had more free time than in the past. These theaters began with the utilization of vaudeville acts and other live performances which captured the minds of those who had the monetary funds to buy tickets. In the case of the Keith-Albee Vaudeville, the theater first opened with a singular movie screen, but majority of the entertainment which was present there was vaudeville acts.
A vaudeville act was a form of live entertainment which was popular from the 1880’s up until the 1930’s which held an emphasis on “polite” entertainment. This form of entertainment was the brainchild of 2 men, Benjamin Franklin Keith and Edward F. Albee, for which the Keith-Albee Vaudeville was named after. They developed the vaudevilles in a family friendly manner, barring performers from using vulgar language and utilizing sexually revealing costumes. At this same time, spectators were banned from jeering at the performers, as to disrupt the performance or express discontent. (Kibler) These vaudevilles would consist of musical performances, comedic skits, dramatic scenes, all while adhering to the moral standards set forth by Benjamin Franklin Keith. These vaudevilles tended to have moral basis, as to provide a lesson while simultaneously entertaining those who paid to watch, successfully balancing entertainment with morality. What is ultimately known of the specific vaudevilles which came to the Keith-Albee Vaudeville has been lost to history because the only descriptions of vaudevilles are those which were written by managers’ of the theater and print forms of media which have not been preserved.
While the Keith-Albee Vaudeville held vaudeville performances, the vaudeville industry was quickly dying out by the time the theater was opened. On March 26th, 1914, Benjamin Franklin Keith died which led Edward F. Albee to gain control of the Keith/Albee circuit. Due to the vaudeville industry slowing dying out by the mid-1920s, Albee decided to merge with a prominent vaudeville company creating the Keith-Albee-Orpheum Circuit, but ultimately sold many of his shares in 1928 to Joseph P. Kennedy. This led to the Keith-Albee-Orpheum to merge with Mr. Kennedy’s company known as Radio Corporation of America, establishing the Radio-Keith-Orpheum, which is where the RKO Keith’s Theater received its name. Albee lost his dominion over the company and theaters, which directly led to vaudevilles to slowing be phased out for movies, only acting in coexistence up into the 1930’s. (Kibler) Around this epoch in RKO Keith’s Theater history, motion picture on the silver screen was capturing the attention of people throughout the United States to the point that many vaudeville performers began to film their performances as to progress with the times, ultimately leading to the entirety of the industry to die out. At this point, movies became all the rage in the entertainment industry, which is where RKO thrived leading the theater to switch over to a movies-only policy by the late 1930’s. This led to the eventual renovation of the theater in the 1970’s to a triplex, which added 2 more movie screens to the theater pushing the total to 3 screens.
As I researched into the theater deeper, I found it necessary to ask those within my community and family their experiences with the beautifully gold painted décor adorned theater. Through my inquiry amongst my family members, I found that my parents had a vast amount of fond memories visiting the theater in their youth. My grandfather would take my dad and his brothers and sisters each weekend to the theater to watch the movie on the bill. They bonded over the ability to watch the movies together and talk about them afterwards at a local mom and pop ice cream shop, or eatery. While my mother did not go to the movies as much when she was younger, in her teenage years, my father and her would go on dates to the movie theater. My grandmother would cook popcorn for my mother, which she would in turn, sneak in to share with my father. In finding out this information, I felt such a deeper connection to a place that, though I never was able to enjoy with my own eyes, the beauty that was present was enjoyed by my own parents. They told me of the larger than life Grand Foyer, adorned with gold painted plasterwork and so many little intricate works of art which were displayed throughout the theater. I then spoke to my uncle about his experiences at the theater. He told me of the countless number of weekends him and his friends would spend going to the movie theater and attempting to sneak in for a free viewing and getting caught about 95%. The 5% in which they did not get caught was that much sweeter for him and his friends, who now had saved the money for the tickets and could enjoy a night on the town. He told me that one time he went with his parents to see a movie and was walking in the Grand Foyer when he looked to the side to find a man proposing to his girlfriend. As one can tell, the significance of this theater is present through the interesting and memorable times they spent within Flushing’s centerpiece.
I had always noticed the theater since I was a child, originally viewing it as an eyesore in its dilapidated state. I was unsure of the purpose of it, under the assumption that it was just an abandoned store. As I grew older and more aware of the history of Flushing and the places which make it the history-rich neighborhood it is, I stopped one day and stood across the street looking the building from top to bottom wondering the original purpose it held. I then utilized the internet in search of its use, as to quench my thirst for knowledge. I quickly came across countless news articles relaying information about possible demolition of the theater, which had become a shell of its former beauty. I began to feel extremely upset. Even though I had never stepped foot within its lavishly decorated interior, I began to think about all the memories and historic performances which had been developed there, and demolition would serve as a medium for eradication of these said memories which were held so dear to all who traveled and had memorable moments within, especially those who have departed such as my grandfather, utilizing the entertainment as a means to connect with my father and his siblings.
The Theater ultimately closed in 1986, with the ticket lobby and Grand Foyer being granted landmark status in 1984. With the closing of the theater came the yearn for real estate development by the new owner Thomas Huang, who purchased the property for 3.4 million dollars. Huang sought to reconstruct the RKO into office space or a shopping mall and was ultimately unable due to the landmark status of various parts of the building such as the ticket lobby and Grand Foyer. This led to illegal actions taken on the part of the owner, in hopes of destroying the interior to force the city to allow him to demolish the theater and build on the site (Fung.) Various landmark parts were found destroyed or in disrepair under the ownership of Huang, including the gilt spiral columns. Thomas Huang went as far as to dump 10,000 gallons of waste oil from an oil furnace in the basement and lied stating they were successfully dumped and cleaned the waste oil under the supervision of the Fire Department. This led to his eventual arrest and indictment on 2 felony charges, receiving 5 years’ probation and a fine of $5,000 with a stipulation that he must repair and restore that which he demolished to avoid jailtime. He never made these repairs, and to this day much of the interior remains in disrepair. After Thomas Huang lost ownership, a Brooklyn-based developer named Shays Boymelgreen bought the theater in 2002 hoping to build a condominium but succumbed to debt and defaulted on his mortgage, which allowed Patrick Thompson to acquire the property for $20 million dollars in 2010. (Fung) In 2013, JK Equities purchased the property from Thompson for $30 million and sold the property to Xinyuan Real Estate in 2016.
The purchase of this former thriving theater in 2016 has placed it on the chopping block, now lost to the greed and overdevelopment plans of its current owner, Xinyuan real estate. The demolition is officially on track with plans to build a 16-floor glass apartment build with almost 300 apartments for rent while preserving the landmark status Grand Foyer and ticket lobby within the confines of the building. The Landmarks Preservation Commission ultimately approved the proposal for this building to be developed in 2017. A prominent architect named I.M. Pei has been named as the architect in charge of preservation of the parts of the RKO which will be left unscathed and possibly rejuvenated. (Curbed) As of today, they are currently transported many of the important historical decorations offsite to be used in the new building’s lobby, recreating the Grand Foyer as closely as can be. These plans are ongoing, and no start or completion date has been provided for this possible project.(Tieu) Though there are many who oppose this new building and rejuvenation of the 2 landmark sites, many have accepted that it would be impossible for a full restoration of the theater due to crumbling infrastructure, graffiti riddled walls, and the high cost to repair the basement and take out permits to work.
The site of RKO has been left a dilapidated shell of its former self, left to the discretion of the various graffiti artists which sprawl the walls with their tags, signing upon the interior their marks, and leaving a stain upon a once lavishly decorated theater. With the vast corruption which led this theater to its slaughter, the beacon of light shines through the many holes which riddle the roof into an abyss of darkness upon a once thriving stage. Another magnificent site, lost to the overdevelopment that plagues Flushing as a whole and to the dismay of it’s residents which have fought since the 1980’s to rejuvenate this site to serve the community once again.
1. Kibler, M. A. “The Keith/Albee Collection: The Vaudeville Industry, 1894-1935.” Books at Iowa, no.56, 1992, pp. 7-24. https://doi.org/10.17077/0006-7474.1208
2. Tieu, Van. “RKO Keith Theater Will Be Demolished to Dismay of Neighbors.” RKO Keith Theater Will Be Demolished to Dismay of Neighbors, NY1, 14 Mar. 2019, http://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2019/03/14/development-plans-at-rko-keith-theater-back-on-track-to-dismay-of-some-neighbors?fbclid=IwAR3x69hKdEdFrDsK198yCJjR7X1iLNPiWdIMxdjf55YvsaGA-rfnG4CNYHw.
3. Rosenberg, Zoe, and Tanay Warerkar. “Flushing’s Landmarked RKO Keith’s Theater Will Soon Be Engulfed by Glassy Condo.” Curbed NY, Curbed NY, 16 May 2017, ny.curbed.com/2017/5/16/15643646/rko-keiths-theater-landmark-redevelopment-queens.
4. “700 THEATRES MERGED IN VAUDEVILLE CIRCUIT: KEITH-ALBEE AND ORPHEAM NOW LARGEST IN COUNTRY–FINAL PAPERS SIGNED.” New York Times (1923-Current file), Jan 27, 1928, pp. 14. ProQuest, http://queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu/docview/104661533?accountid=13379.
5. Fung, Amanda. “Rental Building may be Ticket to Revival of Flushing RKO Site.” Crain’s New York Business 27.10 (2011): 2. ProQuest. Web. 2 Mar. 2019.
May 21, 2019
Downtown Brooklyn has dramatically changed over the past few years with all the new buildings and stores due to gentrification. Brooklyn currently has about 2.6 million residents, it is the center of business and advancement. There are so many new businesses that have opened which created millions of new jobs for New Yorkers. Downtown Brooklyn has so much to offer, there are so many colleges such as NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, New York City College of Technology, St. Francis, and many more. Brooklyn has so much rich culture it the birthplace of hip hop culture. Downtown Brooklyn has become the perfect place even for tourism because there are many historic landmarks such as museums, Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo, and Brooklyn Heights. A decade ago the streets would be filled with small street vendors and local businesses but now it has changed dramatically, it’s been replaced with chain stores. With these changes, we can see how gentrification has the effect that specific area and its residents.
Today, Brooklyn isn’t the same also due to gentrification. “Gentrification is the process of neighborhood transformation in which working-class and poor residents are displaced by an influx of middle-class residents”(source 1). However, this process negatively affects the lower class because they are having to relocate. I feel that the lower class is totally forgotten about in this process of gentrification. Even though this is beneficial to the area but it isn’t solving problems of the lower class. This is creating problems and unbalance in political, social, and economic issues. Gentrification started around the 1960s due to private- market investment capital into major urban districts. Brooklyn is a prime example of how gentrification is has become today. Due to its potential, the citizens who used to live in that area can no longer afford to live in their area because all the construction that is going on and a higher price for rent. I think that this is unfair to the people because they are having to move from their homes. Fulton Mall is one of the most popular malls in Brooklyn and due to gentrification, there are many more designer and chain stores that are opening. There are many pros and cons of gentrification. Like for example, one of the pros of gentrification would be that it is helping the area to become more advanced and modernized. One of the negative effects of gentrification is that it is taking away some many people’s homes and they are being forced to move away. The second negative effect of gentrification would be that with all the newer buildings that are being built its destroying historic landmarks. Lastly, gentrification alters the distinctive street flavor that draws African-American and Caribbean-American customers. In other words, it is taking away African- American and Caribbean culture because with all the local business and street vendors that are closing down its no longer the same.
Two years ago, I used to study at New York City College of Technology which is located in Jay street. Every day I would commute between Queens and Brooklyn and I usually would spend my afternoons exploring more parts of downtown Brooklyn. I enjoyed being around that area because I’ve spent most of my college years there. This is where I met my boyfriend, we use to have picnics at Brooklyn bridge park. After class, we would spend a lot of time at the park and around the fulton mall. I was amazed by how Fulton mall had all these stores because they had such a large variety of stores. I enjoying the shopping experience at the fulton mall. However being with him, I started realizing how gentrification was a huge problem in the community. We loved spending time in downtown Brooklyn and he would show me many places around here because he was born in Brooklyn. The topic of gentrification was very important for him because he was too going through the same issues. My boyfriend was very passionate about this topic and when he explained this to me, I can tell this was an issue. At the time, I really didn’t know what this really meant because I lived in Queens. After doing this research, I definitely see how this an issue that needs to be resolved. His family is a good example of the struggles of living in a gentrified area. They constantly had to move due to not making ends meet, and the renting going way too high for his family to afford. Hearing this from him had made me feel very upset because he about lost his childhood home. This a prime example, of how there are many other families in the Brooklyn area that are being pushed away from their homes due to higher rent. I think that the city should regulate better laws so that landlords don’t raise the rent too high for their tenants especially if they have been living there for years. Just because there are better stores and attractions doesn’t mean that the people who use to reside there should be pushed away.
I’ve been observing this area for quite some time now and I have noticed how modern this area is. Before attending college, I personally have never been in this part of Brooklyn because I’ve heard it’s not the safest. However, I was wrong Downtown Brooklyn center has become very different because you can just see how there are so many different people. When I think of Downtown Brooklyn it’s become developed just like the city. There are more local business opening up since there are schools and colleges nearby. One of the things that I have observed was how much construction was going on every block. I remember also at that time, City Tech was in the process of building a new campus. Downtown Brooklyn is filled with so many brand name stores such as Macy’s, Century 21, American Eagle, H&M, MAC, Shake Shack and etc. I noticed how the older shops that were there are all closed and are being taken over by bigger retailers. When looking at the clientele of stores such as Macy’s for example, it’s there to attract the upscale- middle class. Before Downtown Brooklyn was filled with beauty supply, gold jewelry, pawn shops, low-end clothing stores. One of the pictures shows how this small store is going out of business because of all the new competition that is going on. This is affecting many small business owners because the rent for some of these stores are dramatically increased making it harder for the local business owners to strive. Even though many locals are excited about how there are more new stores that are coming about, the stores that used to be there are closing down. This means that their will no longer be affordable stores, now people will force to pay higher prices. Also, there are so many luxury apartment building that is under construction. I feel that this going to create problems because it’s drawing more of the upper-class citizens and forgetting about the lower income citizens. Rent has dramatically skyrocketed due to the gentrification of downtown Brooklyn. This is bad news for the lower income residence because they can no longer afford to live in their own homes and proper affordable housing plans aren’t being made.
According to one of the articles that I found interesting, they have done short interviews with the local business owners in Fulton Mall. “ Anderson interviews the people being displaced by the rent increases and demolitions resulting from the “improvements,” and their stories are wrenching. The barber who took such pride in giving Isaac Hayes a shape-up; the wig store owner who wonders how she will pay her children’s college tuition; the man who ran the diner for 26 years and watches helplessly as his business is taken out from under him. It’s hard not to feel that H&M and the Gap are a poor replacement for these locally owned enterprises”. I personally feel that this is very unfair to these local business owners because at the end of the day they are still people that are trying to make a living and its losing personal touch. One of the questions that I after this observations is that, Is there any way to make changes for these local business owners?. With gentrification, the government and the president of the borough tend to forget about what really is going to happen to the local business owners. Fulton mall is turning into more of an upscale shopping center and kicking out its roots. Now when I walk down Fulton mall, I have personally seen how difficult it is for even the street vendors. There literally is one strip of the block that is filled with all the chain retailers while the other side all the stores were closed and out of business. Today Fulton street is known to be the third busiest shopping district in New York City.
The second question that I have based on my observations is, How can we help the citizens and the local business owners due to the current situation that is going on right now? This situation affects many citizens because this mostly has a negative effect on the lower income families that are being forced to move out of their neighborhoods. Also, there are many jobs that are being destroyed. People are having to shut down their business because of all the competition they are unable to pay their rent. I feel that the government should do something to protect these small business owners as well as provide more living wage jobs to the locals. The fact that there are new stores opening, although it’s exciting, I don’t think that many people see the disadvantages it might have in the future. This is also taking away from the culture of downtown Brooklyn. With all these retail stores taking over Fulton mall it’s no longer what it was before. Downtown Brooklyn is now a mixed demographic but more of African American and Caribbean culture. With all of the newer stores that are opening up its taking away, it’s culture and roots. Even though gentrification is supposed to improve the community and bring more advancements it has more negative effects to this specific community. It’s mostly being taken over by the wealthy people. They are trying to bring more clientele into this area while forgetting about the people who reside here. Based on the research that I have done, when we look at the nearby neighborhoods such as Brooklyn Heights, Bushwick, Fort Greene, Parkslope, and Prospect Park the current residents that reside there are white. Due to all the new building that was built, we can see how more of the upper-middle-class residents are moving in and the lower class residents are being pushed out.
In Conclusion, based on my observations I feel that Downtown Brooklyn has dramatically changed over the past few years. Whenever I visit, Jay Street and the Fulton Street area I feel that I always see changes there. This is very upsetting to see because it’s removing what used to be there and being replaced with big retailers. It has some very common characteristics that are similar to the city. Like for example, designer stores, colleges, tourists areas such as museums and the Brooklyn bridge. Even though it’s amazing to see such dramatic changes we are all forgetting about the local residents.
Hammel, D J. “Gentrification.” International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, edited by Rob Kitchin and Nigel Thrift, vol. 4, Elsevier, 2009, pp. 360-367. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu/apps/doc/CX4098300311/GVRL?u=cuny_queens&sid=GVRL&xid=ce1c149b. Accessed 21 May 2019.
“Gentrification: Culture and Capital in the Urban Core”. Annual Review of Sociology, https://www-annualreviews-org.queens.ezproxy.cuny.edu/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.so.13.080187.001021
3.“My Brooklyn’ Tells a Story of Gentrification and Loss”. City Lab, 2013
4. “What’s Shakin’? Chains are gentrifying Fulton Mall, that’s what”. Brooklyn Paper, Dec 21, 2011
May 21, 2019
Joined the Asian Students in Action cultural club during my sophomore year at Queens College. The “In Action” part of the club name means to grow as a community and build each other up individually. ASIA represents a wide variety of students giving members a sense of unity, friendship and encouragement to succeed in life. The club celebrates traditional events including Lunar New Year celebration and Holi. Lunar New Year is practiced in many Asian countries. Festivities include setting off fireworks, money given in red envelopes and cleaning the house to get rid of bad fortune and allowing good luck to enter. To showcase their culture, the club strives to bring traditions to campus, including their Lunar New Year, Lantern Festival and Holi. ASIA club inspires students to grow and prosper at QC. People grow based upon the environment they surround themselves in. ASIA club shows diversity within the community, meeting lots of people from different backgrounds. The club helps students giving an outlet for their creativity that they want to showcase instead of just going to class. Given that were visiting Soeul, Korea as a group what attractions and sites should we visit to have the most culture worthy trip?
My main reason for joining the ASIA club as a freshman was because I wanted to make friends of an Asian background, with my best friend being Korean, Jae-Woo attends St. Johns University, I was trying to expand my circle of friends. She was the one to originally introduce me to Korean culture, especially their music. After she got me into KPOP, I became interested in other aspects of Korean culture hence why I signed up for the trip to Korea. We attended KPOP concerts together and enjoyed eating out at Korean barbecue restaurants. Being that were going to Korea as an out of school trip, Jae-Woo plans on coming along which makes my first-time visiting Korea that much better, with someone being from Korea.
The idea was proposed to do a trip to Seoul, South Korea in June. The list of options to travel to were all in Asia and ultimately the club members decided on Seoul over two months of planning for the trip. What is the best way to learn about the traditions, architecture and design?
One aspect of the trip important to highlight is the Bukchon Hanok Village. The Bukchon Hanok Village is a neighborhood made up of traditional Korean houses and visitors will find small craft shops, art galleries, and traditional teahouses. The village is surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine. Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses called hanok, that refer to the Joseon Dynasty. The second half of the name Bukchon, translates to “northern village”. The name is very literal because the neighborhood lies north of two important Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno. “Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses” (Avanti Destinations). Visitors are given the opportunity to experience, learn and include themselves in traditional Korean culture.
Across from Gyeongbokgung Palace, there are several galleries restaurants and cafes on Hwadong-gil, providing cultural background to the neighborhood. Tourists can find studios of traditional artists such as architects and painters inviting people to feel the living “history and value of Korean culture” (Avanti Destinations).
The small craft shops are designated for tourists, your able to find paintings, sculptures, pottery and crafts. An example of craft shops offered is the “Gallery Park Young Sook of the modern potter” (Visit Korea). The gallery displays and sells white porcelain representing the Joseon Dynasty, Buncheong ware, and ceramics with modern aesthetics. The gallery feels more like a showroom than a shop. However various items, including “flower vases, decorative ceramics, and daily use earthenware are for sale” (South Korea Essentials) featured around the store.
Another craft shop is the Tong-In Store which is the oldest traditional crafts shopping center offered in Korea. The shopping center is home to over 100 shops that sell ancient and contemporary traditional crafts and include galleries, displaying crafts collections by newer emerging artist. Visiting these craft shops will give me a glimpse into Korean culture, picking up traditional jewelry to wear as well as learning to drink Korean tea.
The concentrated hanok village in Bukchon was rebuilt around 1930. Changing form of the traditional Korean houses in the village shows how the population in the city had increased suddenly and the country underwent urbanization. “The village has a handful of historic and cultural heritage sites representing the history of Bukchon from the days of Joseon Kingdom to the present” (Korean Times: History of Bukon).
“Bukchon is considered a living museum in the heart of the city, as it contains historical spots, important folklore and tangible cultural assets” (History of Bukon). The area hasn’t changed maintaining its shape and condition, just adding small adjustments to the exterior of the homes. Many major streets in Bukchon including “Gyedong-gil, Gahoe-ro, Samcheongdong-gil and Changdeokgung-gil have not changed their course since then” (History of Bukon).
Hanok today features a new style of steel and glass and modernized minimal characteristics. Hanoks in Bukchon have two major characteristics transforming structured method into decorative work. The houses have a sloping roof, round beams and double eaves give the traditional houses a modern touch. The area operates touristic businesses like cafeterias, boutiques, photo studios and galleries in hanok to attract visitors, which originally started in Samcheong-dong and slowly spread across the area. Bukchon became one of the top tourist places and for all aged Koreans as well.
The idea was proposed to do a trip to Seoul, South Korea in June. The list of options to travel to were all in Asia and ultimately the club members decided on Seoul over two months of planning for the trip. During the trip two days have been designated for a 2-day festival in Nanji Hangang Park to listen to bands. The trip was also focus on getting in touch with Korea’s history. Korea’s capital, Seoul has lots of attractions and historic sites in the city. A place of interest to visit is the Gyeongbokgung Palace was the main and largest royal palace built in 1935 during the Joseon dynasty and served as a home to the Kings and the government of the Joseon dynasty. The palace was the center for essential state affairs and was used for storage of ancient Korean royal books. Another place of interest was the Trick Eye Museum is an interactive painting gallery, using optical illusions to trick the eye. The museum combines art with Augmented Reality effect and 2D/3D illusions. The Ice Museum located in the Trick Eye Museum, have displays made fully out of ice including ice television, ice kitchen and ice slope. To get a sense of the culture, visit specific areas for the local experience.
To get the most out of the trip, the club has been in touch with students from the Seoul National University, that have agreed to be our tour guides. We have already Skyped with the two students, Min and Fanny and have done introductions as well as a layout of what attractions and food sites we would fit into each day. Skyping to get a feel for each other’s personality, as well as letting them know were coming as a group of around 35 students was important. The time difference also made our skype session for us in the night, was the morning for them with a 13-hour difference. Both students have a good grasp of English, understanding the basics of what were saying. Being that there both our tour guides for this trip, we hope upon meeting is as a club they want to visit us as well. Hoping that our friendship doesn’t end upon the ending of the trip to Seoul, Korea as skyping Min especially on planning our visit has already created a sense of friendship, being that I want to be more immersed in there language, music, clothing, and food, I’m hoping the weeklong trip allows me to cover all these categories. Min and Fanny have also agreed to give us a tour of there college as many students from the club are interested in studying abroad and spending the week there and getting a campus tour will really determine whether to apply or not.
During club meetings, we also tried to learn the basics of the Korean language going over basic sayings needed for the trip. Our tour guides let us know how to pronounce certain words, as well as proper gestures. My hope is to be able to order food without pointing to the menu. Another important thing was understanding their currency, which they let us know the values and showed us their money over Skype face calling. She also let me know which clothing stores to visit while there, as Seoul participates in fast fashion, with the newest trends, I definitely want to pick up Korean branded clothing.
One main thing that I want to pick up for my trip is Korean branded skincare as they sell it in the United States, but the formula and some brands offered there cannot be purchased in the United States. One main trend that allot of Korean actresses and KPOP stars have participated in is the “glass skin” trend which is smooth slightly dewy looking skin with minimal makeup. In addition, Korean products for the most part are all natural, featuring fewer ingredients which shows as all these Korean actresses and KPOP stars have the glass skin effect. My style and skincare is definitely Korean influenced as well as my friend introducing me to these things, which makes shopping for these products that much more necessary.
Being that were college students, saving for the trip was planned, trying to find affordable rooms and food. Public transportation and meals at restaurants are much more affordable in comparison to traveling to other destinations. One room in an Airbnb in Seoul is as low as $10 a night. The most unique and best foods you’ll stumble across in Korea will be from street vendors and they’re often sold at very low prices. Street foods include giant cream puffs and massive ice cream cones. Korean street food in Seoul is snack material and is standing up food, stuff on sticks or toothpicks.
Seoul has tons of themed cafes and I have two cafes I have in mind to visit. Themed cafes first came about a couple of years ago in Seoul’s Hongdae district with the first cat cafe. Today, the city is filled with themed cafés specializing in animals such as raccoons, dogs, sheep, or cats. Other cafes are themed according to a specific cartoon character, such as Hello Kitty. With lots of theme options, Seoul probably offers the cafe that interests you.
South Korea is known as a technologically advanced country especially, Seoul. Seoul has shown advancements in both technology and the architecture of its cityscape. A popular tourist attraction that’s on my list is the Lotte World Tower opened in early 2017 and is now the fifth tallest building in the world. The elevator is the best feature, traveling at ten meters per second and the first elevator with animated screens on all sides.
With all the things to do in Seoul, Korea it makes it a top destination spot specially to learn about the cultures and traditions. With over 35 people signed up and committed to go, I can expect a pleasurable trip, learning the values and traditions together. Surrounding ourselves with
people that want to learn about Seoul culture will make the club more valuable and create a memorable experience. Knowing that were traveling to Korea together, I can expect some of these club members to be friends for a long time, being able to call them my friends from college and the best memories are made in college.
“Avanti Destinations – Sites to Visit”
“Weather 05-22-2019.” Gallery Park Young Sook (Atelier Seoul) (박영숙요 (아틀리에서울)) | Official Korea Tourism Organization, english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SHP/SH_EN_7_2.jsp?cid=989042.
Koreatimes. “Residence of ‘Yangban’: Bukchon Hanok Village.” Koreatimes, 27 Dec. 2015, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/culture/2019/03/317_194120.html.
When I began to pursue my ungraduated degree at LaGuardia Community College I thought I was beginning a path towards becoming a Veterinarian Technician. I was desperate and eager to leave my office job on Wall Street to work with animals or nature. It took me two stressful and expensive semesters to realize I was only settling by pursuing the Veterinarian Technician program. It was a field that meant I would never make enough money to keep my financial anxiety at bay, and I would most likely be dealing with humans more than animals. To settle my confusion, I made an appointment with a woman at the college who carried credentials that I knew I needed to aim for. Dr. Holly Porter-Morgan is the director of the Environmental Science program at LaGuardia Community College and she became a close friend and mentor for me throughout my time at the school. Dr. Porter-Morgan conducts water quality testing at Newtown Creek in partnership with local advocacy groups and funding from the City. Her students participate in weekly water testing in her lab, and during my final semester at LaGuardia, I found myself there and finally on the right path, academically. While I learned a lot about the biological sciences and working in the field, I also learned that research and testing at a particular site typically means that you are dealing with an area that is in dire straits.
Newtown Creek is a 6.0 km waterway that flows between the Northwest portion of Brooklyn and the Southwest portion of Queens. The Creek is an inlet from the East River as it is flowing South to the New York Harbor. It separates Greenpoint, Brooklyn from Long Island City, Queens at its mouth then branches off first behind the LaGuardia Community College campus continuing under the Kosciusko Bridge. It then flows along the edges of Bushwick, Brooklyn and Maspeth, Queens where it eventually branches off with two heads leading towards the industrial areas of the two neighborhoods. The area of the Creek takes up approximately 140 acres of prime, and quickly developing, Brooklyn-Queens real estate.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Creek was used for agricultural purposes by Native American and European settlers. The pastoral banks of the Creek were once lined with crop and livestock farms that produced items sold at markets in Manhattan. At that time, the Creek was fed by natural freshwater streams that mixed with the salty seawater that flowed past from the East River. It was a vibrant estuary ecosystem that supported many species of marine life and vegetation that attracted a wide variety of birds to its shores. During the time of the Industrial Revolution, the Creek became an important revenue resource for manufacturing and commerce. Habitats were cleared for development and the Creek was stripped of its natural lush environment and the many freshwater streams that fed into the Creek were cut off and filled in by land. For maritime navigational purposes, the width of the Creek was widened by removing the natural shorelines and even removing a small island that had once popped up out of the center of the passageway. The basin was deepened for the heavy influx of cargo ships that were importing and exporting goods, but also moving oil to and from more than fifty refineries along the shore. After decades of poor management and neglect, the Creek became a dumping ground for toxic and radioactive contaminants, raw sewage, and garbage.
In 2010 Newtown Creek was declared a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Locations deemed a Superfund site by the EPA are areas of heavy toxic contamination that pose a threat to public health. This unfortunate label made the remediation and restoration of the Creek become a federal priority and held the parties responsible for the pollution accountable. These responsible parties were and still are, powerful names in the oil and gas communities. According to research carried out by the Newtown Creek Alliance, around thirty million gallons of oil has been soaked up by the soil surrounding Newtown Creek in Greenpoint and Long Island City. During an investigation in the seventies, the Coast Guard discovered an oil plume that spanned the length of the Creek. It was discovered that for several decades major oil companies such as British Petroleum and ExxonMobil were leaking oil beneath the streets in Greenpoint. The companies faced lawsuits from local advocacy groups, as well as (at the time) Attorney General for the state of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Efforts to remediate the Creek and the community of Greenpoint progressed at an extremely slow pace as time went on.
In addition to toxic contamination from its industrial neighbors, two billion gallons of untreated sewage and storm water is dumped into the Creek from sewer outfall pipes on a yearly basis. New York City functions with a combined sewer system which collects rainwater runoff from the streets, as well as domestic and industrial wastewater within the same pipeline. The wastewater is then transported to a treatment facility like the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility where it is treated before being discharged into a nearby water body. However, when rain exceeds as little as a twentieth of an inch, the treatment plant may reach its capacity and untreated sewage is discharged directly into Newtown Creek or other nearby waterbodies. I have many questions for Newtown Creek because I care deeply about natural environments that are struggling to survive in an impermeable urban environment and also because of my personal attachment to its waters. My first question is which anthropogenic activity caused the Creek to end up in the position it is in today? And if the Creek is in the middle of a federal remediation process is that negated by the City’s neglect to upgrade the sewer system?
At LaGuardia, we tested samples of the surface water near these sewage outfall sites for levels of heavy metal toxins and enterococcus, a fecal indicator bacterium. High levels of this particular bacteria within the Creek are a hazard to the health of local wildlife and humans who may come into contact with the water. That bacteria also feeds the microscopic phytoplankton within the water causing them to rapidly reproduce resulting in algal blooms that blanket the water with a green hue. This blanket of algae blocks the sunlight from reaching vegetation that dwells at the bottom of the Creek, prohibiting photosynthesis. Those plants die, decompose, and bacteria feast on the dead plants. This cycle continues to pull dissolved oxygen out of the water, depleting the Creek and its marine flora and fauna of its oxygen supply.
To combat the depleted oxygen levels within the Creek, the New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection proposed the installation of an aeration system at the Creek’s most heavily contaminated areas. These sites are often found furthest from the mouth of the Creek where fresh water from the East River can mix with the creek water during the changing tides. The aeration systems act similar to a fish tank, blowing oxygen into the water and creating bubbles. This plan was met with resistance from local environmental groups as they believed it would disrupt the marine ecosystem and the surrounding environment more than assist with remediation. During my time doing research at the Creek, we paddled a canoe to see first hand how the aeration system worked. It seemed as if the portion of the Creek being fed oxygen from the system had turned into a jacuzzi. The system was loud which disturbs nearby bird habitats and also caused water particles to become airborne. According to research conducted by faculty at Queens College, these airborne water droplets also bond to contamination within the Creek and carry it to shore.
My second question is what effect does over a hundred years of contamination have on future plans for the Creek? In 2007 a nature walk opened in Greenpoint and visitors can now walk or sit along the banks of the Creek and learn about the different species of flora and fauna that inhabit the Creek. Now, plans are underway to completely transform areas of the tributary into public parks. If the health of the water can also be restored the Creek may someday open to the public for recreational use. Professors from LaGuardia Community College, as well as nonprofit advocacy groups such as Riverkeeper and the Billion Oyster Project, have already begun to use bioremediation as a technique to improve the water quality. Bioremediation is the process of planting primitive species of flora that would have once flourished in the marshy body of water. These plants have been replanted in the contaminated soil along the edges in an effort to bring back native species of birds and insects. Floating docks have also been installed with mussel cages lowered deep into the water. Mussels are a natural filter feeder and assist in the natural clean up of the Creek.
Conducting research at the Creek was a pivotal moment for me in my academic career because I worked alongside people who were passionate about this small marine ecosystem that had been so badly abused for so long. The volunteers and advocates make their voices heard at community board meetings and work tirelessly applying for grants and funding to continue testing the water. They also organize community outreach programs and host educational youth programs to spread their knowledge and inspire the community. It is the kind of company I always wish to keep and most importantly find myself intertwined with. When I started at LaGuardia Community College my focus for everything, even when it came to writing papers for English classes (not much has changed), was coexisting with wildlife in urban environments. Everything about those six words excited and intrigued me so when I would walk from the college’s campus, dodging cement trucks, climbing over (potentially dangerous) mounds of trash from a tool and dye shop, and fetched the water samples from a volunteer in a kayak, I felt like I was doing exactly what I had left my mundane office job to do.
• “Newtown Creek Nature Walk.” Newtown Creek Nature Walk, www1.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/environmental_education/newtown.shtml.
• “Project History.” NYS DEC Greenpoint Petroleum Remediation Project, http://www.nysdecgreenpoint.com/ProjectHistory.aspx.
• “Greenpoint Oil Spill.” Newtown Creek Alliance, http://www.newtowncreekalliance.org/greenpoint-oil-spill/.
• Local Environmental Pollution Strongly Influences Culturable Bacterial Aerosols at an Urban Aquatic Superfund Site. M. Elias Dueker, Gregory D. O’Mullan, Andrew R. Juhl, Kathleen C. Weathers, and Maria Uriarte. Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (20), 10926-10933 DOI: 10.1021/es301870t
• “What Is Superfund?” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 30 Nov. 2018, http://www.epa.gov/superfund/what-superfund.
Philadelphia: Art and Identity.
After a late night phone call from a long time friend informing me of his intention to move. I found myself on an early morning flight down to Florida. By eight that evening we were on the road north to the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. In the process of helping my friend move. I realized that my the short hours I spent in the city was the first time I had ever stepped foot in Philadelphia. On arrival to the city. I noticed a few interesting murals. I thought back to my art history classes and recalled that Philadelphia was home to some well-known works of art. Returning a few weeks later and with only twenty-four hours. I set out to discover whar Philadelphia’s art scene had to say.
The seat of classical and more academic art in Philadelphia can be found perched on Fairmount hill. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the starting point of Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Parkway goes all the way to city hall. Creating a grand promenade where most of the city’s more famous museums and government buildings can be found. The parkway was intended to mimic Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses over 240,000 objects ranging from European, The Americas, and Asia. It is also home to the worlds largest Marcel Duchamp collection. Many impressionist paintings from Degas, Van Gough and Monet can be found within its walls. The city is home to the most impressionist painting outside of Paris. The building itself is of Neoclassical Design. It is composed of a central building flanked by two wings on each side. When approaching from the south you are greeted by grand steps up to the buildings south entrance. I can only imagine that this was done to mimic the many steps Athenians would take to climb the Acropolis. The building has examples of all three orders of columns from ancient architecture. Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. Many bronze griffins adorn the roof, an icon that would later be adopted as the museum’s emblem. The location, design, and color of the museum all embody how the city and nation saw itself. America of the early 1900s was coming into its own as a world power. America became infatuated with all things Empire. So it is no surprise that from parkway to the classical buildings were meant to evoke power.
Walking south you can see the Art Deco exterior of the Perelman Building building. The Perelman houses the cities collection of photography, fashion and contemporary art. The Rodin museum where the world-famous the thinker can be found. The history of how this museum came to be is interesting. Entrepreneur Jules E. Mastbaum was a avid collector of Auguste Rodin works. Mastbaum then wanted to give his collection to city to enrich the lives of the citizens of Philadelphia. Mastbaum approach to art as part of the community. Instead of something to re enforce power is an idea that would come to serve the city well as the world changed. The entire parkway from the Art Museum to City Hall is a monument to the city of Philadelphia as a city of industry, commerce, politics, and arts all from the point of view elite of the 1900s to the 1930s. But grander and empire were identities short-lived for the city. For after the great depression and loss of industrial jobs to other parts of the nation and world. The city could no longer look to the classical and gilded to inform its identity.
Philadelphia in early 1980 was suffering from economic depression. The cities reputation for crime overshadowed the achievements of the past. it was city in decline. One of the issues they were facing was rampant graffiti. The city had set up a task force to deal with the issue and after little success. Artist Jane Golden approached the city with a different solution the issue. She envisioned a program that would use the graffiti artist to create murals. The program would go on and evolve to become the Mural Arts Program. The program would partner professional artist with prosecuted graffiti artist to create the murals. Community groups provide opportunities for local children to be educated in mural art and take part. The program has been so successful that there is about three thousand six hundred mural now in the city. The murals have become a source of pride for the city. Thousands of people come every year to view them. The murals unlike the lone painter in a gallery are community created pieces. Many of them are meant to give an identity of what part of the city you are in and what that community stands for. Simple ideas like in a mural called “give me shelter” is located on the side of a local animal shelter. Shows how the community cares of the local population. More complex themes can be found in murals like “pride and progress” that can be found in the predominantly gay area of the city. It depicts the struggle of gay rights in the city from early protest, to pride marches, to marriage equality. Other murals would show about the process of women through time. Others asked to reflect on your connection to nature. But many ask to look at your fellow person as an equal. For no matter, if they were criminals, or poor, or of a different color, sex, gender, or nationality. “A people’s progress toward equality” mural just this. The mural is of citizen of the city working on creating a statue of Abraham Lincoln. The statue is unfinished symbolizing the work in process state of equality. The mural art is of great contrast from the more curated art museums. The murals can be found all over the city. If you are visitor, if you allow them. They can take you to new places beyond the beaten path. But if you are a citizen of the city it is as much more to you. The mural is a living breathing part of your community. They are there to spark conversations, make you seek answers, and give hope for those to come.
Philadelphia is a city that understands the importance of identity and how art can help to define those identities. Often only a few get to craft that identity and have a say in that process. But sometimes everyone can have a say in that process. I believe it is better and more interesting when you get everyone involved. For that, I’m glad to have visited this city and plan return often. Because being part of art is better than just looking at it.
“Homepage.” Mural Arts Philadelphia, http://www.muralarts.org/.
Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/category/art/.
Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/first-purchasers-of-pennsylvania/
“History of the Parkway.” History of the Parkway | Parkway Museums District Philadelphia, http://www.parkwaymuseumsdistrictphiladelphia.org/About-the-Parkway/Past/38/.
“Philadelphia Museum of Art.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Museum_of_Art.
Wee, Joel. “Philadelphia, a City of Firsts.” https://Www.philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, 3 July 2015, http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150703_Philadelphia__a_city_of_firsts.html.
Zavala, Warren “Entrance of Museum of Art” 2019 JPEG
Zavala, Warren “Pride and Progress” 2019 JPEG
Zavala, Warren “A people’s progress toward equality” 2019 JPEG
Zavala, Warren “Give me shelter” 2019 JPEG
English 162 W
April 15 2019
Fiji is a very popular tourist destination that many people visit yearly. Even though Fiji is a popular tourist attraction that is most known for its clear waters and beautiful beaches many people don’t know alot about Fiji and about Fiji culture or traditions and etc. While Fiji is known as a beautiful place to vacation to it is also a interesting place full of interesting customs and traditions and it even has a interesting geographical make up.
Fiji has three official languages which are Fijian, English, and Hindustani. About less than half the population speak Fijian as their first language, while the other half speak it as a second language. English is used in interethnic communication, administration, government, trade, commerce, and education. Fijian and Hindi are mostly spoken at home and used in religious context and radio and television.
Most Fijians are mostly Christians and the Indo-Fijians are mostly Hindu and Muslim. Christianity is the dominant religion in Fiji and it is practiced by 64.4 percent of the population. In terms of Christianity in Fiji, Methodism is the most dominant Christian denomination followed by Anglicanism and Catholicism. Hinduism is the second major religion in Fiji. It is practiced by 27.9 percent of the population. There are many Hindu temples including the most famous one the Krishna temple of ISKCON which is ISCON’s biggest temple outside of India. There are also many schools and other places built and used by the Hindu community. The religion of Islam is also practiced in Fiji and Muslims make up 6.3 percent of the population. The majority of Muslims are Sunnis while the rest belong to other denominations. Although there is freedom to practice all religion granted by the countries constitution there have been many religious conflicts. Between the years of 1980s and 2000 Hindus were the victims of religious persecutions and many of them were forced to move to other countries. There has even been the burning of Hindu temples. In recent years politicians have pushed for Christianity to be the state religion of Fiji but nothing has been implemented yet. Fiji is a very multi racial and multi cultural place. They welcome visitors to join them in church and other religious activities.
The Fijian culture is a relaxed and friendly culture and in fact they are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet (World Atlas), but they do take their customs very seriously and it is important to respect them. They have customs like when you are invited into someone’s home you must be gracious and thank your host and take your shoes off before entering and leave them at the door. While speaking with the chief of a village it is respectful to take your hat off while talking to him, also in the Fijian culture it is considered a insult to touch someone’s head. When you greet someone you must be polite and shake hands. Kava is Fiji’s most well known social custom and an important experience. Kava is a unique ritual and if offered to join it is a unique experience and there is a drink that has a unique numbing effect. It is made from the roots of the pepper shrub. In a traditional ceremony the chief of the village drinks first then the other members of the village in the order of status. There is also another cultural tradition called Lovo which is a feast in which the food is cooked in a hole in the ground using fire, wood, and stone. There is also a dance called Meke which tells stories of love, history, spirits and tales of the island. It can be performed by men, women or children. The women wear traditional clothing and garlands of flower and the men are dressed as warriors with spears and they use different musical instruments as percussion. As a sign of thanks it is tradition to offer a gift. Fijians are very friendly people and they are are sometimes very eager to invite you into their home but it is always important that you respect their tradition and customs.
Fijians have received bean stew peppers, unleavened bread, rice, vegetables, curries, and tea from the Indian people , while Indians have adjusted to eating taro and cassava and drinking kava. However , the eating regimens of the two gatherings remain very different. A conventional Fijian supper incorporates a starch, savors, and a drink. The starch segment, which is alluded to as “real food,” is typically taro, yams, sweet potatoes, or manioc yet may comprise of tree harvests, for example, breadfruit, bananas, and nuts. On account of its simplicity of development, manioc has turned into the most broadly devoured root crop. Relishes incorporate meat, fish and seafood, and leafy vegetables. Canned meat and fish are likewise prominent. Vegetables regularly are bubbled in coconut milk, another dietary staple. Soup is made of fish or vegetables. Water is the most well-known drink, however coconut water and natural product squeezes likewise are smashed. Tea and an implantation of lemon leaves are served hot. Individuals by and large eat three meals per day, however there is much fluctuation in feast times and eating is normal. Most nourishment is broiled, roasted or fried. Meals are served on a tablecloth spread on the floor tangle inside the house. The night supper, which is normally the most formal, requires the nearness of all the relatives and may not start without the male leader of the family. Men are served first and get the best sustenances and the biggest segments. Dinners are intended to be shared as a declaration of social harmony .
The Fijian and Indo-Fijian societies are very patrifocal, and women are usually subordinate to her husband in relation to leadership. Except if she is a woman of high position, she has little impact in her town. In spite of the fact that young ladies are proven to do better than young men in schools, the ratio of women to men who get an advanced education is very low. Rising poverty levels have constrained numerous women into the lowest positions of working class employments, and there has been an expansion in the quantity of female-headed families and a disintegration of customary family esteems. Women are frequently victims of abusive behavior at home and are over-spoken to among the jobless and poor people. Fijian women have made more noteworthy advances than have Indo-Fijian women, regularly through the endeavors of the National Council of Women, which has a program that energizes more prominent political involvement among women.
Fiji has a very interesting geographical make up. It is a group of many volcanic islands, and to be exact it is made up of 332 islands. Of its 332 islands only 110 of them are inhibited. Fiji’s many islands were formed way back around 150 million years ago through volcanic activity and now today many of them are covered in thick tropical forest. Most of the mountains in Fiji are either dormant or extinct volcanoes, and even though most of the volcanic activity is inactive there are still some activity on the islands of Vanua Levu and Tavenui. The two main islands Viti Levu and Vanua Levu account for about 87% of the population which is about 850,000. The capital of Fiji is Suva and is located on Viti Levu. Almost three quarters of the entire population live on Suva. Important towns in Fiji include Nadi which is the location of the international airport and Lautoka which is a seaport. Other important islands include Kadavu Island, the Lau Group, the Mamanuca Islands and the Yasawa Islands. Due to Fiji’s abundance of forrest, mineral and fishing resources it is one of the most developed economies in the Pacific Island area today. Natural resources include timber, fish, gold, copper, and offshore oil and hydropower. Fiji also has a large amount of tourism with many people choosing the islands of Nadi or Denarau Island as their preferred destination. A large amount of the tourist that to come to visit Fiji come from Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. The climate In Fiji is typically very humid and there is usually a lot of rainfall among the coast and a more drier climate in the interior. The maximum temperatures are usually in the range of 88 degrees fahrenheit to 79 degrees fahrenheit all year long. The months of March to November usually bring dry weather and the rainy season runs from December to April.
One interesting and mysterious place in Fiji is Naag Mandir Temple in Labasa. Labasa is the largest town on Vanua Levu and in this town is a place referred to as “snake temple”. In this temple it holds the Sacred Cobra Rock. What is special about this rock is that it is believed that this rock has been growing over the years and is still growing to this day. They say it’s grown so much that they had to raise the roof of the temple four times since the 1950s. The locals believe that this rock is shaped like a cobra and they believe that this rock can cure the sick and the infertile. This Sacred Cobra Rock has become a worship station for people that are followers of Hinduism, and they cover it with flowers and tinsel gardens and put place offerings of fruit, fire, and coconut cream at the base. Another interesting and mysterious place is the Naihehe Caves in Sigatoka. Naihehe translated in English means “a place to get lost” and that’s exactly what this place is. It is Fiji’s largest cave system. Back during ancient tribal times this cave system was used as a hiding spot and there’s a secret entrance to the cave at the very top and you have to climb through vines to get in. When you first enter the cave it is very important that you seek permission of the Bete who is the traditional protector of the cave. There’s a legend that if you enter the cave and continue throughout the cave without permission from the Bete you will be trapped there for all of eternity, so it’s important that you get permission. Not to far from the cave is the grave of Udre Udre who is known as Fiji’s most prolific cannibal. It is believed that he has eaten over 800 people. It is said that he kept a stone for each and every one of his victims and each of those stones now surround his grave. The locals say that his spirit still lingers and it is advised not to visit his grave alone. There are many other interesting and mysterious places on the island, each with their own story and history.
Fiji is mostly known as a tourist destination that is popular for its clear water and sandy beaches but besides that people don’t really know about Fiji culture or traditions or the geographical make up. Most people don’t know things like Fiji is made up of 332 different islands or that Fiji has three official languages. Fiji is more than just a place to vacation to its a place full of interesting history and culture and etc. I think more people should learn about Fiji and discover the different things Fiji has to offer besides a vacation. I think if more people were to learn about Fiji they too will become more interested and as amazed as I was doing this research into Fiji and will want to learn more.
“Customs in Fiji.” Gap Year, http://www.gapyear.com/australasia/fiji/local-customs-fiji.
“Fiji.” Countries and Their Cultures, http://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/Fiji.html.
Nag, Oishimaya Sen. “Religion in Fiji: Important Facts and Figures.” WorldAtlas, 25 Aug. 2017, http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/religion-in-fiji-important-facts-and-figures.html.
Admin. “11 Must Visit Fijian Cultural and Historic Destinations.” Captain Cook Cruises Fiji, 21 Mar. 2019, http://www.captaincookcruisesfiji.com/blog/8-must-visit-fijian-cultural-and-historic-destinations
Sivertsen, Juliette. “8 Historical Sites To Visit in Fiji.” Culture Trip, 13 Feb. 2017, theculturetrip.com/pacific/fiji/articles/8-historical-sites-to-visit-in-fiji/.
Juan Franco 5/20/2019
Instructor: Saba Riazi
ENG 162W: Literature and Place
Growing up from a poor country. It can affect how you see other countries and people. “wake up diasmine, it’s mango season” my brother said to me. I grabbed a bucket big enough to hold a lot of mangoes. I head out to my grandparents farm to full my bucket with mangoes. I was born and raised in Jacmel a little city in Haiti, where almost everything is nature. For example there’s a lot of forest, owned by people to do farm. To plant food like; rice, vegetables, beans and fruits. They also raise animals like; cows, pigs, chickens and other types of animals. There’s a lot of trees like; plantain trees, coconut trees raisins trees and many more. There’s also mountains. Where as life in Dubai it’s completely different. It’s futuristic and magical. I moved to the capital at a young age. The capital was a little different compared to the country side, but it wasn’t that different. The city was underdeveloped like; the roads was either undone or half done. The wasn’t skyscrapers or buildings like Dubai. I didn’t know know what a luxury lifestyle was and still don’t. I’ll see pictures of skyscrapers on calendars. I would say to myself or family member “are these places real, if so I wish to visit one day” Until I came to America at age 10. I was well developed with good understanding. I felt like if I can come here, then it’s a start and one day I can get to go to Dubai. Coming to America can open so many doors for me, even though I do love my country but I love to explore new places and try new things. Moving here still doesn’t mean things is easier. You need money for everything, specially traveling. I got older and I started to have social media, like Facebook and now Instagram. After spending time on social media. I will see people traveling or pictures of places. I notice one of the most travelled place is Dubai. The more pictures and videos I see the more I want to go there. Most people I know or see who goes to Dubai are people who have a good job or models/celebrities who can afford. Dubai can be expensive or very cheap depending on your needs and wants. The amount of money you need depends on the number of days you go for, where you stay and what you plan to do. A flight to Dubai can start from $800 to $15,000.
Well you may asked what is Dubai and why Dubai? Dubai is the most popular and largest city located in the United Arab Emirates. It sits off the mainland on an island in the Persian gulf. “It started in AD 630 as a trade route, between Europe and Middle East”. Ancestors of Bedouin made this sandy passage their home and named it Abu Dhabi; this became an important location. They then paired with the British for protection and began to build. Beginning in the 1930s the first oil companies surveyed. The surveyed was on how income was growing year by year. In 1962, the first shipment of crude oil that was exported from Abu Dhabi, which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Later in 1966 oil was discovered in Dubai’s Fateh Oil field and this was the start of a new beginnings. In 1971 Dubai international airport opened. Dubai World Trade Centre opened, the city’s first high-rise, making ready for a string of different aspiring design ventures. 1985, Emirates airline launched. Jebel Ali Free Zone inaugurated, attracting considerable overseas investment. 1996, Dubai World Cup held for the first time. Dubai Shopping Festival launched. 1999, Burj Al-Arab opened and hailed as the world’s only seven-star hotel. 2002, Sheikh Mohammed launches Internet and Media cities and private ownership for foreigners laying the foundations for “New Dubai”. 2003, Ambitious projects began, including the world’s tallest tower, and 200 man-made islands. 2006, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum becomes Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE. 2009, Emirates Terminal 3 and the Metro is launched to accommodate increasing air and road traffic.
Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Being situated where it is, it makes an ideal hub for tourists coming from Asia and Europe. The city was just a desert before and there hasn’t been a lot of development until now. When it was one of the least developed cities in the world. In Dubai it seems as if the future is seen right now. Throughout the world many different crazy forms of architecture but perhaps the most modern and futuristic can be found in Dubai; the visual appeal of these buildings are indescribable. The main economic industry are in the financial industry oil trade, tourism and so on. Dubai has, the world ‘s largest shopping center, the world ‘s largest indoor ski resort, the tallest tower in the world, a continuously oil support and an important trade port status. Therefore, Dubai has brought great wealth, and become synonymous with luxury.
Why is it so successful, and what is it that makes it so outstanding? When oil was discovered in 1966, Sheikh Rashid utilized the oil revenues to built infrastructure development in Dubai. Schools, hospitals, roads, a modern telecommunications network the pace of development was frenetic. A new port and terminal building were built at Dubai International Airport. A runway extension that could accommodate any type of aircraft was implemented. He also undertook a massive program of construction of schools, housing, hospitals and roads. He also take a step further to increase contributions to the crucial states development found. Other reasons why it became successful was because of high -quality infrastructure, an expatriate-friendly environment, zero tax on personal and corporate income and low import duties. Sheik Rashid was able to use the oil Income to prove the quality of life of the people. The result was that Dubai quickly became a business and tourism hub for a region that stretches from Egypt to the Indian sub-continent. “During the 1980s and mid 1990s , Dubai took a strategic decision to emerge as a major international-quality tourism destination. Investments in tourism infrastructure have paid off good over the years” said Donis. Dubai has several unique things that feature the city to be better than other cities, like Dubai has a magnificent location, the ability to expand to twice its size. Sheikh Zayed road can be taken as a great example. Looking into the past of it now, doesn’t seem like it was something as such before. In 1980’s the roads hardly consisted of two lanes and there were barely any buildings constructed. Now the road contains a minimum of 5 lanes and many buildings built in because of how much Dubai had expanded. The most immaculate Architecture is not yet built, the buildings being designed and built are almost unfathomable. According to Donis Fernando, “ The city’s 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest structure, transcending Jebel Ali, the ninth-biggest port. The determined duty to foundation improvement transformed Dubai into the Mideast center for account, data innovation, land, transporting and even flowers”. Dubai has created its own architecture style, they have created a very high mark for the rest of the world.
What is the culture of the people in the city like? According to (Dubai International City: A melting pot of cultures) by Sarwat Nasir, The global City satisfies its name truly as it offers precisely that a worldwide experience. It has a wide range of nation themed constructing groups and offers cooking styles from everywhere throughout the world. It’s the biggest exchanging center point of Chinese items outside Mainland China. It’s where you can spend your whole day at, however a guide of the zone is exceptionally suggested in case you’re new to the headings inside the mall. As of now, rents for a one-room loft at the China Cluster, for instance, run from Dh32, 000 to Dh37, 000 every year. A studio with a gallery is going for about Dh25, 000. An Indian inhabitant who has lived and worked at the Russia Cluster for a long time now, Sooraj Nair said he’s not amazed that numerous expats have been moving into the area, as the territory offers reasonableness, comfort and an assortment of feasting and retail options. “Several families and people of different nationalities have migrated to International City throughout the years. The purposes behind this advancement is the development of the streets and late opening of flyovers close to Al Warsan,” said Nasir “These street arrange improvements have truly helped facilitate the traffic all through International City. In addition, there is a wide assortment of cooking styles accessible here, urging us to take a stab at delectable universal dishes. Shopping is additionally not an issue with Dragon Mart and The Pavilion Mall close-by.” There are in excess of 387 structures crosswise over International City with around 5,000 ground-floor retail units. Also, the public bus network is very convenient for all the residents here who don’t have a car. If I want to go anywhere in Dubai, there’s a bus here that will get me there.
The culture of local people and their national traditions, which have been developing over the centuries in Dubai, do not cease to amaze visitors with their beauty and originality. Virtually every area of life has its own unique customs, following which is considered a duty for local residents. During a walk through the streets of the city you can see people dressed in beautiful national costumes. In Dubai many people wear it not only on holidays, but also in their everyday life. The official language in Dubai is Arabic, however most people in and out of the workplace communicate in English. Religion plays a significant role in the culture of Dubai. Mosques are found throughout the city.The city also houses other religious places of worship, such as churches and Temples. Tourists are also allowed to visit the local mosques and cultural/religious buildings to get a real feel of the way of life there,
Why am interested in exploring Dubai? I want to travel to Dubai for its pristine sandy beaches, blue water and palm trees. Dubai is known for its very beautiful and clear beaches. Jump in and out of the crystal clear waters on Kite Beach, you can see under the water and the trees are so green. For its clear skies and little rain. For their cultures, gourmet food, for example In Dubai you can get any style of food you desire. The main restaurants in the region take inspiration from Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Shopping malls, museums, aqua parks and ancient remains. Also one get to see the world’s tallest skyscraper, it will be a sight that will never be forgotten.
Works Cited page
Nasir, Sarwat. “Dubai International City: A Melting Pot of Cultures.” TCA Regional News, Nov 13, 2018.
“NEWS ANALYSIS: About Dubai.(History of Dubai)(Brief Article).” Design Week, 2006, p. 9.
Donis, Fernando. “Dubai.” AA Files, no. 53, 2006, pp. 48–55. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/29544817.
It is well known that the center of a storm is called “the eye” and the idea identifies it as the calmest part of the storm being in the center. Where the strongest winds and the most intense weather occurs, the middle of it all is actually just the opposite. Interestingly enough, Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela and the Catatumbo lightning storms maintains a similar concept. If you were to apply the idea here, you’ll find that “the eye” is the storm and its surroundings are practically unaffected by its severeness. Strong weather and powerful storms combined and highlighted with flashing lights offers the look and impression of a show for the people of Venezuela and even the whole world to admirer and appreciate as one of the most remarkable phenomena the earth has to offer. This is where my attention was first caught.
It’s important to consider all the details and philosophies on something that you truly admire as an extraordinary piece of art. Not only will I present scientific theoretical evidence on how and why these storms are the way they are, but also touch on the personal reason as to why I consider this miraculous landmark specifically special to me. Additionally, although our topic at hand is essentially an ecological concept, I was able to discover interconnections of literary works and historical reflections on these famous storms. Amongst much research, I discovered that a decent amount of writers and artists have been inspired by the entrancing behaviors of the storms. Anyone who is a fan of natural beauty and enjoys a good theatrical show would be in awe on how these earthly reactions work within its space. Furthermore I was able to find the how the storms were helpful in nautical and navigational aid in Venezuela’s recorded history.
Admittedly, my curiosity piqued when I heard of the personal connections my family had to Maracaibo, Venezuela. My interest in this wonderful place only grew stronger when I traced it back to my roots. My family’s home country is Venezuela and growing up I could never not hear talk of it. For years Venezuelans were very proud of their land and were far from shy about expressing their love for the country. My mother grew up in a small village right next to the nation’s capital, Caracas. As your typical rebellious teenager, she often took trips to visit the wonders Venezuela holds. She has seen Pico Bolívar, Angel Falls, and of course made her way to the Catatumbo River. She had sisters in Maracaibo and in one of the trips she took there, turned out to be her best because it is where she met my father. Hearing this beautiful story, indefinitely motivated and enhanced my desire to further investigate and deeply research this place.
The Catatumbo lighting storms has encouraged to create myths and inspire theories of how it came and what it stands for. It has even adopted mmany different names like The Faro, Thunder Thief, River of Fire, and of course, the Everlasting Storms. Environmentalists such as, and as much as locals that have admired the action scenes so much, they took it upon themselves to dedicate their time to spreading the word about the storms to tourist and outsiders. Earth Data published aan article by Angnieszka Gautier that provided a new perspective for further knowledge of these storms. The article titled, The Maracaibo Beacon, says sailors from the past have relied on the striking lights as a beacon for survival. An Italian explorer by the name of Amerigo Vespucci called Maracaibo “Little Venice” because it was a small city of huts built on slits the floated on the lake. I discovered written stories and legends that highlight myths based on the storms. One spoke of the daughter of a native chief from the Zulia Kingdom who was traded in for a brightly flashing stone in return for her hand in marriage. On the day of the wedding when the daughter and soon to be husband ran off into the depths of the jungle into Lake Maracaibo, the father set off to find them and claim his stone only to discover that they were nowhere to be found. What remained were the nightly flashes of light said to symbolize the couples existence. Another myth in the name of Catatumbo have shared that the indigenous people claimed that the storms were callings from gods and a symbol of safety from the earth. These stories have been passed on so long that when I asked my father about what he thinks the storms mean to the people of Venezuela, he says that the people found comfort in them even when circumstances around them seem to be falling apart. This then led me to question if anyone has attempted to capture this phenomenon and transform it into a visual art. Taking into account that this is an active event, I was still able to find some oil paintings that were inspired by the wars that occurred on Lake Maracaibo. One painting done by Jose Maria Espinosa Prieto, was designed to show the Battle of Lake Maracaibo in the early 1800s. With all included, it was inevitable to search for art and literary works without falling into the history of Maracaibo and Venezuela itself.
To go further into my research of the Catatumbo River, I found that I first had to begin on a macro level in order to invest more onto the micro. As I started, I considered the country of Venezuela, identifying and defining who the people are and how they treat their land. Then I thought of the nation’s history, and how it molded and shaped the country it later presented to be. Coincidentally enough, I soon found myself narrowing in to the heart of the topic that challenged the questions I posed. I had stumbled upon many theories that brought up some valid points to what I pondered most. Primarily, I immediately saw the importance of the relations between the natives and the nature of Venezuela. Here I express nature as the physical entities of soil, water and air. I questioned how the people of Maracaibo and even the rest of Venezuela react to the phenomena of the Everlasting Storm. Moreover, my question deepened into what kinds of life depend on the extreme weathers of the storms on Lake Maracaibo, both natural and people. Through these inquiries I researched and discovered some philosophies that supported this thought. As mentioned before, it was evident that history played a huge part of creating the standing country of Venezuela and suggestion were shown of how it influenced much of the country’s culture and ideologies. It was proposed that a Spanish poet by the name of Lope De Vega was inspired by the story of British seafarer Sir Francis Drake and his efforts to conquest the city of Maracaibo but due to the excessive light flashes reflected of the lake, Drake and his group were exposed along with their attack plan. This poem was from 1957 and was called “The Dragontea”. This information then lead me to more ways of how the storms saved Venezuela like during the Venezuelan War of Independence in the early1800s. At this time in history, the many Latin American countries fought for their independence from the Spanish Empire. The grand leader throughout this war, Simon Bolivar, brought Venezuela as well as that in one of the many battles of the war, the Spanish ship were revealed due to the lightning from the storms which brought Simon Bolivar and his military to victory. Just as much as it was used to expose unwarranted attacks, it was also used to help navigate ships through sails. Understanding the history plays a significant and unchangeable role to how Venezuelans carry themselves and shows how much they really appreciate their land in present time. Having a world nation phenomenon on its dirt can undeniably have great importance for Venezuelan pride because it touches back at the roots and foundation of what made the country.
A perfectly acceptable question and even the most obvious one is what and how are the scientific explanations as to why there is continuous lightning that strikes in piece of land. I discovered that this was a reoccurring request that popped left and right in the studying of this place, in any event, I needed to know more. In my studies I found a numerous amount of scientific theories attempting to explain and validate the seriousness of the storms. Some meteorologist have considered that the attraction of multiple lightning strikes could be due to uranium deposits, or a dense metal that can be used as source of concentrated energy, located in the bedrock. This was where I really had to dig deep into understanding how lightning storms work and why and how they’re generated. I can easily understand that an electrical formation of a great deal of energy, air and rainwater that grow and collide together create sparks between two charged cloud. However, what makes Lake Maracaibo and the Catatumbo Storms so special seems to go into extensive research that can not so simply be clarified as your average storm. An article from Research Gate that attempts to go into the study of intracloud lightning states, “Several local factors help trigger the formation of the thunderstorms in the zone, namely the topography configuration, moisture availability, wind circulation and orographic convection.”. I also found that the likeliness of electrical currency increase because temperatures seem to be higher among places that fall on the equator. The considerably high strikes in the Catatumbo River could also possible be due to the pyroelectric gas accumulation that increases the path of the electric displacement (Falcon and Quintero, 3). Polyelectric materials seem to be higher when temperatures are heated or cooled, generating greater voltages. Another explained theory of the increasing amount of conductivity in Lake Maracaibo could be in relation to rich oilfields found in the ground beneath Venezuela. Meteorologist also noted other contributing factors such as deforestation, the aftermath of an El Niño weather event, and of course air humidity. In addition, the BBC claims that a magnitude of lightning hotspots are connected to a unbalanced combination of curved coastlines and mountain range slopes. Taking all the theories and suggestions to account does help understand the whys and wherefores for such a remarkable occurrence, but many meteorological miracles have yet to be fully explained. Luckily scientific research continuous to advance.
In summary, many features underwrite the significance of Catatumbo to Venezuela as well as the world. Additionally, I wish to emphasize that the Catatumbo Storms unquestionably heightened my fascination for unique climate and especially so, extraordinary wonders. Even on the darkest of nights, the illumination of constant lightning can catch attention and prompt scientific research. Researchers even said that the district helps regenerate the ozone layer. Being on record for the “highest concentration of lightning” has put Venezuela in the Guinness Book of World Record and attracted a fantastic amount of attention to the country, where now is greatly desired and enforced. I saw this topic as an opportunity to look into the current economic and political system that Venezuela is facing. As I mentioned before, the strength that the everlasting storms carry can be seen as a sign of hope for Venezuelans despite the poor conditions. The people are under an escalating crisis that prompts Venezuelans to fee away from their homeland. This strongly diverts positive attention and blinds outsiders from the beauty of the land. Visitors and past inhabitants are strongly discouraged to entering the country for the country is on the brink of a civil war and is creating very dangerous conditions for living. However, I do feel this drives my interest and concentration to another level. Perhaps the old myths about the storm being a sign of protection can encourage and reassure the political freedom that should soon come. All things considered, the phenomenal Everlasting Storm should remain a standing symbol for the solidity and prosperity for Venezuela even in its toughest times as it did in its past.
Atlas Obscura. Relampago De Catatumbo. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/relampago-del-catatumbo
BBC. Ella Davies. (2015) The most electric place on earth.
Busybeta. Maracaibo Beacon. The Perpetual Storm in the Lightning Capital of the World. https://busy.org/@highonthehog/maracaibo-beacon-the-perpetual-storm-in-the-lightning-capital-of-the-world
EarthData@nasa.gov. Amerigo Vespucci. The Maracaibo Beacon.https://earthdata.nasa.gov/learn/sensing-our-planet/the-maracaibo-beacon
IFLScience. Ruzhugo27 via Wikipedia Commons. There’s a Place On Earth Th Experiences 1.2 Million Lightning Strikes A Year. https://amp.iflscience.com/environment/theres-place-earth-experiences-12-million-lighting-strikes-year/
News.com.au. McMah, Lauran. (2016) Why Catatumbo River is the most lightning -struck place on earth. https://amp.news.com.au/travel/travel-ideas/weird-and-wacky/why-catatumbo-river-is-the-most-lightningstruck-place-on-earth/news-story/fb822706b7893ef9764709efcfbcd379
Research Gate. Falcon, Nelson & Quintero, Amilkar. (2010) Polyelectrical model for intracloud lightning. Revist. https://drive.google.com/drive/my-drive
Research Gate. Muñoz, Ángel & Díaz Lobatón, Joaquín. (2011). The Catatumbo Lightning: A Review. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263926978_The_Catatumbo_Lightning_A_Review
Volenteer Latin America. Knight, Stephan. CATATUMBO LIGHTNING IN VENEZUELA – WORLD’S MOST SPECTACULAR STORM https://www.volunteerlatinamerica.com/blog/posts/catatumbo-lightning-in-venezuela
English 162 W
May 21 2019
Santa Ana Volcano
El Salvador, the country where my family was brought up and raised in. This country is located in central America between the countries of Honduras and Guatemala. Santa Ana is one of the major cities in El Salvador, my parents met in this city, that’s why I chose to do this place because it’s important to me. I became interested in doing my research in the country of El Salvador because I wanted to learn more about where my parents grew up and how they were raised. To them, it didn’t seem like a good country the way they would talk about it when it was brought up. My mother always said its too dangerous to go there whenever I would ask her about visiting el Salvador. Many people have different opinions towards el Salvador, but when I did my research I learned many things such as history, values, facts and was introduced to the beautiful sight of the Santa Ana Volcano. The Santa Ana volcano, became one of my interests during this research proposal. The volcano changed my perspective of realizing that you can’t judge the country just because it has a bad reputation. Santa Ana Volcano , Lago de Coatepeque are also one of the most popular places tourists go to explore.
The country of El Salvador carries a lot of history that many people outside of the country aren’t informed about. A little bit about the country is known for its golden age. The country was modernizing and making business, one of the many was in the production of coffee, many business men owned coffee plants and sold for profit. The Cathedral of Santa Ana has a gothic and byzantine style and was built around the year 1995. Santa Ana was known historically through their architecture through the use of modernist and gothic style cathedrals. There architecture was appreciated through the people of el salvador, which made the building and monuments look attractive and caught people’s attention towards their features/characteristics. The food in El Salvador is very good I grew up eating it because it was a tradition in my family. Their main nutrition was corn, rice, beans and they relied heavily on corn mainly because of their large plantations. One of the many traditions was to eat tamales, they were to be made on occasions and ceremonies. These were called “Tamales de lote” which would be considered a dessert and you can have it with a “crema”, known as cream. They also had different varieties, turkey or pork filled tamale, which would be also topped with a sauce. They also made “elotes”, which was a drink made out of corn that would be served hot, and eaten at any of day morning or evening. One of the main dishes in the country are “Pupusas”, they’re corn tortillas stuffed with cheese ,pork and beans. These are my favorite dishes to eat but you don’t have to go to el Salvador to try them because they sell them in the united states, you can find them in Salvadorian restaurants. The tradition in El Salvador is played through gender roles. The man is to work and make money and the women is the stay at home who cooks and takes care of the children, this is called “Machismo”. The children learn these expectations, tradition and culture to be passed down through generations. The upper and middle class are brought up differently, where women are now taking the roles of nurses, doctors, dentists and teachers.
During the years 1980-1992 the civil war began in El Salvador. The start of the civil war made an impact on the people of El Salvador because it forced people to emigrate, violence increased, and the formation of gangs began. My parents had the opportunity to leave the place when it was in complete chaos because of the violence that was going around during the time. This was their chance for a new beginning and also more importantly, was to be safe. My mother went through a lot during the civil war, having to worry about my brother who was only an infant at that time. The war made an impact worldwide it was compared to the cold war ideology during this time. Over 75,000 people lost their lives during the civil war and over all, the country had suffered a widespread of poverty. One of the main archbishops from el salvador was assassinated, he helped people in poverty and wanted to reform social justice problems. There was a lot of kidnappings and murders happening and the beginning of gangs were formed known as the MS 13, they were known to be dangerous and they’re still known today, as the most dangerous gangs in the world. Haeseleer (2008) “From 1979 until 1992, the United States government intervened in the Salvadoran Civil War to defeat ‘communist revolution,’ establish a moderate, centrist government, and prevent its overthrow”. The reason for the war lasting 13 years is because the government of El Salvador wanted to form a democracy for the people and wanted to seek help from America to build better programs to help their socio-economic status. Despite this tragedy that’s occurred in the country of El Salvador, people remained positive and the development of humanitarian intervention programs which relieved civil conflict (Delugan, 2005). Many programs were formed to resolve globalization problems and to rebuild culture and identity in the country. “In an effort to introduce stability and order in El Salvador, UNESCO attempted to instruct both state and society not only in peace but also in the norms of democratic culture” (Delugan,2005). Through years of civil war in El Salvador, the country needed to find peace in order to move on from this tragedy and start over peacefully through the help of its organizations.
Volcanoes are a mixed blessing between beautiful and yet destructive. Volcanoes are described to be a rupture in the earth’s crust of a planetary mass object, such as earth that allows hot lava volcanic ash and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. History of the Santa Ana Volcano is important because of how it formed the Coatepeque Caldera, which is another beautiful sight to see that many people glances upon when they visit the volcano. Santa Ana volcano is also known as Llamatepec and it’s a stratovolcano ,45 km west of San Salvador, located at the capital of el Salvador. The volcano is 2,381 m high. Santa Ana volcano is known to be Stratovolcanoes that are made up of layers of lava and ash. Small to moderate explosive eruptions have been historically marked since the 16th century, and the last eruption was in the year 2005, east of Santa Ana volcano starting off from an elevation of approximately 1500m, that later on became the formation of Lago de Coatepeque of Caldera.
The Lago de Coatepeque of Caldera, is located northwest of El Salvador. Surrounded by lush landscape and private beach houses, Lake Coatepeque (also called Lago de Coatepeque and Laguna de Coatepeque) is a vacation paradise waiting for those with a spirit of adventure. Ideal for all water sports, this lapis colored lake is located 25 miles (40 Kilometers) northwest of the capital city of San Salvador and 11 miles (18 kilometers) south of Santa Ana. It is known for its beautiful lakes, its neighbored by beach houses and it’s popular because it was famous for its vacation venues. The author stated that “Coatepeque Caldera was created by two eruptions, collapsing the mountain peak approximately 70,000 and 50,000 years ago”. This lake is known as a lake basin, it’s a geographic land area draining into a lake; also referred to as drainage basin or watershed and it’s 394 feet deep. This river connects to El Salvador’s Rio Agua Caliente, which is why the lake is so big. This retreat is known for many tourists sites but many residents of Santa Ana also live near the Lago, a little over 40,000 people have homes near there. There are many fun adventurous activities to do in the Lago de Coatepeque, such as kayaking, sailing in the boats and swimming. These homes that surround the lake consist of private homes and open lake shore houses, where people can spend the night during vacation.
In the article “Hiking up the Santa Ana Volcano” describes the authors own experience. If you’re an explorer and you like to go on adventures, then Santa Ana volcano is the answer. The author who wrote this article “Hiking the Santa Ana Volcano in El Salvador” the author discusses his experience in El Salvador and talks about hiking up the Santa Ana volcano. People have access to hike up this monstrous volcano to get an amazing view at almost 2,400 m. In the city you can travel by bus to the Santa Ana volcano and about 2 policemen escort you to the top for safety reasons. In the article “The Santa Ana volcano (Vulcan Llamatepec), at almost 2,400m (7,850ft) in height, offers some beautiful panoramic views of neighboring towns and scenic landscapes from the top, But the highlight is undoubtedly the stunning turquoise lake that sits in the centre of the crater”(2018). The anticipation is rising as you’re getting higher and higher towards the top of the mountains must feel exhilarating. Towards the center you will see the great depth of the lake as you dive into the cool calming water. According to the author the hike isn’t difficult, but you will get an exercise out of the whole experience. It takes about 4 hours to get to the top of the volcano. By the time you get to the top of the volcano, you’ll be tired and sweaty, but the trip is worth seeing. The first sight he saw when he reached the top was the steam oozing from the crater, which is located at the top of the volcano. He also mentions the eerie mist of the steam across the Crater Lake. I thought his article was informative because he gives information on how to get to the volcano, his own experience and what is expected through the tour.
One of my main concerns of the hazardous living conditions that the people of Santa Ana face when it comes to living near the volcano and How does it affect the people in El Salvador? According to my research over 10,000 people live near the volcano. There are two major cities within 20 km away from the volcano and it could affect about millions of people if the volcano were to explode. The people aren’t fully aware of how hazardous it can be for people that live near the volcano. People in El Salvador have experienced tremendous impacts such civil war, minor earthquakes, landslides, and hurricanes (Granyia, 2018). What caught my attention was that before the eruption that occurred in 2005, before its first eruption in 1904, coffee pickers would be able to pick coffee berries near the slopes of the volcanic region which is known as Finca Malacara. In 2005, an eruption had occurred and ash fuming in the air at about 10 km altitude. Ash was beginning to fall, and ballistic blocks were striking up 1m diameter ,which made an impact to the craters of the volcano and later a debris flow made it down to the ravine in the south east of the volcano. This was the beginning of a dangerous evacuation and thousands of residents had to evacuate. Living near this volcano can be a risk factor towards the people of El Salvador, they must be aware and take note of what’s occurring around the volcano if sudden changes, such as fuming of ash. Regardless of its beautiful view of the landscapes from the Santa Ana volcano compared to living near the volcano is viewed differently between both sides. The residents who live near must be aware of any sudden climate changes that can trigger the volcano to suddenly abrupt and if this does occur, they must stop everything they’re doing and evacuate immediately. Since the eruption, “The volcanic complex is the largest protected area in the UNESCO designated Apaneca-Lamatepec Biosphere Reserve. It boasts a variety of ecosystems and habitats” (Granyia, 2018). Now that these organizations are formed ourists can now travel safely and spend time at the site of the volcano. For residents living near the volcano can now feel safe in their environment.
Santa Ana volcano is one of the most extraordinary places to see in the city of El Salvador, many tourists find their experience interesting and find the views of the landscapes from the volcano to be beautiful. Also, it was informative to explore what the country of El Salvador has been through and it still stands to be a strong country through encountering the civil war which made an impact towards the people from Salvador. The eruption of the volcano in 2005 brought about safety programs to protect residents who live near the volcano and it also molds tourists to feel safe through traveling the volcano and getting to experience the sight of the volcano.
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