Just in time for spring, the venerable New York nonprofit Municipal Art Society (MAS) is hosting its annual Jane’s Walk NYC, an on-foot (but by no means pedestrian) celebration of the city’s architecture urbanism. This year, over 200 New Yorkers have volunteered to show others interesting buildings and sites around their neighborhoods. The walks, all of which are free, are named for beloved urbanist Jane Jacobs and are held annually on May 4 through 6 all over the world in her honor.
Below, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) rounded up 13 of the most interesting strolls for architecture aficionados, from the Orphan Asylum and bird (mural) walks in Manhattan, to midcentury modern in Queens, and terra-cotta in Tottenville. All event descriptions are from MAS; head on over to mas.org/janes-walk-nyc for more details on the weekend’s programs.
“The Firemen’s Monument, is one of the most beautiful architectural elements of Riverside Park. We’ll contemplate the history and significance of this memorial plaza – a combination of public sculpture and landscape architecture. The walk will continue into the adjoining neighborhood, where we’ll consider Jane Jacob’s notion that the streetscape facilitates safety. Fire-protection infrastructure and firehouses will be discussed along the way.”
Queens Modern: Mid-Century Architecture of Forest Hills and Rego Park
“This walk will look at the development of Forest Hills and Rego Park from the 1930s to 1960s along Queens Boulevard, exploring how these neighborhoods developed and continue to change. We’ll explore the diverse architecture on and off the boulevard, from apartment towers to parks and synagogues to civic buildings. The walk will end at Rego Park Jewish Center (possibly with a visit inside).”
The Historic Arts and Crafts Houses of Douglas Manor
“Join us for a walk back through time, to nearby Douglas Manor, a century old residential neighborhood overlooking the Long Island Sound that has the largest collection of Arts and Crafts style houses in New York City, including three by master Gustav Stickley. Our sojourn through this NYC-designated Historic District culminates with refreshments and a reception in the garden of a picturesque 1911 gambrel roofed Arts and Crafts style gem. This walk is co-sponsored by the Douglaston Local Development Corporation and the Douglaston and Little Neck Historical Society.”
The Art and Architecture of Park Avenue
“Everyday over 700,000 New Yorkers pass through Midtown along Park Avenue to and from Grand Central Terminal. This is a part of the City where, in a few blocks, you can see many of the forces that have shaped our city. There are icons of architecture (Midtown Modernism) and capitalism such as the Lever, the Seagram, and the Chrysler building. There are icons of real estate such as the Grand Hyatt and Helmsley. There are great clubs and great churches.”
The Audubon Bird Murals Project
“Audubon Mural Project is an exciting effort by National Audubon Society and Gitler Gallery to create murals of 314 birds in northern Manhattan. As all the birds painted are threatened by climate change, the project is designed not only to portray the beauty of the birds, but also to make us aware of the challenges they face. In addition to seeing about 30 murals, we will visit Audubon’s impressive grave site in Trinity Cemetery at 155th & Broadway.”
POPS: Privately Owned Public Spaces
“Harvard Professor Jerold S. Kayden and New York City Department of City Planning POPS Program Manager Stella Kim will visit some of the City’s celebrated and lesser known privately owned public spaces. How are these outdoor and indoor spaces contributing to the lives of those who live and work in the city? How do they function for visitors to the city? What can be done to make they function better for all?”
Uncovering the City’s Scottish Roots
“Two representatives from the American-Scottish Foundation will trace the contributions to New York’s history by Scottish architects, designers and engineers, from colonial to modern times, focusing on Lower Manhattan.”
Tottenville’s Terra Cotta Legacy
“The Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. (ATCC) was the world’s largest manufacturer of architectural terra cotta. Join us as we explore the former site of ATCC on Tottenville’s waterfront where several repurposed buildings still exist. Conditions permitting, we’ll explore the shoreline (wear appropriate shoes), dotted with 100 yr. old remnants from the past. Optional: continue to the Terra Cotta Sculpture Garden opening, Biddle House, Conference House Park.”
Lost Carmansville: Manhattan’s Last Village
“We’ll explore parts of the village of Carmansville along the Hudson in what is now Hamilton Heights. We’ll find a few almost-hidden relics from the village days and learn about the history of the place and the village founder, Richard Carman. Please note: walk includes steep hills and staircases. We will visit a cemetery, where pets are not allowed.”
La Magia de Brooklyn Heights en Español
“This tour, led in Spanish, explores the greatness of Brooklyn Heights, from a small original Dutch Settlement to becoming the first historical district in NYC in 1965. We will admire the variety of its architecture, its elegant residences, great churches, hotels and institutional buildings. There are hundreds of stories and artists that made it their home. And yes, there was a big struggle to preserve this unique neighborhood. Come and join us!”
Gowanus Landmarks—Make It So!
“As Gowanus prepares for a potential neighborhood re-zoning, join Gowanus resident and preservationist Brad Vogel for a walking tour of approximately two dozen structures proposed for city landmark status. The sites—largely cataloging the industrial character of Gowanus, along with some residential sections—were proposed by a coalition of local groups during the Gowanus Places planning study in 2017.”
Planning and Preservation on West 14th Street
“14th St. has been home to communities, architecture, storied NYC establishments and more. This border street Village on the south, Chelsea on the north, teems with public art; former row houses; the first Spanish-speaking Catholic parish in NYC, Our Lady of Guadalupe; Art Deco Salvation Army building (finally landmarked!), and much more. Led by Save Chelsea President Laurence Frommer and GVHSP’s Director of Research and Preservation Sarah Bean Apmann.”
City College and the Hebrew Orphan Asylum: Institutions Through Time
“We invite you to join us on an architectural perspective of the City College of New York and the former Hebrew Orphan Asylum (currently The Jacob H. Schiff Park). From the bustling Gothic campus, to the summer concerts at Lewisohn Stadium and student life in the old Orphan Asylum. CCNY and the surrounding institutions served the disenfranchised and those seeking a better life. We will remember these places in this walk.”
Descriptions have been edited and condensed for clarity.