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"The Accidental Playgound" on NYT Top 10 Reading List for next Mayor

16th December 2013

New York Times BOOKSHELF

Suggested Reading for de Blasio

Published: December 13, 2013

If Harold Bloom, the Yale humanities professor, were to compile a New York version of his “Western canon,” he would face a shelf of books meeting his high standard: that they be authoritative, sublime, representative and distinguished by originality that “cannot be assimilated or that so assimilates us that we ceased to see it as strange.”

Such an urban canon could prove helpful to New York’s next mayor, Bill de Blasio. There are many obvious choices, like “The Power Broker,” “Gotham,” “The Encyclopedia of New York City,” “To Be Mayor of New York” and “A Phoenix From the Ashes.” These Mr. de Blasio may well be familiar with. With only two weeks left before he takes office, here are a few new and recent candidates to make an even 10 for Mr. de Blasio’s Christmas reading (or rereading) list:

The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned” (Fordham University Press). Daniel Campo, a former New York City planner, considers the serendipitous development of Williamsburg and concludes: “In contrast to urban space produced through conventional planning and design, the accidental playground that evolved on the North Brooklyn waterfront generated vitality through immediate and largely unmeditated action. The waterfront was there for the claiming, and people went out and did just that without asking for permission, holding meetings or making plans.”