Saturday, June 4, 2016

Abercrombie, Kelly and Kelly's Dublin of the Future

Dublin of the Future: The New Town Plan by Patrick Abercrombie, Sydney Kelly and Arthur Kelly, published by the University Press of Liverpool and Hodder and Staughton (not dated, though the competition was won by these three in 1914) features an extensive 'Park System and Public Buildings' map (map 5, at page 41). Frustratingly although the various new suburban areas that Abercrombie, Kelly and Kelly have included are clearly riddled with internal reserves, their otherwise very comprehensive discussion of the park system (pp. 41-48) does not seem to properly identify them or there intended purpose. I am not even sure if they are 'local parks', 'town gardens or city squares' or 'small playgrounds' (I suspect they are the latter). Here (p. 42) we are told 'The exact position of the small children's playgrounds is difficult to determine at this stage: generally speaking, they would be located intermediately with the neighbourhood parks, as it is agreed that a quarter of a mile is as far as small children should be expected to go... The great use made of such play spaces, as at the Brabazon Playground in Pimlico, proves how necessary it is systematically to add further examples.'

Additionally: 'it may be mentioned that it is necessary for there to be an official, who would be known as the Director of Recreation. He would be responsible for the personnel of the playground instructors throughout the city. Many of the small playgrounds would probably be in charge of a woman.' 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Harlem, Florida

Two internal reserves are located in John Nolen's 1926 plan for Harlem, the African-American adjunct settlement to Venice, Florida. this was not built. It is unclear why only two blocks include these spaces, in an area very rich with other open space. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reserve in block bounded by Adelaide, Gunnedah, Bazentin and Coolamon Streets, Albion, Vic.

The third IR recently visited with Victoria Kolankiewicz (thanks!). 

Firstly, an image from this space from August, 2002:

The chickens are no longer a feature, sadly; you can view the space on google map here. For no discernible reason, houses were for sale on either side of the entrance way to this IR. 

Naturally it got up my nose thoroughly that this billboard references the preposterous idea of an 'HV Mackay Garden City'; once again, real estate agents show they'll stoop to anything to close a deal. But it is very interesting that the IR is a feature of this property (rather than an embarrassment to be ignored).

This is the guardian of that particular house.
The lane way.

The lane way looking out.
The other property also for sale.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reserve in block bounded by Coolamon, Adelaide, Hamel and Kamarooka Streets, Albion, Vic

Victoria and I also recently visited the two reserves in the Melbourne suburb of Albion which are part of an estate reputedly created by HV Mackay, the proprietor of the Sunshine Harvester Works in western Melbourne. I have visited these before (and indeed Robert Freestone and I wrote about one of them in our most popular internal reserves paper, 'Community valuations of historic pocket parks: A Melbourne study' published in Leisure Studies 6:2 in 2003; we compared survey material of local residents in 1979 and twenty something years later). 

You can view this one here.

This is the lane going in, astride an apartment block car park:

 A lot of the locals use this for vehicle access, obviously.

As you can see, one resident has extended a backyard into the space, and also grown some rather delectable looking capsicums (aka peppers) and eggplants (aka aubergines) outside her or his back fence. 

One house, with almost no extant back fence, seems to be mainly a residents for multiple cats.
Victoria was particularly engaged by the drainage on this site and I must say the little pedestrian bridges are quaint.
All in all, a well-used reserve, hardly used at all for recreation but clearly valued.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tennis Courts in block bounded by Devonshire, Cornwall, Thomsons and Una Streets, Sunshine, Victoria - part 2

This space was discussed in detail in a previous post. Victoria Kolankiewicz and I visited it recently and found it to be still apparently used for something (there was a meeting going on in the clubhouse) although, as Victoria pointed out, there were no nets on the tennis courts and the cricket cages were seemingly untroubled by aspirant batsmen/women. The pictures say more than my words could (aside from these informative ones).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Harbroe Reserve, New Town, Tasmania

Most of our explorations of Tasmania’s internal reserves took place in 2002, though some have been revisited as recently as 2012. The Harbroe Reserve is one of the most interesting as it has an asphalted road around the internal space to give householders vehicle access to the rear of their properties. While in one sense this clearly strikes at the heart of the pedestrian (in the literal sense) nature of IRs, in another the formalising of this function has given life back(?) to the place.

There were some files in the Department of Environment and Land Management that gave some insight into the site’s history.

The plan for the 46-lot Harbroes Estate was lodged in 1913 by Geoffrey Payne, a Hobart surveyor who by 1921 was part of the Commonwealth Surveyor-General’s staff. One aspect of the estate that caused much controversy – probably to our consternation today – was the inclusion of ‘grass plots’ in the street, by which I think is probably meant nature strips, though it might be something more grand. An article dated 16 June 1920 (p. 5) in the Hobart Mercury, entitled ‘War Service Homes: The Garden Suburb Idea’ adds this information:

‘A triangular piece of ground in the middle of the little settlement is to be laid out as a reserve and children’s playground, and the residents will be asked to keep this in order also.’

The internal reserve space was labeled ‘Open Court’ in the plan, with a right of way at either end (into the specially-named Harbroe Avenue in the north, and Park Street in the south). It then becomes a mystery for almost half a century, until the following items of correspondence, firstly from N. C. Barnes, Deputy Director of War Service Homes, who writes to the Hobart City Council Town Clerk on 18th September 1968:

The Director of War Service Homes has owned the portion of land, shaded on attached plan at the rear of the above streets since approximately 1924. This land served as a rear entrance and right of way for thirty four homes but with the effluxion of time the Director only has interest in two or three of the properties.2. In view of this, therefore, advice would be appreciated as to whether the Council would consider taking over this land, free of costs, from the Director. It is mentioned that the Department ahs not expended any money on the land over thirty years or more and the Council would not be faced with any foreseeable expenditure should you decide to take it over.

The response is a ‘Memorandum: Vacand Land – Rear of Bishop Street, Harbroe Avenue and Park Street’, to the Town Clerk from the Superintendent of Reserves, dated 8 October 1968:

The Director of the Commonwealth Department of Housing in correspondence of 18th September, 1968, offers the Council, free of cost, this rear portion of land which covers 1 rood.It is a triangle, approximately 240’ long x 180’ (at its widest point) to approximately 13’ at the R.O.W. south. It has two long R.O.W. entrances 15’ wide as entry.This area was considered previously for a playground, but because of it being an enclosed cul-de-sac it was considered unsafe for children.It has some advantages, but many liabilities.The residents use it as a rear entry to garages and earth tracks are all over the area. The R.O.W.’s are in poor condition and there are some drainage problems with stormwater at its northern boundary.If the Council has to assist in any fencing it could be a costly liability. Several householders have the rear section neat, while others are quite unkempt with some garden refuse deposited there.There is no doubt it is a useful area for youths to play football, btu a danger to the small children who may use it. I consider it could be put to good use for such a body as the Boy Scouts for a hall or building for youth, on such conditions as no liability regarding fences.If considered as a play area some definite understanding would have to be made regarding residents’ cars who used the rear entrance and as entry to their garages. I see no alternative to this. In such case a definite route would have to be made for them leaving the centre triangle as a small green sward for the chidlren’s play area.In such case as this we would need a consensus of children in the area to see if it is warranted. The nearest small play areas are at Swanston Street, and Swanston Street/Risdon Road, approximately ¼ mile away and the recreation junior area of New Town Bay approximately 1/3 to ½ mile away.It could be worthy of an inspection by Committee, but the City Engineer’s opinion should be sought also regarding drainage and track obligations if we take the area over.

Another letter from the City Engineer to the Town Clerk dated 23 October 1968 reads thus:

Reference report of 8th October 1968, of Superintendent of Reserves.All surrounding lots have rights over the strips of land 15’ wide and full usage and enjoyment over the Open Court.A typical resident says the “paddock” has a use by residents as a vehicular access, place to burn rubbish, play area for children, short cut etc. It is regarded as an asset rather than a liability.It is not likely that residents would be interested in changing it to that of an impound park especially if they were involved financially or with maintenance. For example they would not remove their back fences and enjoy a common park area. Also, there are less children concerned than when it was a new estate.Before any commitment is entered into by the Council, the residents who have rights should be asked to meet and decide what changes, if any, they desire. If no change is desired, then it would be advisable to leave things as they are.

Things apparently did not stay exactly as they were, as this handwritten letter to the ‘Environmental Department’ from 21 August 1974 indicates:

Rubbish TipDear Sir, There is a piece of land at New Town, situated between Park and Bishop Streets, this land is used as a back entrance for residents residing in Park Street, Bishop Street, and Harbroe Avenue, there are two road entrance [sic] leading in to the area, one running off Harbroe Avenue, and one running off Park Street.Residents tip their garden, rubbish, old shrub trees, stones, bricks, etc on this land, there are also two old bomb cars dumped on the area. Could not something be done to clean up this rubbish as it is unsightly from an environmental point of view, and could possibly create a pollution problem. Would suggest a notice be erected, stating no rubbish to be left here. Yours Faithfully, Anonymous. 
Response was reasonably swift; a Memorandum to the Town Clerk from Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent on the 8 October 1974 says: ‘If the land referred to could be cleaned up, top dressed and up graded and all back fences repaired by the Department of Housing and Construction and at no cost to Council, I would be prepared to recommend that Council take over the land concerned.
‘At the present time my department has no available finance for the above necessary work.’

Another letter from the Town Clerk aside – one I don’t understand, dating from 26 August 1975 and relating to the banning of large vehicles from Harbroe Avenue (‘to alleviate congestion somewhat in the area’), the next important element is an undated plan by Veronika Walder populating the ‘Open Court’ (now titled ‘Harbroe Avenue Park’) with playground equipment and adding paved (?) roads and a one-way traffic system through the space.

In 2002, the space was neatly kept and the road system within was clearly valued by the surrounding houses. Here are two images of the roadway into the space from Park St:

These two images are of the space itself:

View the space on google maps here.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Valley Stream, New York - Clarence Stein plan

From his Toward New Towns for America 1951. This wasn't constructed.