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The Rehabilitation of West Haven Research Paper


Introduction

Social geography is a body of knowledge and a set of practices by which scholars look at, and seek to understand, the social world. As such, it is a strikingly diverse sub discipline of human geography that has many overlapping interests with other forms of geography rather than any fixed or strict boundaries.

This discipline evaluates how social relations, identities and inequalities are made. This paper analyzes the application of social geography in the rehabilitation of West Haven from one of New York’s poorest urban centers to New York’s industrial hub.

A brief overview of West Haven

West Haven, which is located in Bronx, Morrisania was once New York’s industrial hub. Rolston states that the rehabilitation of West Haven and communities around it had been stalled for many years owing to a belief that it is impossible to salvage West Haven and its surrounding communities in economic and architectural terms.

However, the use of cooperative strategic development, which included the local communities in decision making and planning, necessitated the rehabilitation of West Haven back to its initial form of economic prowess. Currently, West Haven, which focuses on ecological sustainability, is a key revenue generator of New York City.

West Haven is a key industrial centre of New York City. The economic prowess of this urban centre reached its climax in 1945 but started deteriorating thereafter (McNamara, 24). The deterioration turned West Haven into one of the New York’s poorest urban centers. However, in 2006, environmentalists, geographers, and other stakeholders from the New York City united in a bid to restore West Haven’s lost glory.

The stakeholders formed “a private public partnership, which addresses the challenges of site placement, environmental deterioration, and social stigma” so as to revive the economic prowess of West Haven (Rolston 63). The revolution which restored West Haven’s lost glory involved the use of sustainable construction principles.

The use of sustainable construction has enhanced sustainable land use and conservation. In addition, the use of cooperative strategic development, which included the local communities in decision making and planning, necessitated the rehabilitation of West Haven back to its initial form of economic prowess.

Rolston (63) notes that “from the late 19th Century until 1945, West Haven, which is a small manufacturing district in the Morrisania section of Bronx, New York, hummed as one of the city’s bustling industrial centers”.

Rolston (64) also notes that “West Haven’s 19th century infrastructure of factories, stores, train lines, brick houses, and public buildings reflected a working middle class German immigrant values through the richness of industry, networked transportation, presence of civil authority, and diversity of recreation” (Rolston 64).

Rolston explains that the completion of 149th Street Bridge in 1910 enhanced the completion of the Cromwell Creek Landfill project. After the completion of the land fill projects, West Haven opened its doors to economic development. However, according to Rolston (66), “West Haven’s social atmosphere and commercial vitality failed to brighten its dull appearance”. The New York City council together with other stakeholders unanimously agreed to rebuild West Haven and they have succeeded in restoring its economic prowess.

The Rehabilitation process

The initiative to build West Haven began in 2006 after a host of stakeholders joined hands and resources. The main stakeholders included development companies and Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (Walsh 34). These two were assisted by Community Benefits Agreement.

Together, the stakeholders formed “a private public partnership so as to tackle the challenges of site placement, environmental deterioration, and social stigma to revive the market selling markets of Caribbean and African foods housed in shabby buildings housed on the water’s edge of West Haven” (Walsh 90).

In the present day, “this project, often known as Gateway Centre at the Bronx terminal market, is a key feature of South Bronx at its western shore, across the revamped and 145th Street Bridge, and renovated major Deegan expressway” (Caro 23).

Rolston tracks the steps that were taken in an endeavor to explain how West Haven’s economic prowess has been restored. Rolston indicates that environmentalists, geographers, and other stakeholders from the New York City united in a bid to restore West Haven’s lost glory.

The stakeholders formed “a private public partnership, which addresses the challenges of site placement, environmental deterioration, and social stigma” so as to revive the economic prowess of West Haven (Rolston 63). “The New York City Council motivated by the goal of rebuilding social and economic value of West Haven, the Hub and Mott Haven, unanimously agreed to support the redevelopment of the former Terminal Bronx Market” (Rolston, 66).

The use of sustainable construction has enhanced sustainable land use and conservation of the environment. The use of cooperative strategic development, which included the local communities in decision making and planning, necessitated the rehabilitation of West Haven back to its initial form of economic prowess. Rolston highlights how sustainable development has been used to address social inequities created by flawed urban policies

The infrastructure of Qwest Haven in the 19th century in terms of “public buildings, brick houses, train lines, stores and factories, was a reflection of a working middle class of German immigrant values through the richness of industry, networked transportation, presence of civil authority, and diversity of recreation” (Rolston 63).

Rolston explains that the completion of 149th Street Bridge in 1910 enhanced the completion of the Cromwell Creek Landfill project. After the completion of the land fill projects, West Haven opened its doors to economic development. However, according to Rolston (66) “West Haven’s social atmosphere and commercial vitality failed to brighten its dull appearance” (Rolston 66).

Social life in the yester years of West Haven relied heavily on establishments such as “the Jacob Ruppert Beer Hall, and tavern in the nearby Morrisania Hub, pen green spaces such as Cedar Park, and entertainment venues such as the Bronx Opera House, a popular vaudeville theatre that still stands, although in a faded condition” (Rolston 66). The early 20th century social life of Bronx relied on the economic and social organization of artist workshops and industries located within the town (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia 1).

The town underwent a gradual growth over time. Rural roads later become tarmac roads which led to factories, apartments and homes, offices, and stores. Despite these developments, the town remained gloomy.

As a result, the streets of this town were dominated by unattractive industrial buildings. However, there were a few exceptions. For example, “Bronx Men’s House of Detention reflected a social strategy that placed undesirable by important urban institutions within the locality of remote areas of emerging cities” (Rolston 66).

Bronx Men’s House of Detention building was closed in 1963, and would only be opened when needed. This happened until it was eventually demolished in 2007. Although it was one of the few buildings which were decorated, Bronx Men’s House of Detention building could not brighten the ever dull West Haven city.

The presence of such abandoned buildings by departed industry and socioeconomic collapse formed the initial stages of West Haven’s deterioration. The New York City Council was motivated by the ancient industrial prowess of West Haven and it embarked on a difficult journey of restoring the city’s lost glory in 2006.

The administration and construction processes were approved by the New York City Council Uniform Land Use Procedure. After the approval, architects redesigned the land use profile along Harlem River. In the process, they eliminated Cromwell Avenue, which divided the project site.

This led to the development of a renewed and upgraded infrastructure. The most notable transformations include the traffic pattern and transport infrastructure that encompasses Gateway today. The renovation led to the reconnection between CSX freight lines and Oak point Rail Yard (Wolkoff 58). This was a monumental architectural development in West Haven for it links West Haven to other surrounding suburbs.

In fact, it restored Wets Haven’s status as the hub of major urban freight intermodal transport corridor. Upon its completion in 2009, Gateway could accommodate 2800 cars and had a 950,000 gross square feet (AKRF 34). In addition, a 250 room hotel which is expected to be complete in 2014 is under construction (AKRF34). During the renovation of Gateway, a number of structures were brought down such as the Bronx Men’s House of Detention building and several commercial buildings.

The renovations also included an esplanade, creation of forefront parks and recreation areas, and the upgrade of the transportation sector. The main notable ones include the construction of a new train station and foot bridge from the Metro North suburban line.

For example, the modern rail station located along the 153rd street offers additional public transportation access to Yankee stadium (Anderson 45). The advancement plays a significant role in reducing car traffic when the stadium hosts sporting activities.

Furthermore, the original Yankee stadium was brought down and rebuilt as a Gateway background project. The stadium was strategically located close to the transportation and pedestrian access infrastructures and this has enhanced revenue generation from the parking fees collected in this area.

The architects who were in charge of the reconstruction process took radical measures so as to realize the set goals. The architects declared Gateway as a General Large Scale District so as to allow for rezoning which increased the area of parking spaces. The architects created private public partnered projects in a bid to prevent the adverse effects that were likely to arise as a result of the reconstruction.

The economic Development Corporation gave relocation assistance to commercial tenants. This strategy led to the creation of 65,000 square feet of space. At some point, the architects received resistance from some members of the neighboring communities. However, the architects organized several meetings which brought together different stakeholders from the community including the clergy, local agencies, politicians, and citizens in order to address the raised concerns.

During the meeting, a consensus was reached and everyone party agreed that West Haven should be renovated for the benefit of all. The architects, related companies, the community representatives and Bronx Overall EDC adopted a comprehensive CBA. The CBA spelt out clearly “the project planning process for inclusive hiring at the site to give economic activity to local residents during all phases of construction and afterward” (Ascher 34).

The New York City council together with other stakeholders unanimously agreed to rebuild West Haven and they have succeeded in restoring its economic prowess (Levere 74 ). The current outlook of Gateway indicates the transformation that West Have has undergone. The current status of the city has embraced cotemporary architectural designs and sustainable land use.

Conclusion

West Haven, which is located in Bronx, Morrisania was once the New York’s industrial hub. Rolston states that the rehabilitation of West Haven and communities around it had been stalled for many years owing to a belief that it is impossible to salvage West Haven and its surrounding communities in economic and architectural terms.

However, the use of cooperative strategic development, which included the local communities in decision making and planning, necessitated the rehabilitation of West Haven back to its initial form of economic prowess. Currently, West Haven, which focuses on ecological sustainability, is a key revenue generator of New York City.

The administration and construction processes were approved by the New York City Council Uniform Land Use Procedure. After the approval, architects redesigned the land use profile along Harlem River. In the process, they eliminated Cromwell Avenue, which divided the project site. This led to the development of a renewed and upgraded infrastructure. The most notable transformations include the traffic pattern and transport infrastructure that encompasses Gateway today.

The renovation led to the reconnection between CSX freight lines and Oak point Rail Yard. This was a monumental architectural development in West Haven for it links West Haven to other surrounding suburbs. In fact, it restored West Haven’s status as the hub of major urban freight intermodal transport corridor.

Upon its completion in 2009, Gateway could accommodate 2800 cars and had a 950,000 gross square feet (Bronx County Clerk’s Office 11). However, the architects organized several meetings which brought together different stakeholders from the community including the clergy, local agencies, politicians, and citizens in order to address the raised concerns. During the meeting, a consensus was reached and everyone party agreed that West Haven should be renovated for the benefit of all.

West Haven is a key industrial center of New York City. The renovation and upgrade of West Haven to its current status has been necessitated by the application of Social geography. The rehabilitation of West Haven is as a result of collaborative work between various stakeholders and components of social geography.

Social geography played a key role in understanding the need to renovate West Haven and in bringing together all the stakeholders. First, the stakeholders unanimously agreed that West Haven must be rehabilitated for the benefit of not only the local communities, but also for the benefit of investors. Secondly, Social geography brought together a host of professional who engineered the renovation of West Haven.

This paper has thus illuminated the significance of Social geography in evaluating how social relations, identities and inequalities are made. Owing to the application of Social geography, West Haven, which focuses on ecological sustainability, has been transformed into a key revenue generator of New York City (Mastrelli 236).

Works Cited

AKRF. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market. New York: AKRF Press, 2005. Print.

Anderson, Saul. New York Area Roads Crossings and Exits. New York: AKRF Press, 2005. Print.

Ascher, Khan. The Works. Anatomy of a City. New York: The Penguin Press, 2005. Print.

Bronx County Clerk’s Office. A Brief Look at the Bronx. New York: The Penguin Press, 2005. Print.

Caro, Raul. The Power Broker. New York: Vintage Books, 1975.Print.

Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. “West Haven”. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia 1.1 (2011): 1-10. Print.

Levere, John. “Retailers Take a Chance on a Mall in the Bronx”. The New York Times 23 Sept. 2009: pp. 1-7.

Mastrelli, Iara. “Harbor Haven”. Hospitality Design 29.7 (2007): 236-239. Print.

McNamara, Jim. History in Asphalt. New York: Harbor Hill Books,1978. Print.

Rolston, Lorraine. “A New Bronx Tale: Gateway Center and Modern Urban Redevelopment”. Focus on Geography 55.2 (2012): 63-74. Print.

Walsh, Don. Reconnaissance Mapping of Landfills in New York City. New York : Wiley Online Library, 1991. Print.

Wolkoff, Adam. “Creating a Suburban Ghetto: Public Housing at New Haven’s West”. Connecticut History 45.1(2006): 56-93. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Rehabilitation of West Haven'. 10 April.

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