Urbanist's guide to New York

New York Intro ・ Dec 29, 2018

new york urbanist
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Things to do, places to go

  • Obviously High Line — one of New York's finest urban parks and urban planner's dream.

  • There’s no place better to appreciate all things Jane Jacobs than New York City! Definitely visit Washington square park and her neighborhood Greenwich Village. In addition, Jane Jacobs’ home still stands today at 555 Hudson Street.

  • Open House New York weekend is an annual event to give people access to the extraordinary architecture of New York. Open House New York was founded in 2001 to engage New Yorkers in the city’s architecture, public space, and the future of urban life.

  • Domino Park is a 6-acre public park built on the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery, and it's a great place to hang out.

  • Brooklyn Army Terminal was built during World War II, and it used to be the largest military supply base in the country. Now, it's a large renovated warehouse complex in Sunset Park.

  • Brooklyn Waterfront Artists is Brooklyn's largest, artist-run organization, and they have an exhibition space you can visit.

  • Center for Architecture offers various events and workshops about architecture, city and design. Some of them are even free!

  • New York has countless art museums. However, if you want to know more about the city itself (which itself is the most impressive part of all times), visit Museum of the City of New York.

  • Walks of New York seem to have some interesting information about self-guided walking tour ideas. I used it when I walked Brooklyn Heights and it worked great.

  • The Hole is one of the New York's forgotten neighborhood that is 12 Feet Below Street Level. This is a great article for you to understand more about this neglected neighborhood. Or watch this short video if you are curious how it looks like.

  • Brooklyn Navy Yard is a former shipyard and industrial complex located in Brooklyn, which is now used to fuel New York City's economic vitality by supporting modern industrial sector of the city. building 92 is a museum featuring the history & innovation of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. New Lab is a coworking space inside of this facility and is for forward-thinking entrepreneurs.


  • Jackson Heights is known to be the most ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhood in the world. The documentary In Jackson Heights depicts the everyday life of people in Jackson Heights, their community, and also their struggle.

  • CurbedNY is always very informative.

  • Do the Right Thing by Spike Lee is set in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and the story is about the neighborhood's simmering racial tension. Bed-Stuy street has re-Named 'Do The Right Thing Way' to honor the movie.

  • Forgotten New York seems like an interesting website if you are seeking sources to understand the city that is NOT about famous museums and the statue of Liberty.

  • Open City by Teju Cole is a great urban novel. The main character walks around the city like "flaneur" — I am quite sure that this book makes you want to walk everywhere in New York.

Organization and initiative

  • NYCurbanism explores architecture, urbanism, history, planning and real estate in New York City.

  • The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement. It's quite inspiring to see how they collaborate with artists, designers, students, and citizens to increase awareness around urban issues and build communities.

  • BMW Guggenheim Lab is a 'traveling' urban think tank/laboratory and community center. Unfortunately, it's not active anymore, but this idea of having a mobile laboratory focusing on urban life inspires me so much!

  • youarethecity is an urban research, design and planning practice. I like their bottom-up approach arguing that everybody has an agency in designing cities and urban space.

  • Van Alen Institute is an organization that believes design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. Their projects and website are full of inspiration.

  • URBAN-X supports startups working with reimagining cities and urban life. It is interesting to see an acceleration program that is specific to urban initiatives. I learned a concept of "urbanist in residence" from here, too.

  • Urban Design Forum is an independent membership organization that advances bold solutions to urban challenges.

  • Brooklyn Grange farms rooftops is an interesting urban farm project that uses the rooftops.

  • A/D/O is a design and creative institute you can visit in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

  • The Lot Radio
    An independent online radio station live streaming 24/7 from a reclaimed shipping container on an empty lot in NYC.

  • Collosal Media does hand painted outdoor advertisings. It's interesting to see the relationship between mural arts, urban infrastructure, and industries.