Land Usage at an Intersection
by Brian Jaffe

In New York city, space is the number one commodity. Thus the land use in intersections becomes a very important design specification. Being that New York is a harbor city, and is surrounded by rivers on both sides, growth is forced to be vertical as apposed to radial. Because of this continual growth space becomes very limited, and makes every inch that much more valuable. I have researched several intersections in New York City as well as Brooklyn and have discovered some trends in good and bad land use.

I noticed first that many intersections use triangular islands to divide traffic. These triangles are created from a few different scenarios. First, the joining of two streets moving in the same direction. For a safe intersection there must be a gradual merge between the two. This therefore creates a triangular island in the middle. In New York, if these intersections form a large enough triangle, then it can be built upon. A good , and very famous, example of this is where Broadway and Fifth avenue cross at 23rd street. Here the Flatirons Building takes up the triangle, as well as being a great use of the space it is wonderful to look at. Also I studied the Lafayette, Cooper Squre merge into 4th avenue. Here several little Islands are created due to cross streets. They are too small to build on but do make it nice and open for pedestrians.

As my observations moved out to Brooklyn, I noticed that the streets are still in a grid, but several major streets run on an angle to the grid. This therefore creates many small triangular intersections. I noticed that along Flatbush avenue from Atlantic avenue to Grand Army Plaza every cross street forms one of the triangles. They are a huge waist of space in terms of building and expanding, but they do liven up the neighborhood with benches and a place for pedestrians to have a seat and relax.

As well as triangular intersections I also was able to observe Grand Army Plaza, a very large, European style, circular intersection. This intersection encircles the Grand Army Plaza Memorial Arch and connects many streets and Avenues as well as Prospect Park, The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and The Brooklyn Museum. This intersection Functions very well, but uses a tremendous amount of space. For a pedestrian to travel across it they need to be in very good physical condition.

There are several drawings and photos that coincide with the presentation on land use that I gave in class. I feel that it is very necessary to view these in order to get a good feel for the various good and bad land uses I have described.


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Last modified Friday, March 14, 1997