I have started this blog to post Carroll Gardens history items in preparation for the neighborhood being granted New York City landmark status. I, like many Carroll Gardeners, am upset that our neighborhood is being inundated with development that does not respect its rich history and tradition. David Lewis, the pioneering founder of the firm Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh, distinguishes history as the study of the past, and tradition is the bridge between the past and the future. Unlike history, tradition is open-ended, forward-looking, and perpetually unfinished. It is the vital language that citizens use when they relate local heritage to what they want their community to become in facing the challenges of change.
In accepting the Congress for the New Urbanism’s Athena Medal for lifetime achievement, he stated. “I am always amazed that in our architecture schools, we continue to train students to design buildings as egotistical art-objects, as though architects have a divine right to disregard the traditions and urban form of the cities into which they insert their statements. And I am constantly amazed that our professional journals continue to applaud willful buildings that violate the urban contexts in which they are located, as though exciting architecture is only possible to the degree that it’s contextually inappropriate.
“Buildings do not exist in a vacuum. Every city has its own language. When we travel from one city to another, what we enjoy is getting to know the language of that city, its streets and its rivers, its squares and its markets, its history and its people. And the deeper we delve, the more intriguing the city becomes for us.”