Plans are in the works to name all or part of Bleecker Playground after the steely activist and mother of three who helped lay the groundwork for New Urbanism. Earlier this week, Community Board 2 discussed the tribute to Jane Jacobs, who died last April at 89. It's unclear whether the naming will cover the playground, the sitting area and the pathway from Hudson to Bleecker, or just the sitting area and pathway. Some residents don't want the actual playground renamed. They say it could endanger funds for a restoration project and kids will be confused if it suddenly were known by a different name.
Jacobs fought to preserve Greenwich Village and its environs in the face of urban renewal-style planning run amok. From her perch above a candy store at 555 Hudson Street, Jacobs, favored the everyday hustle and bustle of busy, mixed-use neighborhoods over post-war high-rises developed on bulldozed land. To this day, she has critics. Some say Jacobs' vision doesn't adequately accommodate new growth. New York magazine recently called Jacobs' vision "limited, with little room for new buildings, new neighborhoods."
Until Ms. Jacobs, author of 1961's Death and Life of Great American Cities, helped plan and raise money to design the Bleecker Street park (finally built in 1966), the site housed an empty warehouse. So, we think it's only fitting that the playground, sitting area and passageway be named for Ms. Jacobs. It's just not clear at all how the naming will interfere with the playground's renovation or endanger related funds and we're pretty sure that Greenwich Village kids can comprehend that the playground they know and love is named for someone important.
As someone pointed out at a recent Community Board 2 meeting, does anyone refer to Sixth Avenue as the Avenue of the Americas? Okay, well, in offices and on envelopes and letterhead, people actually do, but we get the point.
Community Board 2 votes on the playground proposal either this month or next. There's a meeting next week, too, on renaming the stretch of Hudson Street from Perry Street to West 11th "Jane Jacobs Way."