Learning from Bryant Park: Revitalizing Cities, Towns, and Public Spaces (Hardcover)

Learning from Bryant Park: Revitalizing Cities, Towns, and Public Spaces By Andrew M. Manshel Cover Image

Learning from Bryant Park: Revitalizing Cities, Towns, and Public Spaces (Hardcover)


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By the 1970s, 42nd Street in New York was widely perceived to be unsafe, a neighborhood thought to be populated largely by drug dealers, porn shops, and muggers. But in 1979, civic leaders developed a long-term vision for revitalizing one especially blighted block, Bryant Park. The reopening of the park in the 1990s helped inject new vitality into midtown Manhattan and served as a model for many other downtown revitalization projects. So what about urban policy can we learn from Bryant Park?

In this new book, Andrew M. Manshel draws from both urbanist theory and his first-hand experiences as a urban public space developer and manager who worked on Bryant Park and later applied its strategies to an equally successful redevelopment project in a very different New York neighborhood: Jamaica, Queens. He candidly describes what does (and doesn’t) work when coordinating urban redevelopment projects, giving special attention to each of the many details that must be carefully observed and balanced, from encouraging economic development to fostering creative communities to delivering appropriate services to the homeless. Learning from Bryant Park is thus essential reading for anyone who cares about giving new energy to downtowns and public spaces.
For ten years Andrew M. Manshel was associate director and counsel at the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation (conceptualizing and successfully implementing many of its most noted programs including its performances, the film series and the construction and leasing of the Bryant Park Grill) and general counsel and director of Public Amenities to the Grand Central and 34th Street Partnerships (where he created the horticulture, street vendor and newsrack programs). Later, he became executive vice president of Greater Jamaica Development, in Jamaica, Queens. Mr. Manshel blogs about downtown and public space revitalization at theplacemaster.com. He is a long-time director and the treasurer of Project for Public Spaces, Inc. He holds Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration degrees from New York University and a BA in Government from Oberlin College.
Product Details ISBN: 9781978802438
ISBN-10: 1978802439
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication Date: April 17th, 2020
Pages: 302
Language: English
“Communities large and small--urban, suburban and rural--can, and should, learn from the remarkable transformation of New York City’s Bryant Park and the area surrounding it. Andy Manshel shows how effective place-making is a key to effective talent attraction, economic development, and urban revitalization strategies.” 
— Richard Florida

"Andrew Manshel has a straightforward yet infinitely complex goal: to turn the urban spaces we all have to share into urban spaces we all want to share. To achieve that, he gets a view of the city that is simultaneously panoramic and detailed, theoretical and nitty-gritty. This thorough and eminently practical book is shot through with deep love for metropolitan life, wisdom accumulated through experience, and the humility that comes from understanding that cities are made of people, in all their glorious, maddening unpredictability."

— Justin Davidson

"Manshel writes in a highly accessible style about New York City history and the history of contemporary landscape design. He offers the unique perspective of senior management on Bryant Park’s transformation of the park from drug den to tourist haven."
— Michele H. Bogart

"The important work by Andy Manshel and other leaders in the BID movement contributed greatly to the turnaround of New York City in the early 1990s and beyond. Most importantly, BID’s led the way in rethinking, reclaiming and reinvigorating long neglected public spaces. This book chronicles how that happened and why public space — our shared front yard —  is central to creating livable and vibrant cities."
— Rudy Washington

"Learning From Bryant Park is by far one of the best books ever written about how to successfully manage, program, fund, and operate public spaces. It's a must read for anyone who wants to learn the science and art of doing so."
— Cynthia Nikitin

"The story of its turnaround is now told by Andrew M. Manshel in Learning from Bryant Park: Revitalizing Cities, Towns, and Public Spaces. As cities in quarantine now face down a new form of disruption, Bryant Park’s lessons of revival are more vital than ever before."
— The New Criterion - The Critic's Notebook

"How Bryant Park's Iconic Chairs Revolutionized Public Spaces," by Elizabeth Kim
— Gothamist

"Public spaces in an age of social distancing: How to rethink parks after coronavirusPublic spaces in an age of social distancing: How to rethink parks after coronavirus" by Andrew M. Manshel
— New York Daily News

"Learning from Bryant Park makes me want to revisit that gem in the heart of Manhattan and look more closely at some of the details that helped make the space so successful."
— Rein Reports

"Groks Science Radio Show podcast interview with Andrew M. Manshel"
— Groks Science Radio Show podcast

"The Frankie Boyer Show" interview with Andrew M. Manshel
— The Frankie Boyer Show

"Is ED Really a Problem?" by Andrew M. Manshel
— The American Downtown Revitalization Review

"How Fermob Sparked a Revolution in Public Space," by Wendy Helfenbaum
— Metropolis Magazine

"Manshel’s credo is an extremely valuable one, just as useful for repopulating public spaces in the post-pandemic future as it was for filling them beforehand." 
— The American Conservative

"Sophisticated and compulsively readable."
— Planners Library

"Learning from Bryant Park opened my eyes up to a world of placemaking that goes well beyond design but ties into the ideas of New Urbanism. It ultimately offers a vision for the revitalization of urban places—especially small cities and towns that have been overlooked—all across America....Learning from Bryant Park is a powerful book—and important book—on placemaking and urban revitalization."
— Public Square

"The strategies of Bryant Park as outlined in this book should be the first place to look when seeking to transform troubled public spaces. Even one visit to the incredible Bryant Park will convince anyone of that."
— The New Criterion

"America Trends podcast - EP 371 Downtowns and Public Spaces: What Works in Revitalizing Them?"
— The America Trends podcast

"Times Square, Grand Central and The Laws That Built the City," by Michael Kimmelman
— New York Times

"Winter Is Coming—Capitalize on It" by Andrew M. Manshel
— Planetizen

"[Manshel's] retelling of these efforts will broaden the enjoyment of everyone who loves urban life and is curious about the City’s special places."
— CityLaw

"Worth reading as a guide to post-pandemic urban-space management." 
— City Journal

"[Manshel's] retelling of [lessons were equally revealing on placemaking] will broaden the enjoyment of everyone who loves urban life and is curious about the City’s special places."
— CityLand

"Book Look: A Moveable Seat" by Jeff Hagan '86
— Oberlin Alumni Magazine

"An engaging study and has a propulsive energy that encourages readers to embrace its author’s strongly asserted point of view."
— The Metropole