New York Not Fit For Humans


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March 5, 1964, Vol. IX, No. 20

How Habitable is N.Y.? There Are Some Doubts

By Mary Perot Nichols

Is New York City fit for humans? At least a few people have reservations. Commenting on the city’s habitability, Monday night, one city planner acidly remarked: “Where else have they fixed it so that a man can quit smoking and get two packs a day in the air he breathes?”

A Sheridan Square theatre was the setting for a “model” Board of Estimate hearing. Some 18 speakers came from various parts of New York to voice their hopes and fears.

Sponsor of the meeting was the Committee to Keep New York Habitable, headed by two reform Democratic district leaders, Edward I. Koch and Charles Kinsolving. The testimony on Monday evening, however, was tri-partisan. It included a Republican City Councilman, Theodore Kupferman; a Liberal Party leader, Henry Stern; and a reform Democratic City Councilman from Queens, Arthur Katzman.

Although the hearing was called primarily to provide a forum for opposition to a City plan to widen streets in the five boroughs without benefit of a public hearing, a number of other auto-inspired axes were ground on Monday night.

Mrs. Ann Kennedy, a civic leader from Gramercy Park, noted that parks are “one of the things that make New York City habitable” and inveighed against a proposed parking garage under Madison Square Park. Mrs. Kennedy said that parks were supposed to be the “lungs” of the city, but the proposed Madison Square garage would turn that lung into “an exhaust.”

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