This blog explores ideas about urbanism, historic districts, architecture, sustainability, public spaces, and the problem of civic involvement without direct democracy. It is also about my neighborhood, Tribeca, where long ago I founded the Friends of Duane Park. More recently I started an organization called Tribeca Trust (see www.tribecatrust.org). I am an economist and a lot of my work was and is about economic development and property rights, all of which has colored how I think about any of the aforementioned topics. My name is Lynn Ellsworth.
The word “commons” comes from popular usage hundreds of years ago in England. It meant bits of land not under private title: forest, unclaimed arable land, rights of ways, paths, roads, and pasture. Robin Hood was a hero of the commons. These days in New York the word refers to views, rights-of-way, air rights, zoning and landmark restrictions, streets, sidewalks, sunlight, air, water, trees, landscapes, roads, and parks.Note: The photo above on the splashpage is from the NYPL. It shows urchins living on Laight Street in Tribeca, just before the Great Depression.