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Tagged with “sam greenspan” (3)

  1. 99% Invisible #51: The Arsenal of Exclusion

    “Cities exist to bring people together, but cities can also keep people apart”

    – Daniel D’Oca, Urban Planner, Interboro Partners.

    Cities are great. They have movement, activity and diversity. But go to any city and it’s pretty clear, a place can be diverse without really being integrated. This segregation isn’t accidental. There are design elements in the urban landscape, that Daniel D’Oca calls “weapons,” that are used by “architects, planners, policy-makers, developers, real estate brokers, community activists, neighborhood associations, and individuals to wage the ongoing war between integration and segregation.”

    Daniel D’Oca is an urban planner with Interboro Partners, an architecture and design firm based in New York City. Over the past few years, D’Oca, along with colleagues Tobias Armborst and Georgeen Theodore have been cataloging all the stuff inside of a city that planners use to increase or restrict people’s access to space. They’re publishing their findings in a book called The Arsenal of Inclusion and Exclusion: 101 Things That Open And Close the City (Fall 2012).

    D’Oca took our own Sam Greenspan and Scott Goldberg on a tour of Baltimore to demonstrate the subtle ways different neighborhoods are kept apart.

    Interboro Partners described more weapons in the Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion in a great Esquire article.

    (Above: Daniel D’Oca shows Sam Greenspan the iron fence at the site of the former Hollander Ridge housing project on the Baltimore County line. Credit: Scott Goldberg)

    (Above: The residential parking permit zones on either side of Greenmount Ave. Permit only parking keeps non-residents, including students from nearby Johns Hopkins, from leaving their cars in the neighborhood.)


    Full Transcript

    —Huffduffed by chgroenbech

  2. 99% Invisible #48: The Bathtubs or the Boiler Room

    (Above: The Bather: 1869, by Peter Waddell. “The Senate bathing facility, pictured here, boasted of tubs carved from single blocks of Carrara marble.  Minton tiles covered the floor.  In 1869 a city newspaper published a description of one of these luxurious bathing chambers, noting that ‘when not in use, it is always open to the inspection of visitors.’  Here a senator is surprised by two misinformed visitors.”)

    In 1869, the bathtubs in the basement of the US Capitol building looked something like the painting above. Here they are today:

    (Above: Andrea Seabrook showing us the baths today. Credit: Sam Greenspan)

    The Senate bathing facility has since become a maintenance room—a maintenance room that happens to have a marble bathtub carved from a solid block of Italian marble. Sitting on the steps to one tub is our guide, NPR Congressional Correspondent Andrea Seabrook. In the eight years she’s been reporting on Congress, Andrea has made it a point to get to know the whole Capitol building. “The members of the House Republican Caucus—and sometimes the Democrats—meet in the basement for their closed door secret strategy sessions,” Andrea says. “And it’s really good place to get a tip from members that you know about what’s going on.” One day, after getting the info she needed for her story, she decided to press further on into the depths of the Capitol. “I have this habit of walking into any door that’s unlocked…You start poking around, going into doors…you find the coolest things…”  she says. During one of these explorations, she found the marble bathtubs.

    (Above: Andrea does some fact-checking in the tub. Credit: Sam Greenspan)

    The bathtubs were installed around 1860 during the expansion of the Capitol. DC is known for its swampy summers, and legend has it that senators could be banished from the chamber if they were too smelly. But lawmakers—like most Americans at the time—didn’t have indoor plumbing at home. They needed a place where they could wash up. So, the Architect of the Capitol ordered six marble bath tubs, each three by seven feet and carved by hand in Italy, to be installed in the Capitol basement—three on the House side, three on the senate. Today, only two tubs remain on the Senate side, in a room which now stores the building’s heating and cooling equipment. But evidence of room’s former grandeur remains.

    (Above: The Minton tile has been covered over with gray industrial paint. Credit: Sam Greenspan)

    (Above: Look closely and you can still see the egg-and-dart molding through the tangle of duct work. Credit: Sam Greenspan)

    Web Bonus!

    Sam says: “After exploring the basement, Andrea took me to another hidden part of the Capitol—the attic.  The attic has roof access, which means that it’s been trafficked by decades-worth of Congressional Pages, who are charged with changing the flags that fly over Congress.  And the Pages, like most teenagers, wanted to leave their mark.”

    —Huffduffed by chgroenbech

  3. 99% Invisible #43: The Accidental Music of Imperfect Escalators

    “There’s a secret jazz seeping from Washington’s aging Metro escalators – those anemic metal walkways that fill our transit system…they honk and bleat and squawk…why are you still wearing those earbuds?”

    —Chris Richards, “Move along with the soundtrack of Metro’s screechy, wailing escalators” The Washington Post, 01/14/11

    Ever since the industrial revolution, when it became possible for products to be designed just once and then mass produced, it has been the slight imperfections and wear introduced by human use that has transformed a quality mass produced product into a thing we love. Your worn blue jeans, your grandmothers iron skillet, the initial design determined their quality, but it’s their imperfections that make them comfortable, that make them lovable, that make them yours.

    And if you think that a “slightly broken” escalator can’t be lovable, then our own Sam Greenspan would like to introduce you to Chris Richards. Chris Richards is a music critic for the Washington Post, and after years of ignoring the wailing and screeching of the much maligned, often broken escalators in the DC Metro, he began to hear them in a new way. He began to hear them as music.


    This story was adapted from one Sam Greenspan produced for his podcast, Whisper Cities, which tells stories of overlooked places and the people who find them.

    The designer of the first DC Metro stations was Harry Weese. Weese’s “Jailhouse Skyscraper” in downtown Chicago was profiled in 99% Invisible #26 by Dan Weissmann. The Metro ceilings may be brutalism at its best.

    If you don’t get the “Culs-de-sac” joke, listen to this episode.

    Radio producers Alex Van Oss and Charles Maynes also created their own Ballad of the DC Metro for Podstantsiya, a Moscow-based podcast and audio collective. (The site in in Russian, but the radio feature is in English.)


    THANKS, RADIOLAB!  For a brief shining moment, 99% Invisible was the #2 podcast on iTunes, and #1 in both the Arts and Design categories. Thank you so much for checking out the show. If you’re new here, never fear, you did not miss a thing! All the past episodes are available for download and are great (you know, as a body of work, some are better than others).

    If you appreciated Radiolab telling you about the show, do us a huge favor and tell everyone you know to listen and subscribe. If the response that Jad and Robert have gotten is any indication, they will thank you for it!


    Let’s hear it! What’s your favorite sound that you know other people hear as just noise? Please leave a comment below.

    —Huffduffed by chgroenbech