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Roberta Brandes Gratz
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Roberta Brandes Gratz, award-winning journalist and urban critic, lecturer and author of The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way, and Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown. She is an international lecturer on urban development issues and former award-winning reporter for the New York Post. She also wrote a report in 2001 for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, A Frog, A Wooden House, A Stream and A Trail: Ten Years of Community Revitalization in Central Europe.

Her newest book, The Battle For Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs was published in 2010.

Ms. Gratz was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2003.

In 2005, in collaboration with Jane Jacobs, Ms. Gratz and a small group of accomplished urbanists founded The Center For the Living City to advance Jacobs’ work.

Ms. Gratz’ articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Nation, Tikkun, Planning Magazine, New York Newsday, the Daily News, Planning Commissioners Journal and others. And her writing has been translated into Japanese, Russian, Czech, German and Polish. She travels frequently all over the U.S., Central Europe, Japan and Great Britain to lecture and consult on urban revitalization issues.

Recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Surdna Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Fannie Mae Foundation, and writing awards from the American Institute of Architects, American Planning Assn, Municipal Art Society, the New York Press Club, the City Club of New York and others.

Gratz is Trustee and former head of Public Policy of the New York State Preservation League; former Vice-President of the Salzburg Conference on Urban Planning and Development; founder and President Emeritus of the Eldridge Street Project, the effort to restore the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side and to establish a Jewish Heritage Center on the site; a founder and current board member of the Writers Room, the first urban writers' colony in the country.

She is a native and resident of New York City.

Entries by Roberta Brandes Gratz

Demolition Without Due Process

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 11:20 AM

In a state where eminent domain is considered close to un-American, that same state, Louisiana, is determined to demolish a unique New Orleans landmark even before the protesting private property owners have had their day in court.

Last week, contractors were poised to demolish the 1907 Dixie Brewery, one of...

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Curitiba's Jaime Lerner

(11) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 1:19 PM

For the second year in a row, Urban Ecology Professor Stephen A. Goldsmith took a group of students from the University of Utah on a study tour to Curitiba. This trip included a lively conversation with the celebrated urbanist and former mayor of Curitiba and governor of Parana, Jaime Lerner,...

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Urban Change to Believe In

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 1:46 PM

It is time to celebrate urban change, not the old kind of change that Ken Jackson and Ed Glaeser celebrate with new skyscrapers continuously replacing old buildings. That view of change reflects an antiquated notion of what growth is all about. No, it is time to celebrate the new kind...

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A Favela Transformed

(0) Comments | Posted August 22, 2013 | 12:13 AM

Last Fall, Urban Ecology Professor Stephen A. Goldsmith, Director of the Center For the Living City, led a group of University of Utah students on an urban innovation study tour to Curitiba, Brazil. I went along as visiting faculty and we shall be returning this October. The following is the...

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Curitiba: An Environmental Showcase

(8) Comments | Posted August 6, 2013 | 3:24 PM

Last Fall, Urban Ecology Professor Stephen A. Goldsmith, Director of the Center For the Living City, led a group of University of Utah students on an urban innovation study tour to Curitiba, Brazil. I went along as visiting faculty and we shall be returning this October. The following is the...

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Walking the Walk With Jane

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2012 | 2:55 PM

Jane Jacobs would be so pleased. Across this country, more than 120 groups will gather to enjoy a Jane Jacobs Walk to honor her legacy. It is not the numbers that would delight her the most, although the fact that hundreds of these free walking tours will occur around the...

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Walk, Observe, Discuss

(0) Comments | Posted April 10, 2012 | 2:43 PM

Jane Jacobs changed the way we look and think about cities. In her seminal book, Death and Life of Great American Cities, she helped us see the multiple and diverse elements that make up the fine-grained texture that is a real urban place. She empowered everyone to have confidence in...

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A Lost Game but Not a Lost Gain

(0) Comments | Posted January 16, 2012 | 2:51 PM

The Saints may have lost, but the city of New Orleans did not.

Sure, there are a lot of crestfallen fans who, even up to the last minute, were sure the Saints would pull it off. But it was a great game to end a season...

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Thanksgiving Parade: An Urban Phenomenon

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2011 | 11:56 AM

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade is the most urban of holiday celebrations. Nothing can spoil it. It is New York's best and New York at it's best. In fact, it is people at their best too.

Let me explain.

I live on the second floor of an apartment house overlooking Central...

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When Is a Landmark A Landmark?

(7) Comments | Posted July 30, 2011 | 1:23 PM

When is a designated landmark really a landmark and what are the limits of protection? When is the alteration of a landmark for a new use so extensive as to render the designation pointless? And if a building is worthy of such an honored status that often brings with...

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Stockholm Leads the Way

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2011 | 8:27 PM

In 2010, Stockholm, Sweden, was selected as the first Green Capital of Europe. After a brief visit, it is easy to see why. In almost every area that one can think of -- transportation, sewage, heating, new development, historic preservation, assorted clean technologies -- Stockholm has a model project to...

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Landmarking Urban Change in New York

(1) Comments | Posted March 2, 2011 | 3:50 PM

New York City has undergone enormous change in the past decade and there is no better place to observe this change than at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This may seem counter-intuitive for those who think the Landmarks Commission is about stopping change or "freezing the city," but it is only...

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Times Square Development Completed

(0) Comments | Posted January 4, 2011 | 11:25 AM

New York's Times Square is experiencing an anniversary of sorts. The last of the new glass-clad towers is being completed, the capstone of what has appropriately been labeled a "tortuous redevelopment" effort going on for 30 years. Most of 42nd Street between 6th and 8th Avenues has been replaced....

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Westway Changed Transportation History

(0) Comments | Posted October 13, 2010 | 2:15 PM

Twenty-five years ago this month, the national transportation debate changed course when New York City traded in the Interstate Highway funds designated to build the highway along the Hudson River, called Westway, for transit funding.

Today, the focus of that nationwide debate is on taking down sections of...

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Saving Shrinking Cities

(1) Comments | Posted August 4, 2010 | 12:10 PM

First came urban renewal, destroying more residential units than replaced by towers in the park.

Then came the highways through the cities, piggybacking on the massive clearance of urban renewal, this time demolishing whole neighborhoods. Thousands of industrial and small businesses and the jobs that came with them were...

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