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Agoraphobia: New York City Public Space in the Time of COVID-19

Abstract

This paper explores how the first two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic (February – May 2020) in New York City had magnified extreme polarization between two different visions of public space: one clearly represented by the Hudson Yards Plaza in Manhattan, and the other epitomized by the Corona Plaza in Queens. It argues that the phenomenon of agoraphobia, the fear of others, translates into the fear of public space and by extension the fear of democracy driven by deep anxieties surrounding the definition of “the social.” This is clearly exemplified by Hudson Yards, which closed its doors to the public in May and approached early bankruptcy. On the other hand, Corona Plaza is still a vibrant public space providing vital social and community services. The Plaza was co-produced by the local communities, city agencies, the non-profit sector and public-private partnership, and it provides a resilient model for the production of public space in NYC. The paper argues that the process of producing an infrastructure of inclusion in Corona, which had preceded the construction of Corona Plaza and was strengthen through it, has enabled the Plaza to strive even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Published:
Pages:83 to 90
Section: Space
How to Cite
Mitrasinovic, M. (2020) “Agoraphobia: New York City Public Space in the Time of COVID-19”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(3), pp. 83-90. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i3.1361.

Author Biography

Parsons School of Design
United States United States

Miodrag Mitrašinović is a Professor of Urbanism and Architecture at Parsons School of Design. His scholarly work focuses on the role design plays as an agent of social and political change, and as a catalyst for critical urban transformations. His research argues for the centrality of designing in the conceptualization, production, and representation of democratic and participatory urban space. His work also focuses on the generative capacity and infrastructural dimensions of public space, specifically at the intersections of urban and public design, socio-spatial justice, and public policy. Miodrag is the co-editor of "The Public Space Reader" (Routledge 2021); "The Emerging Public Realm of the Greater Bay Area: Approaches to Public Space in a Chinese Megaregion" (Routledge 2021); "Cooperative Cities" (Journal of Design Strategies Vol. 8, 2018); editor of "Concurrent Urbanities: Designing Infrastructures of Inclusion" (Routledge 2016); co-editor of "Travel, Space, Architecture" (Routledge 2009); and author of "Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space" (Routledge 2006).

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