Jane Jacobs’s 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” a sweeping critique of the modern metropolis, was both a best seller and quite contentious. What set Jacobs apart from many of her critics, including her archnemesis Robert Moses, was that as lofty as her ideas and prose could be, they sprang from, and remained rooted in, the street. So it’s easy to imagine her feeling honored to have inspired Jane’s Walk, an annual series of free guided walking tours across all five boroughs, organized by the Municipal Art Society of New York.

The more than 100 walks stretch from the “real” Little Italy in the Bronx to Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island and cover an impressive array of areas and aspects of the city, taking in the possibilities for the Rockaways in Queens and Red Hook, Brooklyn, post-Hurricane Sandy; a two-part trip through the Roosevelts’ New York; the ever-changing enclave of Flushing, Queens; and the avant-garde artisanal scene in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Although Jacobs lived the last several decades of her life in Toronto, where Jane’s Walk tours began in 2007, she will always be identified with Greenwich Village, the deepest inspiration for her magnum opus. On a tour titled “Jane Jacobs’ West Village,” beginning at noon on Saturday, the Miser is hoping to glimpse some of the “intricate sidewalk ballet” Jacobs rhapsodized so memorably about.

Descriptions of each tour, including starting times, meeting and ending points and details on wheelchair accessibility, can be found at the Municipal Art Society’s website.

(Saturday and Sunday; 212-935-3960; mas.org/janes-walk-nyc.)


The Miserlings are frighteningly fond of sci-fi fare like “Star Wars” and “Dr. Who,” and their enthusiasm is contagious. Accordingly, Miser père has recovered a keen appreciation for art involving all sorts of transtemporal and interstellar exploits from his own preteen past. That aesthetic will be on display in full force this weekend at “Cantina at the End of the Universe,” a party in Gowanus, Brooklyn, hosted by the costumed-events planners Gemini & Scorpio.

With a mandatory costume policy that promises plenty of opportunities to chat up droids, cyborgs and miscellaneous aliens, and a live set by the Rhode Island-based cosmic funk band Big Nazo, the $25 ticket price, though high by Miser standards, may be worth it. After 1 a.m., admission is just $10. Assuming the Miser can stay awake, you may well catch him arriving right around then.

(Saturday at 10 p.m.; R.S.V.P. for exact location at geminiandscorpio.com/events.html.)

Source: The New York Times
May 1, 2014
By A.C. Lee / Weekend Miser, photo by Linus Gelber