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This is a work page, not a typical information page. It is intended to guide administrators, managers, and operators to plan and establish structure for this wiki and That being said, thoughts from general users are most welcomed. map with street names outline.png

New York City neighborhood borders, purpose, and role are nebulous. This page rethinks their features and advantages in concert with our digital times and the issuance of neighborhood domain names ~

Its scope is of a broad "civic planning" oriented neighborhood - one inclusive of a shared climate, history, schools, retail, transportation - while striving for the comforting, extended family of Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

Features and Advantages of Neighborhoods[edit]

Jackson Heights Historic District street sign 1.png

Most days we sleep and awaken in our neighborhood.[1] A good neighborhood offers robust transport and telecom infrastructure, enabling residents to access the goods and services that make life livable. And neighborhoods are the crucible of children's lives. Why do people choose to live in neighborhoods? How do they choose one?


Our civic-planning oriented neighborhood is a geographic area with:

  • safety, health, and comfort expectations as both reality and aspiration
  • a shared history, memory, social values, climate, and built environment
  • a complex infrastructure with maintenance needs and expectations
  • a multitude of requirements imposed upon it by city, state, and federal governments
  • with economic development hopes and opportunities
  • the opportunity and tools to modify the lived environment

Strong neighborhoods provide social support as a buffers and salves for imperfections that arise from il-crafted features.


Strong neighborhoods serve fundamental human needs and buffers and salves to smooth humanity's coarseness. Frequently these buffers are delivered via social action. Other times they are just there.

  • Neighborhoods are convenient and accessible with near-zero transportation costs: you're in your neighborhood when you walk out your front door.
  • Neighborhoods connect people and communities enabling civic action.
  • For a range of civic actions little specialized technical skill is required. Often, little or no money is required, with elbow grease and social capital, the currency with meaning.
  • Compared to activity on larger scales, the results neighborhood action are more likely to be visible and quickly forthcoming: streets cleaner; crosswalk painted; trees planted; the festival draws a crowd.
  • Visible and swift results are indicators of success; and since success is reinforcing, the probability of subsequent neighborhood action is increased.
  • Because neighborhood action usually involves others, such actions create or strengthen connections and relationships, building community with other neighbors, often leading to a variety of potentially positive side effects.
  • Neighborhood activity may simply be enjoyable and fun for those taking part.
  • Research indicates that strong and cohesive neighborhoods are linked — quite possibly causally linked — to decreases in crime, better outcomes for children, and improved physical and mental health.

Traditional NYC Neighborhood Limitations[edit]

As per Wikipedia, a neighborhood is...

...a geographically localized area within a larger city, town, suburb, or rural area. Neighborhoods foster considerable face-to-face interaction among residents via social interactions in personal settings. Neighborhood residents share values and establish mechanisms for socializing youth and maintaining social boundaries.[2]

When thinking of NYC neighborhoods, their efficacy as effective social shapers and governance entities has been limited by several factors.

Limited Capacity[edit]

Neighborhoods exist within a City Charter that barely recognizes them, consequently neighborhoods today have...

  • minimal local communication capacity
    • which limits organizing capability
      • which limits the residents' ability to self-serve
        • and limits their ability to participate in the governance process and influence the type, quality, and delivery of government services.

But even sloshing our way through these limitations, with an ocean of digital media capacity, it appears we have better person-to-person connections than during the industrial era. But some ask:

In an era of rapid change, privileged as we are to live in an era of abundance, within the greatest city ever, is it enough to simply keep our heads above an increasingly polluted digital media? Positioned to act in a meaningful way, are we obliged to do so? Is the time ripe for another devolution?

Low Media Quotient[edit]

Historically, New York City neighborhoods have had poor local communications. For example, during the industrial media era (i.e., before the internet), Jackson Heights' communication capacity was quite limited in comparison to similarly sized entities outside the region.

ᐁ What / Where ᐅ Terre Haute, Indiana Jackson Heights, New York
Population 105,000 100,000
Daily Newspapers 1 0
TV Stations 2 0
Radio Stations 8 0

One might infer from the above that Jackson Heights' three 0s represent a media strikeout.


Perhaps the most dispiriting term in a property developers arsenal in NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). As defined in the Urban Dictionary, the term is used to ...

describe a person or an attitude. A NIMBY might agree that a community or a neighborhood needs a half-way house for convicts transitioning back to society, but doesn't want it placed too close to his or her own home or in the neighborhood. property values. Although the community council supported the zoning change, the NIMBYs argued strongly against the expansion of the trailer park.[3]

Neighborhoods in the New York City Charter and Administrative Code[edit]

While every New Yorker lives in a neighborhood, the formal role of neighborhoods, as viewed by New York City's government, is limited: being mentioned 12 times in the New York City Charter and 23 times in the Administrative Code. (See this page for instances of neighborhoods being mentioned in the city's Charter and Administrative Code here.)

From Scarcity To Polluted Digital Ocean[edit]

This page looks to answer the question "If, when, by whom, and how might an effective Jackson Heights media emerge in this digital era?" And assuming we can fashion a local media, how does it tie in and impact Neighborhood Governance.

It worries that Jackson Heights will zero out in this digital era as it did in the industrial. , being smothered by googles fixing search results; Facebook promoting sensational news, selling our attention, aiming for the minds of children as young as 6; and fake media, all polluting our information and communication ecology. It seeks a positive vision that avoids polluting our digital environment.

A rose by any other name...[edit]

Jackson Heights and other city neighborhoods don't have "official" boundaries. They are not a city, state, or federal geographic entity and have no formal government structures. One way to think about a neighborhood name is to equate it with a family name: if it's Rockefeller it might widen eyes and open doors, but if Hitler a guarded step back might be anticipated. The oyster bar menu presents another name impact: expect to pay a premium for the Oysters Rockefeller. And with neighborhoods, the Tribeca resident holds snooty rights over Lower East Side denizens.

Devolution Time[edit]

We've gone from one a county city (New York, Manhattan) to a 5 borough city. We've moved from a highly centralized city to one that created 59 Community Districts, each with 50 residents serving on a Community board.

Is it time to formalize and empower neighborhoods? The city took an initial step in that direction with the reservation of 385 neighborhood domain names, e.g., But one must ask if a 100,000 population entity is a neighborhood. If we were to compare NYC's neighborhoods to Albany's, NY for example, one would see that Albany claims 25 neighborhoods.[4] Doing the math, Albany's neighborhoods have an average of 4,000 residents while NYC's have 22,000. With Jackson Heights an outlier with 100,000 residents.

The New "Official" Neighborhood[edit]

Keeping in mind that networks connect and communities care.

We now have a neighborhood name officially ordained and licensed by city hall -

Let's imagine the Jackson Heights neighborhood in perhaps 5 years, when fully empowered by today's communications and information technology:
  • It will be a growing neighborhood. The former Astoria Heights will be firmly back home, joining the south side of Roosevelt Avenue to Elmhurst Hospital. Boundry-wise we'll still unofficial.
  • The official landmark district has been extended to cover the ares following Edward A. MacDougall's concepts.
  • having been a pioneer in researching and developing
  • empowering existing communities
  • using tech to serve resident needs from the nursery to senior housing
  • making continuous education a reality
  • fostering inclusion
  • learning from our multiple cultures
  • governed by Town Hall type meetings
  • using collaborative directories to guide residents and visitors to services, products, and resources
  • creating a healthful civic environment and healthy neighborhood.

Not Your Facebook Era's "Community"[edit]

A century or two ago, the word community

“seemed to connote a specific group of people, from a particular patch of earth, who knew and judged and kept an eye on one another, who shared habits and history and memories, and could at times be persuaded to act as a whole on behalf of a part.” In the Facebook era the word morphed now become fashionable to describe what are really networks, as in the “business community” — ”people with common interests [but] not common values, history, or memory.”[5]

At bottom, neighborhoods are defined by common values, history, and memory. These are fundamental to the existence we've crafted for ourselves since we first agreed to a common campfire.

But even sloshing our way through these limitations, with an ocean of digital media capacity, it appears we have better person-to-person connections than during the industrial era. But some ask:

In an era of rapid change, privileged as we are to live in an era of abundance, within the greatest city ever, is it enough to simply keep our heads above an increasingly polluted digital media? Positioned to act in a meaningful way, are we obliged to do so? Is the time ripe for another devolution?

Adding Community To The Neighborhood[edit]

Neighborhoods foster civic health and quality of life by aiding local communities:

  • action communities - people trying to bring about social change
  • communities of circumstance - people brought together by external events/situations
  • interest communities - people who share the same interest or passion
  • positional communities - built around life stages: teenage years, university/college student years, marriage, or parenthood
  • communities of practice - people in the same profession or undertaking the same activities.

Neighborhood Borders[edit]

While the city has reserved 385 neighborhood domain names, one might question the viability of some. One prognosticator imagines a reduction in neighborhoods as residents affiliate with one they perceive as most representative of their interests.

Neighborhoods in History[edit]

In the words of the urban scholar Lewis Mumford, “Neighborhoods, in some primitive, inchoate fashion exist wherever human beings congregate, in permanent family dwellings; and many of the functions of the city tend to be distributed naturally—that is, without any theoretical preoccupation or political direction—into neighborhoods.” [6]

Most of the earliest cities around the world as excavated by archaeologists have evidence for the presence of social neighborhoods.[7] Historical documents shed light on neighborhood life in numerous historical preindustrial or nonwestern cities.[8]

Neighborhoods are typically generated by social interaction among people living near one another. In this sense they are local social units larger than households not directly under the control of city or state officials. In some preindustrial urban traditions, basic municipal functions such as protection, social regulation of births and marriages, cleaning and upkeep are handled informally by neighborhoods and not by urban governments; this pattern is well documented for historical Islamic cities.[9]

In addition to social neighborhoods, most ancient and historical cities also had administrative districts used by officials for taxation, record-keeping, and social control.[10] Administrative districts are typically larger than neighborhoods and their boundaries may cut across neighborhood divisions. In some cases, however, administrative districts coincided with neighborhoods, leading to a high level of regulation of social life by officials. For example, in the T’ang period Chinese capital city Chang’an, neighborhoods were districts and there were state officials who carefully controlled life and activity at the neighborhood level.[11]

Neighborhoods in preindustrial cities often had some degree of social specialization or differentiation. Ethnic neighborhoods were important in many past cities and remain common in cities today. Economic specialists, including craft producers, merchants, and others, could be concentrated in neighborhoods, and in societies with religious pluralism neighborhoods were often specialized by religion. One factor contributing to neighborhood distinctiveness and social cohesion in past cities was the role of rural to urban migration. This was a continual process in preindustrial cities, and migrants tended to move in with relatives and acquaintances from their rural past.[12]

Related Wiki Pages[edit]


  1. Learn about the governance of and who the "all" is in that ominous "We."
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Inspired by The Urban Dictionary
  4. [1] Wikipedia on Albany, June 16, 2018
  5. HBR: We Need Both Networks and Communities
  6. Mumford, Lewis (1954). The Neighborhood and the Neighborhood Unit. Town Planning Review 24:256–270, p. 258.
  7. For example, Spence, Michael W. (1992) Tlailotlacan, a Zapotec Enclave in Teotihuacan. In Art, Ideology, and the City of Teotihuacan, edited by Janet C. Berlo, pp. 59–88. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. Stone, Elizabeth C. (1987) Nippur Neighbourhoods. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization vol. 44. Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago
  8. Some examples: Heng, Chye Kiang (1999) Cities of Aristocrats and Bureaucrats: The Development of Medieval Chinese Cityscapes. University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu. Marcus, Abraham (1989) The Middle East on the Eve of Modernity: Aleppo in the Eighteenth Century. Columbia University Press, New York. Smail, Daniel Lord (2000). Imaginary Cartographies: Possession and Identity in Late Medieval Marseille. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
  9. Abu-Lughod, Janet L. (1987) The Islamic City: Historic Myth, Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance. International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 19:155–176.
  10. Dickinson, Robert E. (1961) The West European City: A Geographical Interpretation. Routledge & Paul, London, p. 529. See also: Jacobs, Jane (1961) The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Random House, New York, p. 117.
  11. Xiong, Victor Cunrui (2000) Sui-Tang Chang'an: A Study in the Urban History of Medieval China. Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  12. Kemper, Robert V. (1977) Migration and Adaptation: Tzintzuntzan Peasants in Mexico City. Sage Publications, Beverly Hills. Greenshields, T. H. (1980) "Quarters" and Ethnicity. In The Changing Middle Eastern City, edited by G. H. Blake and R. I. Lawless, pp. 120–140. Croom Helm, London.

External Links[edit]