What is PlaNYC?

PlanNYC is a comprehensive urban planning website, with news summaries and links to development-related articles, official documents such as environmental impact statements, and a citywide calendar of upcoming planning events, including local community board meetings and public hearings. PlaNYC brings together information from advocacy organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, neighborhood groups, and media organizations, all in one location.

When searching for information on urban planning projects in New York City that are covered on PlanNYC, you will find:

  • A summary of the project’s history
  • Information about the neighborhoods affected by the project,
  • Links to key websites both in support of or in opposition to the project,
  • Lists of dozens of news stories from major media, blogs, civic organizations, and neighborhood groups on the project.

This website is maintained by NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and run by a team of Graduate students. PlanNYC complements the Furman Center’s yearly report, the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods, as well as the Center’s other online information tool, the New York City Housing and Neighborhood Information System (NYCHANIS).

PlanNYC was originally developed by Jordan Anderson as part of his New York University Master of Urban Planning Capstone project at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.

What makes PlanNYC unique? Can’t I get all this information from other websites?

There are three main differences between PlanNYC and some other sources of planning information on the Web.

First, PlanNYC is neutral. Advocacy websites, civic blogs, and even official city agency sites are designed to persuade as well as inform. The mission of PlanNYC is to link to information that will help you make up your own mind. In fact, we hope that you end up reading a point-of-view opposite your own-that’s what deliberation is all about.

Second, PlanNYC organizes planning and development information in the way that many people think about such information–by project and neighborhood. Some websites organize news and information under more general topics like ‘land use’ and ‘transportation’. Those topics are useful but incomplete. Take the Atlantic Yards development as an example. It involves land use, transportation, economic development, and historic preservation, just to name a few.

Finally, PlanNYC is designed to be comprehensive. Planning projects last for years–if not decades–from inception to implementation. And they may not stop there. PlanNYC links to news and information over a project’s entire life cycle so you can watch the project unfold from beginning to end.

Who can use PlanNYC?

PlanNYC is designed to be friendly to everyone from the average New York City resident who is interested in learning more about developments in his or her neighborhood to the experienced urban planner or city employee who has limited time to search a dozen websites for information on a certain project.

Who collects the content for PlanNYC?

Harvesting, summarizing and posting the information contained on PlanNYC is a large task. Most of the work is generated from good old-fashioned human beings reviewing, summarizing, and posting all news and information. The site is maintained daily by research assistants from New York University School of Law and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Why don’t you have the full article/report text directly on PlanNYC?

The development summaries and policy and legislative debates featured on PlanNYC are researched and written by PlanNYC staff. Similarly, our team summarizes development-related news articles and web posts in an effort to provide our readers with a concise and informative synopsis of the article. If you would like to read the article in its entirety, you can click on the “Visit Link to Story” which will open the full article in a new window.

A story’s link requires that I register or pay to view the article. Why?

Some news websites, such as the nytimes.com, require free registration in order to read most articles. Although this registration can be cumbersome, these websites often contain valuable information on planning and development in New York City.

A couple of websites, for example crainsnewyork.com, require a paid account for full access to most articles. Although some stories are free, articles requiring payment will only be available in a shortened form. In such cases you would have to either purchase an online subscription or pick up a paper copy of the newspaper.

In addition, many news organizations only make stories available for a week or two before adding them to a pay-per-view archive. You may find older articles from major newspapers at the New York Public Library.

What is RSS? How do I use it?

RSS allows you to read news from a lot of sources without visiting a lot of web pages. It’s useful if you’re trying to keep up with more than a dozen web logs or news sources on a daily basis. It’s not useful if not. You need to have a news aggregator (such as Bloglines) or a web browser that allows you to keep RSS-based bookmarks (like Firefox).

To use it, click the orange RSS button for the project or community district you want to monitor. Highlight the URL that comes up and copy it (Ctrl-C). Open your news aggregator and create a new news feed. Paste in the URL. From now on, whenever there is news in your community district or about your project of interest, you’ll see it in your news aggregator.

Some useful links: (these are not endorsements)
Bloglines (a web-based RSS reader)
FeedDemon (an RSS reader for Windows)
NewsMac (an RSS reader for Macintosh)

Based on the articles you have selected and left out, I can tell you support project X and you are against project Y. I thought you were supposed to be neutral?

We certainly intend to be neutral about the way we present information on PlanNYC. And we appreciate your comments if you believe that we are consistently leaving out an important point of view.

In keeping with PlanNYC’s mission, we try to give you the straight facts on each planning project as well as informative or persuasive editorials on one side or the other. In the latter case, we try to maintain an editorial balance in the long run.
that provide (and actually own) the maps and pictures.

What is the ‘Most Active Developments’ box?

The grey-shaded box on the home page titled ‘Most Active Developments’ lists five project developments that are most actively in the news. This determination is based on the number of stories that are posted to a particular development in a certain period of time. These developments change frequently depending on the media coverage of developments.

What are the ‘Most Clicked-Thru Stories’ boxes?

The blue-shaded boxes that appear on the development and policy and legislative debate pages once you have clicked to “See Additional Stories” highlight the most popular stores for that particular development or debate. This is determined through an online tool that captures how many of our readers choose to click on the actual story link provided.

What is the ‘Most Visited Stories” box?

The multi-toned grey box that appears on the Directory of Developments page shows the stories that are most popular overall on the site. Again, this is determined through an online tool that captures how many of our readers choose to click on the actual story link provided.