99 Jane Street

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Although a restrictive declaration that was filed by the owner in 1984, several months after the City amended the lot’s zoning designation, refers to the space as a park, it actually resembles zoning’s residential plaza typology, found primarily in the upper east and west sides of the city. Occupying the full blockfront on the west side of Washington Street between Jane and Horatio Streets, the space is rectangular, comfortably proportioned, surfaced in brick, relatively open, and surrounded on its three street sides by a red iron fence that enforces the restricted hours of access.

Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)
Photo: Kayden et al. (2000)

Inside, a long, serpentine, stone ledge makes its way around the northern, western, and southern sides, providing numerous places for sitting next to a landscaping of plants. In the middle of the western edge is a water wall, with five cascading vertical chutes topped by decorative metal medallions sporting images of beavers, a pilgrim, and a Native American. Four old millstones placed on the park surface reinforce the connection to American history. Fixed benches and movable aluminum chairs furnish added seating among the several trees.

Although the space is physically detached from the residential building’s front entrance, it is nonetheless well integrated. Apartment windows and balconies look out onto the space, making it feel like a well observed backyard in service of “defensible space” principles articulated by such urban observers as Oscar Newman. The combination of time-tested amenities, pleasant proportions, integration with host building, and nearby residential population makes this a valuable neighborhood space.

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