Jacobs Block

Lisa Chamberlain at Polis, teaming up with Curbed, has started a contest to "Nominate the Best Jane Jacobs Block in NYC". She explains that "the idea is to celebrate the 'street ballet' of your favorite block...because it exhibits the characteristics that Jane Jacobs enumerated as essential ingredients to a quality urban life," ingredients she enumerates in her post.

Missing image - 12chairs.jpg

I would probably submit what's above, but I don't meet the guidelines (I only have the one photo). Regardless, I'll explain what I like about it and how it meets the essential ingredients.

The block is at the intersection of MacDougal and King Streets in Soho; the photo is taken from 12 Chairs, a great little cafe that expanded in the last couple years. As you can maybe see by the photo, MacDougal is a thru-street while King Street ends in a T-intersection at MacDougal, a very rare situation in Manhattan. This condition is part of what makes this block of MacDougal (from Houston on the north to Prince on the south) so appealing: it's reduced traffic, it's mixture of two short streets, and the surprise of the T-intersection. Personally, I just love sitting in the cafe and staring out the window, a la the image above.

Like a lot of blocks in the area, it fits the four Jacobsonian ingredients that Lisa mentions:
1-Mixed primary uses: Retail and apartments, with a little business space as well.
2-Short blocks: Two short blocks, as noted.
3-Old Buildings: The buildings here are old yet unexceptional, perhaps making them a bit more affordable in what's an extra-expensive area.
4-High density: Party wall buildings are all along these blocks (though there might have been a vacant lot or two in the past, I can't recall and am 1,000 miles away at the moment).
Visit Polis and Curbed for more information. Contest ends Friday, May 12.