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Amanda Burden: How public spaces make cities work

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More than 8 million people are crowded together to live in New York City. What makes it possible? In part, it's the city's great public spaces -- from tiny pocket parks to long waterfront promenades -- where people can stroll and play. Amanda Burden helped plan some of the city's newest public spaces, drawing on her experience as, surprisingly, an animal behaviorist. She shares the unexpected challenges of planning parks people love -- and why it's important. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at http://www.ted.com/translate Follow TED news on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tednews Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED Subscribe to our channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector
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Text Comments (165)
F izzy (3 days ago)
I love the way you speak. Interesting stuff.
Sole Curious (5 days ago)
Bravo...👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 we need more Amanda(s) to keep on championing humanity in a concrete jungle.💖👍
BASSCODE PROJECT (1 month ago)
Wow i think this lady is really inspiring, and the places that were built look amazing! New York has certainly improved so to see.
ll q (1 month ago)
*standing ovation
Anna Von (1 month ago)
London UK needs an Amanda Burden! No-one else there has anywhere near her vision, her values, her commitment, her skills.
Elena Gibbons (1 month ago)
Somebody come do this with Boston. They aren’t all just mean and maybe if the city seemed more welcoming the city itself would be kinder.
Jay Saenz (3 months ago)
This video moved me to tears. What an amazing woman!!! I feel inspired to fight to improve my city too.
Michael Irwin (3 months ago)
Thank you for all your work in making New York City a people place, a place I feel at home in. Now I have an image in my mind of the city planner who feels like I do when I get to return to the public places we city people all enjoy.
julesea (3 months ago)
Your speech is like a beautiful symphony, Thank you, amazing work 🌷. A greatful citizen
Elisabeth Gehrke (3 months ago)
Wow. This is just outstanding. She is a hero.
smile444 (3 months ago)
so build higher but with green spaces and bars/coffe shops while improving commuting ? I'm all for it ! Building higher is reallly the only way to lower housing prices. And a beautiful city attract tourists . And communting lower poverty and pollution
Big Sur (3 months ago)
Take a bow to this champ, I wish my country (India) could see these things, Politics is at it's worst.
dc rikki (3 months ago)
I think she rocks! I love her! She’s 5,000% correct about just knowing a welcoming, pleasant, serene public space is nearby making all the difference in improving your view of your city. Been living 17 years now across from Meridian Hill Park on 16th in DC. Love it! My building, my apartment, all of it, my neighborhood. I think I’m good. We’ll see.👍🏼❤️😉
Yookyung Chang (4 months ago)
I don't live in NY, but it was so touching to see someone working so hard for everyone to enjoy more of their life. Thank you for your work. Truly inspiring.
Beautiful lady! Great talk!
EduINDEX Lectures (5 months ago)
Jose Martin Choque Perez (5 months ago)
CÓMO LOS ESPACIOS PÚBLICOS HACEN QUE LAS CIUDADES FUNCIONEN 00:12 Introducción 00:43 Cambios transformadores en espacios públicos 01:35 1er ESTUDIO DE CASO: Parque Paley Park, Manhattan. Comodidad y espacios verdes. 04:44 Los Espacios públicos son oportunidades para: - Inversión comercial - Bién común de la ciudad 05:04 2do ESTUDIO DE CASO: Battery Park City, en Bajo Manhattan. Los detalles hacen la diferencia 06:19 06:59 Experiencia en la Comisión de Planificación de Nueva York 08:00 Desafío y propuesta ante un crecimiento poblacional en una superficie limitada. 10:51 3er ESTUDIO DE CASO: Zona costera de barrios Greenpoint y Williamsburg, en Brooklyn 12:07 4to ESTUDIO DE CASO: Nuevo parque en la costa del Bajo Manhattan 13:12 Lineamientos de solución. "¿Cuál es el truco?" 14:11 5to ESTUDIO DE CASO: Parque High Line. Luchas arduas y continuas con la inversión comercial. 17:27 Palabras finales: "Los lugares públicos tienen poder" "Los lugares públicos pueden cambiar cómo vives en una ciudad"
EduINDEX Lectures (5 months ago)
Connor Halleck (5 months ago)
This person is a modern hero
rolandfla (6 months ago)
Loved this TED Talk, Amanda is so right about the importance of parks in our large cities especially as they continue to grow, we must retain as much green space and public space as we can.
Susan Nunes (6 months ago)
Why can't we apply this lesson to New London, CT....Not just the waterfront
HollywoodF1 (6 months ago)
I get tired of every development project that includes public space being somewhere that I'm expected to spend money. They always want me to shop and eat and drink. I get full. I don't want to keep eating. I don't want to buy anything. Why should I be made to feel like a vagrant if I'm not constantly streaming money out of my pocket? Spend-- or don't bother stopping. But why does this type of public space keep developing? It's because profit-motivated developers are the only ones proposing them. And that's the problem. Governments need to invest in their role and do what they do best; and that is: provide those things that are necessary to a society that don't generate a direct profit. They need to assert their influence and not roll over and die every time a developer flashes fancy plans at them. Reject their consumer opportunities and build a park instead.
W G De Campos (5 months ago)
We need "a" Amanda Burden in São Paulo - Brazil ASAP.... and also in many other brazilian cities... as well !!! With due respect: That is the way to go; well done!
kamoga Douglas (8 months ago)
"I believe that a successful is like a fabulous party, People stay, because they are having a great time.! - Amanda Burden. Woooooooooooooooow.........
kamoga Douglas (8 months ago)
"How do you transform a space into a place where people want to be. Well it's up to you, not as a city planner but as a human being. You don’t tap into your Design expertise, but into you humanity. I mean, could you want to go there, would want to stay there, can you see into it and out of it, are there people there, does it seem green and friendly. Can you find, Your Very Own seat." - Amanda Burden wooooow........... This is the most passionate city planner I have ever seen. WOwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
thu trang nguyen vu (8 months ago)
This is surprisingly so interesting!
Emily Mast (9 months ago)
Now that's a public speaker!
Jacky Wah (9 months ago)
This is such a wonderful speech! I enjoy every bit of it. Thanks.
Mikael Åmark (9 months ago)
Another important aspect of public spaces for people to interact is that it removes some of the barriers between it`s inhabitants and further grows connectedness. If we only interact on our social media we miss the chance to get a true connection with someone we might not have engaged with in the 1st place.
Laysa Thayana (11 months ago)
Grr wuff (11 months ago)
...Jan Gehl, her master, IS the master of 'space between buildings'...
David OMalley (11 months ago)
Good talk but I totally disagree with the height limits set on new transit-orientated development, imposing height restrictions is a major reason why NYC and other cities are so absurdly unaffordable. On the topic of transit orientated development, it's great you have that vision but what about the transit itself, most systems are so horribly underfunded that they are at the breaking point. Bottom line is when it comes to planning, planners need to think about every piece that makes up the whole; example Washington DC's transit orientated development was great, but now it is in crisis because planners focused on the "development" and not on the "transit", as DC'S metro crumbles, so too will its development miracle.
Heyo Zup (1 year ago)
I got teary eyed listening to this talk.. public space should never be taken for granted
Blazer433 (1 year ago)
she's charming
James Draper III (1 year ago)
If you like walkability, watch how we walk from work to our new house https://youtu.be/L2Uudv8j9Is
fantastic - there is more to living than purchasing and selling
Call Me Swivel Hips (1 year ago)
Replace a well designed and well placed park with a mall and concrete, and watch how quickly all those tourists disappear. People don't come to shop, they come for the public space. It's funny how developers can look at amazing public spaces and just want to tear them down for commercial interests, which would actually reduce the income of the city. Why? Because the reasons people had to come were bulldozed and replaced with concrete slabs.
Alejandro Granados (1 year ago)
13:07 "So, whats the trick? It´s up to you, not as a city planner but as a human being"
EduINDEX Lectures (5 months ago)
Alejandro Granados Thanks... for suggestions..
Jandelle Cobbs (1 year ago)
I want to listen, but, how many times will she suck her teeth?
Matthrick O (1 year ago)
As an architecture student living in one of the most poorly planned and dangerous cities in Brazil, I feel moved and inspired, but saddenned because we have naturally so many green areas underused in opposition to NYC that it's a shame the way we waste the opportunity to create quality space for the locals!
Luis F. Verduzco (1 year ago)
Adab Abu (1 year ago)
Morty Sanchez (1 year ago)
any politics aside, a government employee that takes that much time to walk around and learn and listen is a good government employee bravo
Blessed Kids (16 days ago)
3 4 5678910
Shannon (1 year ago)
No more malls please! The garden is much better.
Mandeep Saini (1 year ago)
i really like ur words and thoughts regarding planning. Planning really belongs to PEOPLE but also to create balance nature and its mining.
Mary Cooney (1 year ago)
Boston needs this hero!
Jo Jerico Manalang (2 years ago)
she's gorgeous!
Mike Wadley (2 years ago)
Amanda, you hit the nail on the head. Planning is about people!!!!
Rebecca Lynch (2 years ago)
Brilliant visions put into action. Such an amazing, passionate woman.
Kata Dila (2 years ago)
Nice speech ms. Amanda. :)
Qing Liang (2 years ago)
give her some water..
EduINDEX Lectures (5 months ago)
Thanks... for suggestions..
Ngo Huy Hoang (1 year ago)
stoppedp i
Call Me Swivel Hips (1 year ago)
Some animal fat actually. The lungs are coated in a surfactant to function properly, a surfactant that is pure saturated fat. Not enough fat in your diet? You can expect to sound like she does!
vestfoldify (2 years ago)
lol lol lol
Ryan Sand (2 years ago)
Look up "William Whyte social life of small urban spaces". She is continuing His work.
Mike Wadley (2 years ago)
+Ryan Sand Absolutely! I remember seeing his video when I was a young pup planner.
Mr Abdi (3 years ago)
wow great minds
Reyna Caraveo (3 years ago)
"details really do make a difference, but design is not just how something looks, its how you feel in this space."
DoomDriver32 (3 years ago)
Yahya D Hashiru (3 years ago)
wow. what a great presentation.
DustSeeker163 (4 years ago)
Can someone please tell me what the names of the parks are?  All that were mentioned  Im really thankful!
Jessica Porto (3 years ago)
+DustSeeker163 Paley Park and High Line
Pat Howlett (4 years ago)
This makes me want to plan to trip to NY and visit these parks - and in frankness I've never really wanted to visit NY before.
Why is this in a playlist callers 'batman eats a hotdog'
Nisshanth Narendran (4 years ago)
Thanks Amanda!
Amazing speech!
Ralph Rojas (4 years ago)
I did not know about this place
TheHugosouthafrica (4 years ago)
There is a whole profession called landscape architecture that specifically deal with public space creation. Irritates me a bit that she doesn't mention it at all. They fight long and hard to create success full public space. Wonderful examples through out the world
Jenny Trinh (2 days ago)
As a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture graduate and as someone who is currently working on becoming a landscape architect, thank you for your recognition! We are always striving to teach the public about landscape architecture and how it can literally change the world :)
Craig Nicol (4 years ago)
The user experience of urban planning #ux
Bruce Thomson (4 years ago)
GREAT video. One comment: Although she says the large concrete aprons in front of high rises are bleak and a 'waste', I suspect the architects intend that there be some deliberately open space completely uncluttered by anything, as relief from confinement and crowding by people. You can walk a moment across one, or stand near it, and recover. I'm sure she understands minimalism, the comfort of it. Bruce Thomson in New Zealand.
Leon Nat (4 years ago)
Can you come to Toronto? At least get rid of the METAL benches that are as hot as a frying pan during summer and equally cold during winter. 
Johnny Chimpo (4 years ago)
Botox is a helluva drug
Mike XF (4 years ago)
Lol. Indeed.
ylham eresov (4 years ago)
amazing works
Gregory Guerrier (4 years ago)
standing ovation.  Thank you Amanda
Henry Stradford (4 years ago)
Amanda Burden: How public spaces make cities work +Henry Stradford 
aresinnet (4 years ago)
Yes this is sweet and all but the title should be "How public spaces make New York City work even more than it already does". I live in a much smaller and less popular town than NY yet still has large potential to be a visitor destination with its downtown area if we work our main park area. New York already works and these areas just add to it. It would be nice to see her talk about doing work in a much less popular city. I would be much more impressed. 
Bevan Koelmeyer (4 years ago)
As a student urban planner I found her very inspiring
David Pellecer Ruiz (4 years ago)
I love the emotion an passion that she demostrate when she talks. 
OpiatedBliss (4 years ago)
5:50 pauses, looks up 'esplanade'
Mr Mann (4 years ago)
Wow, amazing woman.
Gus Koutsour (4 years ago)
She looks a lot like her mother.  I'd seen her several times and was impressed, but I never noticed the resemblance before.
BombasticLove87 (4 years ago)
Perfect Turf synthetic grass is the ideal product to install over concrete or stone, and requires no maintenance. I would love to see the product in more public spaces.
BombasticLove87 (4 years ago)
If you knew anything about sod, you would know that it is an unnatural product that is filled with pesticides.
BombasticLove87 (4 years ago)
You should probably see the product before you compare it to regular grass. Don't forget Kentucky bluegrass and traditional sod is not in fact Native to North America. Synthetic grass has been manufactured for residential use, so now it is comfortable and natural look with actually a longer thread height than sod. It is also cheaper to maintain and will last for 25 years, so of course it makes sense to use it in city spaces.
BombasticLove87 (4 years ago)
It is extremely nicer to sit on than hard landscaping, it is more comfortable than regular grass...and I didn't suggest it as a replacement of plants, but as a surface instead of rock.
BombasticLove87 (4 years ago)
Nope, it is a great product and requires no gas powered mowers and there is no need to water it. As well their are no toxic ingredients in the product.
I like TED videos.
Anthony A (4 years ago)
Hearing about the struggle to maintain the areas desired for public parks/spaces just reinforced the importance of private property rights. In the sort of society I advocate (anarcho-capitalist-voluntary free-trade society), she, or someone with her mindset, maybe a non-profit group, could've drawn up contracts and made agreements to say, purchase the space of the Highline. Then it would be their property and they we would have sole ownership and control of the highline space, allowing them to do with it what they want - in this case allow anyone to enjoy the space if that's what they choose (the voluntarism part). This would help end the struggle of outside parties trying to grab the land because now it's not their property. Burden's team now owns the highland space, and anyone butting in would be a violation of their property rights. This is how to really begin saving and developing "public" spaces. Ownership and Voluntarism.
MonkeyKong (4 years ago)
land-owners being allowed to initiate and participate in the rezoning process feels like it should be illegal
Myvanwy Calista (4 years ago)
Oh. An actual expert on zoning. What a surprisingly interesting talk.
wiggle nancy (2 years ago)
+Closely Distant Yes, let's hope TED gains a little confidence and brings in more people who actually know what they're talking about from now on...
Stealth WarWolf (4 years ago)
I can't wait until companies and builders decide to build eco-buildings. Not only running a 80% green energy but also having open green houses to put more fresh oxygen and natural food into the cities. Sorta like having a city farmers market. 
Stealth WarWolf (4 years ago)
Sorta scientist and engineers awhile ago said on this big TV show for Discovery Channel said they would do that. Dedicate entire open structures to creating plant life. The buildings themselves would be open to the outside, but also able to close themselves against weather and such.  
Andrew (4 years ago)
She made an 18minute Tedtalk about ubran planning and public spaces in New York and It was intersting for 18minutes.
Alex Knight (1 year ago)
exactly. It felt like 5 minutes.
Morph Verse (4 years ago)
Amanda should look at the Netherlands, and see how we create public spaces.. There are millions of solutions to create public spaces that gives to the people and back to nature..
Ciaran Hudson (4 years ago)
This woman has done great work. It’s particularly difficult to ensure there are enough public spaces in a world city like New York. I love walking The High Line;it  feels kind of surreal to walk above the city, weave between buildings and watch the hustle and bustle of the city below. Every now and then lists are released of the best cities to live in and invariably they are dominated by Canada, Australia and Western Europe. These places all recognise that alongside the independence we all love about where we live, there is an interdependence too. Recognising this and planning for it results in good parks, great public transport and housing for all ages and lifestyles. Then people live in these cities all their lives, rather than just for a few fun years in their twenties before disappearing off to the ‘burbs.
Sentisungla Longchar (4 years ago)
Wow! Amazing work!!
roidroid (4 years ago)
Why would anyone but a NewYorkCity resident care about this video? It's just a city planner talking about projects she's done, and everyone claps coz they liked this-or-that project.  Video has no appeal beyond the city boarders. This happens a lot with NewYork media, TV shows, movies, books, I dunno if residents there are a bit self-obsessed or what.
Christine Lee (4 years ago)
These projects may be specific to NYC, but the bigger ideas can be applied to any city in the world. Many places are plagued by consumerism. While her ideas will not all work for a different city, they provide great material to study.
MountainJadeChannel (4 years ago)
This is wonderful
Jeremy K (4 years ago)
What drives people so heavily into citizens is because of government-led socioeconomic engineering policies- not purely because people want to cram living 1000+ people into one building.
elquemando (4 years ago)
Thank you, Amanda. Don't back down. Keep NYC livable.
TheSpiralnotebook (4 years ago)
Since the 1930s we've had the technical abilty to hear and record public speakers very well without the speaker having to wear a visible wire device on their face.  These are used on TED to clearly indicate that each speaker is a douchebag.  
Frost (4 years ago)
Its actually so they can move around during the presentation. We do have the technology to hear and record public speakers without the head sets and microphone packs they wear so long as they stand still at a microphone equipped podium or hold a microphone in their hand...
yawnos (4 years ago)
XD man you have some strange conceptions about technology and people.
triforcelink (4 years ago)
Why do you listen to douchebags?
Alexander Maxhall (4 years ago)
What a woman! ;) True warrior. ^^, Gr8 subject, very interesting. :) 
Nathan Callidor (4 years ago)
If you call this society working your a sociopath.
EduINDEX Lectures (5 months ago)
Thanks... for suggestions..
Nathan Callidor (4 years ago)
+Drigger95 cool articulation bro, good do see the fluoride is doing its job of making you a meat machine lol. Yea preaching sustainable societies for a longer future for mankind is obviously the definition of not feeling or caring about my fellow man! You sure seem like a smart person......
Drigger95 (4 years ago)
+Nathan Callidor now you sound like a sociopath 
Nathan Callidor (4 years ago)
+elquemando "NYC attracts talent from every azimuth - and heavily from within the US." and if there was no money to be had there they would attract nothing. Regardless of whether large cities are "greener" than small ones, that doesnt actually make them "green", nor functional in a sustainable model. As I said, any social mechanism that cannot be maintained indefinitely is redundant and simply a waste of resources. I am not ignorant, I realize that we need stepping stones to get there, but we view this monstrous, world consuming social mechanism we call capitalism and free market as an end, not a step on the path to an end. We have adopted a system that promotes, no enforces, unregulated resources use for no other reason than profit. That to me is the definition of an unsustainable idiocracy.
elquemando (4 years ago)
+Nathan Callidor  Regarding the second point you made: NYC attracts talent from every azimuth - and heavily from within the US. Why you chose to skip to an international brain-drain argument is bizarre, given the context. * Unless we consider your first point. Sustainability scoring will ultimately be  time- and catchment- dependent. NYC, as is the case for other major metropolitan areas, leaves a smaller ecological footprint per capita, or relative to recorded economic output, than suburban or rural societies within a same self-recognized national community . You might not like to hear this, but major cities tend to be "greener" than lower-density conurbations. They tend to be "greener" not only because of less caused environmental distress per person or per unit of output, but because their alienation from contact with Nature  will often express itself in fierce defense of the natural realm. [Unfamiliarity can breed lack of contempt. New Yorkers love our Central Park because it is rare, precious. Iconic, gorgeous. For many, essential to retaining sanity. ] They tend to be "greener" because their supported focus on issue thought poles, is capable of generating intellectual resources  which solve ecological backwash - often engendered  elsewhere.. And often DOES so. * What do you understand as, quote, "sustainable"? Discuss.
Lilbit (4 years ago)
What she is talking here is what landscape architects do... without landscape architects all of these projects won't be successful;-)
drmedwuast (4 years ago)
She is 70 years old.
PatricK WithaKay (4 years ago)
Makes a change to listen to some one who has the interests of Joe Bloggs at heart and not the dollar.
afroloewe (4 years ago)
I know I'm being a total ass, but I just can't get over her robotic looks combined with that monotonous voice.
Chrome (4 years ago)
This woman's vision, and those like it, need to be kept in the public consciousness!
Megara Myths (4 years ago)
Now that was absolutely amazing and such a inspirational talk. I totally agree with her, public space has definitely determined what city I've felt in love the most.  
Tulio Marchetto (4 years ago)
She is awesome!
Patrick Long (4 years ago)
I totally agree, further more it's important for HEALTHY citizens, you need to have space which are attractive and fun to be in to get people out and walking around and moving their body, which we of course know is so important for health. Not only that but mental health is so dependent on a persons interaction with their enviroment and people, these spaces affect all these things in an important an positive way!

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