• Fri. Sep 29th, 2023

51 to 1

District-by-district perspectives on what we build in New York City


Everyone has something to say about their neighborhood. Share your thoughts here!

Throughout the 51 council districts of New York City – from Staten Island, through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan – this project is asking three simple questions:

  • What building or place in your neighborhood means a lot to you, and why?
  • What concerns you about the way your neighborhood is developing?
  • If you imagine your neighborhood five years from now, what would you like to see?

The answers to the questions in written, recorded and visual form will start building a collective map of meaningful places and visions for the future.

Why this project and why now?

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic downtown have wreaked havoc in neighborhoods and New Yorkers’ lives. Unemployment is high, and up to a third of the city’s 230,000 small businesses may not re-open. Low-income, black, brown and immigrant New Yorkers are hit the hardest.

As the city tries to get back on its feet and with local elections for City Council Members and the Mayor underway, it’s more important than ever to make sure that the path forward is set by local New Yorkers who know their neighborhoods the best.

Why 51-1?

New York City has 51 council districts. The site follows the neighborhoods district-by-district, which helps connect people into decision-making processes and raises awareness of the role of district Council Members during a local election year – 2021.

Starting with “51” (on the South shore of Staten Island) rather than “1” (Manhattan’s Financial District) conveys the importance of thinking about the city from new angles, and of thinking of the city as a connected whole, made up of diverse and dynamic parts.

Get in touch!


This project is initiated by Annabel Short, a non-profit program director with a passion for building connections between people to shape just, thriving neighborhoods (see also “30th Ave – A Year in the Life of a Street” and “I live here – Queens“).


“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Arundhati Roy, in The Pandemic is a Portal

“Planning is a way of knowing the World as well as a way of remaking it”

Samuel Stein, in Capital City

“The persistence of injustice in the world’s cities—dramatic inequality, unequal environmental burdens and risks, and uneven access to opportunity—demands a continued and reinvigorated search for ideas and solutions.”

Toni L. Griffin, Ariella Cohen and David Maddox, in The Just City Essays – 26 visions for urban equity, inclusion and opportunity

Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.

‘But which is the stone that supports the bridge?’ Kublai Khan asks.

‘The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,’ Marco answers, ‘but by the line of the arch that they form’.

Kublai Kahn remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds: ‘Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.’

Polo answers: ‘Without stones, there is no arch’.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities