It's no accident Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe grew up to be a leaf lover. His father, Barry Benepe, 79, co-founded the city’s greenmarket network more than 30 years ago, filling parks like Union Square with farmers' goods at a time when they were better known for yielding dirty needles than heirloom tomatoes. (There are now 30-odd markets citywide.) Benepe père then helped found Transportation Alternatives, and for all this urban do-gooderism, the Rockefeller Foundation just awarded him one of its first Jane Jacobs medals, which come with a nice $100,000 prize. The now-retired Daddy Benepe (who lives, appropriately, on Jane Street in the Village with his wife, Judith) talked to New York about the greenmarkets’ gritty early days — and picked a few bones with his son.
Jane Jacobs, the Death and Life of Great American Cities author who revolutionized city planning when she told the world why the best village was the West Village, died a year ago yesterday at 89. Last night, about two dozen hard-core Jane-ophiles (Jacobeans?) gathered to toast her at the Village’s White Horse Tavern, a favorite Jane haunt — she lived just down the block — before she moved to Toronto in 1968 to help her sons avoid the draft. The star of the evening was architect Alexandros Washburn, city planning chief Amanda Burden’s newish design czar, whose lack of press since starting his job in January is notable given that (a) he’s overseeing the Jacobs-y design aspect of most major building projects in the city and (b) he has urbane Greek good looks that had most of the female Janeheads at the pub cruising him in that discreet New Urbanist way.