New York City fact of the day

Nearly three-quarters of the existing square footage in Manhattan was built between the 1900s and 1930s, according to an analysis done by KPF, an architecture firm based in New York.

That is from the new Upshot piece “Forty Percent of the Buildings in Manhattan Could Not be Built Today.”


This is kind of crazy. Decreasing density would be the worst possible thing to do. Maybe they are trying to ensure that the old buildings arent torn down. Otherwise, this makes zero sense.

Thanks, Obama, I mean Trump.

Don't you just hate it when the free market imposes building regulations far in excess of the optimal?

Oklahoma benefits from buildings being destroyed by earthquakes because that promotes land clearing for new construction soon destroyed by earthquakes?

Major parts of the West benefit from housing build without fire protection and resistant codes because land is cleared every decade or two?

NYC would benefit from lower building standards because high rise fires forcing people to jump to their death clear the land for new construction?

Requiring buildings to withstand plane hits is bad because planes provide a periodic land clearing at the small cost of a few thousand deaths? The Empire State Building should have been replaced seven decades ago! The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was good for property development?

The building codes at the time the WTC was built were far superior to those in place for the Empire State Building because the latter is way past due for land renewal?

Main thrust of referenced NYTimes article is the "byzantine" NYC zoning and building codes, where city planners/bureaucrats "dreamed up" their personal opinions of how things should be... in an ever changing subjective process imposed on private property owners since 1916.

Yeah, it sure was terrible when the city got rid of the public health nightmare that was the tenements and slums. If only government hadn't intervened.

I know right? Some regulations aren't bad, so it must follow that all regulations are good!

False. The NYC government liked tenements and slums so much they built their own. They just didn't like private competition.

You mean like in the Lower East Side? What makes you think that the city did get rid of tenements and slums? What is the Lower East Side like these days?

On the other hand we can be sure that the city made the situation worse in some places. The Cross-Bronx Freeway didn't do the South Bronx any favors.

This is happening in cities across America, big and small. City Planning Commissions and Boards of Architecture Review are conspiring to keep cities from changing and evolving in a natural way. It would be one thing if they were setting some basic rules & guidelines that developers and property owners must follow, but it's far worse than that -- they are leaving individual decisions up to the whims of whoever is currently on the committee's which draws out the planning process, arbitrarily shuts down some developments while allowing others.

Imagine a construction boom in late 19th century Chicago where city officials and neighborhood groups refuse to accept high-rise steel-framed buildings because they would alter the appearance of the city by displacing tarpaper shacks and log cabins. Fortunately, people in those days still possessed a smidgen of common sense.

Why do you think it started only in 1916?

Ben Franklin was an advocate of building codes to protect his capital assets before the Constitution was drafted.

He didn't want his retirement income impaired by cheap construction and bad industries near his burning down his investments.

All hail PresidenT RUMP!

The Empire State building took 18 months to build; it's hard to imagine anything that large getting built that fast in NYC today. Especially as building it required demolition of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

As I recall, the top spire was also a last-second addition meant to ensure the building would be the tallest in the city, installed without ever running the idea past city officials. A completely different time.

From what I remember, the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building were built in competition with each other, and after the Chrysler Building had seemingly topped-out its spire was hoisted through the building and affixed as a last-minute surprise to the builders of the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building's spire was likewise a last-minute addition to claim the crown as the tallest building in the world. It was completed a month before the 1929 stock market crash. History has a sense of humor.

Close, but not quite right.

The Chrysler building was built in competition with ."40 Wall Street", which, oddly enough is now a Trump building.

The MUCH taller Empire State building was largely built AFTER the crash of '29. As the economy ground to a halt, the builders made the decision to use the fact that labor and materials were suddenly much cheaper. Alas, the gamble failed, and for many years wags called 'The Empty State Building".

Damn my fickle memory. I do remember the "Empty State Building" moniker, which was amusing. Thanks for the corrections!

Thanks to using illegal immigrants for the construction work.

I love it when modern-day Americans mock their ancestors for being bigoted and backwards. Except, oh wait, we all still live in the buildings and drive on the highways they built. It's a little like the semi-grown kid living in his parents' basement, getting mad at them for "not getting it".

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