Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Midtown Blues

Change is constant. In life -- and in New York City.

This wouldn't be the greatest city in the world if it wasn't always transforming. Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes it's for the worse but change is a perpetual fact of life. Like the passage of time, weather, death and taxes, change simply exists, it just is.

Well, Midtown is changing -- and not for the better.

Currently there are several super-thin, super-tall highrise apartment buildings being constructed in Midtown. Specifically, they are being built in the 50s, right below the southern perimeter of Central Park. A few are also being built downtown, in and around Tribeca. Many of them are close to 100 stories tall. And they are a threat.

They threaten to turn the Manhattan skyline into one overwhelmed by buildings that look like needles. No more iconic structures like the Chrysler, the Empire State, even the Citicorp building -- instead, needles. Manhattan will be turned into the world's most glamorous pin cushion.

They threaten to exacerbate the income inequality in this town. The apartments in these buildings are going to be purchased mostly by wealthy foreigners either as investments or pied-a-terres.

Most of all, these buildings threaten to caste huge shadows over Manhattan, blocking out the sun. And since most of them will be in Midtown, this means that large portions of Central Park could be caste into permanent darkness.

This. Is. Scary.

And it's not even like Midtown is that glamorous or exiciting anymore. Midtown is ... eh. As this article shows, we're a long way from the glamorous Mad Men days of Midtown. The economic and cultural vitality has left Midtown and gone to Chelsea (like Google), or the East Village (like Twitter), or Tribeca (like all the celebrities), or Brooklyn (like Girls). Heck, even Queens is getting more cool. Midtown has become like a boring middle-level Midwestern city's downtown. It's where people work and occasionally get dinner. But it's not where NYC's future lies.

So these new buildings contribute nothing to NYC or its future. This is one kind of change we can do without.    

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