New York City Urban Planning

By | July 22, 2022

International center of top level management and real place of social settlement, which continues to see strong Asian and Hispanic immigration, the city summarizes the usual gap of more economically developed societies between high-income groups and groups below the poverty line, recently indicated at 10,600 dollars. According to forecasts, this threshold will affect 40% of the population in 2000, made up of 2/3 blacks and Hispano-Asians. More specifically, the economic and social transformation taking place in the last 13 years is linked to a sharp increase in costs and a progressive decrease in public investments, only partially balanced by a greater quantity of private services, built on favorable conditions: the most macroscopic result is that of a loss of efficiency and inadequacy of the transport system,

Just above the poverty line, around $ 12,500 are the new low incomes from illegal work that can be made by small business workers in the Quaternary sector; the same middle class, whose income ranges from $ 15,000 to $ 48,000, is leaving Manhattan for an annual rental cost of $ 25,000; the estimate of homeless individuals as of 1985 was 20,000. The displacement, forced transfer of social groups from one area to another, is linked to a phenomenon of non-identification between place and inhabitant recently called gentrification (from gentry, socio-economically higher class); an identification that instead survives or is reborn, albeit occasionally, in the marginal areas among poor immigrants.

The situation of the individual areas. – At the center of the entire system is the area between the southern tip of Manhattan and 60th street: in it are located 454 of the largest companies that control the NY Stock Exchange, whose total annual volume of business is estimated at $ 770 billion, compared with $ 3 billion managed by companies located elsewhere; the entire directional sector under this exceptional drag effect occupies about 60,000,000 m 2 of covered surface in this area.

According to, Staten Island, in its monumental and hilly characteristics, seems to confirm in the Eighties the residential vocation at a medium level, thanks also to the connection to the territorial road network established in 1964 with the Verrazzano Bridge. In the Bronx, with the exception of the East Bronx, it houses mostly poor black people, in a generalized situation of urban decay: with a turnaround in the eastern area, which sees a small-scale residential building with the endowment of some service.

Queens and Brooklyn, on the other hand, are home to greater economic and urban dynamics, albeit with sub-areas of neglect: here at the beginning of the 1980s a series of small and medium-scale production settlements took place at the service of the business world and its new rich inhabitants. (gent), with tendencies towards spontaneous specialization and reuse of old type industrial buildings through so-called ” informal ” procedures, bordering on legal. Both districts are seeing middle-income population inflows and consequent small-scale urban transformations. Between 1990 and 1993, Metrotech (Metropolitan Technology Center) and in Queens the Flushing Town Center with the adjacent Flushing Meadows Corona Park (the area of ​​the World Fairs of 1939 and 1964) and the Queens Museum rebuilt by R. Vinoly, initiate transformations in these areas on a metropolitan scale. Furthermore, in the suburbs, at the end of the 1980s, the NY City Human Resources Administration together with the Department of General Services, started a program of construction of eleven temporary residences for the homeless – individuals and families – equipped with equipment health and social services: as of early 1993, nine have already been built in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

In Manhattan, the dynamics of the last decades between Lower Manhattan and Midtown Manhattan have reduced, and the modalities of transformation have changed: office buildings rise almost everywhere below the 60th with a tendency to move towards the West Side, where it can build, while the eastern part tends to stabilize, even with qualified renovations (Union Square and South Street Seaport, in East Lower Manhattan).

In the 1980s, Roosevelt Island was completed and the interventions on the water front that were already announced in 1970, albeit with some difficulties: in particular, Battery Park City, with the World Financial Center, and Hudson River Park, completed in 1992. Significant new phenomena are the total transformation of Times Square, begun in 1987 and in 1993 nearing completion, with high-rise multifunctional buildings, some of which were designed by the best-known studios in the USA (Kohn Pedersen and Fox; Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; Roche and Dinkeloo); on the banks of the Hudson, between 34th and 38th streets, the Convention Hall (Javitz Center), and between 60th and 72nd streets, intense planning activity for the future transformation of the Penn Yards. Over the past ten years for this partners, to the most recent Riverside South in 1992, of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Around the economic core thus articulated, other productive and residential dynamics are taking place in Manhattan: Washington Heights and Chinatown are involved in the specialization of services for the tertiary sector with new companies, on a smaller scale, in transport, finishes and special furnishings; the same happens in Chelsea, which, with Soho and Tribeca, is experiencing a new vitalization due to the arrival of medium-rich inhabitants.

Upper West Side represents the most significant city-funded residential transformation for the new affluent.

Intervention methods and architecture. – The new skyscrapers generally abandon the International style consecrated in 1932 by the homonymous exhibition of the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and provide the testimony of a casual eclecticism, only marginally referable to the post-modernist theme; in a general reduction of standards, these buildings, now largely multifunctional, offer only half the m 2 per inhabitant and 1/3 of the m 2 per employee compared to just twenty years ago.

Compared to the previous phase, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, not evading a generalized trend in the USA, take on architectural characteristics that can be traced back to real stylistic references: from the Chippendale style of the AT&T to the neo-decò of the Lipstick (1986), both by P. Johnson and J. Burgee. Shiny zigguraths appear here and there magnified such as the Park Avenue Tower (1987) by H. Jahn and W. Murphy, and monumentalized enlargements of the European corner building in the nineteenth-century city, such as the Kohn Pedersen and Fox Ass. (1987) tower, at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 57th Street. The examples cited are all placed, however, at a very high level: the technological, structural and work organization components tend to cancel out any inventive dimension; but the iconic-monumental way is not the only possible way out. This is flanked by new interventions that represent a positive line of development of the modern in the USA: for example, the immense space of JI Freed’s Convention Hall (Javitz Center), and the IM Pei e partners studio (1986); areas of urban renewal and new residential typologies, such as the Liberty house by JS Polsheck (1985), or the super-intensive luxury towers in Battery Park of the World Financial Center by C. Pelli (1990) and at the MOMA by C. Pelli (1984); finally, medium-scale ensembles such as the Eastwood Apartments on Roosevelt Island by Sert, Jackson and Ass. (1986), with which the townscape is once again valued, at the pedestrian scale.

In reality, new zoning on a cooperative basis are already emerging, aimed at recreating a wealth of average housing in the city; but if the current trend towards concentration is confirmed, the fate of the city will depend on the willingness to pursue an urban policy on the part of the municipality which is the largest real estate owner and whose budget, between 1984 and 1988, presented a balance assets of many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Indeed, without an urban policy, the tendency to concentrate and reduce per capita spaces could end up transforming Manhattan into a place of concentration of land and real estate rent, canceling its character as a city.

New York City Urban Planning