Economics, not geology

I’ve had a lifelong fascination with New York City in general and with Manhattan in particular. My dad grew up in Brooklyn, and my paternal grandparents lived on Long Island (Hempstead) when I was growing up. I went to the 1964 Worlds Fair in Flushing Meadows, and once ate at an automat in Manhattan. When my folks lived on the East Side for two years, I enjoyed visiting them between quarters in college. The Battery, Wall Street, SoHo, Central Park, all were just a short subway ride away from their apartment on East 65th Street. If you want a great read on the history of New York City, read “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro. One of the big reveals for me in the book is the racist origins of those lovely stone bridges on Long Island.

Manhattan Island is one huge boulder, but the upper surface is uneven and in some places, it is below the water level. Long ago, the legend began that the reason why skyscrapers are “missing” between Downtown and Midtown is because of geology. While superficially plausible, this myth has been debunked. My brother Mike, who is a retired mechanical engineer, sent me this explainer. Long story short, the problem wasn’t geology, it was land use economics. Read the rest here:

The Bedrock Myth and the Rise of Midtown Manhattan (Part I), Skynomics Blog, James M. Barr