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tv   Manhattan Skyline  CSPAN  August 21, 2016 12:55pm-2:01pm EDT

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government agency that has given national the american parks. the national park service of the department of the interior. ♪ >> you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook. >> up next on american history tv, rutgers university economics professor jason barr discusses his book "building the sky line: the birth and growth of manhattan strikers whose -- skyscrapers." we hear about the economic history behind the skyscrapers and lower and midtown manhattan and learn why there's a gap in the iconic sky line. the skyscraper museum of new york city hosted this event. it's about an hour. >> first i would like to thank
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carroll very much and the skyscraper museum for the ini have tage to talk. grateful for the opportunity to discuss my research and the book itself. i'm going to give one slide on the book itself. very quick overview. just talk about some of the main topics and the key themes. one thing. could you keep me on time? perfect. the majority of the time we'll focus on one specific question, which is, why does the manhattan skyline look the way it does, why does it have a particular shape, why do we see one large cluster of skyscrapers downtown and another one several miles to the north in midtown. there's relatively few skyscrapers even to this day in the area in between. so building the skyline, just very briefly, is a book about my research and i'm an economist at
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rutgers newark. over last decade or so, my interests have primarily been in studying the economys of cities, the economics of real estate and skyscrapers. and much of this book discusses my findings from this research agenda over the last decade. so the book is an economic history of the manhattan skyline and from 1626 to the present, perhaps you're wondering what 1626 has to do with the modern skyline. i'll leave that for you to read in the book. the questions that i seek to
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answer in the book itself are, what were the early real estate decisions that ultimately gave rise to the skyline? what have been the economic of skyscrapers since the late 19th century, and how do these economics influence the number, height, location of skyscrapers throughout manhattan? so that's the book. in a nut shell. but today's talk is going to focus on one particular topic. i want to talk about the shape of the skyline and to try to answer the question about why there's two centers and why skyscrapers are missing from the area in between. over the years i found that there hasn't been that much research on it and there are, however, a few conventional wisdoms. people talk about a few different items as having been influential and i hope to convince you that these two most frequently discussed items are not in fact -- or i should say the evidence doesn't support these conventional ideas. so then i'm going to talk about these conventional ideas and
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then talk about why the evidence doesn't support it and then i'm going to go on and give you what i have found and what the data suggests about what's going on or what went on in manhattan history. i'd also like to say that much of this research was performed -- much of the research in today's talk as well as the book was performed with my colleague and co-author, troy, who is an economist at fordham university. just wanted to give a little shoutout to him. ok. manhattan skyline is a bit different as opposed to other sky lines throughout the world. if we look at this slide, as an example,, we see what we might call as sort of the classic look, the classic skyline look. i know it's small.
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but it's meant to sort of illustrate what aerial shots of skylines tend to look like. here's san francisco. chicago. boston and philadelphia. they each have, generally speaking, one dense con glom ration of tall buildings. the height of these buildings tend to fall off in general rather rapidly. as one moves out of the business that is not to say that each skyline is not new you can -- unique in some way or there are not subtleties to discuss, chicago for example extends along north michigan, but each pathne has a more standard in terms of having a central business to stick -- district
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around it. but what we can say about these israel have similar histories in the sense that they are all business districts near the resulted from a series of positive feedback loops. early settlers, they developed the area around the port, they come and settle in philadelphia or boston and so forth. and so then there's a lot of port activity over time, as the city grows, as the economy became more sophisticated and technology developed, businesses began to become larger and the revenues that they were generating were much greater and as a result these businesses tend to push outs remain dents -- residences who then tended to move to the
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outer areas of the city. as businesses grow, it attracts more businesses and different industrial clusters and it puts pressure on land values and then as a result developers aim to build more -- provide more space or build taller. and then in the late 1880's, early 1890's, when the technology and the cost efficiency for skyscrapers emerge, cities like chicago and new york got into the skyscraper game as it were. but manhattan has a different con figureration. you have lower -- configure ration. you have lower man -- configuration. you have lower manhattan which fits the classic mold.
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then you have midtown, which does not. i'm going to talk about some of the evidence on how this came to be. since i probably won't have time for everything, i'm going to give you the conclusions up front. first, if we're looking for the roots of midtown, we have to go back to the 1830's. nearly a century before the art deco giant, this is the empire state building and the chrysler building. midtown proper, or what i call midtown 1.0 was born around madison square in the early 1880's. by 1900's, by the turn of the century, land values and office rents are high enough in that neighborhood to establish
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skyscrapers as profitable investments. midtown after 1900's continued to move north, due to what i call creative destruction, and transportation infrastructure. creative destruction in this case is sort of a simple way of saying, as the economy evolves, as technology evolves, there becomes a need for newer buildings and buildings that provide new services and accommodate the new forms of work that occur over time. the second set of conclusions is as follows. the creation of midtown, i would like to argue, is due to four major phenomena. the first is that the dutch decided to settle just a few blocks away, yeah, ok, so over i think that way. basically, on the lower manhattan.
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today we ceeloer manhattan has expanded quite a bit and in fact i'm standing on a lands fill right now. they decided to settle at the lower tip of manhattan. the implications of this is that as manhattan grew, as the city grew, much of the economic activity would take place in a northward trajectory. this is happening in the context that manhattan is long and narrow and what this is doing is it's compressing, if you will, or it's making more concentrated all of the economic activity that's taking place in the city. keep in mind that by 1900's, 1.8 million people were living on the island of manhattan. so it's a relatively small geographic area with a very high concentration of population. in what i like to call a tubular environment.
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much of the action is along this 13 mile axis. another key thing is here in this country, americans had traditionally voted with their feet by moving out to what i would call the suburbs. as i go through the talk i am not talking about the modest suburbs of quarter acre lots. i am talking about living on the outer, middle and upper income people living on the outer edges of the city. there is nothing inevitable about that occurring. it seems to be the basic reference we have in this country. this all emerging during the 1850's, what i call the first inversion. there is a pattern of where people are living inverts after the introduction of the streetcar.
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let me move on to the most commonly emerged regions. ok, conventional wisdom number one is what i call the bedrock theory. call me crazy. so the story goes something like this. imagine we have a shovel, and you started digging. maybe not here, but along wall
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street or something like that. you start digging, eventually hit the bedrock. starting at the, maybe where the bowling green is or something like that, i don't have an exact number, maybe 15 or 20 miles below the surface. as you walk north, bedrock starts to extend.
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he keeps extending until the lower east side where it hits the lowest part 300 feet below the surface. now after skyscrapers were invented in the late 1880's, 1890's, these buildings became very tall and very heavy. it was at that point when engineers developed how to properly establish a foundation. so the building does not lean or settle, or such like that. so the story goes something like
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this that -- this is the story. the difficulty of reaching the rocks were to anchor the buildings to the brit rock -- to the bit rock -- buildings on the lower east side, there are no tall buildings because of the difficulty in reaching the bedrock. but a sort of the end of the story from sort of a general perspective. it is missing a lot of detail. so we did some investigation into this. so it has led me to conclude what i call the bedrock myth. it is a nice story but it does not hold up. so a paper by myself, troy, and a graduate student as well as given in chapter seven of the
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book, we detail the evidence in a lot of details. i went to summarize what we found. we found from the perspective of a developer and the demand story, the consumer.
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supply and demand is my stock and trade. we don't find any evidence of technological barrier. some of the tallest buildings in lower manhattan are built over the geologically worst environment. most notably the board municipal building. if you look at the cross data, what is called the marginal cost of going back to the bedrock is not sustainable to add to the cost of construction. it even relates to the case on technologies which were very expensive. once you establish, once you created these caissons and started digging, the cost of going deeper did not matter all that much. the cost was paid up front. the majority of the costs were paid up front. but most importantly, i don't have it on the slide, but you look at the land values. the land values in washington are around 1900 or so $180, $190 per square foot. you just need to walk. the cost of digging foundations were not that high. they were relative to the overall cost. we did some calculations, and we showed that a rational developer was looking to save money, save money, could have gone to the area where the land values with $1600 per square foot, purchased, and would have reduced the total cost of the project substantially. but they did not do that, and the reason is because they would not have made the kind of revenue over the north of city hall and would have justified paying those costs. bear with me here, because i am
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going to show you a graph. that is another one of my stock and trade. it may look a little scary, but it is not. i am telling you a story. here is the story. this is what i think is a great example illustrating how bedrock story does not hold up. >> do you mean the bedrock is closer to the surface over here? jason: it is relative. when you get to 14th street or go to central park, there are outcroppings, so some of it is above the street level. the bedrock here, bowling green, the buildings here have bedrock just about 10 meters and then in this sample, maybe 45, 50 meters. if you keep going north along broadway for example, once you get out north of canal street and get to 14th street, once you are at 14th street, the bedrock is just very close to the surface. moving on.
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conventional wisdom number two is grand central station. what i call the grand central station theory was as natural presentation hub. excuse me here for a second. i will take a minute here to briefly discuss how grand
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central station was not the birth or not the reason for the birth but the reason for the cause. it was just promoted expansion in 1920. just a little bit of background here. in 1902, there was a tunnel crash and it forced the railroad to electrify the tracks. the trains ran on steam before that and tracks were open and uncovered. the current station was completed in 1913, and at that point, park avenue was created and a little terminal city was created above the track. these were new york central promoted high-end real estate, and you can see this today at waldorf astoria or the helms worth building, which is the new york central building. these were terminals promoted in the city. the problem with the grand central station theory is, it was of little interest before 1913. i will talk about that in a minute. more broadly, north of the depot, there was pollution. trains were running on coal and steam, and it was not a good
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environment overall. and furthermore, all the crosstown streets north of the station were highly constricted. some were only open to pedestrians. some were, a few were open to cars. you did not have the kind of east-west access you would have liked to promote real estate development. as i want to show you, the first skyscraper was developed around madison square. these are the buildings, all the buildings we could find, that were created between 1890 and 1900 that were 80 meters or higher. they were all built in lower manhattan. this is in year for the fact that it is 80 meters taller. but this is a bell over madison square garden. all of the skyscrapers built between 1890 and 1900 constructed in lower manhattan.
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and then around the turn of the 20th century, something happened. there was a jump. these office buildings 80 meters taller completed between 1901 and 1912. and if you look more closely, what you can see is the greatest concentration of these buildings. remind you, this is before grand central station was electrified and open. most of the buildings were built between union square and madison square, and oh, i threw away my next slide. this was in anticipation. there was a hotel. so what were the causes? if grand central station is not there and the bedrock theory evidence is not there, what was going on? i want to turn to some of the evidence that we have collected over the years, and to do this, we need to go back in time to about the year 1830. during this time, much of new york was, much of new york was
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contained in the lower tip of the island, and residential development only went up to about 13th street. it was relatively undeveloped below that. around 1830, there were two major renovations in transportation. the first with the omnibus. in 1829, new york city saw the introduction of the omnibus, which is essentially a stagecoach outfitted for urban use. it had several horses pulling these cars, and 15 people could comfortably ride in one of these. but you can imagine writing on cobblestone street in one of these things was not very pleasant. and in 1834 of the introduction of the horse-drawn streetcar. this turned out to be a very important technological information -- innovation in new york's history. so the horse-drawn streetcar was, as you can imagine, you have the car which holds maybe 20 people let's say, and is
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pulled by a horse. but the wheels are embedded in rail, was are embedded in the street. the efficiency of the horse-drawn streetcar was important because it now, for the first time in new york city history allowed people to commute. they do not have to be dependent on their foot, on walking to get basically from their homes to work. ok? so the first question is, what was the -- where were people living before the introduction of this? to do this, what i did was i went back to these old directories.
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new york city directories have been published probably annually since the second half of the 18th century. each of these directories, if you ask a 14-year-old mother phone book, he won't know. but these were like the phonebooks without the phone. they listed the person's name, their residence, and for many of these people or most of these people, they also told you their occupation. you also have business directories, which tell you the name of the company and its location. i have used these residencies, these directories to sort of explore and understand the demographic patterns that were taking place on the island in the 19th century.
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so don't be scared, i promise it will all be cleared. so what i did was i collected the residential locations of three groups of people. those identified as merchants, those who were smith's, any kind of smith, iron smith, someone who is a craftsperson, and a laborer. these to meet represent three different economic classes. the green dots are the merchants. where are the merchants living. the smith's are the blue dots and the laborers are the red dots. so the merchants are living in the very heart of the old city. they are walking to their jobs on foot. the laboring classes are on the periphery, ok? this is what this graph tells you here. it is just a way to measure going from the lower tip north, so this is miles from the southern tip.
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you can think of it as the relative concentration of where people were living, but that is all you need to know. the greatest concentration of merchants in 1827 was from half a mile from the lower tip. the greatest concentration of laborers and smiths were a mile or two. the reason for this is because people were dependent upon walking. those with a means to have the lowest walk will pay for the right to have that lower walk. as a result, they get, merchants will live in the heart of the city, and the outskirts of the city will be with those who have less income. but what happens in 1849? we see what i call the first inversion. because of the streetcar, transportation and commuting is an option for many people, not everyone. i do the merchants go? well, they jump. where do they jump to? mile two.
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so i just have laborers and merchants here to make it simple. where are the laborers? they are still at mile two, they moved to the outskirts as broadway became more developed. but the merchants now are living along washington square park, living on lower fifth avenue. so this is very important in my opinion, because there are several important implications for the skyline. here we are in 1849, but there are several important things. number one, it seems represented the first time in american history where the upper class is given the option to commute, decided to move to the suburbs. before a walking city, living in the south, the heart of the city, after the streetcar, they are moving up to the northern areas of the city. second, the working class areas remain the very working-class areas that had been in place in the early part of the 19th century. these are the neighborhoods that are going to develop as the
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lower east side. so in some sense, the ethnic enclaves, the cities of new york are going to emerge out of this fax that once the streetcar is invented, the laboring classes remain where they were, and they become, they are living out in the city center as it were. you have a business layer, the tenants layer, and then you have the upper income layer. that is the second implication. third, it is this suburbanization, moving of the upper income household, that is going to give rise to midtown. and we can see this as merchant work morphed into finance. the merchants morphed into ceo's. so what i did was i collected the directory data for the people in finance, insurance and real estate, and corporate leadership positions, and i looked at where they were. i looked at where they were working and where they were living.
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what you see -- oh, i am going to go to that in one second. but i want to say one thing before i go to the following slide. this is a working-class neighborhood. by 1855, you can see the classic new york pattern on the lower east side. they are irish and german and have been coming to the united states for roughly 20 years. this is some 300, 400 people. so remember, the upper classes are migrating northward, and the density is accruing here because as the immigrants come from abroad, they settle in historical working-class districts. here is 1861, the red dots are
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the location of the finance, insurance, and real estate workers, what i call corporate service, ceo's as listed in the directories. so they are all working down here by lockheed. and in 1861, most of them are living in the center between housing street and union square. 1879, the job patterns stay roughly similar. a little bit of spreading out, but a vast northward migration of the upper, this represents upper income groups. 1892, now they are starting to filter out of the westside to the east side.
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in 1905, upper west side, upper east side, central park west. all of this was made possible by another transportation innovation -- not yet. we don't even need that yet. we get the pattern, but you are right, the subway came after 1904. but even 1861, 1879, 1892 we see this northward pattern, and it was possible by the elevated railroad. they were basically else out in 1880's. as i demonstrated in the book, their job essentially was to donald as many people as
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possible to their jobs in lower manhattan -- was to funnel as many people as possible to their jobs in lower manhattan. people can now live further and further away while maintaining something of a reasonable view time. so here we are. so where is midtown in all of this? ok, so to this end, i want to
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look at the firms. which businesses were moving from lower manhattan to midtown? based on these graphs, and you know, whatever i got? 10 minutes, perfect, i think i can do this. this is directory data from the business directory data. don't worry too much about what these mean. i will tell you what they mean. this is a shorthand way of saying in the year 1866, 1882 and 1898, bankers did not leave
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wall street. the point is the same, and that is roughly one mile .5. anchors were not going anywhere. they could not leave lower manhattan. it was too risky for them to move to other places which might have more light and air and less congestion he could they just had to be in the heart of the financial district. same thing with lawyers. the fine thing is the bankers had to be in the heart of the were at wall street, which is mile .5, and the lawyers tend to be at mile .6. i don't know exactly why that is, but they seem to be a little bit more north of the bankers. ok. however, when we start to look at the other companies that moved, we see a very different pattern. architects.
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in 1866 to 1882, all of the architects -- will i will say all, but the vast majority of architects were concentrated about mile .8. and then in 18, by 1898, sometime between 1882 and 8098, there was a vast migration away from lower manhattan to mile three, madison square. same thing with newspaper publishers. the reason is because they wanted to be close to their customers. as you look at the history of the new york times, it moved to madison square in 1904. harold square in 1990. they want to be closer to broadway theater, the restaurants, the nightlife, society. all of these things were very important to the newspaper. to be in the thick of it meant you had to move. ok, so for time constraints i am
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just going to summarize. this is essentially a very important piece of the story. and i will just summarize these early midtown skyscrapers. flatiron, madison square garden, the creuset building, which is a speculative building built around madison square in 1911. these are perfect illustrations of the sky scrapers emerging in the early 20th century around addison square. let me summarize what was happening. throughout the northern century, the footprint was expanding starting in the 1830's. the wealthy begin moving up the island and jumped over the tenement district. the shopping and retail, which i have not detailed, follow the
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northward movement up broadway, 5th avenue, to be around union square and madison square. at some point as the concentration of retail, entertainment and other businesses became dense enough, it started to lure certain kinds of industries away from lower manhattan to madison square. this includes publishers and architects. these were companies that depended on local customers for much of their business. and so this then created this positive feedback loop. other white-collar offices, other firms that were related to these industries then began to move to midtown. and out of that a new business district forms. so yeah. the last slide, very last slide. what about grand central station? you can't see. this is -- here is another one of these concentration maps. here is the story. in the 1900s and 1919, this is madison square. you have a few buildings over here later in the second half of this 22 decade period. this is the lighting 2 -- 1920's and 1930's. grand central station and penn station on the westside. and then the 1940's, after world war ii you see a further northward movement, development of 6th avenue and the rise of the modern glass towers. all you need to know from this graph is that i took the average distance of these buildings from
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the lower tip over time, when a building was completed down here and how far it is, and you can put a trend line there. the basic conclusion is midtown stopped moving north in the year 1991. a sickly what happens is in the 1980's, you have this big boom moving west and north. and since the late 1980's, the really has not been all that much in the way of awesome development. i will leave it there. that is the story. thank you. [applause] >> [indiscernible] we actually have a microphone and another camera [indiscernible] but i hope some of you will ask jason on some of his theories. >> jason, totally great data. your mining of data is really, you put a lot of concentration in. could you though be underselling the influence of grand central station? what comes to my mind is the development around madison square, as you argue, had strongly been influenced by the early grand central, like 1880's or 1890's. you could get off that train at 32nd street, which is the smoking unpleasant mess, and then take your horse-drawn
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streetcar five blocks away, and then you are in a much nicer area. couldn't the early grand central terminal also influence the development of those skyscrapers? jason: great question. i will answer it in a way that i sort of think based on the data. there may be subtle effects at work. obviously when you are looking at patterns, you have the forest, you might lose some of the trees. a couple things i would say is that based on the commuting data -- so we collected the directories of data. thick 1905. what it listed was where people worked and where people lived. some example, the finance sector between brooklyn and manhattan -- the thing was, you really only included if you worked in manhattan or the bronx, because
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they were not going to go out and canvas your address if you lived in connecticut for example. these are people we know who works in new york city -- who work in new york city and live anywhere. one thing i identified is either knocking on your door or knowing where you live in new york city. does that make sense? we know that these people were definitely working in new york city and living in new york city. there is a whole bunch of data points that i don't have here that are people living outside and working in the city. when you look at the traction, it only turned out to be less than 10%. 85% to 95% of the people who work in manhattan even as late as 1900 or coming either from manhattan, brooklyn, jersey city
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and the bronx, and then you are at 100%. so to your question, there is no real evidence linked from the point of commuting that rail commuting, like metro-north type of commuting, was present in the early part of the 20th century. so in that sense, it does nothing there was a type of hub yet to develop where workers, in during the day, they want to their offices, and then they get the rails back home. that is one thing. the other thing i would just say is based on the -- let me just jump -- oh yeah, based on this graph, the evidence supports that they were too far away. you know, you can talk about the flatiron building. a classic example of the first building to go up in midtown 1902, or the tallest building. the tallest building in 1909 was the metlife tower on madison square. so if grand central station was important, you would see some kind of building creep as it
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were, a tall building creep. you have banks, but i just don't see that evidence there. there might be a more subtle story i am not picking up, but that is my reading of the data. >> i am shocked that this building has it entered into your discussion because i thought for sure you know the lower end of manhattan was already developed, and you just could not get the owners and residents to allow taller buildings. but the midtown was sort of undeveloped and more open to larger buildings. so is there some zoning factors?
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jason: great question. i would argue the short answer is no. everything in our data and just to overstate the case, long before 1916 when zoning goes into effect. so the patterns were already established. the pattern of midtown and being midtown was established from an office point of view in the 1880's and from a skyscape or point of view around the 20th century. and this predates zoning by about 15 years. i hope that answers your question. zoning is obviously influential. after that, and of course today. but it doesn't affect the patterns that were emerging, you know, in the earlier part of the 20th century.
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>> so you made a comment with regard to the cessation of the northward movement of skyscrapers, did you say 1990? jason: yeah. >> what is going on? what about 57th street? they are not commercial skyscrapers, but boom, boom, all of these buildings going up. are they in the next book? [laughter] jason: i know kyle has exhibitions about the superslim buildings. so in terms of the northward movement, it is sort of a different trend in some sense. most of these buildings here represent office buildings, commercial. so the super tall buildings that we are seeing now at least from the residential side of the story, you know, you know, maybe in a residential sense it is moving midtown north, but not in a commercial sense. that is the short answer.
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>> question about the blueprint. the lawyers and the architects -- jason: bankers, lawyers. >> you express that in understanding the proximity of the customer and proximity to each other. are there demand effects from the bank from rent at all? these are a percentage of the workforce, right? are there more bankers, if there are more bankers, wouldn't that raise rent and drive other
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things as well? jason: i thought the little bit about this. there could be a pushing out effect. but if you are pushed out, where you going to go? so people went to the bronx, that would have been the most inexpensive place to go. i remember reading about a company moving to tell him to get great light, and that he regretted that tremendously because they could not get anyone to come up in the early 1900s. tell him is different now. i am with you on that. it could have been a push out story. the place they decided to move to is what compels me to draw his conclusions.
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>> hey, jason. let's go like 100 years before the question about zoning. what do you think the influence about the grid was in establishing -- i missed the very beginning of your talk. the creation of the grid pattern of manhattan, and how did that affect the development or concentration or movement of the skyline? jason: good question. i don't want to go too much into detail. i differ to the expert on this. i don't have a great answer other than to say, i think it just allowed for the northward, this northward movement to happen sort of gradually. people just cap moving north. as block after block was brought into the grid, there just became this sort of natural succession of developers to the upper west side, townhouses that were attracting upper middle and income families around the turn-of-the-century and so
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forth. my short response would be, i think the grid plan just sort of allows for these to take place. if the shape had been different, maybe it would have encouraged a different outcome. i could go back in time and encourage the commissioners to try a plan b, and then we could jump forward. but that is the way i would think about it. >> having read a good portion of your book, people may not know that you begin with 1609 and the argument, eric sanderson, the wonderful explanation of what
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was the natural topography of manhattan island. and you make the point, which i agree with, that geology is not geography. it does not determine -- in some pages you are you that it does not determine the bedrock depth. it does not. so geography is spatial flows rather than rocks on which people plant their buildings. those things are completely
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different. geography would have more to do with economics. i wonder if you could comment on something in the book is you did not talk about tonight, and that was the jump change. the tenement districts don't change. so it heightens the use of that land because it is profitable to develop tenements and rent them out. you link the geology to those lower lying areas. it is the central trajectory of development of the island, is broadway and fifth avenue for the rich. you want to comment more on what was the reason that the edges for tenements don't change for 100 years? jason: ok, the big argument is the economic story. i am trying to think of -- hotelling. there is an economist with this hotelling model. but it is easy to demonstrate in his model that the central point is always going to be sort of the most desirable. you have the lowest net concentration --i'm sorry, it is the most desirable universally because it will always have the lowest net total cost to get to the center. you see what i am saying? so naturally if the center is most desirable, who is going to pay for the most right to be there? so in essence, i think this is answering your question, but is not really related to the
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geology. i can speak to that in a minute. in essence what is happening in the free market is a sort of real estate market, the central spine becomes the most desirable. so much of the recount and the commercial and gilded age mansions and so forth are happening in the center simply because it is easier for these folks to shop and go to their clubs and participate in society. so the result in the land and values become greater over time, it causes there to be population density for the lower income
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along the fringes. so what is happening actually in the 1865, you start to see the mason held kitchen and the irish enclave over here. so the immigrants are funneling in here. and then they retain a sort of economic mobility, they start to move upward. i have a great quote from, i think the author's name is cleghorn, but correct me if i am wrong. she says it is said the lower east side -- it is said among the jewish immigrants, it is 10 years from hector street to lexington avenue. but in terms of the lower east side, i describe in my book, i look at soil fertility. that is the real geological story. down here was relatively, had relatively fertile soil. greenwich village over here and along the upper east side as well and definitely in harlem, the harlem flat.
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the upper west side was rocky and had bedrock very close to the surface. what happened in the 17th century, early development over here based on the creation of the bow we during the dutch period. >> you look at the grid, you make the argument that is the least desirable land that is in the center of the island. >> originally. jason: up here, the common land. >> it is expensive once the richer people move higher. that is the -- jason: ok, because to your point, geology essentially, i don't want to overstate, but geology seems irrelevant. distance to convenience became the deciding factor. those who enjoyed the luxury, the luxuries provided by
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shopkeepers in the -- and the hotelliers would pay for that right to do so. >> i want to say one thing. in the 1800s it had to do with [indiscernible] and the only way you access the island was by water. there were no bridges. you had the brooklyn bridge, but it was just getting started. the exterior was mostly commercial.
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that is a you entered the island. so as the 19th century developed, the interior of the island became the more exclusive place to be away from the commercial exterior. jason: essentially the pattern is if you look at land values and land-use and land type, port use, with the exception of the low down seventh district, port, tenements, factories, and then high-end retail. it is sort of layered in this way. is more or less the island until central park. which i argue as a parenthetical note, a blocking point for midtown, what i would call midtown 5.0. this northward trajectory -- anyway, midtown, central park and zoning combined create a sort of dam from developing further north. that is my argument. >> within a short period with the turn-of-the-century, you have -- within a short period. doesn't that clustering along the timeline suggest that some phenomenon at play here, progression comes to mind, world wars which convert attention from certain industries? have you factor in that?
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jason: i have a couple of responses. i will try to be quick. skyscraper construction goes part in parcel with economic growth and economic decline. and the heights of buildings over time and the numbers of buildings over time, they just track, they track fairly well not necessarily in the business cycle per se, but the ad and flow -- the ebb and flow of new york city over time. so the buildings that you see by and large i am not claiming are born with some important economic justifications.
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there are plenty of examples whether it is the empire state building or the chrysler for example or the world building just trying to be little bit taller than the next guy. this is another false idea you can somehow predict financial panic by looking at the topping out. i don't know if that answers the question directly, but -- >> does this mean we can build high as much as we want [indiscernible] in terms of the population, how much can the new york city can build, like in the
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future, so it becomes like a disaster? [laughter] jason: that is a book unto itself. itself. i will just say -- so you are just saying, eliminate zoning, rent stabilization. >> [indiscernible] jason: as hypothetical. in today's day and age, it is my
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strong belief that the real estate market in new york city is highly constrained, highly constricted. the ability of the real estate community to survive or the demand is restricted. so you say rip away all of the constraints. there is essentially no limits. you could build like they do in china and the middle east, you could build 80, 90, 100 story buildings. people will get up and down, the buildings will be safe in general. there are no technological barriers. the great barrier is all the things that must accompany these buildings. there is no short answer to that other than if a city like new york decided, we are going to build more subways or have plans to add more schools as the population grows and at a much larger framework, the city could hold more people. 17 million people. but this is a much bigger question than a we are prepared to have and b that could be discussed now. [laughter] >> we can continue the discussion around the corner.
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there are books available in the bookstore. there are some there, so if you would like to have the author inscribed a copy, you have the opportunity. and we have the opportunity now to thank jason. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> on thursday, the national park service centennial celebrates its birthday.
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learn more about the park service. america,unday on real --reel america, documenting to develop california's national and state parks during the great depression. here is a preview. >> the home was the first state part state. , it wental government back to uncle sam again in 1890 two become part of yosemite national park. turn-of-the-century, made a second effort, by 90,000 acres of redwood and creating california redwood state park. redwoods, the tall giants of the tree world, are largely responsible for the fact that golden state has one of the
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finest state park systems in existence. during the world war, and extort a organization was brought into existence to save as much as possible along the northern coast of the state. league,he work of this parks contained liberal samples of california's natural beauty. 3-1, californians floated in 1929 in favor of $6 million for parts. the act required that if that $6 million had spent, california has obtained mountain and sea deserts, canyon stream and waterfall, majestic world fern, 300ith giant feet off the sky, in california's state parks, saved
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forever for the reverence. announcer: this thursday will mark the national park centennial with a special live program starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern time. today, we're featuring national park service sites visited by the c-span cities tour. this is american history tv, only on c-span 3. >> we are promontory summit utah. i am walking you over to where the transcontinental railroad was completed. here, it isght within


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