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IN “NEW YORK CITY’S Evolving Skyline,” Stefano Chen writes that this year “could be the city’s busiest year ever for new skyscrapers.” Here, in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow, are tidbits from Chen’s article, which was published in The New York Times, June 5, 2019.
The “Old Days”—Up to the 1970s. Three buildings dominated the NYC skyline from the early 1930s into the 1970s: 40 Wall Street (now the Trump Building, not to be confused with Trump Tower ), 927 ft., opened May 26, 1930; the Chrysler Building, 1047 ft, May 27, 1930; and the Empire State Building, 1250 ft., May 1, 1931.
In a prescient slight to our national narcissist, the Chrysler Building’s architect secretly added a 125-ft. spire to its design, thus besting 40 Wall Street’s height. The Empire State Building’s design was modified 15 times to ensure its claim as the world’s tallest building. Including its antenna, it rises 1454 ft.
The Empire State Building lost its U.S. claim in 1971 with completion of the North Tower of NYC’s World Trade Center. As of 2019, the Empire State Building is the fifth tallest skyscraper in the U.S. and 28th-tallest in the world.
Manhattan versus St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. I used to live on St. Thomas, a Caribbean island topographically not unlike Manhattan, particularly if a giant green sheet were draped over the latter. St. Thomas is about 12 miles by an irregular 3 miles, with its highest elevation at 1555 ft.
The population of St. Thomas is around 55,000, a density of 1653 people/sq. mi. The population of Manhattan is around 1,665,000, with about 73,000 people per sq. mi.
Ever wonder why Manhattan’s buildings grow tall?
Stronger Concrete, Quicker Elevators, Better Aerodynamics, and Anti-Sway. Manhattan’s skyscraper have increasingly scraped the sky, especially in the last decade. Reasons for this include stronger construction materials, quicker and more efficiently controlled elevators, improved knowledge of structural aerodynamics, enhanced computer modeling, and a proliferation of sway dampers.
Chen reports in The New York Times that “A better understanding of aerodynamics has produced skinny towers that can sway from four to six feet in any direction at the top.” Also, rarely used before 2005, mechanical dampers atop towers reduce sway in about a dozen of NYC buildings.
All sites worth celebrating. Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll hear about some of the gaming played to exploit this proclivity for being high on Manhattan.
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019