(K. Brent Tomer),
Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan’s Skyscrapers.By Jason Barr.Oxford University Press; 437 pages; $49.95. Buy from Amazon.co.uk (ISBN=unknown)
THE world is in the middle of an unprecedented skyscraper boom. Last year more than 100 buildings over 200 metres tall were built. What forces drive such ambition? A new book by Jason Barr, an economist at Rutgers University-Newark, focuses on Manhattan, and shows why these behemoths develop, in a conversational style that almost makes you forget that you are reading a book about economic history.
Why is Manhattan synonymous with skyscrapers? In the late 19th century the island was booming: demand to be in particular areas was so high that the only option was to build up. But geography also played a role. The famous grid pattern of the city’s streets, imposed early in that century, meant that the average plot of land in the city was fairly small. Manhattan is itself a thin piece of land, making it hard for economic activity to spread out, Mr Barr notes.
New York’s…Continue reading