It’s not over. There’s still time to prevent the construction of a 90-plus story(!) megatower in the middle of East 58th Street just off Sutton Place. But the alarms were sounding last Thursday at a meeting of the East River 50s Alliance.
Unlike the area surrounding 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, midtown was designed to be a public grid. We have shops, offices and residents living there. Forcing several blocks around Trump Tower into periodic lockdown seems highly unreasonable. It has already taken a toll on Tiffany’s, Gucci and other nearby Fifth Avenue merchants. Hence, the Christmas shopping season was painful.
Taxpayers foot an endless bill for costly social programs intended to improve the lives of the underprivileged. One source of free improvement – a good that is not just free but joyful – is widely ignored by the helping professions. They probably do not even know it exists. It is called beaut architecture, and it is all over New York City.
But rather than regard this decision as a war being won, we we should see it as an isolated case involving an egregious example. The developer’s zoning tricks were so outrageous that even the deBlasio administration couldn’t let it pass.
The New York Times has an interesting piece explaining that 40 percent of the structures in Manhattan couldn’t be built today due to modern limits on building heights. One of its claims is that “A New New York Would Be Shorter.” As Exhibit A, it offers a graphic showing older buildings that exceed current rules for building heights.
Clearly, if elevator shake in high-rise elevator shafts poses challenges, then the challenges posed by buildings themselves must be more so. After all, a too-slow or a too-fast elevator ride does not make the hair stand as much on end as the idea of a building’s tendency to sway in the wind. Wind – now and then high wind – always affects tall buildings, which toward the top can sway up to two feet back and forth in a high wind. Earthquakes are more problematic, but, as with hurricanes (except for Sandy), New York City has seen few, and none of consequence, thus far.
As a service to the readers of this blog, including those who may find themselves living in the new tall, thin towers whose construction many New Yorkers oppose, here are some thoughts on the ins and outs of life on the high side. The subject is megatower elevators.