History

New York Questions

  • How did New York City make the most of its locational advantages?
    New York developed the package shipping business and became a trade hub for package shipping. This was a seaport district and it was the leading port in America. Also, it had the Erie Canal which was also significant for New York as a natural port to move goods westward. This created opportunity for the industrial industry business along the canal. Merchants built businesses on the waterfront to manage all of the goods being importing and exported to and from New York, by ship.

  • How did railroads spur the creation of the modern American economy and what role did New York play in this?
    The New York Central Railroad Company came into play in the 1820s and consolidated by Cornelius Vanderbilt in the 1850s. This made the package shipping business more efficient. New York also became a conduit for new corporate emergence from all over the world. There was also the creation of the New York Stock Exchange around this time that played a significant role in American economy. The railroad in New York became a central area for industry and capital which led to many innovations in industries such as the Otis elevator, new office buildings, iron, steel, engineering and skilled labor. The railroad also led to the creation of investment instruments such as stocks and bonds. It also led to the invention of the telegraph system.
  • What were the advantages of the Commissioners Plan and what were the disadvantages?
    This was created in 1811. It was a grid of avenues that allowed access to the port. The Commissioners Plan led to the creation of the sewer system and also led to real estate speculation. Urban greenspace was basically ignored and this is where places like Central Park are located. Advantages of the plan included a uniform way to layout the street maps of New York, a way to give the public more convenience and to help alleviate some of the city’s public health issues. Disadvantages include the problem of all of the intersections being difficult to navigate on foot and bicycle.
  • Why was New York City so innovative in developing its transportation technologies including bridges, tunnels, and the subway?
    Transportation development began as a ferry system in the 19th Streetcar innovations came along that were drawn by horses then the cable car system was invented. Then the electric street car was invented. Street congestion led to the invention of elevated rapid transit systems and the subway system. The first subway opened in 1904 which led to extensive tunneling. Bridges were also constructed during this time such as the most famous Brooklyn Bridge. The commuter rail lines, such as the 1910 Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Station, were created so that the wealthy could get far away from the city.
  • How did New York’s leaders of the 19th and early 20th centuries try to make their city healthy and livable? What benefits do we have today from their exceptional vision?
    Getting out of the city was a way to get away from the pollution of the city. They pumped water from the Croton River and developed the Croton Aqueduct System was created to address health concerns in the city. It also led to a vast water supply system. This was a look forward for future innovation such as the lighting system in the city, which created a safer city. Municipal offices developed and created park space (Central Park and Prospect Park) to make the city a better place to live.
  • How did immigrants reshape the city?
    Immigrants helped reshape the city because they were used to build much of the city at low costs. New York basically became an immigrant city with mass immigration of Europeans into the city. They lived in east and west areas of New York in congested residential buildings. The view was that immigrants would not assimilate into American life.
  • What was Robert Moses’s vision for the city and what did he achieve?
    His vision was to transform New York to a city that was more decentralized. He wanted to make New York a modern, hygienic city that was more open instead of crowded and congested. He created the Jones Beach Park in 1929, the first public beach on Long Island that was not taken over by the wealthy. He created a highway to a sand bar that he improved with public amenities. This was popular in the automobile age. He was also influential in building the state park system. He also made the Henry Hudson Bridge a toll bridge and used the money to build more bridges and roads and used it for collateral for funding for municipal building projects.
  • What was William Levitt’s contribution to the modern city/suburb that we know today?
    In the late 1940s he created Levitt Town, which was a mass development for the working middle class that had amenities that some of the wealthy had. He used mass production by teams to build the houses and made them uniform. They built subdivisions. The FHA funded his residential projects which basically create the mortgage concept.
  • How was New York reshaped in its central business districts in the 1950s and 60s?
    Buildings like the convention center, the coliseum, office buildings were part of the office boom and New York became the financial capital of the world. It became a de-industrialized corporate district. New housing was created such as those created by New York Life Company in the 1940s and was middle income housing in the city. This was spearheaded by Robert Moses. He also was instrumental in helping hospitals and universities secure land in the 1950s. One of his highway projects was the Cross-Bronx Expressway.
  • What is the current vision for New York City as it moves into a completely postindustrial age?
    The transformation of New York led to its current vision of continuing to innovate and reshape the city toward futuristic movements. New York is a leader in technological and business concepts in the postindustrial age. The current vision of New York also includes real estate expansion and continued pioneering developments.

New York Reading Questions

  1. What do the authors think is important about New York’s highrise/skyscraper tradition?
    New York’s highrise/skyscraper tradition was seen as the model for other skyscrapers in different parts of the world. However, now it is New York that gets ideas from other major world cities, such as Hong Kong. The tradition of these buildings in New York speaks to urbanism. Additionally, New York skyscrapers are seen as positive contributors to the global green initiative, as well as contributors to futuristic creativity. One author reports that tall buildings are a symbol of power and are ideal for using land space more efficiently. The demand for more and more space is why New York is the skyscraper capital of the world, and this helped industries expand in the city.
  2. How do they think the tradition of high density high rises could help New York today?
    It is stated in the article that New York would do well to return to its earlier pioneering mindset, like when Robert Moses was innovating the city. They favor making changes in the city that allow for more details like interlocking duplex apartments with windows and cross-ventilation. Today, New York can benefit from high density high rises because the demand for space is constantly growing. High density buildings enable more people to fit into a smaller area.
  3. Where do they look for models for New York’s future?
    Models are considered from world cities such as Tokyo, Copenhagen, Medellin and Hong Kong for several reasons. For example, New York is seen as having a lot in common with Hong Kong because of the density and mixed financial services in the city. It is not compatible with European towns, and this is why Europe is not looked to as a model for New York’s future. In addition, New York’s future modeling includes combining elements of Hong Kong and Copenhagen. For example, the look of Scandinavian-inspired Bryant Park right across the street from the Bank of America Tower.
  4. What do you think of these ideas?
    In my opinion, it is a good idea to look to other successful cities in the world and use some of the same concepts for New York as they have. Brilliant minds are all over the world, so it only makes sense for modern architects, builders, designers, and other creative minds collaborate to make the best out of every opportunity to innovate. New York is a city that has transformed many times over the decades and it is seen as the city that looks to the future. New York is the capital of the world, so it should be the best. The article states that New York excels in plagiarism. It is a combination of many concepts from many cities nationally and internationally. New York is now and will continue to be the leader in futuristic trends.