Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

Rebuilding Manhattan

Whenever I walk out of the terminal at JFK or Newark airports and see the familiar line of taxis, whenever I exit the Lincoln Tunnel and ark my neck up at the impossibly high architectural masterpieces that still cause me to awe, I know that I am back in Manhattan. It is as though NYC was built and designed to put on a show, not just on Broadway, but on an architectural, cosmopolitan, cultural, and urban level. Which leads me to an article I found on the BBC a while back: What if we could rebuild New York City?


The article posed that very question:  NYC has become one of the most intensely packed cities on the planet – 8 million inhabitants, skyscrapers building up, since the width and length don’t allow for any horizontal expansion, and around a zillion cars crammed into the wide roads. This of course is also part of NYC’s charm – and I personally wouldn’t want it any other way.


But let’s just imagine for one minute that we could rebuild it. How different would the new NYC be? How different would we want it to be? To keep the essential layout and feel of being in NYC, we would probably want to keep the street grid layout. The city would become instantly cleaner by factoring in smarter car use, giving priority to green vehicles and better, varied and more free-flowing public transportation, as well as vertical agriculture to line the streets. The new NYC would be intelligent, sensors built in to monitor every component of our lives in the new metropolis, from water and waste storage, consumption and recycling, to transport flows. NYC is already filled with millions of minds – the new city would allow for a greater interaction and connectivity between these minds. New and more self-sufficient living spaces would be built, each with independent renewable energy sources.


If this all sounds a little too hypothetical, New York is already trying. On my last visit, just over a year ago, I visited the High Line, a public park built on an old and abandoned rail track, elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. (see: ).


The BBC’s article provided more than a dream of what we-could-hypothetically-do,-but-would-never-be-able-to-in-the-real-world. Aside from the High Line, it was refreshing to see that there are a number of ideas of make the city greener, cleaner, and step it up to the challenges placed on a 21st century city. Among the ideas:

The Low Line – – An idea to use solar technology to illuminate a historic trolley terminal, creating an underground park, to providing respite from above.

Vision 42 – – a citizens’ initiative to re-imagine and upgrade surface transit in Midtown Manhattan, with a low-floor light rail line running river-to-river along 42nd Street within a landscaped pedestrian street.

Million Trees NYC –


Some of these initiatives are only concepts. For now, I’ll still love my favourite city just as it is.



Original article:


April 13, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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