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Bedrock Depth and the Formation of the Manhattan Skyline, 1890-1915

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Author Info

  • Jason Barr

    ()

  • Troy Tassier

    ()

  • Rossen Trendafilov

    ()

Abstract

Skyscrapers in Manhattan need to be anchored to bedrock to prevent (possibly uneven) settling. This can potentially increase construction costs if the bedrock lies deep below the surface. The conventional wisdom holds that Manhattan developed two business centers--downtown and midtown--because the depth to the bedrock is close to the surface in these locations, with a bedrock "valley" in between. We measure the effects of building costs associated with bedrock depths, relative to other important economic variables in the location of early Manhattan skyscrapers (1890-1915). We find that bedrock depths had very little influence on the skyline; rather its polycentric development was due to residential and manufacturing patterns, and public transportation hubs.

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File URL: http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/workingpaper20096
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark in its series Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark with number 2009-006.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:run:wpaper:2009-006

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Keywords: skyscrapers; geology; bedrock; sprawl; urban agglomeration;

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  1. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon & Sébastien Roux, 2010. "Estimating Agglomeration Economies with History, Geology, and Worker Effects," NBER Chapters, in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 15-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Jason Barr & Troy Tassier, 2014. "The Dynamics of Subcenter Formation: Midtown Manhattan, 1861-1906," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2014-002, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
  2. Jason Barr, 2011. "Skyscrapers and Skylines: New York and Chicago, 1885-2007," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2011-001, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.

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