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Skyscrapers and the Skyline: Manhattan, 1895–2004

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  • Jason Barr

Abstract

This article investigates the market for skyscrapers in Manhattan from 1895 to 2004. Clark and Kingston (1930) have argued that extreme height is a result of profit maximization, while Helsley and Strange (2008) posit that skyscraper height can be caused, in part, by strategic interaction among builders. I provide a model for the market for building height and the number of completions, which are functions of the market fundamentals and the desire of builders to stand out in the skyline. I test this model using time series data. I find that skyscraper completions and average heights over the 20th century are consistent with profit maximization; the desire to add extra height to stand out does not appear to be a systematic determinant of building height.

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  • Jason Barr, 2010. "Skyscrapers and the Skyline: Manhattan, 1895–2004," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 567-597, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reesec:v:38:y:2010:i:3:p:567-597
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6229.2010.00277.x
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The Economics of Skyscraper Height (Part I)
      by Jason Barr in Skynomics Blog on 2018-12-17 14:12:57
    2. COVID-19 and the Market for Skyscrapers
      by Jason Barr in Skynomics Blog on 2020-11-19 13:09:50
    3. Why Doesn’t New York Construct the World’s Tallest Building Anymore?
      by Jason Barr in Skynomics Blog on 2020-12-23 13:17:41

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jason Barr, 2010. "Skyscrapers and the Skyline: Manhattan, 1895–2004," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 567-597, September.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser, 2013. "A Nation of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation and American History," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 1-42, May.
    3. Barr, Jason & Smith, Fred H. & Kulkarni, Sayali J., 2018. "What's Manhattan worth? A land values index from 1950 to 2014," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 1-19.
    4. Valentina Antoniucci & Giuliano Marella, 2014. "Torri incompiute: i costi di produzione della rigenerazione urbana in contesti ad alta densità," SCIENZE REGIONALI, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2014(3), pages 117-124.
    5. Gustavo S Cortes & Marc D Weidenmier, 2019. "Stock Volatility and the Great Depression," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 32(9), pages 3544-3570.
    6. Jason Barr, 2012. "Skyscraper Height," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 723-753, October.
    7. Prashant Das & Patrick Smith & Paul Gallimore, 2018. "Pricing Extreme Attributes in Commercial Real Estate: the Case of Hotel Transactions," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 57(2), pages 264-296, August.
    8. Jason Barr, 2013. "Skyscrapers And Skylines: New York And Chicago, 1885–2007," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 369-391, August.
    9. Jason Barr & Bruce Mizrach & Kusum Mundra, 2015. "Skyscraper height and the business cycle: separating myth from reality," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(2), pages 148-160, January.
    10. Hans R. A. Koster & Piet Rietveld & Jos N. van Ommerren, 2011. "Is the Sky the Limit? An Analysis of High-Rise Office Buildings," SERC Discussion Papers 0086, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    11. Tom Nicholas & Anna Scherbina, 2013. "Real Estate Prices During the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 41(2), pages 278-309, June.
    12. Arvydas Jadevicius, 2016. "Skyscraper indicator and its application in the UK," Entrepreneurial Business and Economics Review, Centre for Strategic and International Entrepreneurship at the Cracow University of Economics., vol. 4(2), pages 37-49.
    13. Nestor Garza & Colin Lizieri, 2012. "Skyscrapers and the economy," ERSA conference papers ersa12p414, European Regional Science Association.
    14. Jason Barr & Bruce Mizrach & Kusum Mundra, 2011. "Skyscraper Height and the Business Cycle: International Time Series Evidence," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2011-003, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
    15. Brueckner, Jan K. & Singh, Ruchi, 2020. "Stringency of land-use regulation: Building heights in US cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    16. Liu, Crocker H. & Rosenthal, Stuart S. & Strange, William C., 2018. "The vertical city: Rent gradients, spatial structure, and agglomeration economies," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 101-122.
    17. Edward L. Glaeser, 2013. "A Nation Of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation And American History," NBER Working Papers 18825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • N61 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N62 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R33 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Nonagricultural and Nonresidential Real Estate Markets

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