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

Author

Listed:
  • Jason Barr

    (Rutgers University, Newark, Department of Economics)

  • Troy Tassier

    (Fordham University, Department of Economics)

  • Rossen Trendafilov

    (Fordham University, Department of Economics)

Abstract

Skyscrapers in Manhattan must 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 bedrock is close to the surface in these locations, with a bedrock "valley" deep below the surface 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. We find that bedrock depths had very little influence on the creation of separate business districts; rather its poly-centric development was due to residential and manufacturing patterns, and public transportation hubs. We do find evidence, however, that bedrock depths influenced the placement of skyscrapers within business districts.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Barr & Troy Tassier & Rossen Trendafilov, 2010. "Bedrock Depth and the Formation of the Manhattan Skyline, 1890-1915," Fordham Economics Discussion Paper Series dp2010-09, Fordham University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:frd:wpaper:dp2010-09
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    File URL: http://ftp.web.fordham.edu/ECONOMICS_RESEARCH/PAPERS/dp2010_09_barr_tassier_trendafilov.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, 2013. "Skyscrapers And Skylines: New York And Chicago, 1885–2007," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 369-391, August.
    2. 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.
    3. Federico Curci, 2015. "The taller the better? Agglomeration determinants and urban structure," ERSA conference papers ersa15p991, European Regional Science Association.
    4. repec:bla:jregsc:v:56:y:2016:i:5:p:754-791 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Skyscrapers; geology; bedrock; urban agglomeration;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • N62 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • 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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