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

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Barr & Troy Tassier & Rossen Trendafilov, 2009. "Bedrock Depth and the Formation of the Manhattan Skyline, 1890-1915," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2009-006, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
  • Handle: RePEc:run:wpaper:2009-006
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    File URL: http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/workingpaper20096
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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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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Is There A Relationship Between Coffee Shops And High Rent?
      by Tyler Durden in Zero Hedge on 2017-08-06 05:28:49
    2. How rent prices compare to the number of coffee shops in every Manhattan neighborhood
      by ? in Business Insider on 2017-08-19 20:55:00

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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, 2016. "The Dynamics Of Subcenter Formation: Midtown Manhattan, 1861–1906," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(5), pages 754-791, November.
    3. Federico Curci, 2015. "The taller the better? Agglomeration determinants and urban structure," ERSA conference papers ersa15p991, European Regional Science Association.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    skyscrapers; geology; bedrock; sprawl; urban agglomeration;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N61 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - 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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