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Why New York's Skyline Has a Distinct Look

4786 ratings | 274625 views
Why do so many of New York's older skyscrapers have a similar design? The answer can be traced back to a monumental 1916 zoning law, which established “setback” requirements for buildings above a certain height. In the heart of the Financial District, the Equitable Building, a historic skyscraper that predates the law, remains a symbol of the excesses of the pre-zoning era. Video by Raymond Schillinger Camera: Brian Schildhorn Additional Production: Ren Potts, Jordan Oplinger, Maya Greene Graphics: Christian Capestany Special thanks to: Silverstein Properties Carol Willis - Founder, Director, and Curator of The Skyscraper Museum New York City Department of City Planning Archival Photographs from Getty Images, POND5 #NYC #history #architecture
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Text Comments (119)
kairon156 (16 hours ago)
I h ave noticed NewYork's buildings went inword as it went up but I never knew it was because of zoning laws. Also, Some places have laws for having so much ground area wrather it's parks or what ever around a tower.
Erick Lopez (21 days ago)
The City of Los Angeles was actually the first to regulate land use going back to 1904. https://recode.la/sites/default/files/file_attachments/basic_page/OrdNo9774-ResidentialDistricts%28July%2025%201904%29.pdf
Luelzia Graca (1 month ago)
I wish I could go NYC
MLuisendy Fernandez (1 month ago)
Am I the only one who think that 432 park ave look slightly like the World Trade Center twin towers
Guillaume Duteaud (2 months ago)
Hey! Could you link to the article quoted in the video regarding evil effects? Can’t find it on my own. Thanks!
I thought this was about the Nissan GT-R
Augus Javed (2 months ago)
432 Bark Ave......in Staten Island....a building in the shape of a 775 foot tall beagle....to honor this fine hound of renown🎺🎺🎺🎺🎺🎉🎉🎉
Augus Javed (2 months ago)
same ole, same ole....dull, lifeless,static bland building projects...glass curtain wall....too boring.......we need a new approach....a new theme and style...I new mind set....since the beginning of skyscrapers it has always been to honor business and industry....or religion.... ...Dullsville Merghatroyd....... How about honoring the women and females of the world....the women who bore us ..... don't they deserve an honor , and statement in architecture ???....to do them proud?? I give you proudly 👉👉👉👉 One Ovary Place a 167 floor...2154 foot tall building in the shape of an ovary.....located near Sutton Place in new York. ......mixed use. ..maternity hospital residential,business,retail,and entertainment.... it's sure to raise some discussion💁💁💁💁
matt O (2 months ago)
why is a building called a building if it is already built?
Jessica Anderson (2 months ago)
right on
monobg antonina (3 months ago)
What about all the all glass and steel more modern skyscrapers that just start and continue in a straight line to the top? Like the WTC for example?
Allen Zhang (3 months ago)
Do one on Chicago!
Rose Bubbles (3 months ago)
Dubai "Our height limit is bloody space"
Takyi Kobbie (3 months ago)
Wow New York in 1960 looks better than my country
cloud ix (3 months ago)
Only took them 25 years #godzilla
Awesome Me (3 months ago)
wait this is not vox?
Luc Laan (3 months ago)
How about 9/11?
MrGriff305 (3 months ago)
the old twin towers sort of ignored setbacks
MrGriff305 (3 months ago)
Bloomberg .. That makes sense. I think the vertical faces of the twins contributed to their skyline prominence. For example... they always looked much bigger than the Empire State Building from far away. This was an interesting video. Thank you!
Bloomberg (3 months ago)
Thanks for your comment! The original World Trade Center towers (which were built after the updated 1961 Zoning Resolution) were built on a large, multi-block plaza. This meant the towers were technically "set back" from the street far enough to be built to their record-setting heights without a visible setback in the structure.
Shaylah M. (3 months ago)
So interesting!!!!!$
Nathan Schaefer (3 months ago)
Oh wow, this is actually really fascinating
Tristan Möller (3 months ago)
Wow. Learned something, nice video. Glad to see that the Zoning Resolution was very well thought out and worked out for the city. Yeah, here in Europe skyscrapers were proposed in some cities in Germany (of course we barely have need for them), but in many cases we also don’t want them.
Uros Sretenovic (3 months ago)
AcidOllie (3 months ago)
I must be getting old because I found this absolutely fascinating.
Sam Fox (3 months ago)
Is the One World Trade Center an exception to this code?
Julian Collot (3 months ago)
Death to zoning laws!
WeedTaco (3 months ago)
Speed Levich explained this to me once while on a walk
Andrew Weizer (3 months ago)
I pass that building all the time never noticed hot beautiful it is until now
ShadowWhelp (3 months ago)
Honestly just always assumed buildings were built that way for stability.
Kaniki Kn (3 months ago)
Shaylah M. (3 months ago)
ShadowWhelp same!! Lol
Bernadette (3 months ago)
And now I work in this building. Very cool
Bella Umbrellla (3 months ago)
Everything is obscenely large and obnoxiously loud here in the city...but it's home for now, we are gucci💕💕💕
Harley Pearce (3 months ago)
Historically forget suburban implement curtain say before trade volunteer survivor goal possess.
Mark Q (3 months ago)
The original skyscraper NIMBY's. We've been fighting a hard battle with them ever since.
Ben (3 months ago)
omg govt works.
Dodo Shade (3 months ago)
thx . this was informative and interesting.
BHRxRACER (3 months ago)
is that the guy that does wendover productions?
RWB 3vil (3 months ago)
The guy narrating sounds like Otocon from the MGS series
Jai Guru (3 months ago)
While I didn't know the politics behind this, who has eyes and didn't notice the step design of skyscrapers?
Play Thing (3 months ago)
Dude, don't drink coffee or anything that makes your teeth "sticky" before voicing over, I can hear the lip smacks.
Games (3 months ago)
This would be more comfortably watchable if it was edited / uploaded at 60 fps. All those very hard lines u use look terribly juddery at 30 fps
Ethan Tremblay (3 months ago)
Very interesting and informative. Thank you @Bloomberg
xX NarutoShippuden Xx (3 months ago)
Old days: *complains of how big it is* Nowadays: *laughs of how little it is*
Too many regulations and rules in America but that's good I guess
AwesomeSauce (3 months ago)
Sounds like mayor was playing cities skylines. Zoning low density and shit.
Santiago Bron (3 months ago)
fuck those zoning laws. those shadow neighbors can suck it.
pamplonaHD (3 months ago)
this is valuable, insightful and interesting. good job Bloomberg.
E. B. C. (3 months ago)
These ratios are not enough. There is a need for a plot ratio. Higher you build, lower percentage of your plot you can build on. Remainder is ground level plaza. Go above forty stories, then 20% of your plot must be plaza and so on.
Robert Divinagracia (3 months ago)
I love videos on NYC buildings!
Theblocker039 (3 months ago)
Theblocker039 (2 months ago)
Thegreatestman Toeverwlktheplanet what the fuck is this username?
theblocker039 you should have just said you’re dumb and dirty
theblocker039 and you’re shouting that out!? Lol
Theblocker039 (3 months ago)
MemeGod (3 months ago)
theblocker039 adress?
hebneh (3 months ago)
In the 1970s, some art historians mistakenly thought that NYC's characteristic building outlines were due to just to aesthetics and a trend to copy Mayan pyramids, just because they looked good. Nope.
Georgios Tsirtsidis (3 months ago)
"We want our thumbs!!!!" - Bill Hicks
Philip Kuo (3 months ago)
Can someone please explain how 432 Park Avenue happen then?
Bloomberg (3 months ago)
That's a great question. There are provisions in the 1961 zoning code that allow developers to purchase and transfer "air rights" from adjoining lots, allowing supertall skyscrapers like 432 Park to exist without an apparent setback. There's a good explanation of this provision here: http://www.skyscraper.org/EXHIBITIONS/SKY_HIGH/shearwall_invmonopoly.php
Georgios Tsirtsidis (3 months ago)
Phlegethon (3 months ago)
Bloomberg poaching people from Vox?
Anthony Mendenhall (3 months ago)
Skyscrapers now are so thin and shiny. Almost every major city in the US looks really nice from a distance due to this
Dante S. González (3 months ago)
Please, enable closed captions!
Dante S. González (3 months ago)
Hello - I mean, enable permission for users to contribute. I would be great! :)
Bloomberg (3 months ago)
Hello - closed captions in English are available by clicking the CC button on your player.
MrMentalSoul (3 months ago)
Very fascinating -- thanks for doing a video on this!
Phresh Ideas + Designs (3 months ago)
So basically this was a feature on effective land use and urban planning.
Overlord (3 months ago)
Is the law still active? Because it seems that old WTC (was not) and Freedom tower (is not) narrower going up.
Ground shaker (3 months ago)
Nyc is best
Robin Jason (3 months ago)
New york city is the best city in the world 😘🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽🗽
Tyler Song (1 month ago)
Try Minneapolis!!❄️❄️
James Matthews (2 months ago)
Great cities are interesting to visit, of course, but it's better to live in a near-great city like Chicago or Toronto!
Anh Pham (3 months ago)
Nah Tokyo is another level
hax0rman1337 (3 months ago)
NYC and Tokyo best metropolises in the world.
Broken Angel (3 months ago)
Yes but expensive as fuck.. Plus.. Its really crowded
frstvisuals (3 months ago)
Awesome vid
dan McClaren (3 months ago)
Awesome freaking video!
Darth Utah 66 (3 months ago)
Now New York city is super expensive to live in. I'm sure New Yorkers wouldn't mind more supertalls if it meant lower rent.
Zaheed Chapman (30 days ago)
We don't mind more supertalls because it makes the city nicer. It's not the super talls its the landlords though... they're greedy and not just that... they turned manhattan into a rich city which isn't bad and but isn't good too... good things? More money goes to MTA... we really need to lower congestion in the subways and we should build more subways under subways... right? I mean we need more trains and space... and now the bad thing? You can't be middle class just to even live in a suoertall...
Fabián. Arq. (3 months ago)
Great video about the impact of 1916 Zoning Law, still visible nowadays.
enggaksalah wrong'nt (3 months ago)
i love these essay videos! bloomberg doing awesome shit, now.. 👍👍👍
Music Pills (3 months ago)
So many curious things on this channel <3
Vlad Amir (3 months ago)
Very interesting! Great video!
agustin venegas (3 months ago)
Huh.. That's awesome actually...
Bob Tomber (3 months ago)
Do Toronto next
H Eck (3 months ago)
Bob Tomber gay
SuperDuperBoy/SDB (3 months ago)
TheAstronomyDude. No you are. No u
Mrbrain bob (3 months ago)
Bob Tomber why?
TheAstronomyDude (3 months ago)
Toronto is a steaming pile of poop.
Renovator (3 months ago)
I feel like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Seattle and most North American cities are the only cities in the whole world that did skyscrapers the right way. When European cities try to add skyscrapers, they look so out of place, look at London's skyline. Pretty ugly tbh. When Asian cities do skyscrapers, they tend to "over-do" them and it just looks like an unorganized mess of buildings.
Braeden Boyd (3 months ago)
Braeden Boyd (3 months ago)
id love to kniw your thoughts on the sky scrapers in sydney melbourne and brisbane ?
Braeden Boyd (3 months ago)
id love to kniw your thoughts on the sky scrapers in sydney melbourne and brisbane ?
hellopuppy00 (3 months ago)
Equitable building built with NO regulations and it still stands today.
Tristan Möller (3 months ago)
Well, the archtitect would want to keep his job and his company would still like to be contracted. That’s the number one incentive.
VideoAmericanStyle (3 months ago)
Actually, there were plenty of regulations at the time for fire safety and other things. The video just says they weren't SIZE regulations at the time.
Rafael Santos (3 months ago)
probably survivor bias
Dhruv Yadav (3 months ago)
This video is the only video with over 10% likes wrt to views (234/2300) and deservedly so.
Benjamin Burkhardt (3 months ago)
Modern skyscrapers are incredibly skinny now
왜그래 (3 months ago)
The Skyline can say "a measure of the economy" Can North Korea appear on the world stage make a skyline? ,.
Arthur (3 months ago)
Great video bloomberg!
Bloomberg (3 months ago)
Thanks for watching!
McmullenEJ (3 months ago)
so New York skyline is like skyline in skyline.
Jacob Woods (3 months ago)
HD (3 months ago)
Such an ugly city.
Paddy Downey (3 months ago)
Learn something new every day. Today: ✅
Link_ 82 (3 months ago)
Most of the citis in america have a amazing skyline
Mr. D (3 months ago)
now those New York architects need to design a waterfall on the side of the Empire State building and be in the world record books for the tallest man made waterfall.
Nacho TV (3 months ago)
0:42 too big? Wonder what they think of Manhattan now 😁
z3r0 5k111 (3 months ago)
that its filled with bums defecating in the streets, probably.
Hoople57 (3 months ago)
I'm down there often. I think your observation is based on how narrow the streets are in that part of New York City.
The Truth (3 months ago)
Would say*
Kenneth Stuart (3 months ago)
Nacho TV .i@
Nacho TV Actually if you ever get to walk around the area the equitable building and Wall Street area has a distinct feeling to it, like walking in a canyon. If you than compare that to other areas like empire state, grand Central or WTC etc. it feels much less massive.

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