Skip to main content
×
Home

Depth to Bedrock and the Formation of the Manhattan Skyline, 1890–1915

  • JASON BARR (a1), TROY TASSIER (a2) and ROSSEN TRENDAFILOV (a3)
Abstract

New York City historiography holds that Manhattan developed two business centers—downtown and midtown—because the bedrock is close to the surface at these locations, with a bedrock “valley” in between. This article is the first effort to measure the effect of depth to bedrock on construction costs and the location of skyscrapers. We find that while depth to bedrock had a modest effect on costs (up to 7 percent), it had relatively little influence on the location of skyscrapers.

“Hour by hour the caissons reach down to the rock of the earth and hold the building to a turning planet.”

Carl Sandburg, Skyscraper

Copyright
References
Hide All
Atlas of the City of New York, Borough of Manhattan. Philadelphia: G.W. Bromley & Co., 1921.
Baskerville Charles A. “Bedrock and Engineering Geologic Maps of New York County and Parts of Kings and Queens Counties, New York, and Parts of Bergen and Hudson Counties, New Jersey.” United States Geological Survey, 1994.
Carter Susan B. et al., eds. Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition Online. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Davis Donald R., and David E. Weinstein. “Bones, Bombs, and Break Points: the Geography of Economic Activity.” American Economic Review 92, no. 5 (2002): 1269–89.
Department of Taxes and Assessments, New York City. “Tentative Land Value Maps of the City of New York for 1909.” New York, 1908.
Ellison Glenn, and Edward L. Glaeser. “The Geographic Concentration of Industry: Does Natural Advantage Explain Agglomeration.” American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings 80, no. 2 (1999): 311–16.
Emporis Corporation. New York City Building Database, http://www.emporis.com/city/101028. Accessed June 2008.
Glaeser Edward L., Kallal Hedi D., Scheinkman Jose A. and Shleifer Andrei. “Growth in Cities.” Journal of Political Economy 100, no. 6 (1992): 1126–52.
Johnston Louis, and Williamson Samuel H. “What Was the U.S. GDP Then?” MeasuringWorth, http://www.measuringworth.org/usgdp/. Accessed January 2009.
Kidder Frank E. Building Construction and Superintendence, Part I. New York: The William T. Comstock Company, 1909.
Kim Sukkoo. “Regions, Resources, and Economic Geography: Sources of U.S. Regional Comparative Advantage, 1880–1987.” Regional Science and Urban Economics 29 (1998): 1 32.
Krugman Paul. Geography and Trade.Cambridge, MA: TheMIT Press, 1991.
Landau Sara B., and Carl W. Condit. Rise of the New York Skyscraper: 1865–1913.New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.
Landers John J. Twelve Historical New York City Street and Transit Maps (Volume II: from 1847–1939). New York: H&M Publications, 2000.
Manhattan Borough President's Office. “Rock Data Map of Manhattan.” New York, circa 1940.
New York Times, various issues.
Office for Metropolitan History. The Building Permits Database, 1900–1986, New York, NY, http://metrohistory.com/searchfront.htm. Accessed January 2009.
Pratt Edward E. Industrial Causes of Congestion of Population in New York City. New York: Columbia University Press, 1911.
Real Estate Record and Builders’ Guide, May 4, 1912.
Sandburg Carl. “Skyscraper.” Chicago Poems. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916.
Schuberth Christopher J. The Geology of New York City and Environs. Garden City, NY: The Natural History Press, 1968.
Skyscraper Source Media. New York City Building Database, http://skyscraperpage.com/cities/?cityID=8. Accessed June 2008.
Tamaro George J., Kaufman James L., and Abu A. Azmi. “Design and Construction Constraints Imposed by Unique Geologic Conditions in New York City.” Unpublished Manuscript, 2000.
United States Census Bureau. Vital Statistics of New York and Brooklyn Covering a Period of Six Year Ending May 31, 1890. Washington, DC: GPO 1894.
Willis Carol. Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995.
Zonum Solutions. ZMaps: DigiPoint 3, http://www.zonums.com/gmaps/digipoint.php. Accessed June 2008.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 38 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 901 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.