What is Manhattan's Carrying Capacity?

NYT reporter Amy O'Leary observes Manhattan's ubiquitous construction while suffering through overcrowded sidewalks, stores, and subway trains, and wonders just how many more people the crowded borough can absorb.

O'Leary provides a historical basis just in case the reader thinks the crowds are intolerable now. She reports that Manhattan had been much more crowded in 1910 when a "staggering 2.3 million people crowded the borough, mostly in tenement buildings. It was a time before zoning, when roughly 90,000 windowless rooms were available for rent..."

Then came "1980, with the subsequent flight to suburbia, the population fell to 1.4 million." The 2010 population is 1.586 million.

Sky's the limit.

Most interesting is the perspective of "Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist, (who) inevitably comes up in conversations about how cities should grow. In his recent book, "Triumph of the City," he makes an argument - which many consider persuasive - that dense places are uniformly better and more interesting than emptier ones, and that they should be allowed to develop unfettered, even if it means building towers where brownstones once stood."

"Affordability is the first reason. If you build up, he says, housing prices will fall and more people will be able to live in their own sliver of Manhattan sky. And that's a good thing, Mr. Glaeser adds, since the energy of all those newcomers will fuel innovation and entrepreneurship, attracting talent and growth to create a virtuous circle. From energy-efficiency to life expectancy to finding a date or something to do on a Saturday night, Mr. Glaeser argues that denser places have the edge."

Thanks to Mark Boshnack

Full Story: Everybody Inhale: How Many People Can Manhattan Hold?

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