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How Should Lower Manhattan Handle Its Crowd Problem?

In the period since 9/11, Lower Manhattan has undergone a residential boom. With daytime professionals and tourists also in the mix, the strain is showing.
December 12, 2016, 9am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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New York City, Manhattan is particular, is growing rapidly. Winnie Hu writes, "By 2000, the city’s population had passed eight million for the first time. Today, it is 8.5 million and counting. By 2040, it is expected to hit nine million, according to city projections."

Despite the damage of September 11, Lower Manhattan has shared in those riches, growing into a residential hub as well as a commercial one. But there is a downside: overcrowding. Said one resident: "We always wished for more restaurants and bars, but what's come with that is trash, noise and congestion. It's one of those double-edged swords."

Part of the story is the disruption that ongoing development causes. "Construction is booming, with 2,465 permits issued for new building projects in 2015, up from 1,517 in 2010, rebounding from an earlier dip during the recession. [...] A labyrinth of imposing metal scaffolding hems in available walkways and forces pedestrians closer together, or into the street."

Trash collection is another problem, as are overcrowded sidewalks. One resident, Hu writes, "used to ride [bikeshare] from her apartment in TriBeCa to her office on Maiden Lane in the financial district nearly every day. But as more pedestrians and cyclists filled the streets, she had to concentrate to avoid running into anyone or being run into."

The area's street layout doesn't help. Lower Manhattan's "residential skyscrapers sit on a colonial-era maze of narrow streets that was not designed for the masses. The city's rectilinear grid above Houston Street allows for better mobility."

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Published on Friday, December 2, 2016 in The New York Times
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