Monday 18 September 2017

New York: Central Park (Saturday 08/07/2017).

Donald, do you remember the story about the man who built his house on sand? Without checking, I am not completely sure, but he might have gone to hell.

But at least, until then, you will have plenty of sand for your bunkers.

Keep Digging Don.

It turns out the builders of the 58 storey Millennium Tower in San Francisco did the same thing, when with just a little more gumption, they could have excavated down the bed rock like the neighbouring buildings. It seems that when you are working on a project of these dimensions, there is a hubristic tendency to think that the laws of physics that constrain the rest of us, don't apply.


Donald, the metaphors just write themselves.

Predictably, the structure is sinking and leaning even faster than the builder's hastily briefed experts concluded, when faced with litigation but I don't think Pisa is worried about its tourist traffic just yet.

Which will go first?

At the southern end of Manhattan island, where most of the really big buildings crowd, the bedrock  starts at about 8 meters below the surface; the further north you travel, the deeper you have to excavate to find the rock base and hence the shorter the buildings.

You don't have to dig too deep however, to find the irony that City Hall is built on sandy foundations but thankfully New York, unlike San Francisco, is not expecting a mega-quake.

But there is a large part of Manhattan that doesn't mind whether the rock beneath its two feet or two hundred feet below the surface.

Central Park from The Rockefeller Centre

Central Park is either an 850 acre testament to philanthropy or misanthropy, depending on your perspective. Conceived in 1857, this was a big year for bashing the little guy all over the world. The British massacred the Indian Mutineers, The Supreme Court ruled that black people were not citizens and could not sue for freedom and Italy lost 10,000 lives to Europe's worst earthquake of modern times.

Plans for the Park were laid by the wealthy as a playground beyond the reach of the squalor and it was inaccessible to most when construction was completed in the 1860's. Communities were evicted and housing demolished to make way for lakes and pleasure gardens.

19th Century Central Park (from a very tall building).

Scroll forward over the intervening 170 years and, as with so many grotesques of the past, it has  since fallen into public ownership, then disrepair and finally love; 25 million visitors trample the green lungs of New York each year.

The 3,439,950 square metres of prime real estate is currently dedicated to squirrels and picnics. Woe betide anyone who tries to build on it apart from the countless extensions to the Met which is the only building to have breached the iron cordon that is formed by Central Park West and 5th Avenue.

Apartments overlooking the park currently retail for around $3,500 per square foot. By my maths, Donald could bulldoze the park for a clutch of Trump Towers for a fraction over $120 billion; which makes it 30,000 times more expensive that the agricultural land that was largely disenfranchised to create the park in the first place.

I find it strangely pleasing to think that even based on the delusional but well publicised assessment of his own wealth, he could barely afford buy the park's pitch and putt (plus some sand for the bunkers).

But San Francisco had 4 earthquakes today, so perhaps the Millennium Tower isn't the only crumbling edifice that is going collapse under the weight of its own hubris.

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