An image from a study of shadows cast by proposed buildings South of Central Park by the Municipal Arts Society.

A community board committee will take another look at the large luxury towers being built around Central Park at a meeting on January 18. Critics like preservationist group Landmark West point out that the towers cast long shadows across Central Park, especially during the winter.


The community board passed a resolution by a vote of 35-1 calling for a moratorium on towers that are over 600 feet or 60 stories for buildings within 1000 feet of Central Park. But Mayor de Blasio said the city had no plans to stop construction. This meeting will be an update on attempts to slow development and get more answers.

It’s scheduled for 7 p.m. on January 18 at 250 West 87th Street, the community board offices.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 20 comments | permalink
    1. John says:

      I actually think skyscrapers surrounding the park give it a more “magical” feeling; that of a verdant oasis in an urban jungle. You’ll notice tourist photos generally try to capture both large patches of grass and towering buildings to emphasize the contrast.

      I say build them high! Midtown skyscrapers are part of what makes New York New York.

      • ScooterStan says:

        DEFINITELY !

        Thank you, John, for realizing that one of the things making Manhattan so special is its world-class skyline full of inventive architectural style (okay, EXCEPT for YOU, ugly 432 Park!).

        Let us remember: NYC ain’t Cleveland !

      • grandmasterbeta says:

        There is something to be said for too much of a good thing. While its nice to see the red neon of the Essex Tower and other much bigger buildings along side the park, construction technology is getting to the point where a skyscraper can be over 1/2 mile high. And that would be kind of a drag to have looming over the park. A review board to look at the details of each scenario as well as the impact of the collective whole makes sense. Otherwise the park will be a dark canyon surrounded by monstrosities.

        • John says:

          Listen, I get it. I think things like shadows are worth reviewing, and we don’t want to turn CP into a “dark canyon”; but stopping construction because some shadows are cast during certain hours of the day seems a very dramatic reaction to a rather minor problem. Prime sun-bathing areas like Sheep’s Meadow and The Great Lawn seem unaffected.

          Take a walk down 58st. It’s teaming with construction workers who owe their jobs to projects like these. Any form of progress is going to have some negative externalities for some party, but we have to be reasonable and avoid knee-jerk “not in my back yard” pronouncements as soon as some cost (however minor) is identified.

          • grandmasterbeta says:

            I’m not a nimby. I work for one of the largest CRE firms in the world so I’m a Yimby! But it’s not kneejerk to review the plans. And that needs to be done quickly. Because once the construction’s past a certain point it’s too late to change without massive legal recourse.

            And whether the impact is minor over the span of a building’s lifetime is impossible to predict. Odds are it’s easy to undervalue. Kind of like how air rights are often undervalued. No one ever thinks shadows and empty space are important until it’s too late.

            • John says:

              Fair points all.

              In this case, the shadows cast seem to be most prominent later in the day, and in areas where people aren’t typically trying to soak up some rays.

              My biggest gripe with these properties is that they’ll have little ongoing benefit to the public beyond tax revenue. It would be awesome if the buildings were filled with a mix of more modestly sized apartments to alleviate the need for housing in the city rather than simply serve as billionaire crash pads.

          • geoff says:

            allowing an unlimited number of buildings like these is a bit like digging a hole. they are built there to take advantage of the view of the park, the very place they are darkening. given enough of them, the people who bring the park to life may leave as the hole gets ‘deeper’. but, i guess, if you’re 1,000 feet in the air, who cares about the people moving about in your view.

    2. dannyboy says:

      ““Given the important role midtown Manhattan plays in the city’s economy, we have no immediate plans to reduce the current as-of-right density or bulk requirements” [from the link].

      another reminder of why I prefer uptown and why it is so important that we protect our neighborhood.

    3. Nathan says:

      I wish they’d build taller.

    4. Wijmlet says:

      but the shadows!

    5. EricaC says:

      Does anyone know how much of the day these shadows will hit like this? Does it swing across the bottom of the park over the course of the day?

      I agree with the magic of the skyscrapers – it is one of the reasons I’m in NYC. I do have worries about the impact on the plants and animals, but I imagine that depends in part about whether we are talking about all day darkness or something less extreme.

    6. Cathy says:

      Absent genuine urban planning, is building this tall sustainable? With climate change, over time will Manhattan have enough potable water? Adequate sewage removal? Adequate and accessible public transportation? Safety for fire fighters tasked to protect people? Evacuation possibilities for too tall buildings and for the city itself in the event of a catastrophe? Is the mayor thinking critically about the city’s residents or is he too busy counting contributions from developers and from the nursing home industry, also insisting on building too tall for elders’ safety and well-being?

    7. Johnny says:

      “inventive architectural style,” “world class skyline” huge glass and steel towers which have no distinct qualities and have been roundly criticized but all architectural critics make the skyline more special? they contrast nature to garbage, then why not just make all surrounding street to Central Park landfill and sanitation substations this will make the park more special for sure, will really stand out. where’s the logic visit Hudson Yards, 6th Ave Chelsea, Hudson River from 60th St to 72nd do these projects reflect anything redeeming? It is Dubai or the boring skyline of Jersey City.

      • 92nd Street says:

        Interesting point Johnny!

        Some people do not care about culture, art, the most iconic skyline in the world.

        Tall style-less glass towers for the super-rich are more important

        The Developers could care less about the NYC Skyline and their responsibility to augment that, just in the $ they will generate from their Billionaire tenants.

        • EricaC says:

          I get that you don’t like it and have some legitimate concerns. I am not terribly fond of endless glass boxes myself. One of the things I have always liked about NYC – in fact, one of the reasons I came here as soon as I controlled my own destiny(or at least career path) – is that it was not all built at the same time, so we have a variety of styles, all mixed together, cheek by jowl.

          But glass boxes are part of that variety. And people’s tastes do differ. It is frustrating and disappointing when the world goes in a direction you don’t like, but i think it important not to assert that all who disagree with you “don’t care” or whatever. Sometimes people weight problems differently.

          As others have shown above, it is quite possible to raise legitimate questions – many of which I agree should be addressed before it is too late to turn back. But please don’t do that thing with the insults and the exclamation points. It really does get in the way of a useful – or pleasant – dialogue, both of which are important.

          As I keep trying to remind myself in these times, open mindedness is important. Just to quote one of many on this, “A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

    8. Gillian says:

      In the late falI I was watching a group of middle schoolers playing a pickup game of soccer in the late sun near in the pinetum. Suddenly the sun went down and it started to get chilly.Twenty minutes later the sun came back again! It had gone behind high buildings to the west and not just those near the park but over in the West Fifties. In ten minutes it did set. These children are in school all day. When they finally get to the park, their sun gets stolen for 20 valuable minutes. Whose park is it and whose sun is it?