Billionaire-Building Shadows Creep Across Central Park; ‘Olmsted and Vaux Would Not Be Happy’

The New York skyline has resumed its ascent in recent years, with several ultra-luxe residential buildings climbing into the sky. Activists have tried to get the city to slow this rise, in part because of the shadows that the new buildings cast.

Photographer Andrew Brucker captured the effect of one of those buildings in a photograph on Thursday. Central Park Tower at 100 West 57th Street is expected to eventually rise 1550 feet, becoming the world’s tallest residential building. It’s still under construction, but Brucker took a picture of the shadow it cast on Sheep Meadow.

“I stood in the Sheep Meadow on November 8, 2018 and was dismayed by the shocking shadow that this building cast over this cherished piece of pastoral bliss. And it’s not even finished. I took this photo at 2:09 P.M. and though the shadow moved quickly across the meadow it nevertheless made me feel very angry at the disregard for those of us who love our park. The Park’s designers — Olmsted and Vaux — would not be happy. Change is not always progress.”

The Municipal Arts Society has documented the expected impact of several such towers throughout the city.


A slide from the Municipal Arts Society. Click to enlarge.

Activists have tried to get the mayor to slow the trend, to little avail.

Meanwhile, sales have already begun at Central Park Tower.

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Big things are coming. #LifeAtTheTop

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#LifeAtTheTop, better known as Central Park Tower, offers views that no other building in the world can.

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NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 53 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      People who need to live in this building to feel like they are living “Life at the Top” display their lack of concern for, and isolation from, others.

      That is NOT life at the top.

      • Rob G. says:

        Hey Dannyboy, how about the building that you live in? It presumably dwarfed the farm next door or uprooted people in the structure that it replaced. You okay living there? Do you mourn for what and who was once was below you?

        Your oh-so-righteous tirade against people that you haven’t even met yet belies your hypocrisy as well as your jealousy.

        • dannyboy says:

          Rob,

          Other than insults, do you have anything to add to the conversation?

          • Rob G. says:

            I’ll add more to the conversation after you answer my questions about how your building and how you live are any different than any other building and its own residents.

            Look, I don’t have any love for the buildings on Billionaire’s Row. Like many on this thread, I think they’re ugly, they block out my sun, and I can’t afford to live there.

            But my building also blocks out the sun for others who can’t afford to live where I do, and presumably you (and your wingman Bruce) are in the same situation.

            So again, how is it any different? Unless we all decide to live in the lowest common denominator of a dwelling, we are hypocrites if we are going to rant against anyone else that might live “higher up” than we do.

            • dannyboy says:

              Here is my response:

              1. I moved into my apartment house 60 years after it was built. I have no idea what the reactions of the neighbors were when built. My current neighbors are friendly and cordial, if that is any indication. Among my neighbors have been some very lovely people.

              2. I am certainly not jealous of those living in Central Park Towers. Not my taste at all (see #1 above). Also not hypocritical; I believe this to be a canned response that you repeated offer to limit conversation.

              So now I look forward to your having something constructive, as promised.

            • Jay says:

              Rob, you’re looking for logic in the wrong place.

            • dannyboy says:

              Jay, your attempts to stifle discussion are a failure.

              Got anything to offer?

            • dannyboy says:

              Rob G. – Second Reminder:
              “Rob G. says:
              November 12, 2018 at 1:19 pm
              I’ll add more to the conversation after you answer my questions”

              I’m sure that you’d like your reputation to be that you keep your promises.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          Rob G. repeats a common attack on progressives from the right wing commenters on WSR — that we’re somehow “hypocritical” in our views. it’s an attempt to de-legitimize the argument being made without actually addressing the argument.

          Dannyboy made no personal attack on an individual. he critiqued an ideology, a mindset, and also a set of preferences. those very few, countable on a few hands, who will live “on top of the world” and get those gorgeous views of Central Park are having their preferences placed over and above the millions of hoi polloi who experience and love Central Park from the ground. for us, shadows; but a few billionaires get a nice view.

          Dannyboy doesn’t have to KNOW the billionaires in question to understand how shallow and destructive this sort of thinking is. Vast inequality and its outcomes is destroying our society.

          Pointing this out is not “hypocritical.” In fact, its common sense.

        • Sherman says:

          Hi Rob G

          It’s ironic that the biggest critics on this forum of these billionaires live in this city courtesy of their largesse.

          Sherm

    2. Mark says:

      The building casting the shadow is actually the Nordstrom building, between Broadway and 7th, not the Central Park Tower rising over the former Steinway building. But there are so many supertall towers on Billionaire’s Row it is hard to keep them straight.

    3. Yael says:

      Well, that’s depressing and a tragic shame.

      • Bill D(em) Taller says:

        Re: “Well, that’s depressing and a tragic shame.”

        Hmmm…ain’t that pretty much what the Lenape tribe said (altho’ not in English) when the wall of Wall Street and the other “tall” buildings of Nieuw Amsterdam began to pop-up some 380 years ago?

        They got through it; you will too. To quote the wonderful “Damn Yankees”:
        “You’ve gotta have heart / All you really need is heart….”

    4. Sy Entist says:

      ATTN: all NIMBY’s / Cranks / etc.

      Please note the following from Mr. Brucker’s own report:
      “I took this photo at 2:09 P.M. and though the shadow moved quickly across the meadow….”

      The shadow MOVED QUICKLY ACROSS THE MEADOW !

      Why??????

      Because our planet ROTATES (GASP !!😱) “…Earth’s equator is traveling at a speed of 1,674.4 kilometres per hour, or 1,040.4 miles per hour as the Earth rotates.” says one website.

      Of course the rotational speed is much LESS here in Manahatta, but earth still does rotate…and shadows move…

      …and chicken-littles still scream “Oy-Gevalt, the sky is falling; we are all doomed”…

      …and so it goes…around-and-around…just like our planet.

      • dannyboy says:

        You give yourself away as a false scientist with your first words.

        Addressing yourself to “ATTN: all NIMBY’s / Cranks / etc.” just shows the deceit of your intentions.

        USWers of course understand that these shadows move. But we do not want shadows on our beautiful park.

        You make the argument that we are not being thrust into total darkness. We don’t want your darkness AT ALL. Don’t try relativistic “science”. Try for a better world rather than justify our incremental degradation.

        And what kind of scientist calls those who inquire “chicken-littles”? Don’t present yourself as a scientist with this bad attitude. Read a book, if possible.

      • jezbel says:

        You’re a genuine horse’s arse.

      • Jen says:

        Our planet rotates?! Thank you for enlightening us! Wonderful, we can now get glimpses of sunshine between shadows as the planet moves these monstrous buildings surrounding the park as it is rotating (again, thank you for pointing it out).

    5. William Raudenhush says:

      Welcome to Dubai West, a once great city slowly but surely sinking into the abyss of the unremarkable as money replaces zoning and influence replaces planning. One only has to ride the subways to see the suburban sprawl attitude our elected officials at the executive level have opted for.

      This city is utterly bereft of thoughtful planning and can’t even bother to build the necessary infrastructure for the unfettered and carelesss growth the real estate developers have successfully lobbied for.

      Lions eat gazelles, it’s what they do. When the lions start eating the villagers, perhaps it is time the villagers do something about it.

    6. Resident says:

      On top of that the residents will only be there a fraction of the time as they shuttle around the globe between their suite of properties. So deeply offensive to the city’s residents and to those from around the world who come to enjoy our beautiful park.

      • B.B. says:

        Aside from any issues with visas requirements for foreign owners, many Americans limit their time in NYC for tax purposes.

        Once you go above 183 days in any given year you are deemed a resident for NYC income tax purposes.

        Before anyone starts this applies to plenty of middle income persons. Retirees from NYC who gave up a primary residence here and moved to Florida or some other low tax area for instance.

    7. Leslie Rupert says:

      Neither would Jacqueline Kennedy be happy. She fought hard against creating any buildings that would cast long shadows on the Park

    8. Bishop says:

      Remember when Time Warner Center’s first design proposal was rejected for being too tall? It’s now dwarfed by these other monstrosities. I’m all for progress and sensible development, but this is getting out of control, and starting to creep into the UWS.

    9. where is the fight to stop supertalls? Roberta.Gratz@gmail.com

      • N. Imbee says:

        Re: “where is the fight to stop supertalls?”

        Ummm…at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 30th?

        B.T.W.: Madison SQUARE Garden is NOT really “square”! It is a CIRCULAR building! Obviously another nefarious scheme by the Dishonest-Developers to confuse us NIMBY’s.

        But fear not! Soon we shall be revolting! Actually, most of us already are.

    10. ZS says:

      This is stupid.

      The guy took a photo in winter, 2 and a half hours before sunset. A perfect time when the sun will be really low so the buildings can cast big shadows.

      It’s almost like he had an agenda.

    11. Dan says:

      Anyone remember the Television City project which was cancelled partially for the reason of casting shadows on the park.

    12. Eln Lou says:

      I can see all these buildings from my window. The central park tower and the one on CPS block my view of the Empire State Building. I used to be able to see it in all it’s glory, especially at night. 🙁

    13. Please join SaveCentralParkNYC@gmail.com. We reach out to elected officials to campaign for OUR park. The Department of City Planning is reviewing loopholes NOW that allow developers to circumvent zoning laws. Email NYC City Planning- let your opinion be heard!
      They will decide by year-end!

    14. Tag says:

      Jackie Onassis successfully stopped the Solomon Brothers towers at The Coliseum site for this exact reason. WTF happened that these could not be stopped!

    15. Telescope Guy says:

      Another side effect: Sheep Meadow is the location for the annual Starfest meeting of amateur astronomers. We lose precious observation time when the planets are behind these new buildings.

    16. Scott says:

      That shadow photo looks manipulated.

    17. oldtimer says:

      Guess this is one “wall” NYC neoliberals don’t mind seeing built

    18. michael says:

      Arguably the most beautiful picture ever posted on the WSR. Brucker, a longtime UWS resident. A genius of an artist who changed the way headshots are done. Amazing the talent we have hidden on the UWS.

      I can’t say I’m happy about this development, but it’s hard to stop progress. The biggest shame is that so many of these spaces are generally vacant, while their owners live abroad 50 weeks of the year. Seems NYC is going the way of a number of major European cities and some US remote locales (e.g. Jackson Hole) – the millionaires are now getting pushed out by the billionaires.

    19. Zulu says:

      This is terrible. This could even have an effect on the flora in the park.

    20. Frank says:

      This isn’t an issue at all in the late spring, all of summer and early autumn when people actually use this part of the park. And during this time of year when it does cause a shadow, it is quickly moving as the Sun is so low and moves across the sky much more quickly.

      There’s plenty to be dismayed about. In my opinion this is a rather inessential one.

    21. tz says:

      In addition – buildings with large glass facades built adjacent to urban parks are also lethal to migratory birds, notably Circa Central Park and the Time Warner Center at the NW and SW corners of Central Park, respectively. The effects of the bird deaths in NYC impact the entire migratory range from South America all the way to Canada, and are very preventable with bird-safe design features.

    22. Josh says:

      There is beauty in diversity and the thing that makes Central Park absolutely unique is it’s urban character. There are millions of parks surrounded by low rises or no buildings at all. What makes Central Park special is the contrast between the urban density of Manhattan and the green areas of the park. The buildings that create the canyons of Broadway make Central Park more Central Park. I would be right there with you if someone was looking to build something like this over a nature preserve meant to protect nature from man. But Central Park is a throughly man-made park, every inch of designed for human use.
      Skyscrapers are a core park of New York’s image and identity dating back to the Flatiron and the Enpire State Building and the Chrysler Building. Tall buildings don’t make us “Dubai West” (whatever that is supposed to imply besides being a vaguely racist dog whistle). Skyscrapers are New York and New York is skyscrapers. I love them and they are a big reason why I love Manhattan. I welcome our growing skyline.

    23. OpenNY says:

      If you’re interested in helping to end the housing crisis in New York by supporting pro-housing policies, check out Open New York at OpenNewYork.City

    24. Lorene says:

      In ten years the elevators will start going down, then tell us how the penthouse is then. This is NYC during a building boom, if you think these are top of the line materials going into these new builds I admire your faith in urban real estate developers.

    25. boopsie says:

      Nothing than a few well-aimed bolts of lightning wouldn’t help.

    26. AC says:

      Been in Central Park for over 50 years. That photo of the shadow over CP looks suspect. Can WSR please identify location, viewing E or W? I can’t find where that shadow takes place?

    27. AC57 says:

      There is a foolproof way to avoid shadows in Central Park, while still building right by the park… build on CPN, or on the waterfront of the UWS, UES, and East Harlem… but no one would want that (Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want the CPN idea.)

      Also, why are they including buildings that will have no impact? 514 11th Ave, 30 HY and 250 W 55th St are either too short or too far away. Not to mention they got several heights wrong. 50 W 66th St is only 775 ft, 30 HY is 1296 ft, no one yet knows what 514 11th Ave will be, and 220 CPS is only 950 ft. It’s very misleading and exaggerative.

      Another thing: Mark Levine proposed a bill recently to “Curb” this kind of development near parks. If the government had a decent track record and didn’t overstep its boundaries, I would be more inclined, but just look at the zoning in the city, and how many new projects have to go through ULURP. It’s asinine. This bill will go beyond parks and stretch to the entire city, further stifling development, and doing far more harm than good, especially since no one has released any new renderings along billionaires row. Too much and too late. 40% of the buildings that are in the city wouldn’t have gone up with today’s zoning laws. It’s insane. Honestly, I do like the design of the buildings, and yes, they don’t necessarily help the housing crisis, but the “solutions” provided haven’t been that. They’re just veils hiding a new problem.