2 Central Park Photos Show How the Skyline Has Changed (And Phone Cameras Too)

John A. Wells took two photos at Central Park’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir nine years apart, and they tell quite a story about how residential megatowers have changed the city’s skyline.

Wells was standing in approximately the same spot in 2010 and last week — looking south from the western entrance to the reservoir, near 91st/92nd Street, off of Central Park West. Among the buildings you can see in the new photo is 432 Park Avenue, which is in the center of the frame. It rises 1,396 feet and is the tallest residential building in the world.

The Municipal Art Society and other organizations have raised alarms about the change, saying it’s out of scale for the city, throws shadows on the park and does little to alleviate the city’s housing crunch.

The other story the photos tell is of the incredible improvement in iPhone camera resolution, of course.

OUTDOORS, REAL ESTATE | 14 comments | permalink
    1. AC57 says:

      If these towers had affordable housing, office space, and weren’t incentivized to used excess mechanical spaces, we would be having a very different conversation right now. What’s going inside is the biggest problem in my eyes, but they’re so mesmerizing and impressive to look at.

      I wish there were more 1 Vanderbilt like towers.

    2. Sherman says:

      There’s a global trend towards urbanization.

      I’m sure if you compared photos from ten years ago in big cities like London, Tel Aviv and Beijing the skylines will also look much different from today.

      People can lament this all they want but there’s a huge demand to live in big cities and a limited amount of space. Change (ie tall towers) is inevitable.

    3. Bill D(em) Tall says:

      Re: “432 Park Avenue … 1,396 feet and is the tallest residential building in the world.

      True, but due to lose that honor when the 1550-foot-tall “Central Park Tower” (225 W.57th St.) is finally topped-off. According to Wikipedia, that will be “…the tallest residential building in the world both by roof height and architectural height.”

      Today’s (6/27/19) NYTimes has a front-pager and double-page A-section story kvetching, as usual, that all this is just “to Give the Wealthy a Better View”.

      Leaving unmentioned (of course) in this era of trendy populism is the fact that it gives us proletariat something to admire and is costing us nothing.

      Or, dare we quote a (GASP!!) developer: “People with some common sense should look at this and realize that there’s no downside of it,” said Gary Barnett, founder of Extell Development.

      But why have common sense when it’s more fun to flaunt one’s populist credentials!

    4. VampireSquid says:

      “2 Central Park Photos Show That Seven Buildings Have Been Constructed in Nine Years”. Fixed it for ya.

      • Bill D(em) Tall says:

        Dear V. Squid:

        THANK YOU!

        I used an online headline from the NYT.com site

        Your choice will help people find the story more easily.

    5. Market demand for tower apartments has attenuated; also, federal enforcers have hindered secretive, money-laundering foreign buyers of tower condos (“Towers of Secrecy” NYTimes.com or my 8/17/18 twitter post), and few new city-dwellers can afford them. Hence, demand seems to be an issue no longer. “Out of context” with the timbre of our lovely community is the issue, and it’s enemy is developer greed. Developers are even bending rules to extract extra money out of a few extra meters of mechanical void space.

      Whoever acquiesces to anti-regulation developers is THEIR enemy, and they know it. Someday, you may perceive that.

    6. Evan Bando says:

      Gorgeous! And they won’t be adding to the subway crowds. Win-win.

    7. sam says:

      Hey, oil sheikhs and Russian kleptocrats gotta park their loot somewhere, right? And they aren’t too ugly if you don’t get too close, like south of the reservoir, say. Of course if you do, it’s like a poke in the eye with a bunch of sharp sticks. But that serves you right for being such a tree-hugging snowflake, no?

    8. B.B. says:

      Far more striking image is going east on the NJT as you head towards the city.

      From the Battery to Mid-town so many new all buildings have sprung up along the west side you can hardly tell the Empire State building any longer.

    9. ben says:

      Central Park needs more shade from buildings not less. Down with direct sunlight!

      • The Shadow Knows says:

        Mayor deBlasio, doing his Che Guevara imitation: “…There’s plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands,”

        Me, The Shadow, speaking truth: “There’s plenty of direct sunlight in Central Park. It’s just SOMEtimes SOME of the really tall buildings MAY put shade on the 59th/60th street parts.

        But that’s where the annoying tourists hang out, and they don’t really matter! Anyway, real NYers hang at the Sheep Meadow, where my shadows never fall.

        • Dissident says:

          But that’s where the annoying tourists hang out, and they don’t really matter!

          I wonder how much thought those who freely bash tourists have given to the revenue that tourism generates for the City.

          I also wonder, incidentally, how many besides myself got The Shadow reference.

    10. P says:

      I doubt the dept of finance cares about complaints, they always want more r/e tax MONEY !

    11. TTT says:

      My 3-year-old New Yorker and UWS resident just weighed in: “I like the one with the buildings.”