New York’s Gifts to the World: Gift #3
Over the next week, many Metroblogging communities will be posting a list of 7 unique things (one per day) that their cities contribute to the world. Being such an important part of world culture, New York couldn’t pass up this opportunity!
Without further ado, below is today’s gift:
NYC is the land of BIG… No, Sex & The city Fans, I am not referring to Chris Noth. I am referring to the architecture and infrastructure that separates NYC from every other US mega-city and makes it the most easily traversed and interesting destinations in the world. NY does everything large. Big buildings, the broadest and most utilized subway system in the world, our well-designed road system and, of course, some of the largest and most beautiful bridges in the country.
When thinking of the many massive buildings that line the New York sky, it is tough to say which is the most recognizable. Sure, the Empire State Building is key, and of course the World Trade Center will always hold a place in all NYers hearts and minds, and then there is the Chrysler Building, Citicorps, Woolworth Building, etc, etc, etc. Each seems to hold something special, and has an amazing amount of history. But, in a study of what our city has “gifted” to the world, it is also important to remember that these buildings have done so much more than just created a magnificent view from an airplane. NY has served as a sort of guinea pig to other cities for building technology. Some things that came from NY engineering:
– Express elevators, which allow builders to go much higher than ever before.
– Gradient building, not allowing the builders to go straight up, but instead grading the towers to let light in.
– Better water pumping technologies and waste disposal systems to allow big buildings to operate.
Public transportation in many cities is a hassle. Dark, dingy, and not terribly effective or efficient, it is often easier to drive or find another way to go. Not in NY. The combination of busses, taxis, shuttle busses, and of course our beloved subway make moving around the boroughs quick and simple. A trip from the Bronx through Manhattan to Brooklyn can take as little as a half hour. Considering that the tunnels were dug well over 100 years ago makes the system that much more of a wonder.
They say that all roads lead to Rome. That may be true in a historical sense, but when it comes to US roads, NYC is top dog. While Chicago has a rocking grid system and DC boats a nice layout as well, nobody does grids like NY. Baring in mind the sheer size of the city, NY can truly be considered not only the inventor of the traffic grid, but also the master. While not without its shortcomings, traffic in the city moves extremely smoothly, and the two highways that serve Manhattan and the many high-capacity arteries that serve the outer boroughs do a generally fantastic job of dispersing and moving people.
Being a city built upon four land masses (two standalone islands, two boroughs on Long Island, and one mainland borough), moving people and goods between boroughs is imperative. Luckily, we are blessed with over 25 bridges that are not only incredibly functional, but also extremely beautiful. From the majestic masonry of the Brooklyn Bridge, to the slender, clean look of the George Washington Bridge… From the stout and powerful Queensboro Bridge, to the sweeping, sleek Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York is a sort of bridge hall of fame. Combined with our four tunnels, we are a haven of well-designed water crossing devices.
New York is not just a model of how architecture and engineering has worked, it is instead a working model of how architects and engineers continue to push the boundaries of human knowledge and ability, and try to do things better. New York has given the world so much in the way of city design. With so many ambitious plans to improve, the city will continue to be a marvel of technology for many years to come.