New Manhattan, a pharaonic work to expand New York

New York has a long experience when it comes to tackling large engineering projects that, in their day, were considered fanatical works, but that today are part of the city’s daily life, such as the Brooklyn Bridge (in the image) or the subway.

The island of Manhattan needs room to grow. The latest proposal consists of creating a new neighborhood reclaiming 700 hectares from the sea.

If Venice has taught us anything, it is that keeping a city from sinking into the sea is not only very expensive, but it is also a very slow process. Pharaonic projects require decades. The sooner you start, the better. New York is not sinking, but the sea level rises and threatens to engulf the financial capital of the world. Solution: make Manhattan bigger by gaining land on the bay and, while we’re at it, annexing Governors Island (an island converted into a national monument that once housed a military base).

The plan is to expand New York’s most populous district by adding 712 hectares, that is, an area twice the size of Central Park. The project, devised by Jason M. Barr – a professor at Rutgers University and an urban planning expert – would solve another problem in New York that has nothing to do with climate change: the population is growing at a faster rate than the number of houses. built. In the case of Manhattan, since it is an island, its only possibility is to grow vertically, that is, to build ever higher skyscrapers.

New York has a housing deficit. For politicians, it has become a serious problem, because while they promise homes at an affordable price, prices skyrocket due to the lack of supply, especially in Manhattan, where rents are already back at pre-pandemic levels. If the distortion generated by the health crisis is removed from the statistics, in the last decade, some 171,000 homes have been built in New York, with a capacity for some 417,000 people, insufficient to cover the increase in the population by nearly half a million. population.

As explained by Barr himself in The New York Times, the initiative contemplates the creation of a new neighborhood with a capacity for some 250,000 inhabitants, through the construction of some 178,000 homes, with a population density similar to that of other neighborhoods now. from Manhattan. It includes 98 hectares of green areas.

Its creator, who has not revealed the cost of carrying out his idea, even proposes a name for the new neighborhood: New Mannahatta, the name of the island used by the Lenape, the tribe that originally lived in this area centuries ago. Being an artificial extension, it would be easy to expand current transportation systems, such as the subway lines that reach the south of Manhattan or from Brooklyn.

Reclaim land from the sea

In addition to ensuring space for New York’s population to continue to grow, more space near the financial district and the heart of the city would also solve the problem of flooding and rising sea levels. The expansion would redefine the boundaries and waterfront of lower Manhattan, not only adding more land, but also raising it where needed. The new neighborhood will be flanked by a kind of dike that will protect the island from the sea, while allowing the extension of the network of docks for the boats that operate in the bay and even projecting a green lane for pedestrians and cyclists that borders New Mannahatta.


The price of housing is a problem in New York, especially in Manhattan due to the lack of supply. The rent of a 60 m2 apartment exceeds 3,500 dollars per month; owned, the average is half a million dollars.

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