NYT op-ed slams opponents of Midtown East rezoning plan

Columbia history prof argues that change keeps the city unique
August 30, 2013 11:05AM

A Columbia University history professor is making a very public push for the Midtown East rezoning plan, penning a New York Times op-ed that slams its opponents for failing to recognize that change is what keeps New York City unique.

Kenneth Jackson makes his lengthy argument for the proposal in today’s editions; Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been roundly criticized for wanting to allow the construction of taller buildings in a 73-block stretch.

“The great Hudson River metropolis is in danger of losing that status because of a growing local attitude that favors the old over the new, stability over growth, the status quo over change and short buildings over tall ones,” write Jackson, who is also editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of New York City and president emeritus of the New York Historical Society.

Jackson responded to the opposition’s three main arguments: the area is already overdeveloped; the subways are too crowded; and the historic structures could be torn down.

“High density is a good thing in neighborhoods with excellent public-transit options,” Jackson said. “It is the reason outsiders are attracted to Manhattan, the reason it is so vital, energetic and exciting.”

Trains carry about about 360 million riders a year, about 60 percent more than the 1975 number, and the local effort behind landmarked buildings has grown beyond its initial goals, Jackson wrote.

“The purpose of this is to ensure the long-term position of East Midtown as a world-class office district,” Edith Hsu-Chen, of the planning department, has said of the rezoning proposal and amendments to it, as previously reported. [NYT]Mark Maurer