Manhattan building codes won't repeat the past, only heighten it

  • 40 percent of Manhattan's buildings violate at least one current building code.
  • New skyscrapers are built on smaller property lots but extend to reach higher altitudes.
  • Complex building codes in New York City make it difficult to understand or forecast the future of the city's skyline.

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote George Santayana in The Life of Reason, Vol. 1 in 1905. Santayana was talking about the inevitable changes that take place in the world, like how pre-building code Manhattan helped shape a burgeoning metropolis. Now, though, thanks to building and zoning codes, those properties would never make it past the brainstorm session.