By Barry Goldberg
In November 2015, a federal court sentenced New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to twelve years in prison on corruption charges. The most serious charge hinted at the close connections between Silver, a Lower East Side assemblyman for nearly three decades, and luxury real estate. According to court records, Silver persuaded two real estate developers, Glenwood Management and the Witkoff Group, to have one of his associates file assessments with the city to reduce the companies’ property taxes. The prosecution also alleged that Silver worked with lobbyists to provide over one billion in tax breaks to Glenwood and prevented a drug treatment center from opening near one of the company’s residential buildings. In return, the associate siphoned off a portion of his legal fees to Silver and continued to assess more Glenwood buildings, an arrangement that netted the assemblyman roughly $700,000. In sum, prosecutors noted, “[Silver] postured himself as Mr. Tenant,” but remained “on a secret retainer to the landlords, to the wealthiest developer of real estate in New York City.”
By Richard Howe
By the end of the 19th century most of the streets and avenues laid out on the island of Manhattan by the 1811 Commissioners Plan and its 1870 northern extension by the Central Park Commissioners had been opened to traffic and as much as two-thirds or more of them had been paved. The island’s rural estates had been broken up and sold after having been subdivided into building lots conforming to the blocks in the street plan. Most of the island up to about 168th Street had been densely built up, with nearly 100,000 buildings —- over 80,000 of them residential -— carpeting the built-up area. At least 90% of all the buildings on the island -— and 99% of the residential buildings -— were no more than six stories tall; the average height was about five stories: 60 feet at a nominal 12 feet per story. And at least 75% of the buildings were 20–25 feet wide and 60–80 feet deep. But why? Why so many buildings, and why so many in just this range of sizes?
By Suzanne Wasserman
I have lived off the grid in New York City for over twenty five years. Living “off the grid” has come to mean living by choice without electricity and therefore without such 21st century basics as lighting, stoves, flush toilets, dishwashers, air conditioners, washing machines, and dryers. But in New York City, “off the grid” has an entirely different meaning. The grid I live off of is not an electrical grid. Rather it is the grid of horizontal and vertical streets implemented in the early 19th century that makes up New York City.
is a blog for
independent and professional scholars of New York City
Send inquiries to the Managing Editor,
View our past contributors here
Visitors looking for
"The Gotham Blotter" (2006-2015)
will find it here,
revised as blog posts
in The Gotham Center's research seminar and workshop should contact Martin Lund for more information