Skip to main content

Up, Up and Away

I really like Ed Glaeser's article on Skyscrapers in this month's Atlantic. It's interesting because it offers a historical perspective on very tall buildings that I was mostly unfamiliar with. Glaeser also does a very good job of explaining why skyscrapers are (theoretically) beneficial to cities and the people who live in them.

(from Geff Rossi on Flickr)

Unfortunately, I think the article leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Glaeser talks a lot about New York City, and how restrictions on new buildings result in ridiculously high rents. His counter-example in Chicago, which he contends is much less restrictive when it comes to new building and, as a result, has much lower commercial and residential rents.

But no discussion of building restrictions would be complete without a look at the cities that have outright height limits. Glaeser describes two - Paris and Mumbai. Aside from a single mention of Crystal City, Virginia, there's no other reference to Washington, DC - the largest and most important American city with strict height restrictions.

New York and DC share some important similarities - they're both wildly expensive places to rent a home or an office or open a retail business. These two cities also look very different - DC has a flat skyline with short buildings, and Manhattan is an island of skyscrapers. Glaeser would say that both would benefit from more building, because what matters is that's less supply than demand in both places, even if New York already has lots of tall buildings.

Still, it's an uphill battle to convince preservationists in DC that tall buildings would work, when 200 miles to the north we have a city with the tallest buildings and the highest rents. Glaeser's explanation for why it is this way is a good start, I hope he take take the analysis to the next level and really try to show why DC specifically would benefit from more skyscrapers.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':



Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…