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Development Of Lower Manhattan

equitable This Educational Experience focuses on the Origins of America's Zoning and real estate development in Lower Manhattan. Because of the bulk and use issues New York City created zoning to deal with buildings such as the Equitable Building in 1916. The tour winds its way past several of the World's Tallest Buildings up to City Hall Park and ends at City Hall Park or the Brooklyn Bridge.

Once steel construction and elevators turned the real estate market upside down, and each developer tried to build the world's tallest building, New York City was forced to try regulating bulk and use. The Supreme Court upheld NYC's zoning regulations in the 1926 case of Euclid v. Ambler Realty Corp. This tour gives the history while passing the actual locations. It also includes a city park created by the transfer of development rights and discusses several urban renewal projects in the area.

This tour can be a double-Tour for 3 hours combining either the New Amsterdam Tour, World Trade Center Tour or a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Depending on time and interest, we can also include a short discussion of the World Trade Center as we pass by. If you want we can also walk westward and explore Battery Park City and its history, design and discuss sustainability.

Chenderit School from the United Kingdom. 2015 Origin of Zoning & World Trade Center Tour
Chenderit School from the United Kingdom. 2015 Origin of Zoning & World Trade Center Tour

APA - American Planning Association 2013 Origin of Zoning Tour
2013 APA - American Planning Association Origin of Zoning Tour

University of Mumbai
For More information about Urban Visions - University of Mumbai 2013 Program

Bremen Hochschule School of Architecture 2013 Tour
Bremen Hochscule School of Architecture 2013 Tour

chinese apa delegation
This group was a Chinese delegation hosted by the American Planning Association (APA)
who wanted a tour and lecture on Sustainability and the history of Land Use in New York City. (October 2010)


”40We will walk down to Wall Street and see the building that was almost the tallest in the world and see how the streetscape has changed since 9/11. ”Morgan”We will go by the building with no signage and which "terrorists" bombed. If you didn't know who owned this building, then you had no business going in.
”Sunlight”Now we will walk down Pine Street and see how the sun actually hits the ground on June 21st at noon during the summer solstice. The woman smoking walked along with the sunlight during her lunch break smoke. ”Pine”Looking skywards on Pine Street you can really understand the need for zoning set-backs.
”OldWe will discuss what was the site of the former "Corn Exchange Building", a 17 story office building that went in-rem for back taxes and was sold at City Auction for $13.1 million in 1983. ”BeaverThe same property today where the developer walked away for back taxes was demolished and a new building was constructed starting in 2005 and is now the 44 story Beaver House. This shows how property values can change in a "down cycle".
”Setback”After 1916, the Zoning mandated set-backs so that the sunlight could reach the sidewalks for most of the day. This is an example of set-backs from midtown. ”Equitable”This is the Equitable Building which showed the public what could happen if buildings were not regulated. In 1916, the City of New York created height and set-back zoning regulations due to this building.
”ChocThis is a public plaza created by the transfer of development rights. The bulk was transferred to the large building across the street. There was a Choc Full O' Nuts restaurant on the ground floor of the previous building that was permitted to stay until its lease ran out. It looked like an ancient ruin since the top floors were removed. ”WTC”World Trade Center
”90T”This building shook so much on 9/11 that all of the granite panels had to be removed from the facade. You can see that the newer replacements are of a different color. ”100T”This building had less damage even though it was closer to the WTC because it had few windows on the northern facade.
”AIA”We will see where the American Institute of Architects was founded. ”Sculpture”We can pass the bronze sculpture that was relocated in the park, but that was covered with debris on 9/11.
World Trade Center

We will start at the World Trade Center area and walk northwards up towards City Hall Park.
wtcI took this photo in September 2001 showing "Ground Zero". Living in Southern Tribeca for over 30 years, I was displaced from my apartment for approximately one month, and returned home in October. The picture to the right is of me dressing up to go to Ground Zero in September. Asbestos
On September 12, 2001 at 7 a.m. the sky was totally blue without a cloud in sight, except for the area over where the World Trade Centers once stood. This cloud is due to the dust from the destruction.
Around October the neighborhood became a "tourist attraction" with masses of people going down to the see "Ground Zero". These people are passing right in front of my apartment house near Chambers Street.
My neighborhood became a "Gated Community" with barricades and police checking all ID's as you entered the area in September. Residents were permitted back to start cleaning up their apartments and other authorized personnel were given access.
What most people didn't know was that the electricity was shut off for the entire neighborhood when 7 WTC fell. Con Edison there ran an entire new system of conduit above ground in orange wooden boxes. Most people just walked over them and never realized what they were.
This is a close-up of the electrical power lines in the orange wooden boxes as seen from my window.
90 T
We will discuss how this building shook so much on 9/11 that every one of the granite panels had to be removed and either replaced or returned to the facade. You can see that certain panels are not of the same color as the rest.
100 T
This building protected the one to the south. It had minor damage because it has very few windows (some broke) on its northern facade.
We will be able to sit next to the sculpture that was already situated in the park and was covered with debris. I don't even know if the young people realize that the man sitting next to them is made of bronze.
Pedestrian level at Fire House The former Lower Manhattan Special District in the NYC Zoning Resolution created an elevated pedestrian path that theoretically connected the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC)north of Chambers Street to the south of the World Trade Center. This building was part of that elevation and was meant to connect retail space on the floor above the fire house. The door is still there.
We will discuss the elevated pedestrian walkways that connected the World Trade Center up to the Borough of Manhattan Community College north of Chambers Street.
We will discuss the location of the temporary Morgue that was set up by the federal government.
View from 7 World Trade Center of Lower Manhattan. Tours can include the area from the Battery up to the World Trade Center, or the Financial District up to Tribeca or the Brooklyn Bridge.
Depending on the size of the group, we can end the tour by sitting in Zuccotti Park or City Hall Park and just discuss the day of 9/11 one on one.
No longer a courthouse, the former "Boss Tweed Courthouse" was known for its corruption and cost overruns more than anything else. It is now used by the Dept. of Education.tweed
The Sun Building now contains the Department of Buildings, but was once the home of the Sun Newspaper and before that a Department Store. Mrs. Lincoln used to love to shop there.sun
surrogates The Surrogates Court Building contains the Muncipal Archives and the information about deeds, etc. and probate. When excavating the federal office building they uncovered bones and discovered the African American burial grounds for free blacks and slaves. Only white Christians could be buried in the city limits at the Trinity Church cemetery. The Jews were buried near present day James Street.burial
African Burial GroundFreed and Slave African Americans were buried at this location. There is also a Memorial and Museum that is worth exploring. Cosmopolitan HotelThis Hotel goes back to the times when President Lincoln came to New York in 1860 and 1861. Contrary to popular tradition, the president stayed at the Astor House and not the Cosmopolitan Hotel (or Girard House as it was called before 1869).
Benjamin FranklinStatue of Ben Franklin in front of Pace University. brooklyn bridge
I have found the word German in another location in Lower Manhattan. It is at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. It relates the story of the building of the bridge and how John Roebling was a German Immigrant. This is a new sign that was installed recently.
Pace UniversityPace University. City Hall ParkCity Hall Park with a public art display.
”BrooklynWe will pass City Hall Park and take a look at the Brooklyn Bridge. ”Woolworth”We pass the Woolworth Building, which was the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler Building surpassed it. It was known as the Cathedral of Commerce.
Do you where this building is located? This is is the only place where I was able to find the word "German" on or in a building that was created in the 20th Century. While there are many buildings in the East Village (Kleine Deutschland) from the 19th Century with German inscriptions, I am still searching for anything German in Manhattan from after World War I.

The stained glass skylight (was originally built as a functioning skylight until the additional floor was added over the skylight in 1919) was created by Heineke and Bowen, the same people who made the ceiling tile. The elevator door covers are by Tiffany. The skylight contains the date 1879 which was when the Woolworth company began and 1913 when the building was completed. It also lists the major trading countries in the world at the time.
Here you still see the words, "German Empire" (and the Eagle) on the periphery of the skylight with other countries such as France, United States, Russia, Great Britain, Argentina, Austria, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Japan and China.
There is also a stereotypical gargoyle of a Jewish banker, something that would in years to come become a frequent topic of ridicule by Nazis such as Julius Streicher in his Sturmer Newspaper. I have not found a definitive story about who this gargoyle represents.
”J&R”The building that now contains the "J & R Music World" was once the tallest building in the world, and the top cupolas were used for tourists to see the views.
”NewOn the former Urban Renewal site near City Hall and Pace University, we will pass the New York by Frank Gehry luxury apartment house under construction. New York by GehryThis is the new public elementary school and luxury rental building called New York by Gehry. This is the finished southern exposure of the "New York by Gehry" apartment house. This facade does not wave like the other ones.”New
”Corbin”We pass the Corbin Building, which was the tallest building in the world when it was constructed. It is next to the Fulton Transportation Hub under construction. ”GW If time permits we can go and see where George Washington sat when he prayed in Church.
We can then continue further south to either see the World Trade Center area or go to the east and walk on the Brooklyn Bridge.