Why Does New York Look the Way It Does?
with Ethel Sheffer, FAICP, urban planner, educator, and civic and community leader
Zoning has had a relatively short history but it plays a prominent role in the shaping of most cities. Remarkably, New York has been a pioneer in the field of zoning since it enacted the nation’s first comprehensive zoning ordinance in 1916 in a 14-page text and three sets of maps which designated use, height and area in the city. And as we will see, from that relatively simple document which regulated egregious incompatible uses, zoning laws have more or less guided the city’s growth and development. It is an imperfect, complex and often heavy-handed tool for implementing planning policy.
We will be discussing examples of some of the great developments and zoning regulations in New York from the skyscraper and central business districts to the development of lower rise neighborhood communities, to the growth of suburban living and to the impact of the automobile, to the recent supertalls, and to the challenges of increased density.
Ethel Sheffer, FAICP, is an urban planner, civic and community leader and educator. She has served as an Adjunct Professor in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation for more than 15 years. She has an extensive knowledge of New York City’s neighborhoods, has been a community leader in several noteworthy battles and developments, has served as the President of the New York Chapter of the American Planning Association, and is a member of the NYC Public Design Commission