Bloomberg’s NYC

It is clear from the readings that Mayor Bloomberg had an immense impact on the growth and “rebirth” of New York City post-9/11. According to Larson, from the start, Bloomberg and his administration planned to “reshape” the environment of New York City on a Robert Moses type scale. Their strategy for rebuilding the city came from synthesizing the views of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs on urban planning. The Bloomberg administration’s agenda to rebuild New York City, maintained the actual ideas of Jane Jacobs that “won over” New York City (mainly the importance of diversity) by using the aggressive tactics of planning and building that Robert Moses has used (Larson 2013).

The main tool that the Bloomberg administration used to bring their plans into action was rezoning. They used rezoning as a tool to “build up” the city in height and density, promote a healthier economy, and get more “use” out of land that was initially set aside for industrial uses. In this way, during Bloomberg’s time as mayor, the number of housing units in the city increased by 5.3% and approximately 310,000 more people were able to live in the city from the areas that were rezoned between 2002 and 2009 (Schuerman 2013).

Rezoning in New York City brought about a change that was vital to the recuperation of the city after the 9/11 attack. However, it only brought about hope to certain groups of people. According to Schuerman, “Real estate developers say the biggest reason they built bigger and taller was because Mayor Bloomberg projected the sense that the city had a future, and that the future looked bright (at least to them and the people able to afford the 360-degree views from atop their towers)”(Schuerman 2013). This is a good point that was also implied in the assigned readings. While Bloomberg’s Plan was intended for the “well-being” of NYC residents, it was really only taking into account of certain classes of NYC residents. Because of rezoning, the cost of living in the city increased and people had to pay 6% more of their income to rent their homes than before the Bloomberg Plan (Schuerman 2013).

Intentionally or not, the Bloomberg Plan has caused tens of thousands of middle-class New Yorkers to leave the city because of the high cost of living that has come from rezoning (Schuerman 2013). We can see from this how one plan can have such different outcomes for different people. For the wealthy the Bloomberg Plan was the most efficient and “successful” plan to rebuild their city. And unfortunately, for the middle-class residents, this plan took their city away from them.

Larson S. (2013) “Building Like Moses with Jacobs in Mind”: Contemporary Planning in New York City. Philadelphia: Temple University Press

Schuerman M (2013) New York, the Vertical City, Kept Rising Under Bloomberg. (last accessed 31 March 2017)


  1. Ena Rasic says:

    Hi Shirly! Great post. I agree with the idea you bring up about Bloomberg’s plan not necessarily being beneficial to NYC as a whole as it was intended to. The poorer residents of NYC were more negatively impacted by these rezonings than the wealthy. As you mentioned, the plan was intended to have certain ideals like diversity in mind, but this didn’t really resonate in practice. For example, downzoning mainly allowed the middle-class white individuals who lived in single family houses to continue doing so without having to worry about new developments bringing in other groups of people, which decreases the diversity in the area. The increased costs of living you mention also goes against the development of diversity when it leads to the poorer people needing to move out of the area for cheaper rent.

    As we discussed in class, having intensions for the “well-being” of New Yorkers and the “greater-good” may not always lead to an improvement of the city. It is hard to determine what exactly is the “greater-good.” One person’s opinion of this may be different from that of another person. With this being said, Bloomberg may have had intensions for the “well-being” of New Yorkers, but this was not able to encompass everyone in the city.

  2. Eliana Alper says:

    Hi Shirly,
    I agree with your statement that Mayor Bloomberg did in fact have a great impact on shaping the future of New York City, when he took office right after 9/11. As you quoted Larson saying, Bloomberg intended to “reshape New York City’s built environment,” this is exactly what he did as proven by the statement in “New York, the Vertical City, Kept Rising Under Bloomberg” which claims that as Bloomberg leaves office, he is leaving behind an almost completed construction of the tallest building on the continent – 1 World Trade Center. Bloomberg entered his mayoral position with the intentions of physically shaping New York City in a way which he saw fit for city’s future, and he accomplished this. What his building and rezoning also accomplished though, was harming the middle class by causing a rise in the cost of living, and making certain areas no longer affordable to them.
    As Bloomberg allowed for the upzoning of New York City, taller buildings were built and population density increased. This increase in popularity made it difficult for many people to continue with their rent payments as there was a rise in the cost of living, that came with the rise in population (Schuerman). I agree with Ena’s comment that while Bloomberg may have intended the upzoning to increase diversity, it had an opposite effect as the buildings became more expensive and catered to a wealthier crowd.
    Bloomberg seemed to follow through with his vision of building up New York City, but he was not successful in diversifying the city economically.

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