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Building the SkylineThe Birth and Growth of Manhattan's Skyscrapers$
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Jason M. Barr

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199344369

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199344369.001.0001

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The Economics of Skyscraper Height

The Economics of Skyscraper Height

(p.141) 5 The Economics of Skyscraper Height
Building the Skyline

Jason M. Barr

Oxford University Press

The Skyscraper Revolution is born in New York in 1889. This chapter chronicles the economic history of the skyscraper. First the chapter discusses how the skyscraper was a solution to an economic problem of how to house as many people as possible on the same geographic coordinates. It reviews the skyscraper technology that allowed for their construction. Next the chapter reviews the different types of height: engineering height, economic height, developer height, and symbolic height and how they have evolved since 1890. Then, the chapter discusses the important engineering, economic and regulatory considerations in determining skyscraper height. The role of zoning and air rights is also discussed. Then the chapter compares the return on investment to skyscraper office construction in 1929 to that of 2013. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the relationship between skyscraper height and land values.

Keywords:   skyscraper height, economic history of skyscrapers, skyscraper technology, zoning, air rights, return on investment, land values

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