“A sidewalk war has erupted in Lower Manhattan.
“Paul Proulx is caught in the middle of it. Just to get to his apartment in the financial district, he has to contend with hordes of commuters and selfie-snapping tourists clogging narrow sidewalks. But these are the least of his problems.
“Security barriers around landmarks and key government posts send him in circles if he forgets to plan ahead. Scaffolding stretches above him in an impenetrable line, ensuring that the walk home is dark and claustrophobic. He is not even safe on his side of the curb. Delivery trucks routinely park on the sidewalk as if they own it.
“If that was not enough, there is the trash. Supersize contractor bags of smelly, leaking garbage are stacked up to 10-feet high outside gleaming high-rise towers, ready to topple over on someone who is not paying attention, or is just really unlucky.
“We fight every day for every square inch,” said Mr. Proulx, 44, a land-use lawyer and soft-spoken father of three who moved to the area from Brooklyn in 2007.
“We have turned a corner out of the challenges we faced in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and we’ve gone much farther than I think a lot of us ever would’ve imagined already,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a meeting called “Getting Ready for Nine Million New Yorkers” hosted by Crain’s last month in Midtown Manhattan. “And this growth has been extraordinary.”
“Still, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, added that the “pathway to nine million” would not be easy. “It will come with challenges to say the least,” he said. “We all are experiencing the congestion in this city, and that is in part because we are victims of our own success.”
“Roughly seven out of eight neighborhoods now have more residents than in 1990, according to an analysis of census data by Queens College using neighborhood boundaries as defined by the city’s Planning Department.
“The biggest change was in Lower Manhattan-Battery Park City, which gained 30,502 residents for a total of 42,485 in 2014, up 255 percent from 1990.
“Crowding exists in other parts of the city,” said Patrick Kennell, 40, a lawyer who is also a member of the Financial District Neighborhood Association. “But it’s unique here because of the sheer amount of development that has happened post-9/11.”
Text: Downside of Lower Manhattan’s Boom: It’s Just Too Crowded, The New York Times.
Pic: Soylent Green, 1973.