Brendan O'Connor has sketched a short, poignant, four-dimensional map* of one of Manhattan's most iconic streets, from the Hudson to the East River, and from 2001 to the present.
There is an idea of New York, and especially of Manhattan, as a place where the wealthy and the less wealthy (and even the not-at-all wealthy!) live in close proximity, even adjacent, to each other, and that this arrangement produces ambition in the latter to attain what the former has, and some amount of respect for the humanity of the latter in the former. This is not just incidental to life here, the thinking goes, but integral to it: Everyone, or almost everyone, suffers the city together.
The story of 14th Street both encapsulates this high-low fantasy and shows how it has been and continues to be erased in favor of something much more lucrative.
[The] High Line is a magnet for more than tourists' money: According to a study conducted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, before the park's construction in 2003, the surrounding West Chelsea neighborhood--a mix of residential properties and light industrial businesses--were valued at eight percent below Manhattan's overall median. In 2005, the city rezoned West Chelsea for luxury development, and, by 2011, residential property values appreciated beyond borough-wide values. "The park, which will eventually snake through more than twenty blocks, is destroying neighborhoods as it grows," Jeremiah Moss wrote in the New York Times in 2012. "And it's doing so by design. While the park began as a grass-roots endeavor--albeit a well-heeled one--it quickly became a tool for the Bloomberg administration's creation of a new, upscale, corporatized stretch along the West Side."
*Most street maps lie in at least two ways in order to fit two-dimensional constraints.
- They omit pitch and elevation. This is admittedly a bigger problem in cities like San Francisco than it is in most places, but the experience of walking along any street is shaped by its sloping uphill or downhill, its seat above or below.
- They eliminate the axis of time, which is relegated to real estate transaction documents and local folklore.
Related: The New York Times' terrific "Reshaping New York" interactive map from 2013.