Are you looking for the best tours of New York? Have you tried looking to the sky? Helicopter tours are a unique and fun way to experience New York, and are much more affordable then you may think. In a helicopter you can see New York City from top to bottom in under 30 minutes, witnessing all the best sights with none of the traffic.
There are many Helicopter tours in New York, and it can be hard to pick the right one. Remember to check not only the price of the tour, but the duration as well. Do you want one long tour, or several short tours for about the same price? Will the tour cover all the things you want to see? Most Helicopter tour companies will allow you to create a custom route to follow if no normal tour goes there, though this tends to cost considerably more.
Also, if you don’t want to drive to the airport, you can request that the pilot bring the helicopter to you; most any skyscraper in New York has a helipad on the roof, and there are hundreds of other places the pilot can meet you. Taking a helicopter tour is all about convenience, so get picked up wherever you are. And now, here are some of the most popular New York helicopter tours.
Liberty Helicopter Tours
Liberty helicopters has been in business for over 25 years; longer then any other helicopter tour company in New York. They are renowned for having the largest fleet of helicopters in the northeast, as well as the most pilots. Almost all Liberty pilots are former military or NYPD professionals, so you are guaranteed a disciplined and well-trained and pilot.
Among all of Liberty’s tours, the “New York, New York” tour is easily the most popular, flying over some of New York City’s most well-known sights. Have your camera ready as they take you on a 20-minute tour of famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building, and a fly-over of Central Park and Yankee Stadium, not to mention the Statue of Liberty itself.
Helicopter Flight Services, New York
HeliNY is perhaps lesser known then Liberty, but is easily on par with them in experience and dedication to the perfect flight. They have several tours on offer, but the one that draws crowds is the Deluxe tour. The Deluxe tour is definitely one of the most complete helicopter tours in New York, offering over 30 minutes of flight time and covering the entirety of New York City. Here you will see nearly every notable point of interest, from the Statue of Liberty to Midtown, the Northern tip of Manhattan to the New Jersey Palisades, with extra flight time over the Verrazano bridge and Ground Zero.
These are among the best helicopter tours in New York, and you simply can’t go wrong with any of them. The experience of a helicopter flight is something that can only be understood once you have done it, and New York is among the best cities in the world to try.
Though public schools across the nation are improving their environments for students, the New York schools are falling behind, according to the National Education Association (NEA). In a recently posted web page, the NEA cited many failings of New York. Here are some of the challenges that the NY schools continue to face during the 2006-2007 year.
Average Sizes for Classes and Campuses
The elementary and secondary schools in New York continue to be among the largest schools in the nation. The average size of an elementary school within the New York schools system is 27 percent higher than the national average. With an average of 558 students per elementary school, the schools in New York rank fifth to have the largest elementary populations on average in the United States. Their high schools are even larger, averaging 1004 students per campus. That is 33 percent higher than the national average, making the school system in New York the eighth largest in average size.
The class sizes in the New York schools also are among the largest with an average of 22 students per class. The NEA ranked the New York schools as the tenth largest in average elementary class size nationally.
In addition to the overcrowding in the New York schools, their crumbling and aging infrastructure is in desperate disrepair with a third of the facilities in need of extensive repair or replacement. The costs to complete construction and repair needs on school buildings and facilities are estimated to be as high as $15 billion. During the 2006-2007 school year, the New York schools will have literally tens of thousands of students attending class in mobile trailers, storage areas, and converted bathrooms — not the most conducive environment for learning.
The NY schools rank among the bottom ten states in the percentage of schools with at least one unsatisfactory environment condition. Seventy-six percent of the New York schools fall into this category. There are 36 percent with poor ventilation that is bad for children with respiratory ailments, such as asthma, and contributes to higher illness rates of children and staff from passing viruses back and forth through the stagnant air. Additionally, 28 percent of all New York schools have bad plumbing and 31 percent of the schools have roofs that are crumbling.
As important as computers have become to educational opportunities in the United States, more than a third of the NY schools lack adequate outlets and the necessary wiring for computer use in the classroom.
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The Taxi Medallion of New York City
The New York City Taxi Medallion is an interesting form of property. It represents a transferable right granted by the City to pick up passengers, but through regulation the dollar value of this right is now nearing a million. In Fact, Some of the Richest Workers In America are Taxi Drivers In New York City.
Trading in the price range of $600,000.for the individual medallion, and almost three quarters of a million for the coveted corporate or “mini” fleet medallion, the New York City Taxi industry has seen its overall value increase by almost five-hundred percent since the turn of the century.
The Taxi Medallion is a special license plate affixed to the hood of a New York City Yellow Taxi cab. It represents the license for picking up passengers from the streets. No other transportation service has this right.
The medallion system began in the 1930’s. In the 1960’s all medallion taxicabs were required to be painted yellow.
The medallion number is must be clearly visible on the taxicab roof light, license plates, as well as on the door exterior, and in the vehicle interior.
There are different types of “Medallions”. The individual, the corporate or fleet medallion, and the Handicap Access Medallion.
The individual medallion requires the owner (post 1990), to operate the yellow taxicab 210 nine-hour shifts per year. This underlying requirement guarantees the availability of taxi transportation. It is not unusual for two taxi drivers to form partnerships and share the medallion, or for an individual owner to lease out the taxi for the shifts he is not working.
The corporate or fleet medallion does not need to be operated by the owner. In fact, the owner need not have a NYC Taxi operator’s license at all. The fleet medallion can be leased, and often is on a shift-by-shift basis, twice per day, for as much as $140 per twelve hour rental.
There is a network of brokers and agents who manage and lease taxicabs and medallions to independent taxi drivers under daily, weekly, and long-term arrangements for investors.
As an investment, the most interesting aspect of the New York City Taxi Medallion is the anti-cyclical valuations. In2009, as the US and world economies are shrinking, medallion value is soaring.
When banks and stock brokerages, construction companies and retailers lay off workers, one of the first places the unemployed workers seek income is in the taxi industry. So, as the general economy suffers the number of available taxi cabs shrinks as more people seek them and those already working are forced to work more shifts as competition for fares increases.
There are a limited number of medallions. Currently just over 13,200. This number was constant at 11,787 for more than sixty years when in the 1990’s then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani approved NY City Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Christopher Lynn to conduct three auctions, selling four hundred medallions.
The sales netted the City approximately one hundred-million dollars. The politics behind the sales was very intense and telling, as shortly after the sales were completed the industry applied for and received a rate of fare increase. After a few short years another proposal for new medallion auctions was approved by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The successive medallion sales created slightly more than one thousand-forty new medallions. During these auctions the Handicap Access Medallion was introduced at a substantial discount to regular market prices. This was to entice owners to pay the extremely high price of retrofitting vehicles with automatic ramps to accommodate wheelchairs. They were all sold, and on a percentage basis have risen in value more than other medallions.
To own a individual taxi medallion a driver must have a New York City Taxi Operators license known as a Hack License. To obtain The New York City Hack License a driver must complete mandatory taxi driver training as provided by The Master Cabbie Taxi Academy in Queens New York. http://www.mastercabbie.com 1-800-955-8294 or 1-728-472-1699.
Bi-weekly surveys of New York City taxi driver income, conducted by Academy director Terry Gelber, indicate earnings of more than one-thousand dollars per week for full time night shift driver. And, slightly less than one-thousand for day shift drivers. Drivers, owning their own car, and leasing the medallion, tend to earn between one-thousand and fifteen-hundred dollars per week as do drivers who own both the car, and medallion.
To buy a New York City Taxi Medallion: The place to start is The Master Cabbie Taxi Academy where you can begin your New York City Hack License process.
Terry Gelber is founder, and owner, of the largest taxi driver training center in New York City. Master Cabbie Taxi Academy. Founded in 1996 is the only privately held company to be approved by the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission to provide mandatory training in taxi related subjects. Mr Gelber, still a licensed New York City Taxi Driver came to prominance in 1991 as founder of the Hack Poets Society, a group of taxi driving poets and actors who traversed the City enthralling theater goers with the poetry of the New York City Taxi Driver Experience. Now after 17 years and writing two trainging manuals, The Taxi Driver Route Book, providing celebrity taxi training to the likes of Ellen Degeneres, Mr. Gelber specializes in helping people study for the New York City Taxi Exam. As many as two thousand students each year come to his classes before going to the City’s official class.
The Big Apple. The Ultimate Melting Pot. The City That Never Sleeps. Can you judge a city by the number of nicknames bestowed upon it-or by popular songs written about it? If the answer is yes, then New York, New York has to be the global number one city for tourists and 40 million visitors each year cannot possibly be wrong. It’s the U.S. city with the highest population and recognized as one of the largest cities in the world. From the early 1500s, New York has been a landing site for worldwide travelers and today many of those tourists come from the GLBT community.
New York is a city rich in gay history and a walk on the wild side of Stonewall is a gay trip back to our future. Almost four decades have passed since the Stonewall riots and for many who have “come out” since that time on June 28th,1969 this important piece of gay history may not be well known. On that date, and for several days following, acts of police brutality against homosexuals-more specifically targeted at drag queens-sparked riots which in turn sparked the beginning of the gay rights movement and subsequent worldwide Pride celebrations.
This clash was a watershed for the worldwide gay rights movement, as gay and transgendered people had never before acted together in such large numbers to forcibly resist police harassment.
Although the original Greenwich Village landmark of the Stonewall Inn has long since vanished it’s namesake bar-closed temporarily for renovations- stands today on the same spot as the original gay bar and hotel at 53 Christopher Street. Simply walking along this street the feeling of our gay past is apparent and landmarks like the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore provide information and resources for all that New York has to offer the gay traveler. There is even an intersection with Gay Street, perhaps named for those who fought so hard for equality at a time when the GLBT community was an underground movement considered indecent, immoral and mentally ill by the vast majority in most countries.
Today just a few blocks from this historic site at the border between Chelsea and Greenwich Village is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center located at 208 West 13th Street. It is the meeting place for approximately 400 gay and lesbian organizations and is perhaps the largest facility of its kind in the world. This is a busy place where community forums, dances, performances and other events seem to occur constantly. Anyone can visit the center which is open daily from 9AM to 11PM and provides detailed information on everything that is GLBT in New York and you’re guaranteed a very gay welcome. They have a comprehensive tourism Welcome Packet containing information on resources, bars, publications, entertainment venues and much more. Every gay visit to New York should begin here because then likely it will end with a very positive gay memory of this mecca.
The island of Manhattan contains three very distinct gay neighborhoods-the East Village, Greenwich Village/Chelsea and Hells Kitchen. Each is distinctly different but all contain a variety of bars, clubs, restaurants, resources and attractions to make your visit a very gay time. Although Greenwich Village is the historical part of gay New York, today most people recognise Chelsea as the real hub of the community. Local historians are unsure when the short migration to Chelsea actually occurred but none dispute the Chelsea Gym, Colas and Food Bar were the anchors that slowly encouraged other gay businesses to move to this hamlet. Today it probably has the largest concentration of gay businesses that can be found anywhere in the city. Undisputed, strolling down the 8th Avenue promenade is to feel the pulse and heartbeat of gay and lesbian New York.
The Chelsea district also includes some of the best gay accommodations available, which also happen to be convenient for everything gay and straight which New York has to offer its visitors. When the weather permits one can walk from here to Times Square, Broadway, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Central Park and the city’s numerous other well known attractions.
One important fact about New York accommodations is the size of the rooms-small is the universal standard. Whether it’s a home, a store, a park or a hotel room, space is a very limited commodity in Manhattan and very little affords the luxury of size that you may be accustomed to on your other travels. Perhaps the only exception to this would be the beefcake found in the numerous bars and clubs! But there are different kinds of luxury and this is a part of what makes this city unique and you soon adjust to become like a New Yorker. After all there is so much to see and do you will probably find yourself only in your hotel room for minimal hours each day when exhaustion takes over and you have to sleep for a short while.
New York is vulnerable to a variety of natural disasters. The risk is so great that New York City has an Office of Emergency Management to help residents and business owners prepare for the worst. Officials in New York are most concerned about fires, floods, and severe weather like hurricanes and winter storms. Read on to learn how to protect yourself from New York’s natural hazards.
Storms and Hurricanes
It has been calculated that a Category 4 hurricane would cause a storm surge so great that it would send water 6 miles up Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Coastal storms and hurricanes affect New York often. The densely populated New York coastline makes this state especially vulnerable to damage from tropical storms and hurricanes.
Those who live within 10 blocks of a coastal area are advised to have an emergency disaster plan and kit should an evacuation be ordered. It will only take winds of up 70 mph to topple buildings and trees. Heavy rains could cause a storm surge that would inundate parts of the coastline with up to 30 feet of water.
Those who live in high-rise apartment buildings in a coastal area should make plans to evacuate in the event of a tropical storm.
The brush in the grasslands of New York is known to catch fire during the hot dry months of the summer.
Residents are encouraged to keep their plants and lawns well hydrated, weeds tamed, and grass mowed. Plants and trees should not be grown near homes, and one is encouraged to plant vegetation that is less likely to catch fire when landscaping. Any wood that is dead should be removed from trees, and branches that are less than 10 feet from the ground should be trimmed off.
Homes are less like to have problems with wildfires if trash and flammable materials are disposed of properly. Flammable chemicals and unused firewood should be stored in a location away from the home. The roof and gutters should also be kept clear of leaves and other debris that easily dry out.
Intense rain causes flash floods in New York. The heavy rains have sometimes caused sewers to back up into homes and businesses. Much of the infrastructure of New York cannot handle rain that falls at a rate of more than one inch per hour. This is especially true for the lower lying areas.
New York is not a stranger to wild weather like hail, extreme heat, thunderstorms, and strong winds. It is estimated that lightening hits the Empire State Building 23 times each year. Tornadoes are not unheard in some parts of New York state.
New York gets dangerously cold in the winter. The winter weather makes roads icy and slippery, causing traffic accidents. Additionally, the FDNY fields many reports of fires caused by fireplaces and electric heaters. Flooding is often reported because of frozen pipes bursting.
To prevent such domestic catastrophes, make sure heating systems and pipes are well prepared for the freezing weather.
Disasters that are officially declared by U.S. government have been caused by weather 90% of the time every year. Residents of New York can prepare for disastrous event by evaluating the risks in their area, creating an emergency disaster plan, and packing an emergency kit.
Traveling with children can be a challenge. Kids have special needs and wants when they are on vacation or stuck in a hotel somewhere, even in the most exciting of world cities – New York. It is not surprising to know that there are New York City Hotels that are very kid friendly and some of them are five star top of the line hotels. When choosing a New York hotel that caters to the whims of kids, you will hear less of “I’m bored” and more of “what are we going to do next?”
One New York hotel that is especially accommodating to kids of all ages is the Plaza Hotel. The Plaza is a virtual wonderland for kids; the staff is welcoming and will go to great lengths to make their smallest guests stay at the hotel more pleasant. There are special teas scheduled at The Plaza that are geared toward children who are staying in the hotel. There is the Teddy Bear Tea where children are encouraged to attend and bring their favorite Teddy Bear for a formal sit down tea and crumpets. It is a fabulous event each week that really gives the child guest something to look forward to. There are also day spa visits that are designed especially for the smallest members of the jet set. Other seasonal events are scheduled throughout the year at the Plaza for the little people on its guest list as well.
The Waldorf Astoria is another five star hotel that is fabulous and kid friendly. There are babysitting services on each floor of the hotel so that mom and dad can have a day or evening out while the children are well kept and happy. All of the personnel who are on the babysitting staff are specially trained and undergo background and other screenings so that you can be assured that your child is in good hands.
The Embassy Suites is a kid friendly hotel in New York City. The Embassy Suites offer kitchenettes in most rooms, which is great if there are small kids that need bottles warmed or for older kids to keep snacks on hand. The décor is spacious and modern, and this New York hotel also offers babysitting services provided by a staff that is friendly and helpful. And little ones will feel right at home when you let guest services know that you need a crib to be placed in the room.
Hotel Metro is a great kid friendly New York hotel, the rooms are large, and the suites are multi rooms with full living rooms. There is room service, baby sitting services and supervised children’s activities to keep little minds busy. There is a roof top terrace that has a special designated play area for children. The location is fabulous and only one block from the Empire State Building.
The Hilton New York City has great rooms with kitchenettes, baby sitting services and an onsite restaurant that serves family style meals. The staff is friendly and helpful and really seems to enjoy the family atmosphere. Breakfast and dinner are served buffet style in the dining area and are complimentary. The Hilton New York hotel is a great family option.
Cheap budget hotels in NYC are somewhat difficult to find. After all, one of the most expensive things in Manhattan is space! We all pay a LOT of money to live here and the size of many apartments would likely shock you. According to NYCGO.com, there are an estimated 80,899 hotel rooms in NYC at an average of cost of $238 per night. Of course, many rooms are much more and some killer suites go for upwards of $20,000 per night. However, there are also plenty of great budget and cheap hotels in New York, many of which offer interesting rooms, great amenities and free breakfasts.
If you are not from an urban area, then the size of NYC hotel rooms may come as shock to you. Remember there are millions of people in NYC who pay well over $1,500 per month to live in one room, where their bed is also their couch, the kitchenette is two feet long and their bathtub, if they have one, may even be in their kitchen. New York City is never about what’s inside your home – it’s all about what’s outside your door!! After all, that is why you are traveling to New York City, right? To see all our famous culture, history, attractions, restaurants and so much more. If you’re actually spending a lot of time in a cheap budget hotel in NYC, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Many people ask me if they should stay in New Jersey? My answer is always no. If you are visiting to New York City, I recommend you stay in our state, and preferably Manhattan. You might be surprised at how much time and money you lose by traveling back and forth every day. If you are vacationing with children, this could really hinder your trip. There are so many other EASY ways to save money in New York City, scrimping on a hotel room hardly seems necessary, especially when there are some great Cheap Budget Hotels in NYC, with rates starting at $76 to $139 per night (as of late 2010)..
Jane Hotel NYC – West Village
The Jane Hotel has rooms designed like a ship’s cabin. The low rate catch is there’s only a single bed – and the coed bathroom is down the hall. Some rooms offer bunk beds and the “captain’s cabin” with private bathroom starts at $225. The hip, but tiny rooms, come with free Wi-Fi, 23-inch LCD television, DVD player, iPod dock, built-in drawers and a luggage rack plus bicycles are complimentary and they are right on the Hudson River. In 2010, brunch at the Jane Hotel is a trendy NYC favorite.
Comfort Inn – Times Square
The Comfort Inn on 46th St is not expensive by New York standards but is recommended only for those who can deal with clean but small hotel accommodations. The hotel is steps from Times Square, 2 blocks from the 49th Street Subway, features a 24-hour gym, rooms with free Wi-Fi, an iPod docking station and a flat-screen cable TV. There is another Comfort Inn close by on 39th Street.
Other cheap budget Times Square Hotels include: The Hotel at Times Square, Hotel Edison and Portland Hotel Times Square
Pod Hotel NYC – Midtown East
Targeting the “Hip and Thrifty” market, the Pod Hotel offers extremely compact, cleverly designed guestrooms with iPod docking stations and small LCD TVs. Rooms have shared or private baths and in-room displays indicate availability of the shared baths. The shared bathrooms feature rainfall shower heads, water jets built into the sides, and streaming music. Private bathrooms also have rainfall shower heads (no jets), along with sleek stainless-steel sinks. The Pod also offers suites with standard TVs, private bathrooms, and living areas with sofa beds.
Hotel 31 NYC – Midtown East
Reflecting the eclectic, cosmopolitan personality of New York City itself, each of the 60 rooms in the eight-story Hotel 31 have their own unique decorative design. Stylish, comfortable, and very affordably priced, Hotel 31 offers accommodations for the discerning traveler on a budget.
Vanderbilt YMCA – Midtown East (near the UN)
Offering hotels for budget travelers from every continent, seven YMCAs in New York City provide great value for visitors who want to experience NYC’s multifaceted neighborhoods as well as its fabled sites and entertainment venues. Three YMCAs in Manhattan, two each in Brooklyn and Queens offer clean, comfortable and tranquil hostel accommodations for under $100 per night-in some cases, much less.
New York Manhattan Hotel – Midtown West
Part of the Red Roof Inn Group, this hotel was recommended by a NY childhood friend, now an attorney in Florida who travels back here frequently for business. It has clean rooms, complimentary breakfast, free wireless internet and is just steps from the Empire State Building.
Holiday Inn – SoHo
The Holiday Inn Soho Downtown Manhattan New York City offers well appointed and spacious rooms, including satellite television, high speed internet access, CD radios, three-way calling, and work desks.
Of course, there are many more cheap budget hotels in Manhattan, but this is a great start. Enjoy your New York City Vacation!
New York City is The Big Apple, America’s melting pot, perhaps the world’s melting pot, but wow, is it one expensive apple. It’s no wonder the city is a melting pot. You have to make stew with what you can scrape up just to eat. At least it seems that way to most New York denizens and its many visitors. In this article, part 1 of a 2 part series, we’ll examine the high cost of living in New York City and its causes. In part 2, we’ll examine how the high cost of living in NYC affects its many citizens today.
Back in the late 1990’s, Chef Marc Lombardini was an Executive Chef at the famed Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, the 4 star resort that is home to a Presidential bunker which has housed and elaborately fed the rich and famous for many, many years. Chef Lombardini was at a crossroad in his culinary career. The choice was presented to him to either go back home and run the family restaurant in Catonsville, Maryland, or to get a position as an Executive Chef at the famed Tavern On The Green in Manhattan.
He could either take a job thousands would kill for, a once in a lifetime opportunity to show his skill in one of the premier restaurants on the planet, or go home and run The Candlelight in a suburb of Baltimore. Feed the Derek Jeter’s and Donald Trump’s of the world on a fairly regular basis, or the citizens of Catonsville, population of 41, 457. Take the best position that he would only get offered once or take over a family business he would eventually embrace any way. The choice was obvious, right?
Of course, Chef Lombardini chose Catonsville. But why? Why turn down such an incredible, potentially career changing offer?
Because the job, that was offered to him had a salary range of $75,000 a year. Sounds like a lot, but in New York City, it’s not. When you check out the cost of housing, utilities, fuel, food, taxes, parking, insurance, and everything else that you get hit with in New York, that same income will amount to about $40,000 a year in Baltimore. The buildings aren’t the only thing that are sky-high in New York. An ice cream cone costs $4.50. It certainly didn’t make economic sense to move to New York to make the same excellent food that he could produce in his home kitchen. Chef Lombardini didn’t miss out on a huge opportunity, The Big Apple lost out on a great Chef another flavor to add to its melting pot, because the cost of living is just too high and has been for many, many years. Manhattan, by far, is the absolute worst.
More and more, people are leaving New York or are simply not moving to the city of dreams because the cost of living is simply ridiculous. For years, New York has been the hallmark of freedom, the bastion of hope, and the landing spot for many immigrants coming to find their version of the American Dream. Now the expenses have come home to roost, as well.
After years of taking in such a large number and of developing its remarkable history, sights, sounds and smells, New York has clearly out priced itself trying to manage to accommodate and entertain so many. The cost of housing is, to put a construction phrase in play, literally through the roof. It costs $400 to a ridiculous $5000 a month just to park in a parking garage 5 days a week to go to work.
Why is the great metropolis so expensive? Because it’s such a wondrous city, it attracts too many wealthy companies that pay a lot of sky-high salaries. Because it is the banking center of the country, and Wall Street is the principal trading market in the nation. It is also because New York City is the publishing and media hub of the world. A large number of super rich people occupy the upper class of the city, even though most New Yorkers don’t make the big money. However, since the cost of living is high, incomes are normally higher, and this means that Uncle Sam takes more in taxes than anywhere else in the nation.
“…a typical registered nurse in metropolitan New York earns $82,712 versus a national average of $65,464. In the case of an accountant, they calculate a figure of $74,388 versus a national average of $58,712.” The median difference in average income is a little more than $10,000 a year per vocation higher in New York City when compared to the national average. The IRS doesn’t mind that you have to pay more in New York City for food and necessities; they just care how much you make over the course of the year. So even though not all New Yorkers are rich or super rich, many are quite poor, there is a higher tax rate across the board which fuels the cost of living. The irony is that, in many cases, though the cost of living in New York is much higher, the standard of living is arguably worse because everything is so expensive. New York subsidizes many other states and municipalities because so many federal tax dollars come from The Big Apple.
Fair or not, everything is bigger, better and faster in New York, including the speed at which dollars leaves your wallet or pocketbook. There’s no other place like it in the world. That comes at a cost to its many residents. The city has been packed with wall to wall people throughout its history, hitting a high point in regards to immigration in the early 20th century. It’s been paying the bill for all this immigration for the past 100 years just about and there’s no end in sight to the outrageously expanding tab. In part 2 of this 2 part series, we’ll examine the cost of living in New York today and how it’s affecting its many citizens.
Origins and the Elevated Railways:
What happened below was the result of what happened above.
Measuring a meager two miles wide by 13 miles long, 23-square-mile Manhattan Island grew into one of the world’s most populace cities. Like a cohesive trunk, it grew four other branches, or boroughs, in 1898, which stretched to Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, and became unified as New York City.
Although its insular status would have logically dictated the opposite, this jigsaw puzzle of land parcels, sandwiched between the East and Hudson rivers, was quickly fed by the Erie Canal and its bustling, East Coast ports.
Lower Manhattan, incubating most of the city’s businesses and industry, grew ever-denser and needed a frequent, low-cost means of access for its workforce, yet the obstacles to its creation were many.
Because electricity as a source of motive power had yet to become a viable option, traditional steam engine technology would forcibly have to be used, yet it was ill-suited toward anything but short, underground tunnel passage and would therefore be relegated to outside, elevated track.
Financial hurdles were likely to be considerable, and few would be willing to inject such a massive capital outlay into a transportation mode that had yet to be tested. Who, in the event, would own such a network and, even if its costs could be covered, how high would its fares have to be to do so?
Any street-level usage by track-plying trains would obviously require significant approvals, permits, and contracts from city, state, and governmental agencies and regulators.
What was needed was a method to transport its burgeoning population, which had begun to obstruct its streets as if they were clogged arteries. Tracks, laid both on and above them, would, albeit temporarily, serve that purpose before they found their way below them.
Indeed, a quad-wheeled wooden passenger car, pulled by two horses and constituting the New York and Harlem Railroad, became Manhattan’s–and the world’s–first horse rail company, providing surface travel between Prince and Fourteenth streets via the Bowery when it commenced service almost two centuries ago, on November 26, 1832. A byproduct, foreshadowing events to come, fostered outlying population growth and construction, enabling residents to commute from increasingly distanced dwellings to core-city businesses.
So popular had these horse railroads-along with their trackless, but equally equestrian-propelled omnibuses-become by the middle of the 19thcentury, that street congestion negated their speed advantages, resulting in traffic snarls and protracted commutes.
The only way to continue to harness the advantages of such a transportation method was to devise a means by which it could operate independently of other, competing forms, placing its rails either above or below the existing ones. In the case of Manhattan, it meant the former-and its first elevated railroad.
Designed by Charles T. Harvey, a Connecticut inventor, it employed a single, quarter-mile-long track supported by 30 columns that stretched from Day to Cortland Street and used a stationary steam engine, which propelled steel cables that in turn moved its cars. First tested on December 7, 1867, the Greenwich Street routed West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway became the world’s first elevated one when it opened seven months later, on July 3. But the following year’s Black Friday financial collapse, which occurred on September 24, consumed the necessary funding to either continue or expand the system.
Several other ideas for what could be considered the city’s first “rapid transit” system were posed. Alfred Speer of Passaic, New Jersey, for instance, envisioned a continuously moving conveyor belt that encircled New York, enabling passengers to board and deboard wherever they needed to go, although it never eclipsed the idea circulating in his head.
Dr. Rufus Gilbert, a Civil War Army surgeon, advocated a dual pneumatic tube transportation system in 1872. Mounted in a Gothic arch above Broadway, the tubes themselves were intended as channels for circular streetcars. Although, like Speer’s plan, it never saw the light of day that its elevated arrangement would have provided, it passed the torch, at least in concept, to the one that did.
Substituting steam for Charles Harvey’s cables, the New York Elevated Railway inaugurated service on February 14, 1870 along Greenwich Street and Ninth Avenue, and five years later, the tracks had reached 42nd Street. The Metropolitan Railway, a second elevated company, offered definitive, inter-urban rail transportation luxury with oil lamp chandeliers, oak and mahogany walls, murals, tapestry curtains, couches, and carpeting in its first class cars, and plied its own Sixth Avenue elevated tracks by June 5, 1878.
When it merged with New York Elevated on September 1 of the following year, it gave rise to an eventual 81 miles of stilted tracks along Second, Third, Sixth, and Ninth avenues, which reached 129th Street on the East Side and 155th Street on the west and enabled some 14 million passengers to be carried to the fringes of the Bronx. Owned by the Manhattan Railway Company, all of the elevated lines collectively carried 184 million passengers by the turn of the century
Compared to the existing, horse-drawn, street-level lines, this system afforded far greater convenience and a three-fold speed increase to its passengers. But, since all technologies inherently incorporated trade offs, it had its own: its erector set of track supporting structures were less than attractive and permanently shielded the streets over which they passed from the sun. Plied by a continual parade of coal-snorting and steam belching engines, they emitted a trail of carbon and burning cinders, which settled on to pedestrians like black, microscopic snow. And they created a virtual 24-hour symphony of chugging, puffing, and track clacking, which rendered it difficult to be heard immediately below them.
Although the most extensive rapid transit network had been created by 1890, New York’s intertwine of track could still not meet the insatiable demand. Indeed, with every rail that was laid, there was always a line of people waiting to ride it, and before they choked the city into transportation asphyxiation, it became apparent that elevated steam engines had become an interim-technology solution and a third realm of railroad construction would have to be explored. That realm was below ground.
When someone is talking about New York, most people think of New York City, NY with its skyscrapers, taxicabs, and Starbucks on every corner. However, outside of the city and the hustle and bustle of city life resides American workers who rely on the agricultural, manufacturing, and mining industries to support themselves and their families. Having a safe, reliable unit to house these workers is of the utmost importance in any industry.
In NY in particular, it is difficult to maintain a building cost effectively. Fortunately, innovations in pre-fabricated steel buildings solve the costly problems that others types of buildings have. New York’s unique climate takes its toll on a building. Hot humid summers and melting snow can cause mold and damage the structural integrity of most building types. Steel framed buildings however are not susceptible to mold. The high strength of steel is excellent for supporting heavy snow loads and withstanding heavy wind loads, such as those from hurricanes and blizzards. Steel buildings can also be made with special paints that are guaranteed not to rust. High quality steel buildings are not only stronger and more durable, they are also much more cost-effective. They typically cost up to 50% less than buildings composed of other materials; and as mentioned before, maintenance costs will be drastically reduced, adding further to expense savings.
In addition to being structurally cost-efficient, pre-fabricated buildings, when coupled with proper insulation, are exceptionally effective at reducing electric expenses. Pre-fabricated buildings are constructed of components that are specifically designed and produced for your building. This means that when built your building will fit together like a puzzle to seal out the harsh heat in summer and the bitter cold air in winter. Whether constructing a building as a storage and/or production facility, or a place of business or for your home, you and your products will be protected in a better temperature regulated environment. If you wish to take it one step further towards lowering your electricity bills-which less face it, we all could afford to do-here are a few other steel building options that would benefit any New Yorker:
Reflective sheet metal roof and siding panels to reflect the hot sun and reduce heat transfer
Solar panels mounted or integrated into the roof to reduce your dependency on the increasingly expensive electricity from your local electric company
Skylights to utilize natural light (make sure they are weather sealed to maintain efficient temperature regulation)