nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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Let there be light

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been in New York is the light. I never really thought about it in the UK, but here in New York the sheer volume of high rise development has had a massive impact on light. It’s almost as if there is light poverty here. If you are lower down in a high rise apartment building you pay less rent and you get less light because you are surrounded by others. You are more likely to be looking across at another high rise building and for that you pay less. Conversely the higher up you are the more you pay and there is a premium for being at the top, in the penthouse. Purpose built apartment buildings tend to be at the end of streets, abutting the avenues, this then serves to create a light corridor along the many avenues going from north to south along the island of Manhattan. Pause whilst crossing an avenue and look south and then north you can see a remarkable feat of town planning with the straight, straight avenue forcing your eye skywards, seeking the light. The Manhattan town house, a 4-6 storey building, probably built around the beginning of the 20th Century, would have been the peak of housing achievement but now, I’m not so sure. Surrounded by other buildings – there is little free space here and if there is, it’s being built on – the reduction in light levels is huge. With a town house you generally get a small garden and the ones we saw when we looked for somewhere to live were so overlooked, so dark, it was just not worth it. Go closer to Central Park then the buildings seem to reduce in size, there is, I believe a real push from those living in the affluent neighbourhoods near the park to ensure that development is sympathetic and that means low rise. We didn’t appreciate the value of the light before we arrived but now that we’re here, living pretty high up, it’s great to bathe in the luxury of light.