The Manhattan skyline is one of the great wonders of the modern world. But how and why did it form? Jason M. Barr’s book Building the Skyline explores the economic forces that shaped our high-rise history. Barr chronicles the economic history of the Manhattan skyline from colonial times through the rise of the skyscraper, both downtown and in midtown, along the way debunking some popular misconceptions such as “geology is geography” on the determinative role of bedrock. Investigating of the impetus for the extraordinary levels of skyscraper construction during the Roaring Twenties, the book argues that the boom was largely a rational response to the rapidly expanding economic growth of the nation and city.
The final chapter investigates the value of Manhattan Island and the relationship between skyscrapers and land prices.
Jason M. Barr is an associate professor of economics at Rutgers University – Newark whose areas of interests include urban economics, New York City history, and computational economics. He has taught economics at Rutgers, Dartmouth College, and Columbia University.