Hell’s Kitchen

Canyons of New York


(Urban Canyons of New York, Image via ILNY / Skyscraperpage. 2015)

New Brusque City, via Urban Canyons of The rising Westside. Up and around the environs of West 42nd Street, Our Urban landscape is being transformed into a new, and oftentimes unrecognizable, landmass.

Buildings of immense scale and height resting side by side, non-deferential to sunlight or privacy for their inhabitants. This phenomenon of relentless, developer driven construction has picked up pace since the last recession ended here a few years ago. It continues unabated and will continue until this stretch of Manhattan’s Westside becomes one big Urban Canyon. Fast forward to The not-too-distant future: One will be able to rise to the perimeter of these luxury boxes, via sky-elevator, and look down into the shadowy chasms of the streets below.

This particular piece of Manhattan is past the point worth saving for harvesting any meaningful relationship to the human condition. It has transformed into a spectacle unto itself. Might as well keep going and make it complete as New York’s next great tourist attraction. The Grand Canyon of Manhattan. Come here twice a year to watch Manhattanhenge, between the slivers of sky. Come here to race down 42nd Street, where parkland on The Hudson awaits. Come here with a selfie stick, and drop the plastic wrapper which it came in, onto the windswept streets of New Brusque City.


2014 Urban Morphology Round-Up

Thanks to the readers of our blog. Gordon’s Urban Morphology has gained a steady readership month over month and we look forward to bringing more stories about New York’s building culture to our pages in 2015. It looks to be a busy year!

2014 has shaped up to be a very interesting one in New York. As the development cycle heats up across the City, we expect more stories to be told through the changes in our Urban Form, as well as the many personal and cultural stories that go along with this change across The City landscape.

And here is a Round-Up of our most popular posts from 2014, based on user clicks:

Corlears Hook Aerial

Our most popular post of 2014 which garnered the most clicks: Readers took great interest, especially International ones, in Corlears Hook, Forgotten Corner of The Lower East Side.

Murder Alley

Another popular post which drew International readers took us deep into the heart of Murder Alley, Chinatown.


Two Tenements, Standing dove deeper into the meaning of The Tenement in society, before the wrecking ball comes for the Upcoming Essex Crossing Development in New York’s Lower East Side.

LES People

And continuing in The Lower East Side, our blog took personal interest in a New York Times article about life in Coop Villge, and wondered about the meaning of living in a NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) in Our Lower, Lower East Side.

Domino Demolition

Across the East River, we watched the demolition of the Domino Sugar Factory to clear the way for a new housing development in Domino Sugar, Down. This trend toward larger and more significant development on the Brooklyn waterfront continues the gentrification wave sweeping across The City.


And at The World Trade Center site, many of us watched in awe as Santiago Calatrava’s new transit hub rose from the ground. It’s alien form has made it an instant landmark. Our take on the building’s appearance was written about in The Serpent of The Trade.

Beast 1

We were sensing that the gentrification wave has gone too far and has left our new buildings lacking personality in one of our favorite posts, Beasts of The West Side.


And back at The Trade Center We felt that The New York Times review of One World Trade was a bit one dimensional, considering it is a National Symbol. Our impression of The Times article struck a few chords with readers in A Flawed Review of A National Symbol.

 So, there you have our year’s top posts. Thanks again for your readership and we’ll see you in 2015. Happy New Year from Gordon’s Urban Morphology!

Beasts of The West Side

Beast 1

(West Side Beast, AVA High Line, West 29th St, New York. April, 2014)

The Urban Critic: There is a type of development taking place in The City which is having an irreversible and destructive effect on the form, and the future form of our urban core. These developments are the immense and bland superblock buildings which are appearing on Manhattan’s West Side. Their land plots are cobbled together over years of deal making and lot assembly; then the developer strikes when the iron is hot, hires the most cost efficient architect who will sacrifice their imagination, and proceeds to plunk down these monsters of mediocrity.

Beasts of the West Side unravel the Core Tenet of Jane Jacobs’ philosophy about urban density and variety, which she so famously wrote about in “The Death And Life of Great American Cities” (Random House, 1961). Variety, she professed, is a central driver of a City’s economic and social success with the intermingling of classes and a vibrant street life. In direct opposition to her philosophies, these massive structures divorce society from any true pedestrian scale and day-to-day interaction. Banal, uniform, and unforgiving; These building exteriors create wind swept streets of nothingness.

Beast 2

(The “Anti-Jane Jacobs” perspective of Urbanism, Streets of Nothingness)

In all due respect, development is good when it is thoughtful and has an intention to fulfill a purpose for greater Mankind. This attitude of optimism is seen at Hudson Yards, where, although the scale is still very large, the developers are thinking about public space and how people move out and about. This thoughtfulness is lacking in the Monolithic Beasts of The West Side. Manhattan deserves, and expects, something much greater than the least common denominator.

Referenced Offenders:

AVA High Line

Gotham West