The Changing NYC Skyline: A Guide

New York City's skyline may be infamous, but it is never static. It has always changed (and risen!), and that is more true now than at any time since the 1930s. So I have decided to create this comprehensive guide to the most high-profile additions to Manhattan's skyline (not even factoring in all the development along the Brooklyn & Queens waterfront!).

Let's start with the most famous change... the new World Trade Center. Everyone knows One World Trade Center, the tallest building in North America (thankfully the rumored "Freedom Tower" name was abandoned). But the site consists of numerous other skyscrapers. The original WTC site had seven buildings. The new WTC was to have seven as well, but it was cut back to five. 1, 3, 4, & 7 are built (3 is just topping out this year), with 2 yet to come, in addition to a performing arts center.  In between all of these, of course, sits the memorial park and museum.

This is a rendering, not a photo. From left to right: One, Seven, 2, 3, and 4.

This is a rendering, not a photo. From left to right: One, Seven, 2, 3, and 4.

Next is the biggest addition to the skyline... literally. 432 Park Avenue, completed just over a year ago, topped out at 1,396 ft (425.5 m). You may have seen it while near Central Park; it is the very tall and thin behemoth towering over its puny neighbors. It is the second-tallest building in NYC (only One WTC is taller), and is currently the tallest residential in the world. Apartments here started at around $18M. Due to both its massive height, and thin frame, the window grid & interior space of 2 floors between every 12 occupied floors are left open to allow wind to pass through (to prevent swaying). It has become a controversial symbol of New York becoming, as former mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "a luxury product".

Oh, hello.

Oh, hello.

And here's the view from Central Park, for perspective.

Look upon me, puny mortals.

Look upon me, puny mortals.

The next biggest change is still at foundation level. One block north of Grand Central Terminal, One Vanderbilt is just beginning to be built. When completed in a few years, it will be NYC's third-tallest building, at a height of 1,401 feet (427 m). As part of the project, developers are promising to add new access and connections to Grand Central.

Rendering on the side of construction walls.

Rendering on the side of construction walls.

Next up is another behemoth in early stages of construction... the so-called Central Park Tower (aka, the Nordstrom Tower), on W. 57th Street. At a proposed height of 1,550 feet (472m), it will be taller than 432 Park... though the latter will remain the tallest residential building, as this one will be mixed-use. It will be the tallest building by roof height in the US, surpassing Chicago's Willis Tower.

Rendering.

Rendering.

Moving over to the west side, we get to Hudson Yards, the most ambitious real estate development plan in NY since the original World Trade Center. Being built atop the Hudson rail yards, the city has billed this project as New York's "hottest new neighborhood". And it is indeed an entire neighborhood being built from scratch... over a dozen planned skyscrapers containing more than 12,700,000 square feet (1,180,000 m2) of office, residential, and retail space. The neighborhood will also feature new schools, parks, hotels, and restaurants. The project has already completed an extension of the 7 subway line to 34th St.

One architectural centerpiece will be a large public plaza featuring 'Vessel', which is being marketed as the Eiffel Tower of NYC. It will be a beehive-styled network of stairs, 16 stories in height.

Today, only a fraction of the project is completed.

Rendering

Rendering

Further down the adjacent High Line, there is more west side development, mostly high-end residential.

On the left, 520 West 28th St by the late Zaha Hadid (which will feature a $50M penthouse). On the right, the completed 10 Hudson Yards, now home to the offices of Coach and L'Oreal. The latter has a direct entrance from the High Line.

On the left, 520 West 28th St by the late Zaha Hadid (which will feature a $50M penthouse). On the right, the completed 10 Hudson Yards, now home to the offices of Coach and L'Oreal. The latter has a direct entrance from the High Line.

Walk a little south down the High Line, and you will soon see a new development at 76 Eleventh Avenue, by Bjarke Ingels. There will be two twisty condo towers, rising to 35 and 25 stories, respectively.

Rendering.

Rendering.

On the left, the lot as it stands today, across the street from the Frank Gehry-designed IAC Building

On the left, the lot as it stands today, across the street from the Frank Gehry-designed IAC Building

Further uptown, the Bjarke Ingels Group has already completed a major project, known as VIA 57 West. It sits right next to the West Side Highway. The building's design is referred to as a pyramid or a tetrahedron. It is a residential building rising 467 ft (142 m) and 35 stories tall. It has already won lots of architectural praise.

VIA 57

VIA 57

A little further east, near Columbus Circle, at W. 57th St & 8th Ave, is the Hearst Tower. Sitting atop the original Hearst HQ (completed in 1928), this decade-old skyscraper was designed by Norman Foster, best known for London's "Gherkin" tower.

You may have seen this building in Marc Webb's two "Spider-Man" films, standing in for Oscorp HQ.

You may have seen this building in Marc Webb's two "Spider-Man" films, standing in for Oscorp HQ.

Heading downtown now, we find a massive residential tower in trendy TriBeCa, which has already become an icon of the downtown skyline. 56 Leonard is a 821-ft (250 m) tall, 57-story condo building. Due to its unique shape, it has been dubbed by locals and the media as the "Jenga building".

Which piece should I pull out first?

Which piece should I pull out first?

Heading east from there, you will find New York by Gehry (aka, 8 Spruce Street), right near the East River. This 76-story skyscraper, Gehry's only other NYC work, was the world's tallest residential building upon completion, an honor that 432 Park uptown since took. As you enter the Brooklyn Bridge, turn around and you will see an amazing view of this building, along with the Woolworth Building and One World Trade Center.

The building's wavy design is a Gehry signature.

The building's wavy design is a Gehry signature.

In 10 years, the NYC skyline will likely change and grow even more exponentially.

Do you have any favorites among these new buildings? Or least favorites? Thoughts on the impacts these changes may have on the Big Apple? Share your opinions with me on social media... or contact me to plan custom walking tours of these sights!