Land Use
Topic Pages / Land Use


The Topic
"Land Use" refers to the processes by which alterations are made to the built environment and the principles and laws which govern these alterations. Such changes include construction, demolition or renovation of buildings, changes to streets and sidewalks, and designation of historic landmarks. A city's land use policies have far -- reaching effects which delve into social, economic and political arenas. Eventually they are the ultimate arbiter of how a city develops. "Zoning" refers to New York City's Zoning Resolution -- first passed in 1916 and overhauled in 1961 - that enumerates the rules for land use.
The Context
New York City has over 200,000 acres of land, and we fight over every square foot. The city's land use policies set the stage for that fight. Will there be parks? And where? How high can Donald Trump build? All these questions and more are relegated to the land use arena.
The Reporter
Tom Angotti is professor of urban affairs and planning at Hunter College and editor of Planners Network.

Brad Lander is the executive director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, a community development organization in Brooklyn.

Laura Wolf-Powers is assistant professor at the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment in the School of Architecture at the Pratt Institute.

The Archives
See past monthly updates for Land Use.

No one works harder getting to work than New Yorkers.
City residents have the longest one-way commutes in the nation - an average of 38.4 minutes. That's about about one full week a year, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics released yesterday.

The commutes in other cities with populations of 250,000 or more are, by comparison, walks in the park.

Chicagoans, who have the second-longest journeys, spend five less minutes trekking from home to job.

Wichita, Kan., may be a city that often sleeps - but getting to work there takes only about 16 minutes. That's the shortest commute of the nearly 70 large cities listed in a Census Bureau survey.

" It's something you have to learn to tolerate," said window washer Anthony Paczynski, whose drive from Queens to midtown takes at least an hour - and he travels during off-peak hours.

The survey shows that not all boroughs are equal when it comes to the daily slog: Bronxites have the longest trek, at nearly 42 minutes; Queens dwellers come in second (41.4 minutes), followed by Staten Islanders (41.2 minutes) and Brooklynites (39.9 minutes).

Manhattan residents spend on average 29.4 minutes getting to their jobs.

The survey didn't address the city's traffic-choked streets or perennially packed rush-hour subways. But officials noted jobs are generally centered in Manhattan, and workers travel from the surrounding boroughs.

Monique McCall's combined bus and subway trip to midtown from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, takes 45 minutes each morning. That's an improvement from the 70-minute trip she endured when living in Canarsie.

" I'd rather it be 15 minutes, but I'm happy," the Postal Service employee said. "I read the paper and keep my head and eyes occupied."

His daily 45-minute subway trip from Ozone Park, Queens, to midtown doesn't much bother collections agent Mohamed Khan, 26.

" I take a nap," the A-train rider said, adding that the commute is a small price to pay for living in the city.

" I like the city - everything is at your fingertips," he said. "You can go out at 2 a.m., or 5 a.m. - anytime."

THE AVERAGE COMMUTE for a city resident is just over 38 minutes. Here are some things that you could do instead of stewing in traffic, riding the rails or taking a bus to work:.
Listen to "Crosstown Traffic, by Jimi Hendrix, 14 times.
Win the Kentucky Derby 19 times on Secretariat's back.
Ride the Cyclone 15 times.
Watch the Power Tool Institute's always riveting 19-minute video "Power Tool Accidents - They Can be Prevented" - twice.
Watch SonicVision, an "awe-inspiring" 38-minute digitally animated music show with a playlist picked by Moby, at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater.

Visit the Topic Archives!