432 Park Avenue and the End of the City of Dreams

When I first heard about the plans to build 432 Park Avenue back in 2011, I thought to myself, really? One World Trade Center was bad enough. In the words of Banksy, “It would be easy to view One World Trade Centre as a betrayal of everyone who lost their lives on September 11th, because it so clearly proclaims the terrorists won.” But instead of arguing that it’s a “shyscraper” as Banksy did, I would argue that the One World Trade Center is a symbol of America’s post-9/11 insecurity, and resulting overcompensation for that insecurity. Which is why One World Trade Center is 1776 feet tall, to represent the year of the United States’ founding. But that’s only with the added spire. Without it, it’s 1,368 feet tall. You know what’s taller than that? 432 Park Avenue.

At 1,396 feet tall, 432 Park Avenue is 28 feet taller than One World Trade Center, and over 100 feet taller than the Empire State Building, the building most associated with New York City and America. What is that supposed to represent? To me, it is a literal testament that the super-rich tower over and own the rest of the country, and the world. These skyscrapers are so tall they needed approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before starting construction.

The global 1% is buying up most of the luxury condominiums in NYC and the US whilethe rest of the country suffers the worst economic inequality since the Great Depression, and global financial institutions found that the top 1 percent of the globe’s population possesses nearly half of the world’s wealth, whereas the bottom half of world’s population holds less than 1 percent of its riches. While New York City stands at the epicenter of an affordable housing crisis that has placed poor and elderly people throughout the country at greater risk of homelessness and forced low-income renters to forgo food and medical care to stay in their homes, units are almost sold out at 432 Park Avenue, where the lowest unit goes for $7 million, and the penthouse sold for nearly $100 million.

“There are only two markets, ultraluxury and subsidized housing.” — Rafael Viñoly, architect of 432 Park Avenue

And 432 Park Avenue is just the beginning. The corridor along 57th and 59th Streets hasis already being dubbed “Billionaire’s Belt” after the luxury developments that will cast long shadows over Central Park. Most of these super-tall skyscrapers are being built as-of-right, meaning that they are not subject to environmental assessment or public review.

New York City is now the most unequal city in the most unequal state in the most unequal developed country in the world.

As I was riding the 7 train from Times Square back to Flushing, I saw 432 Park towering above the rest of the Manhattan skyline, and pictured the skyline was an enclosed hand, and 432 Park Avenue was the outstretched middle finger of that hand saying “Fuck You” to everyone who gazes upon it.

The rich really don’t care about anyone else anymore, do they?

For more on 432 Park Avenue, read here.

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