Ted Steinberg on the development of New York City

The Five Thousand Pound Life, Nature and the City (Part 2)

September 26, 2014

In the second part of the Nature and the City session, Ted Steinberg attributes the development of New York City to the 300-year-old view of the city as a “limitless proposition” driven by the “growth imperative.” He cites the origins of the growth imperative as the British settlers’ aggressive approach to creating more valuable waterfront property by selling infilled “water lots,” creating an attitude that land is not a fixed resource but rather “more can be made.”

Steinberg is Professor of History and Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University. His new book Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York (2014) examines the ecological changes that have resulted in the reality of present-day New York City.

The Five Thousand Pound Life: Land was a symposium on rethinking land and its value in light of climate change organized by The Architectural League and co-sponsored by The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design in September 2014.

The Nature and the City panel brought together two experts in ecological history to present New York City’s natural history and development and debate how we value — or don’t value — nature today.