Jason M. Barr, an economics professor at Rutgers University has a solution for New York’s growing housing crisis as well as the impact of climate change on vulnerable shoreline areas of the city: Extend Manhattan into the harbour.

In an opinion piece published in The New York Times, Barr called upon the newly sworn-in Mayor of New York, Eric Adams, to expand Manhattan Island into the harbour through landfill and gain about 1,760 acres of reclaimed land, which can be used to create new and diverse housing ranging from traditional brownstones to five-storey apartment buildings and high-rise towers.

Dubbing the neighbourhood, New Mannahatta, Barr believes it will be bigger than the 1,220-acre Upper West Side, and can accommodate about 180,000 new housing units if it is developed in a similar density and style.

With construction unable to keep pace with the growing population, New York continues to face a serious housing crisis, especially affordable housing given the rising rents. With Mayor Adams incentivising affordable housing construction throughout the city’s five boroughs, the New Mannahatta proposal presents an opportunity for the city to add a significant number of new housing units including affordable ones for low-income households, Barr claims.

Additionally, Barr argues that, “The peninsula can be designed with specific protections around its coastline to buffer itself and the rest of the city from flooding”.

Climate change impacts including rising sea levels, flooding and storm surges have had devastating effects on the city. By creating artificial land in the harbour with wetland ecologies along the shorelines, he believes the city would be able to protect itself better against climate threats. The new neighbourhood in Manhattan’s southernmost tip would push vulnerable areas such as Wall Street and Broad Street further inland, providing better resilience against storms, surges and flooding.

Observing that the new neighbourhood can pay for itself through sales or long-term leases, Barr says the city stands to gain from new real estate tax income.

“New York was once a city of big projects like the Brooklyn Bridge, the subway system and the 92-acre Battery Park City. In these times of peril, big thinking is necessary," he writes in his piece.

“Mayor Adams has a chance to create a legacy of making New York safer and more affordable. New Mannahatta can help ensure that the city thrives in the 21st century."


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