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The Weight of NYC: How Buildings Are Slowly Sinking the Big Apple
MAY 18, 2023  (10:33)

The Weight of NYC: How Buildings Are Slowly Sinking the Big Apple

New Yorkers may be used to hearing the phrase "the city that never sleeps," but new geological research suggests another saying may be more appropriate for the Big Apple: "the city that never sinks."

Unfortunately for those who call NYC home, it turns out this new phrase isn't quite accurate either.

The 1.7 trillion pounds of buildings in NYC are causing the land to sink at a rate of 1 to 2 millimetres per year in some areas, according to recently released geological research from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The lead researcher Tom Parsons warns that this continuous descent puts NYC at increased risk of natural disasters.

Parsons and his team are particularly concerned for Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The threat of severe storms has grown since before Superstorm Sandy due to greenhouse gas emissions reducing the naturally occurring wind shear barrier along the US East Coast.

With more high-intensity hurricanes heading towards New York City in decades to come, structures exposed repeatedly to salt water can corrode reinforcing steel and chemically weaken concrete - leading to structural weakening.

Accordingly, real estate developers should take note and build with this potential disaster in mind. All too often have we seen major hurricane events cause catastrophic damage throughout a city flooding entire roadways and forcing people from their homes but proactive solutions taken now can make a big difference later on.

By taking into account the weight of listings buildings as well as sea level rise when constructing new structures, New York City can make sure it doesn't sink lower than it already is.

Source: NY Post