Re-examining Manhattan’s Commissioners Plan

by Brooks Salzwedel

Alec Appelbaum who is writing a book about urban planning and climate change, writes in “New York’s Green Grid” that those looking to make NYC more resilient to climate change should look back to the grid’s genius and find ways to let nature play a constructive role in shaping the city rather than seek to stifle nature.

The piece essentially take the position that what is needed is a renewed focus on green infrastructure and an understanding of ecosystem services. The most novel idea (in the sense that I had never heard of the idea before) he proposes seems to take the idea of a bio-region to a new level. By decreasing the applied scale and also tying it into the legislative process. Appelbaum suggests that the city “should rezone the city into “eco-districts,” areas that share topography, microclimates, soil and species rather than census data. Such local attention is critical to steps like switching to renewable energy — after all, relying on tidal power makes more sense on eastern Staten Island than in central Brooklyn, where wind power might be a better option.


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