A letter from New York

    Spotlight 11/2023
    Straßenszene in New York
    © Polina Kuzovkova / Unsplash.com

    Dear Spotlight readers

    Every child in New York knows it: The lords of New York City are the landlordVermieter​landlords – the big real estate entrepreneur (N. Am.)Immobilieninvestor(in)​real estate entrepreneurs. But because more people work from home now, on most days, half the offices that used to be filled with workers are empty. As a result, the value of office towers is falling. New York Magazine has called it an “office apocalypse.” Now, New Yorkers are getting the worrying news that their skyscrapers are sinking. A study published by the science magazine Earth’s Future concludes that the city is sinking up to four millimeters a year. Although the downward trend started after the Ice Age and the retreatRückgang, Rückzug​retreat of the glacierGletscher​glaciers, according to the research, we’ve significantly exacerbate sth.etw. verschlimmern​exacerbated it.

    Scientists have calculated that the nearly 1.1 million buildings in the city together weigh 842 million tons. CNN has calculated that that’s equivalent to the weight of 1.9 million fully loaded Boeing 747s. Another factor is the subsoilUnterboden​subsoil. The already unloved fifth district, Staten Island, seems to be sinking even faster than the rest. The researchers’ conclusion is that, because of the combination of sea levelMeeresspiegel​sea-level rise and coastal subsidenceAbsinken der Küste​coastal subsidence, NYC will be increasingly hit by storm surgeSturmflut​storm surges in the coming decades – until it is permanently flooded.

    However, New Yorkers have proven over and over how resilientrobust, unverwüstlich​resilient they are. So, we could take the example of Venice, which, by the way, is sinking at a comparable rate. Maybe build a bridge of sighsSeufzerbrücke​bridge of sighs over Fifth Avenue, which by then would be a canal. And instead of yellow cabs, there would be yellow speedboats. It’s up to you, New York, New York!


    Heike Buchter,
    correspondent in the New York office of DIE ZEIT

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