By George Capsis
Max Frankel, like me, is very angry at these 1000-foot asparagus towers with $100 million apartments that are springing up along 57th Street with Central Park as a green lawn before them. Indeed, with land at $1500 per square foot, they are popping up all over the place—and they are Avatar strange. The city I knew is disappearing, forever. It is no longer my city and it does not care. It is telling me and Max, “You can go now.”
Max Frankel is a venerable name, which I have viewed in the Times for nearly 50 years. Additionally, Google tells me that Max asked Gerald Ford to comment on the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and, after Ford said that there was no Soviet domination, he lost the election.
Max was the Editor of the Times editorial page from 1977 until 2000 so it is understandable that his spluttering rage at these visual assaults should take the form of an OP-ED letter in the January 4th issue entitled “Make Them Pay for Park Views.” He offers that the tax should be scaled in accordance with how high up you are and whether you have any obstructions. He calls it a “window tax.” Max confesses that he lives on the upper West Side with an obstructed angle view of a few Central Park trees from his roof deck.
Max also confesses that “four decades ago when I was writing editorials for the Times, a group of us briefly suggested a window tax around Central Park to save the neglected, crime-ridden public green: With bankruptcy beckoning, no one noticed, and we let the idea drop.” (I guess Max was referring to the bankruptcy of the Times.)
He muses that the window tax could pay for “sustaining and enhancing the parks, streets, and waterways—affordable housing and education.” Max goes on a bit too long with his “window tax,” which will never be enacted.
There is that phrase again “affordable housing,” a phrase that we have accepted as one of the liberal dictums. De Blasio’s tale of two cities—the city of $100 million apartments for the “superrich with suspect foreign assets” at one end, and at the other end, 60,000 that will be homeless tonight, half of them children.
I must confess that, as I approach Manhattan in the Jitney sitting behind the driver, I have this terrible view of one of these 1000-foot skinny towers and I find myself saying, “How awful, how monstrous. The skyline of the city is destroyed forever. ” And then I have this vision of a drone loaded with explosives hitting it midway and bringing it down to size.
No, it is no longer my city—and it is telling me to go.