Neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and the Bowery are remarkably low-rise until they suddenly run into the wall that is Midtown Manhattan. The new pencil towers under construction may look out of place, but at least they don’t block the views of nature to the north.
There’s no better place to see the abrupt transition from the semi-“undeveloped” to the densely urban than the edge of Central Park. Trees give way directly to the new generation of “needle buildings,” these spiky skyscrapers that have attracted: (1) big money from Russian kleptocrats and (2) complaints from fans of New York’s traditional architecture. I might be sold on the futuristic spires for their sci-fi appeal.