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Crane Collapses Amid Building Boom in NY?

By       Message Douglas C. Smyth     Permalink
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Who knew! In the midst of the "sub-prime melt-down" and the ensuing credit crunch that has even threatened to take down the Carlyle Group, New York City is in the midst of a housing boom!

 

Patricia Lancaster, FAIA, Commissioner of the NYC Buildings Department said, “Construction of new housing in New York City continues at a pace not seen in decades. With new enforcement tools and proactive inspections, we will ensure the safe construction of new housing units in the years to come as this trend continues.”

 

And then the crane fell in Manhattan (50th and 2nd), killing at least four, injuring at least 10, demolishing a brownstone, damaging five other buildings, crushing cars. So much for "new enforcement tools and proactive inspections:" the crane was inspected just the day before.

 

Let me get this straight. Construction has slowed nationally, the whole world economy might be affected by the squeeze on credit, but in New York City they're building houses faster than they ever have.

 

What's wrong with this picture?

 

How about an imbalance in the economy, where disproportionate wealth is being cornered (not necessarily created) in the US financial capital? How about the falling dollar? Apparently that's not hurting some parts of the city, either. Europeans and Asians flush with cheap dollars, or sought-after Euros, are flocking to New York's shopping streets. The city department of housing preservation and development projects an increase of a million people coming to live in the city. Since there has been a housing shortage for decades, the housing boom, building more units than incoming people so far, is still making up the short-fall.

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That's why there are so many building cranes visible in New York. People may look at these huge machines with a bit more respect now: any one of them could smash a good part of a city block.

 

Or do things like this not happen? A construction worker claimed the collapse was a "freak" accident, caused by a falling piece of steel shearing off a support to the crane, but a quick google of crane collapses shows that there have been other crane collapses in New York (in Queens), Belleview, Washington, Boston, Battersea and Liverpool in England, Russia, San Francisco and maybe other places in just the last two years, so it's a fairly frequent occurrence, while construction cranes have gotten huge.

  

So, those boasted "pro-active" inspections better get a lot more stringent. New York City is even more bureaucratized than NY State, but this demonstrates why more effective regulation is necessary, not less, especially as population densities increase. Wouldn't it be better to slow construction just a bit, if that's what it took to insure that accidents like this don't happen?

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http://www.douglascsmyth-author.com

I am a writer and retired college teacher. I taught college courses in Economics and Political Science (I've a Ph.D) and I've written as a free-lancer for various publications.


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