8. Zuccotti Park Was Originally Built in Exchange for a Height Increase a Building
Image from New York Public Library
The first skyscrapers in New York were met with awe and excitement, but as they began to increase in height and volume, many people began to fear that the city’s avenues and streets would become dark, barren valleys, suffused in shadow from the hulking towers above. In 1961, New York City’s Planning Commission adopted a zoning law that controlled the density of development, and also encouraged builders to implement public spaces like parks and gardens in order to break up the darkness and industrial gloom created by the abundance of skyscrapers.
In 1964, the United States Steel purchased the former Singer Building as well as the nearby City Investing Building and demolished both, intending to build a massive skyscraper which would be nine stories higher than zoning laws permitted. The company was eventually successful in their endeavors, on the condition that they would construct a park next to their new building. Zuccotti Park, then called Liberty Plaza Park, was constructed at the base of the former Singer Building in 1968. In 1973, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s fifty-four story United States Steel tower—and the park—opened for business.