Differing perspectives on housing density have shaped and reshaped New York City for centuries. In a new exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum, Housing Density: From Tenements to Towersthese different perspectives are explored through three-dimensional diagrams, graphs, building plans, photographs and other documents, which provide a comprehensive view of the contested concept which continues to play a major role in shaping the city. If you are an Untapped Cities Insiders, you can join us for an inside look at this new exhibit led by the museum’s gallery manager Josh Vogel on July 29th. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to gain access to free behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year long!

Population density, built density, crowding, people per acre. An understanding of density and the terms associated with it is the first step to meaningful dialogue about the future of the city, and this new exhibit will give visitors that understanding. The documents, diagrams and artifacts on display throughout the gallery examine two differing types of New York City housing, privately-developed and publicly-assisted. Through the lens of density, the exhibition traces the evolution of housing trends from the low sprawling tenements of the 19th century to the high rise towers of the 20th century.

Photograph by Michael Young Courtesy of the Skyscraper Museum

There are many macro and micro factors that influence density and these are illustrated through a series of three-dimensional models in the exhibition. Starting out wide, two large models of Chelsea and East Harlem show the differences between building types and site-planning strategies. Focusing in on specific projects like Penn South and Queensbridge, models of buildings show how architectural choices affect density. From a neighborhood wide plan to the layout of a single apartment unit,Tenements to Towers, breaks down the complexity of density, showing how it has been handled in the past, and begs the question of how it will be dealt with in the future as New York City’s population continues to grow.

Photograph by Michael Young Courtesy of the Skyscraper Museum

Throughout the run of the exhibition the museum will host an accompanying lecture series featuring authors, historians, architects, professors, researchers and urban planners who will tackle various specific aspects of the housing density discussion. You can watch past lectures on the museum’s website here!

Photograph by Michael Young, Courtesy of the Skyscraper Museum

Registration for our Untapped Cities Insider visit to the museum on July 29th opens today, Monday, July 15th at 12PM. Book your spot to get an in-depth look at the exhibit with the Skyscraper Museum’s gallery manager Josh Vogel at this free members-only event!

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Already a member? Book here!

See our full list of Untapped Cities Insiders Tours and our upcoming Public Tours.