The Dynamics of Subcenter Formation: Midtown Manhattan, 1861–1906

38 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2016

See all articles by Jason Barr

Jason Barr

Newark College of Arts & Sciences - Department of Economics

Troy Tassier

Fordham University - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2016

Abstract

Midtown Manhattan is the largest business district in the country. Yet only a few miles to the south is another district centered at Wall Street. This paper aims to investigate when and why midtown emerged as a separate business district. We have created a new data set from historical New York City directories that provide the employment location, residence, and job type for several thousand residents in the late‐19th and early‐20th centuries. We supplement this data with additional records from historical business directories. The evidence suggests that early midtown firms appeared there in order to be closer to local residential customers who had been moving north on the island throughout the 19th century. Once several industries appeared in midtown, it triggered a spatial equilibrium readjustment in the 1880s, which then promoted the rise of skyscrapers in midtown around the turn of the 20th century. This process occurred several years before the opening of Grand Central Station in 1913.

Suggested Citation

Barr, Jason and Tassier, Troy, The Dynamics of Subcenter Formation: Midtown Manhattan, 1861–1906 (November 2016). Journal of Regional Science, Vol. 56, Issue 5, pp. 754-791, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2873982 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jors.12288

Jason Barr (Contact Author)

Newark College of Arts & Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

360 ML King Jr. Blvd.
Newark, NJ 07102
United States

Troy Tassier

Fordham University - Department of Economics ( email )

Bronx, NY 10458
United States

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