Making the most of urban density: a visit to NYC

Guest blogger Matthew Kahn remembers what 'real' snow is, talks on 'livable cities,' and visits with family.

Peter Morgan / Reuters / File
Lights from the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan skyline are reflected in the East River in this file photo. Guest blogger Matthew Kahn shares thoughts about the city as it is today.

As you know, I lived in Manhattan from 1968 until 1973 and from 1993-1996 and 1998-2000. My parents live in Manhattan and I am back in my old city. I must admit that I have a better sun tan than most folks on the icy NYC streets. I had forgotten what "real" snow accumulation looks like. I had forgot what icy streets are like. It is a bright sunny day in Manhattan today and it reminded me of many good past days.

Today, I gave a speech at NYU about "Livable Cities". Here is an early draft of my slides. I'm grateful to Professor Mitchell Moss for inviting me. Afterwards, my new friends at Treehugger shot a short video interview that I hope will be posted soon. I met a number of interesting people and it was a very nice event. My parents attended and I got a big kick out of that.

After the event, I went to lunch with my co-author Sam Dastrup. Here is a slightly out of date version of our solar capitalization paper. We use unique data to measure how much higher are San Diego home prices when the home has solar panels.

For security reasons, it is impossible to get into any of NYU's buildings without an ID card. I don't have such a card so after spending some time in Washington Square --- I jumped on the express subway at Union Square to return uptown. On the Express Train, two guys almost got into a fist fight as these two strangers were screaming at each other. It was a pleasant reminder of the costs of density.

But, on the benefits side --- as I walked around the Village --- I saw a happy, vibrant city. Relative to my Los Angeles it is a different planet, but it was good to experience it again.

Tonight, I'm having dinner with my parents and my brother. By my calculations, this will be our first "Kahn Dinner" (with no wives or girlfriends) that the 4 of us have had since 1984. Its been a few years.

Tomorrow, I will see old friends from the Scarsdale Class of 1984. As you can see, I'm making the most of urban density!

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