Breathless Reporting

by Don Friedman on March 14, 2018

A weakness of mine is expecting reporting about buildings and related issues to make sense. It seems like it should, in that physical objects are easier to describe than ideas, but that distinction is an over-simplification. There’s no way to discuss buildings without discussing intangible concepts, and that’s where inaccuracies are likely to arise.

This feature in National Geographic suffers from a bad title: “The New New York Skyline.” About 95 percent of the skyline consists of buildings built before the ones they’re talking about. More importantly, the descriptions of the new buildings range from bad to idiotic:

  • 50 West Street “will have a curved glass facade and floor to ceiling windows.” How original. It’s great that no one has thought of such a thing at any point in, say, the last 70 years.
  • 125 Greenwich Street will help “transform the Financial District into a neighborhood.” Putting aside the problem in definition (commercial areas are neighborhoods, too), people have been moving to the Financial District since the 1970s. I doubt that the 273 apartments in this building are going to make a noticeable demographic change in the 60,000+ population here.
  • 3 World Trade Center is absolutely not on the site of the old WTC Marriott Hotel. The site of the hotel is part of the memorial plaza; 3 WTC is on the site of the old entrance to the old plaza in between the old 4 and 5 WTC. The Marriott was the old 3 WTC, which is almost certainly where the error came from, but I find that kind of mistake, which could be fact-checked by simply looking up new and old plans of the WTC site, unforgivable.
  • 111 Murray Street is only the tallest residential building in Tribeca if you ignore the fact that it’s not in Tribeca, because it’s south of Chambers Street.

That’s four glaring errors out of the first ten buildings in the piece, starting at the southern tip of Manhattan. I’m sure there are many more but I gave up on reading. I really hope this is not indicative of the quality of NatGeo these days.

Previous post:

Next post: