My love affair with New York began rather blindly. I moved for a short-term television job and stayed for six years. I didn’t consider my life there particularly green, but in retrospect I’m wondering if what I love about the place is instrinsically connected to what makes it such a sustainable city.
New Yorkers live close together. There are over 8 million people on 469 square miles or 43 people per acre (and 111 in Manhattan). That density means residents don’t really need a car. And less than half of New Yorkers own one (and only 77% of Manhattanites). The absence of sprawl means that public transport works. Everyone is near a subway, bus or train stop and so is everywhere you want to go.
New Yorkers predate the Not So Big House movement. The average apartment size is about 1300 square feet– nearly half the national average home size. Smaller spaces mean less space to heat and cool and since most New Yorkers live in apartments their shared walls, ceilings and floors mean that the heat and AC that escapes one unit simply heats or cools the neighbors’ place.
While personal space may be at a premium, New York City has plenty to share. The list of parks here is long (see list: I counted 154). There is a lot of shared space beyond Central Park and the High Line (the former was too far from my apartment and the latter hadn’t opened while I lived there). And there are sporting events to rival any suburb (biking, kayak, trapeze, etc).
In an effort to remember what my life was like in the Big Apple, I put together this video diary beginning with my move here to stay on the couch of my friend SuChin Pak (it was supposed to just be a short trip) to my life in the West Village with my sports-oriented brother Colton to the musings of my Australian roommate Penny and her now husband Nick on why one type of happiness can be easier found in New York.
(* As for the title, I give credit to David Owens’ blog post “More Like Manhattan: Live Smaller. Live Closer. Drive Less.” and his book “Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability”.)
I also did a video on my carfree memories: from cities to suburban condos.