February 29, 2012

Skyscraper History

I've been talking about the history of Columbus lately and specifically how Columbus has developed downtown. In the past I've focused on historic aerials and the current situation of parking lots in the downtown area. The question I'm trying to answer is what is the cause of the deluge of parking lots downtown: freeways, cars,  skyscrapers, or something else? I am using the site Historic Aerials which has aerials from 1957, 1971, 2004, and 2006.

I am still hard at work on some maps, but for now I have a table based on skyscraper construction information which I found on Wikipedia

Rank
Name
Height
Floors
Year
ft / m
20
267 / 81
20
2007
16
314 / 96
26
2001
17
302 / 92
25
1998
7
464 / 141
27
1991
3
530 / 162
33
1990
10
408 / 124
27
1989
5
503 / 153
32
1988
11
366 / 112
26
1987
4
512 / 156
37
1984
13
350 / 107
26
1984
8
456 / 139
31
1983
23
256 / 78
20
1980
15
317 / 97
25
1977
6
485 / 148
40
1976
9
438 / 134
34
1974
26
226 / 69
17
1974
1
629 / 192
41
1973
14
348 / 106
26
1973
18
286 / 87
21
1973
19
280 / 85
21
1970
21=
260 / 79
26
1967
21=
260 / 79
26
1967
12
357 / 109
25
1964
24
253 / 77
20
1963
25
243 / 74
16
1961
29
200 / 57.9
14
1933
2
555 / 169
47
1927
28
202 / 59.4
13
1926
27
212 / 64.6
17
1906
30
180 / 64.4
13
1900

The first interesting point is that the Depression and World War II stopped skyscrapers from being built between 1933 and 1961. The second interesting point is that the 3 decades following 1961 was a period of time when skyscrapers were going up like gangbusters, especially in the '70s and '80s. Just FYI, I-70/71 was constructed in the '60s more or less.

Since I only have the aerials of 1957, 1971, 2004, and 2006, and the Columbus inner-belt was completed by 1971, I am going to mainly focus on the period between 1957 and 1971. During this time, only 4 skyscrapers were completed downtown and they were mainly located around 3rd Street and Broad:

Downtown Skyscrapers added in the '60s
With only 4 skyscrapers being built between 1957 and 1971, I think it will be interesting to look how the parking lots changed between 1957 and 1971 - and I will do that in a future post.

Cool dude-in-a-human-sized-hamster-wheel-for-whatever-reason link of the day:

2 comments:

  1. The perfect statistical tool for this would be a differences of differences estimate.
    Try to get data for freeways, number of cars, and skyscrapers for those years and run a regression on sq ft of parking lots.
    A lot of literature reviewing has shown that the American problem isn't the lack of public transportation or alternative transportation options, but simply the low cost of land and petrol simply makes driving a car cheaper than these options. Taking COTA is probably more expensive than taking a car if you consider implicit costs time and the high variance of bus routes and bus stop timing.

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    Replies
    1. I like the idea but I was going more for qualitative than quantitative explanations. It'd be nice to do more with numbers but I doubt that any traffic counts exist and while it's possible to use 1960/1970 census data for vehicles per house hold, I don't feel like feel like it's a good stand in for actual counts.

      I would add that land use and other regulatory aspects could have decreased sprawl, but that's a whole different topic.

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