New York City has a long and rich history of growth and development, with its population increasing from 60,000 in 1800 to 3.4 million by 1900. During this period, the built-up area expanded from lower Manhattan to the entire island. The city was a pioneer in the development of urban planning in the United States, enacting the country's first comprehensive zoning resolution in 1916. Walt Whitman famously described the city as having the spirit of “tear down and rebuild”, which has become a New York tradition. In 1928, a committee proposed the formation of an Urban Planning Commission with authority over the physical development of the city.
Soon after the turn of the century, two advocates of municipal reform, George McAneny and Edward M. Walker appointed a Planning and Survey Committee to study planning in New York and draft a bill that would create a planning agency. In 1921, the New York Port Authority (PA) was established to address regional transportation issues, and it quickly began a series of massive construction projects that still serve the city today. Recently, Flexner and chef Jay Reifel hosted a meal at the James Beard House that told the story of urban development in New York City in the 19th century through the way its residents ate out.
A comparative analysis reveals that there are more similarities than differences between London and New York City when it comes to sustainability objectives. However, approaches to achieving sustainability goals are different in London and in New York City due to differences in geography, local cultures, and diverse environmental policies. Nowadays, developments with towers in the park, away from city streets, are often seen as isolating and contrary to the goal of creating a vibrant urban landscape. In a city that embraces change as its core tradition, New York's changing population base remains its most dramatic story.