Forty percent of the buildings in Manhattan could not be built today based on New York City's current zoning code because they are either too tall or have too many apartments or business, according to an article in the New York Times by Quoctrung Bui, Matt A.V. Chaban, and Jeremy White. Much of the city now defies current zoning rules, with roughly two out of five buildings, or 17,000 of 43,000, not conforming to some part of the law.

Many buildings in distinctive Manhattan neighborhoods like Chinatown, the Upper East Side and Washington Heights could not be erected now: Properties in those areas tend to cover too much of their lots (Washington Heights), have too much commercial space (Chinatown) or rise too high (the Upper East Side). Areas like Chelsea, Midtown and East Harlem, on the other hand, would look much as they do already.

“Look at the beautiful New York City neighborhoods we could never build again,” said Stephen Smith of Quantierra, a real estate firm that ran compiled the data. “It’s ridiculous that we have these hundred-year-old buildings that everyone loves, and none of them ‘should’ be the way they are.”

Will our new New York be shorter and less dense as the city's zoning law enters it's second century?

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