City Greenery 都市の緑


These photos were taken last weekend when we were invited to a roof terrace on a high-rise in Manhattan. You can see a lot of roofs that are utilized as terraces in Manhattan when you use the Google satellite view but pedestrians cannot find these roof terraces they are so high up. They are privately owned or they are shared roof space for the building dwellers. Even so this amazing roof top environment is quit rare. Luckily at one time there was a zoning requirement that buildings step back to allow light down to the street level, and many exterior roof areas were created. That is not the case today, but on the older buildings you can see the overflowing greenery.




Do so many roof gardens mean that New Yorker’s love plant life and nature so much?  Central Park and the many planted public squares are not enough? Moreover, New York also has many green courts and back gardens in the rear of the buildings. Actually they are invisible from streets and the hidden courts quite often have surprisingly large trees living there.


green belt on the left hand is a street, right hand is rear part of lots. the zoning code generates this clear continuous rear garden applied the same way to every building.左側の緑のベルトは通りの街路樹。右側は住宅の裏庭。建物を境界線から一定距離して建てる法規なので、各戸の裏庭が寄り集まって、意図せずに大きなベルトになる。

The green belt on the top is the street, on the bottom is the rear portion of the lots. The zoning code generates this continuous rear garden for every building. 上側の緑のベルトは通りの街路樹。下側は住宅の裏庭。建物を境界線から一定距離して建てる法規なので、各戸の裏庭が寄り集まって、意図せずに大きなベルトになる。


The space beyond the property line is visible from the street as this is a cemetery. 建物の代わりに墓地になっているので、ここでも隣との境界の付近の空間がよく見える。

Quite often the small streets in Manhattan are covered with a canopy of large trees, which almost form a tunnel. People living on the streets seem to love this atmosphere, none asks to trim them. After the Sandy storm a lot of trees were torn down and blocked the street, but not a single tree was thinned to reduce the future damage from falling trees and branches. They seem to understand it is common sense that humans need an environment with trees and plants to make the city more livable and desirable to inhabit. In Tokyo they know that greenery can create a better atmosphere but they do not often use their roof spaces or plant large trees on the street. Why? Is it because the people of New York have a fantasy or nostalgia for the European landscape that does not exist in Tokyo?




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