been staring for far too long at the map on the left, which can be seen in much
bigger format here.
It’s a map of the tax assessment value of the land in Manhattan, with the darker
areas being worth more dollars per square foot of dirt. Apparently Central Park
is assessed at $1.9 billion.A few things stand out:
Firstly, it’s a bit weird how, on this small island, the most valuable property
seems in general to be the property furthest away from the water. If you look
at Manhattan below 59th Street, there’s a clear strip of dark blue running down
the middle of the island, with values getting lower the further away from it
you get. Now, of course, since this is a map of values per square foot of lot
size, there’s going to be an extremely strong correlation between darkness of
blue and height of building. That’s why 3 World Financial Center and 4 World
Financial Center are darker than 1 World Financial Center and 2 World Financial
Center. But it’s certainly worth noting that most of the value of Manhattan
lies along a relatively narrow central strip.
It’s also fascinating to compare the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side.
The UWS is still very much the inferior side of the park, it would seem, and
especially Central Park West can’t dream of comparing itself to Fifth Avenue
or Central Park South. Plus, on the UES, the highest values seem to stretch
all the way over to 3rd Avenue, which is four blocks from Central Park. On the
UWS, virtually nothing has that kind of valuation.
That said, the UWS keeps its value much further north than the UES does. You
can see a very hard demarcation line on the UES at 96th Street, above which
you’re pretty much plunged directly into Harlem. Only 5th Avenue itself, it
would seem, has any real value on the UES north of there. On the UWS, by contrast,
the drop in values is much more genteel.
In terms of the practical meaning of this map, I wonder if it means that those
of us who live in the East Village, the Lower East Side and in Harlem should
be worried about an increase in the assessed value of our apartments. And, indeed,
if all of downtown between Chambers and 14th Street – definitely a more
expensive area, in terms of market value, than the Upper East Side – shouldn’t
share that fear. My East Village apartment has an assessed value of $33,689,
which is based on a "market value" of $80,848. I’m not sure how either
of these numbers are arrived at, but I fear what might happen to my property
taxes if either of them started being adjusted for reality.