Close your windows, New Yorkers, because construction crews are tearing up the town.
According to new data from the city’s Department of Buildings, property owners and building representatives obtained 2,030 demolition permits throughout the five boroughs last year, the highest number since 2008, when the financial crisis sent the construction industry into a tailspin.
The data shows that the number of demolition permits issued citywide has risen every year in this decade, with 2017’s figure more than double what it was in 2010. In other words, if you’ve walked through the city lately and felt overwhelmed by all the old buildings being bulldozed, you’re not imagining things.
All boroughs are not created equal, however: Last year, the largest year-over-year increases were in Staten Island and the Bronx, where the city issued 334 and 174 demolition permits respectively. Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens all saw slight declines between 2016 and 2017.
Brooklyn, not surprisingly, saw the highest number of demo permits both years, with 732 in 2016 and 690 in 2017. A DOB spokesman told me via email that the record for demolition permits in a single year was 2006, when 3,653 were issued.
Sadly, despite the best efforts of preservationists, buildings swept up in the demolition craze are often historically significant, or at least pretty to look at. Last year, I wrote about how the former site of Manny’s Music store—a favorite haunt of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and generations of musicians—was quietly approved for demolition after being vacant for a number of years.
Alas, I guess that’s progress.