Like all great cities, New York City has evolved from port city to mercantile hub to industrial center to financial capital and, finally, to global city. These transformations were driven by economic transitions, migration both internationally and nationally, social and cultural upheaval, and technological innovation. At times, transformations were chaotic and turbulent, causing social unrest and conflict; other times, they resulted from political stability and public engagement. With forecasts predicting more than three million additional people living in New York in the next 25 years, and a million new jobs needed, the City faces questions of how and where it will grow, and what this will mean for New Yorkers.
Throughout history, three constants have formed the City’s foundation: the environment (delivering clean drinking water to a rapidly growing population), transportation, and housing. It has been these three pillars on which the City has grown into a global center, changing, transforming, and driving a new vision for a city not yet realized.
Today, the City faces a moment that will define its future. Worldwide economic forces, questions of equity, and climate change will drive and transform New York. Southwest Brooklyn presents a framework for a civic discussion on how the City might balance these challenges by asking: What kind of city do people want to live in? At its foundation the three pillars; the environment, now defined as climate change and sea level rise; the transportation required to create and maintain neighborhoods; and a housing market that can accommodate the people needed to live and work in the new economy. This document looks at these issues through the guiding principles of growth, equity, resiliency and sustainability. The future of the City must stem from constant conversation with the City as a whole. Southwest Brooklyn might be where that conversation begins.