Preservation and Growth Are Not Incompatible

January 3, 2024

Editorial Board
The New York Times /

Re: Letter to the Editor Concerning Binyamin Appelbaum’s “I Want a City, Not a Museum”

Dear Editor:

Binyamin Appelbaum’s “I Want a City, Not a Museum” suggests several compelling strategies for producing more housing, while possibly lowering housing costs in New York. However, he raises a false dichotomy between urban planning focused on people versus urban planning focused on preservation and the built environment. Both are mutually dependent for the city’s well-being.

People benefit psychologically from stable environments that are not subject to constant demolitions and rebuildings, include a balance of human scale neighborhoods and large-scale structures, and maintain ties to past generations and historical events. People benefit physically from environments that provide a reasonable amount of sunlight each day, prevent wind-tunnels caused by excessive high-rise construction, and avert massive overcrowding.

To thrive cities must grow and change to meet modern conditions but also must respect and preserve our historic buildings and neighborhoods, which are much loved by both New Yorkers and visitors. Destroying historic places such as the Lower East Side in the hope – with no guarantee – that housing will become more affordable is to discard some of our city’s most important and cherished resources. A balance between smart growth and historic preservation is the key to a healthy, prosperous and diverse city.


Richard Moses, President