The building replacing the Twin Towers is officially called One World Trade Center, but is colloquially known as Freedom Tower. It is now in the final stages of completion, and EarthCam released a time-lapse video showing its construction over the past seven and a half years. (The cornerstone was laid in 2004, but construction didn’t actually begin until April of 2006.)
New York City’s giant soda ban was supposed to go into effect tomorrow, but a judge today banned the ban, citing both the regulatory overreach of the city’s health board, and the ridiculousness of a ban that has loopholes as big as the sodas of which it tries to rid us. However, this is hardly going to be the last word on the issue — the city promised to appeal — so here are some interesting ways to still get your fix, in case the worst does happen:
A Klein Bottle is a theoretical surface that cannot exist in our three-dimensional universe.
From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Way back over a hundred years ago, in 1903, Times Square was called Longacre Square — until the New York Times commissioned a building at the site and the square was re-named after them. That building is known as One Times Square, and it housed the Times for about a decade, until the newspaper moved to 43rd St. (It’s moved again since, in 2007, and now resides on 8th Ave.) This is a picture of One Times Square being built and if you click on it, you can see a high-resolution version that captures a lot of detail from life in 1903:
One Times Square, 1903
The Times sold the building in 1961, and it eventually became the billboard it is today:
One Times Square, 2012
From Wikipedia, via Shorpy and Neatorama
When the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11, the Empire State Building once again became the tallest skyscraper in New York City, at 1250 feet. When it was completed, in 1931, it was the tallest building in the world, but it lost that honor to the Twin Towers (1368 ft) in 1973, which was surpassed the same year by the Sears (now Willis) Tower in Chicago (1450 ft). In 1998, the Petronas Towers (1483 ft) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia became the tallest, then Taipei 101 in Taiwan (1670 ft) in 2004, and finally the enormous Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which in 2010 shattered all of the records at 2717 ft — more than twice the height of the Empire State Building.
Burj Khalifa on the right, compared to other tall structures
In 2013, the venerable art deco building lost the reigns as the tallest one in New York to One World Trade Center, a.k.a. Freedom Tower, which surpassed Willis Tower to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, with a patriotic 1776 ft. It is also the third tallest building in the world, after the Burj Khalifa and The Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower (1972 ft) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Besides Freedom Tower, a few more skyscrapers are in various stages of completion, and they will also surpass the Empire State Building’s 1250 ft:
- 1398 ft: 432 Park Avenue, at 56th St, scheduled for 2016; on the site of the former Drake Hotel (yes, like the one in 666 Park Avenue), its roof will actually be higher than One World Trade Center’s (though not its tip)
- 1350 ft: Two World Trade Center, scheduled for 2015
- 1337 ft: Hudson Place North Tower, scheduled for 2017
That last one is part of the new Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, taking place on a six-block former railroad site on the West side of Manhattan. The site covers 26 acres and ranges from 30th to 33rd Street and from 10th to 12th Avenue. It will be called Hudson Place, will contain 16 buildings, and is the largest private development effort in the world, since the 22 acre, 14 building Rockefeller Center was completed in 1939. Mayor Bloomberg broke ground on the construction site on December 4th, 2012. It was previously the largest single undeveloped piece of land in Manhattan.
Filmmaker Casey Neistat made an interesting video explaining New York City’s proposed ban on sodas over 16 oz. At first glance, sodas at most fast food restaurants will be banned since, with some exceptions, most small sodas are somehow still over that size. The large ones are sometimes four times over the allowed size. But, the ban has a few caveats:
- It only applies to restaurants that the city regulates. Fountain drinks at stores like 7-Eleven are not covered by the ban. Or you can buy a two-liter of Coke at Duane Reade and put a straw in it.
- It only applies to sugar added by the vendor: you can still pour all the sugar you want into an unsweetened iced tea, coffee, or whatever.
- It doesn’t apply to beverages containing more than 50% milk, so sugary lattes of any size are still fair game.
- And of course, you can always buy three 16oz sodas and drink them one after the other, or even all at once.
So in effect, the only thing the ban does is to make it slightly harder for people to buy a lot of soda. What’s the point of it then? According to Mayor Bloomberg, it’s to educate people. Which begs the question of why laws are being used to educate people, rather than maybe a public health campaign. It’s kind of like banning unprotected sex to educate people about social diseases. Unfortunately, even though traditional means of public education have been proven to work quite well, more and more we see politicians passing morality laws in an effort to be our mom: they don’t just tell you that your choices are bad for you (not anyone else), but also add a penalty or ban, because the nanny state can’t trust you to make your own decisions about your own life.
From YouTube, via Laughing Squid
Somehow, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg got it into his head that the people of New York elected him to be their nanny — and maybe they have, since he’s been re-elected twice, and once since he banned smoking in some public places like parks, as well as banning trans fats in restaurants. Riding that wave, after a failed attempt to institute a state-wide soda tax, his latest idea is to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16oz in restaurants in the city. This largely applies to sodas, but also to sweetened juices and coffee drinks. It does not apply to diet drinks, even though those don’t seem to be good for us either. And while it’s quickly becoming clear that sugar, in the quantities we consume it, is toxic, it’s not clear at all if taking away freedom by instituting sales bans is an effective way of limiting consumption — even if it were the right thing to do.
Mayor Bloomberg with sodas and the equivalent amount of sugar cubes in them. Photo by The New York Times.
A few months ago, a group of scientists proposed treating sugar like alcohol, and this measure would certainly be a nod in that direction, but limiting the sale of alcohol has certainly not slowed down its consumption, and the same goes for cigarettes and illegal drugs. The only thing that has ever worked is education: most people like doing what’s good for them, but many don’t like being forced to make choices, good or bad. And as members of a free society, we should be able to make all the bad choices we want, as long as they don’t harm others.
Update, 1 June 2012: Jon Stewart had a funny reaction to the news that the ban would “combine the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect”:
From The New York Times, via NPR
It’s not every day you see a guy stopping a fight by bumbling about and eating slowly. Be like Snackman.
From YouTube, via NPR
Ever wonder what all the people around you are listening to on their iPods? Someone in New York did, and asked them.
Via Laughing Squid