字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント In a city packed with iconic skyscrapers, the Equitable Building, in the heart of New York City's Financial District, might not seem to stand out. But according to legend, this skyscraper was once considered so obscenely large that it led to the first major zoning law in the United States. And because of that law, it was the last skyscraper of its kind. (light contemporary orchestral music) When it was completed in 1915, the Equitable Building was the largest office building in the world, and an engineering marvel. The building had one problem: it was too big. Designed to maximize rentable office space, it was basically a 40-story H-shaped box crammed onto an acre-sized city block. When it was built, New Yorkers were in an uproar over the "evil effect" of its size. Neighbors complained of the enormous shadow that cast nearby buildings and streets into complete darkness. Meanwhile, developers worried that a glut of these huge office buildings would hurt real estate values. At the time, New York had no laws restricting the size or height of office buildings. But as new technology was pushing skyscrapers like the Equitable Building to unprecedented scale, the outcry for regulation reached a breaking point. Then, something happened. Within a year a law was passed that effectively made skyscrapers like the Equitable Building impossible to build again. It was called the 1916 Zoning Resolution, and it was the first comprehensive zoning law in the United States. To be clear, the Equitable Building didn't directly cause the 1916 Zoning Resolution. It was simply the ultimate scapegoat in a debate that had been heating up for years as new technology made skyscrapers bigger and bigger. Instead of enacting a fixed height limit, like other cities had done, the drafters of the resolution developed an ingenious plan based on something called a setback principle. Here's how it worked. Depending on the district, a building's height could not exceed a certain ratio to the width of the street. In a 1 1/2 district, for example, the maximum height was limited to 1 1/2 times the street width. A building could gain extra height, however, if it were set back from the street. In a 1 1/2 district a building could rise another three feet for each foot that it was set back from the street. Furthermore, in any district, 25% of the lot had no height limit at all. Working within these constraints, architects began to creatively conform designs in what became a characteristic style, starting full width at street level and tapering off in steps as it rose in height. And once you're aware of it you start to see it throughout Manhattan. (upbeat contemporary chamber music) And the intended effect of making New York's dense streets seem more open, for the most part actually works. The Zoning Resolution went beyond height limits too. It also set rules for how land could be used in specific areas of the city, such as prohibiting industrial work in residential or business districts. Around the same time, other American cities began to adopt similar zoning plans. Six years later, Congress passed a law based partly on New York City's example as a blueprint for zoning nationwide. By the 1960s, New York had grown significantly, and so the city passed a new resolution modifying the setback principle to accommodate for new building designs. Meanwhile, the Equitable Building, now a historic landmark and undergoing a major renovation, is a monument to a bygone era, one whose excesses led to New York's iconic skyline, which you'll never look at the same way again.