Bringing Back New Amsterdam

Nov 1 2012 @ 11:22am

Yglesias thinks Dutch ingenuity might be just what NYC needs:

The idea of essentially damning up New York Harbor sounds extreme, but that’s equivalent to what the Dutch did with the Zuiderzee Works and especially the Delta Works projects undertaken after the 1953 flood. Some of the Dutch works are permanent dijks, but others are open sluices that merely shut when storms are coming to block surges. The idea is to in effect shorten your coastline which makes it easier to defend with high walls.

John McQuaid agrees:

Ultimately, I think something like this is exactly what we’ll see in New York and other coastal cities. It sounds fanciful, but New York is simply too big and important not to protect, and a system of surge barriers and other structures is probably the only way to protect it long-term. Which is exactly the thinking behind the Dutch system.

Elsewhere, Emily Badger lists four additional ways NYC could avoid another Sandy like catastrophe, among them – elevated infrastructure:

There are very few buildings in the entire state of New York built at grade at elevations below sea level. But New York City has constructed one massive piece of infrastructure below that threshold: the subway system. As we saw this week, flooding can devastate an underground network of tunnels, train platforms and corridors. So how do you keep more of that water out? For one thing, elevating subway entrances would help. Bangkok, another low-lying city susceptible to rising tides, has built precisely these kinds of subway entrances. They’re raised a meter off the ground and include built-in floodgates. A subway rider in Bangkok must first walk up a stairway from the sidewalk before heading down into the metro.