New York City’s Landmarks Are Sinking Faster Than Rest of the City, NASA Reports

by Mallika Khurana
New York City’s Landmarks Are Sinking Faster Than Rest of the City, NASA Reports

New York City, the iconic concrete jungle that never sleeps, is facing a silent and gradual crisis beneath its bustling streets and towering skyscrapers. While the city’s skyline continues to evolve, a different story unfolds beneath the surface. In a recent NASA report, alarming findings reveal that New York City is sinking. Some of its famous landmarks are reportedly descending at an accelerated pace.

Rising Sea Levels Exacerbate New York City’s Sinking Crisis

Photo Credits: Canva

As per the reports from NDTV, the city’s overall subsidence rate, averaging 1.6 millimetres annually, is further compounded by the increasing threat of rising sea levels. The NASA report identifies several prominent hotspots sinking faster than the city’s average rate, posing significant challenges for the metropolis. Notable locations affected include LaGuardia Airport, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Coney Island, and more. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Rutgers University conducted the research, revealing that the city’s five boroughs are sinking at varying rates.

One striking revelation is that from 2016 to 2023, Arthur Ashe Stadium, the famed venue of the US Open, and the runways at LaGuardia Airport have experienced some of the most significant sinkings, with rates of 3.7 and 4.6 millimetres per year, respectively. Notably, both of these locations were constructed over former landfills, potentially contributing to their accelerated subsidence.

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Rising Seas and Landfill History Accelerate The Sinking

Photo Credits: Canva

The city’s sinking crisis is exacerbated by the growing threat of sea-level rise. It has also led to coastal flooding and other issues, as exemplified by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Protecting coastal populations and assets from coastal flooding is a continuing challenge for New York City, according to the researchers’ report. Sea level rise is continuing, which is progressively worsening the combined impact of natural sea level variations and destructive storms.

The report also highlights Interstate 78 as sinking at nearly double the rate of the rest of the city. It passes through the Holland Tunnel connecting Manhattan to New Jersey. As per the reports from NDTV, additional areas affected include the southern half of Governors Island, parts of Staten Island, and Arverne by the Sea.

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This report comes after the United States Geological Survey previously revealed that New York City, with its more than 1 million buildings, was sinking due to its immense weight. 

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva