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New York City's 1961 zoning ordinance granted property owners specified floor area bonuses for creating publicly accessible street-floor plazas and arcades. The author traces the origins and evolution of the ordinance and exanlines the over 500 "privately owned public spaces" which it has produced since 1961. The author concludes that a high proportion of these spaces are of only marginal value, due mostly to a lack of clearly articulated design and maintenance standards, and that nearly half of the spaces are out of compliance with the legal requirements regarding design, public accessibility, and maintenance that govern them. Marrying careful legal and historical research with close empirical observation, the book highlights the difficulties inherent in making private actors the agents of public policy.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
6 Sep 2022
986 kB



  • Subject
    • Property Law and Real Estate

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review

  • Volume
    • 28

  • Issue
    • 4

  • Pagination
    • 637

  • Date submitted

    6 September 2022