Rutgers Team Completes Herculean Effort – Documenting Housing in Manhattan from 1870-2017.

The Land Economics Foundation (LEF) is a not-for-profit charitable foundation organized to administer an investment fund providing grants to advance the application of land economics to the mutual goals of Lambda Alpha International (LAI) and the Foundation:

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A team of professors and graduate students at Rutgers University – Newark gathered residential permit and residential building sales for a nearly a 150 year epoch – an unprecedented effort supported in part by a research grant from the Land Economics Foundation (LEF). In doing so they have discovered supply and pricing trends that will enable an increased understanding of housing affordability in major cities.

In particular they have documented the impact of expanding zoning regulations and rising materials contributing to an increasing lack of affordable housing in major metro areas. The team analyzed 60,000 real estate transactions per census period and assembled a data base of nearly all new housing building permits issues in Manhattan from 1870-2017.

The multi-year effort was led by our upcoming webinar speaker Professor Jason Barr. Student teams utilized not only municipal records, but troves of data from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture library and multiple other collections to assemble this amazing body of work. Please enjoy this KEYNOTES article and join us for the upcoming LEF webinar on March 19th – to hear about this remarkable “land economics” achievement directly from Professor Barr as he discusses what the findings mean for providing a sufficient supply of housing- especially affordable units – for our metro areas.

Dr. Barr is a Professor at Rutgers University, Newark in the Department of Economics, and an affiliated faculty member with the Global Urban Systems Ph.D. program. His research interests include urban economics, and agent-based computational economics. Dr. Barr serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, the Eastern Economic Journal, and the Journal of Economic Interaction and Coordination. He is the author of Building the Skyline: The Birth and Growth of Manhattan’s Skyscrapers (Oxford U. Press, 2016). He writes the Skynomics Blog, a blog about skyscrapers, cities, and economics.


Wei You, PhD
Co Author
Shaojie Wang
Research Assistant
Ujjaini Desiraz
Helped collect and process data.



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