LaGuardia, Arthur Ashe, Coney Island are sinking faster than New York City


As New York City sinks under its own weight, some hotspots are sinking faster than others, including LaGuardia Airport, Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Coney Island, according to a new NASA report.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Rutgers University have identified several key locations within the five boroughs that are sinking faster than the average 1.6 millimeters per year experienced by the rest of New York City.

LaGuardia Coliseum and Arthur Ashe Stadium – home of the US Open – saw the fastest declines from 2016 to 2023, falling at a rate of 3.7 and 4.6 mm per year, respectively. The researchers published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Scientists have warned that although the city’s sinking may appear slow, rising sea levels could be catastrophic during powerful storms like Sandy.

Local rise, large-scale subsidence, and the implications of sea level rise in the New York City metropolitan area.

“Protecting coastal residents and assets from coastal flooding is an ongoing challenge for New York City,” the researchers wrote. “The combined impact of natural sea level changes and destructive storms is increasingly exacerbated by the continuing rise in sea level.”

Along with LaGuardia and Arthur Ashe, the study found that Interstate 78, which runs through the Holland Tunnel connecting Manhattan to New Jersey, was also sinking at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the city.

Cloud and Spider Ride in Coney Island.
Paul Martinka

The same is true for Interstate 440, which connects Staten Island to the Garden State.

Other areas sinking faster include Coney Island, the southern half of Governors Island, Midland and South Beach on Staten Island, and Arverne-by-the-Sea, a coastal neighborhood in southern Queens.

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The research team also noted that the two areas sinking the fastest, LaGuardia and Arthur Ashe, were built on former landfill areas, which could explain their rapid subsidence.

An aerial view shows planes parked at the terminals of LaGuardia Airport in New York.

Brett Bozang, the report’s lead author, said he hopes the data will be used to help city officials develop a plan to combat future flooding in the event of another strong storm like Sandy.

“There is more damage that can be done as sea levels rise and land falls together.” Busanga told the Washington Post. “It kind of adds to the background condition that these storms are working on. There’s more water to go around.”

The study builds on a report released by the US Geological Survey earlier this year, which found that the Big Apple — whose million-plus buildings weigh nearly 1.7 trillion pounds — was slowly collapsing under its own weight.

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