You may not realize it, but Midtown Manhattan is full of public spaces. Every plaza and arcade you see in front of a towering office building? That belongs to you. Sort of.
In 1961, New York City made a deal with skyscraper developers that ushered in an era of sheer-walled buildings. The city agreed to relax a 1916 requirement that buildings of a certain height needed to employ staggered vertical growth (inset) to let light and air into the streets.