The 800 Club: What It Means To Live In the Sky

A city on an island teeming with cash and ego has nowhere to go but up…….and up……and up. Manhattan builds up because it has nowhere else to go — it can’t build out and it can’t stand still. Starting around 1890 — when the New York World Building crested above the 284-foot spire of Trinity Church — New York’s skyline is a series of continual skyward propulsion, each overshadowing the last. Today, the city has 21 buildings with roof heights above 800 feet, and seven of them have been completed in the past 15 years. It totals about 34 million square feet in all, encompassing lavish living spaces, vertigo-inducing work environments, and elite gathering places. If you want to know who lives above 800 feet in New York, a clue is that 57th Street is now dubbed “Billionaire’s Row.” It takes money to live in the sky, and sky-high residents have plenty of it. To give you an idea, the top two floors of One57 sold to Michael Dell — founder and CEO of Dell Technologies — for $100.47 million, setting a record for the most expensive apartment ever sold in New York City. While most residents hide their identity, sorting out who lives above 800 feet in Trump World Tower is somewhat easy, thanks to tabloids. For example, Beyoncé and Jay-Z used to live up there, paying a reported $65,000 per month. Former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter lived there, too, but sold his 5,500-square-foot apartment on the 89th floor for $15.5 million in 2012. Nowadays, tenants include the widow of a Delta Air Lines pilot who made a fortune in the stock market, a human rights advocate from South Africa who specializes in health care projects, the chairman of Assist America (a global medical-emergency service), and a mysterious Asian businessman who purchased the three remaining apartments all at once, paying cash. Even though only the elite live above 800 feet in New York City, it’s not without its drawbacks. Humans are sensitive creatures and at 850 to 1,250 feet, the air is much thinner up there and lungs have to work a bit harder to smuggle oxygen into the bloodstream. Finally, those who live in the sky have every day to remember that they’re unlikely to survive a fall from such a ridiculous height.