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An Interactive Journey Through New York's Roofscape Makeover

Most visitors to New York City crane their necks for a view of the city's famous skyline, but locals know better: to get the best views, you have to go up. Here's your chance to take a rare - and vivid - journey atop a few of the city's billion square feet of rooftops.

As the Big Apple faces ever-hotter summers, officials are looking for ways to cool off in some of the only unused space left in a crowded city: rooftops.

Fertile vegetated green roofs absorb the sun's rays, while reflective roofs bounce them back to space. Both are sprouting up in response to a 2008 city rule that requires new roofs to be climate-friendly. Meanwhile, the city is working with the Obama administration to overhaul its hulking construction bureaucracy, making it easier for solar panel installers to turn rooftops into the city's fastest-growing energy provider.

Climate Desk strapped on hardhats, jumped into elevators, and scaled ladders to see first-hand how the roofscape of New York is adapting to face a changing climate.

The Climate Desk is a journalistic collaboration between The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Slate, and others, dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. Learn more at theclimatedesk.org.

Keywords: New York, Change, Climate

Tim McDonnell is a senior fellow on the Climate Desk, where he covers national energy policy and helps produce multimedia content. Previously, Tim was a researcher at Mother Jones. All posts »

James West is Climate Desk’s editor and producer. He’s the author of Beijing Blur, an intimate yet far-reaching account of modernizing China’s underground youth scene. All posts »

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