Featured by APS Physics. 

Conference rooms aren’t usually the main attraction at a meeting, but the ceiling-high windows on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center offer one of the most spectacular views of downtown Manhattan that I’ve seen. It was the perfect backdrop for a panel discussion at the Gotham-Metro Condensed Matter Physics meeting held here in mid-November: the face of science in New York is changing, and graduate students and postdocs, most of them doing basic research, wanted to know about it.

In the past year, New York City has contributed seed money, land, and space to Cornell and New York University to build research centers where students can learn to work on problems with direct impact on urban life. These academic powerhouses hope to attract scientists, engineers, and computer geniuses, as well as the next generation of tech savvy companies, to New York, putting the city on the US technology map along with Boston and Silicon Valley.

Press reports have focused on how the campuses will amp up New York neighborhoods: the 2 million square foot Cornell campus, called NYCTech, will be built on Roosevelt Island, a mostly residential area connected by a single road to the borough of Queens, while the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) will eventually be housed in a former transit authority building in a booming part of downtown Brooklyn.