Imagine if New Yorkers could commute by high speed monorail? A monorail, which would have had the capability of whizzing across the country at 150 miles an hour, was proposed on a smaller scale first in New York City. Officials considered building a 200 horsepower monorail line “which would run at forty-five miles an hour, in an outlying borough.” This plan detailed in Popular Science in October 1930 would have completed the patchwork system of subways and elevated railroads that dot the outer boroughs.
Many architects have yearned to leave a lasting mark on New York City. While the lucky few are able to realize their dream, an untold number never get that chance. Some of their plans never saw reality due to red tape or funding issues, while others remained on the drawing board because the city was not ready for their grandiosity. Presented below are 10 ideas for New York City that never left the drawing board.
In July 1927, Popular Science profiled a proposal for a sixteen mile elevated highway that would span the rooftops of a Manhattan avenue. This futuristic plan came from the mind of John K. Hencken, a New York based engineer, and was allegedly “approved by a number of eminent engineers and city planners.” The plan called for a series of uniform twelve-story buildings extending from the Battery Park to Yonkers.
One of our favorite fun facts about the Metropolitan Museum of Art is that it’s still unfinished (and that it grew over time, so you can still see earlier versions inside). Here are tidbits about where to see these incomplete portions today and how they came to be.
A note from Untapped Cities founder, Michelle Young:
9/11 happened on the first day of registration my sophomore year in college. I was sleeping and I remember hearing bounding footsteps in the hallway of our thinly-walled dorms at Harvard and someone saying that the World Trade Center had fallen. It seemed like something out of a crazy dream, so I kept on sleeping. I woke up to instant messages (remember those on AOL?) from New York, where I’m from. Friends at Columbia University had seen the whole thing happen from their skyscraper dorms in Morningside Heights.
Mosaic of 6 entry boards for the Municipal Art Society competition. (Credits: William F Schacht & Cassandra Mcgowen, Richard Haas & Judith DiMaio, Gilbert Gorski, Frank Lupo & Daniel Rowen, Lee Dunnette, Jaime Gonzales-Goldstein & Martin Maurin, George Ranalli, Paul Bentel & Carol Rusche)
Now through January 2015, the Skyscraper Museum is presenting the exhibit Times Square 1984: The Postmodern Moment. The exhibit takes visitors back to the seedy, crime ridden, nostalgic Times Square of the late 1970s early 1980s. In 1984, the Municipal Art Society and the National Endowment for the Arts organized an alternative “ideas competition” for Times Square with a $10,000 prize, in reaction to a critically panned proposal by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. The request for proposals drew more than five hundred entrants and widespread press attention. The New York Times recently highlighted this new exhibit in a slideshow highlighting 20 of the boards museum director Carol Willis was able to track down.