Call for Submission, 1983. Image Courtesy of Storefront for Art and Architecture.
In 1983, as the centennial of the Statue of Liberty dedication approached in 1986, the Storefront for Art and Architecture launched an open call competition to reimagine the New York City landmark for the contemporary era. This type of provocative competition is part of the DNA of Storefront, founded in 1982 to present innovative work at the intersection of art and architecture. More than 30 years later, with a distinctive location at 97 Kenmare Street in Nolita, and the opening of an archive at Industry City tomorrow, Storefront continues to present cutting-edge exhibitions and serve as a resource to architects, academics, and journalists alike.
With its 24/7 transit system and a subway system that dates from 1904, New York City seems like a city of mass transportation. Its residents expect a lot, always pushing for better and increased service, more transit lines, and more bike lanes, but sometimes its worth taking a step back and remember where we came from.
In honor of Memorial Day, today we’re looking back at the history of the white marble Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, located at 89th Street and Riverside Drive, a majestic memorial to those who fought in the Civil War. Unfortunately, few have had the chance to marvel at its serene mosaic interior. The monument has been open to the public sporadically throughout the years, most recently as part of Open House New York (though one year the key was unable to open the rusted lock and access was canceled).
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.