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Times Square Municipal Art Society CompetitionMosaic 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.

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The NYC that Never Was: 1926 Plans for The Hearst Building & Plaza That Would Have Dwarfed Times Square

Hearst Building vintage photo NYC Untapped CitiesVintage photo of the Hearst Building via Hearst Corporation

In 1926, William Randolph Hearst commissioned Joseph Urban, one of the most important theater designers of the time, to create a building to house his magazine empire. The International Magazine Building, which is located at 300 West 57 Street, was built between 1927 and 1928 at a cost of two million dollars. The building was supposed to convey “its cultural importance, expressing the influence of [Hearst’s] magazines ‘on the thought and education for the reading public.”

The building was designed with an auditorium for concerts, lectures, “and other similar educational activities.” Between 1945 and 1947, George B. Post & Sons designed nine additional stories for the building. The plans were filed in 1946 but never realized.  (more…)

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New York City is home to multiple stunning and architecturally unique college campuses from Columbia’s Neo-Classical acropolis to City College’s Gothic estate. Had the Depression not occurred, the City would have also been home to an exotic Moorish Revival Campus.

Yeshiva University was born out of the 1915 merging of Yeshiva Etz Chaim, which had been founded in 1886, and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, which was founded in 1897. It was located in a small refurbished building on Montgomery Street, on the Lower East Side. Within a decade, the University was ready for a new campus.  (more…)

The NYC that Never Was: What The Metropolitan Life Insurance Building Could Have Become

Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower Madison Square Park NYC Untapped CitiesThe Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower when it was the tallest building in the world. Source: Library of Congress

We all know the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building on Madison Square Park with its distinctive tower rising high on the skyline. Yet, many people don’t realize that there could have been another, very different MetLife tower if one architect’s plans had come to fruition.

Harvey Wiley Corbett was born in San Francisco in 1873 and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Corbett worked as a draftsman with Cass Gilbert (architect of the Woolworth Building), but it was his collaboration with Hugh Ferriss on drawings of what a skyscraper city could look like while abiding by the 1916 Zoning Laws that made his work well known. He turned his theoretical work into reality by building incredible Art Deco skyscrapers.  (more…)

The New York City that Never Was: What The Brooklyn Museum Could Have Been

Brooklyn Museum

In 1893, McKim, Mead, & White won the design competition for what would become the Brooklyn Museum. Their design featured a Beaux-Arts masterpiece , 560 feet square, with four interior light courts. The Greco-Roman building won praise for its sculpture filled façade (noted sculptors include Daniel Chester French, Adolph Weinman, and Charles Kerk). In New York City, the Brooklyn Museum is often overlooked, despite the fact that it is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States and is well known for its Egyptian Collection.  (more…)

The NYC that Never Was: The American Museum of Natural History

NYC That Never Was American Museum of Natural History Untapped Cities

The American Museum of Natural History was conceived by Albert S. Bickmore, a naturalist who won the backing of wealthy and prominent New Yorkers, including J. P. Morgan, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., and Andrew Haswell Green. The museum was first organized in 1869 and commenced its life in the Arsenal two years later.

The young museum had big plans, and shortly after moving into the Arsenal it decided to move west to Manhattan Square, one of the few park areas included in the original Grid Plan. Calvert Vaux was commissioned to design the new building. Vaux’s design filled the entire square and consisted of “four great buildings 700 feet long, ornate in material and detail, and distinguished by large entrances of architectural dignity and strength,” as described by the museum’s president Henry Fairfield Osborne in 1911. The cornerstone was laid on June 2, 1874, with much pomp. The President of the United States (and three of his cabinet members), the Governor of New York, and the Mayor of New York City were present.  (more…)