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Today’s New York City is filled with impressive architectural feats and beloved buildings that New Yorkers couldn’t picture any other way. But what if the city’s iconic skyline looked completely different? Never Built New York, a book by Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell answers this question, filling nearly 400 pages with information and photographs of elaborate construction projects that never were. The following selections are among the wildest and most surprising entries.
10. Calvin Pollard’s Washington Monument
Calvin Pollard, Washington Monument, Union Square, 1843. Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
New York City had been pushing for a Washington Monument since 1822 with little success. Then, in 1843, came the proposal by Calvin Pollard. This design was officially approved and imagined a 425 foot Gothic tower, nearly double the height of any other buildings in the city. The $400,000 entirely granite building was planned to have rooms for a library, art galleries, and an astronomical observatory. A 100-foot-high rotunda on the second floor was to hold a statue of George Washington.
Newspaper editorials denounced the proposed design for the Gothic monument in favor of classicism. Though a cornerstone was laid, the money was never raised to complete the project. On July 4, 1856, Henry Kirke Brown’s bronze equestrian Washington statue was unveiled at the spot, and still stands today.