2. Part of the West Side Elevated Highway collapsed in 1973
The West Side Highway was rather problematic even from 1929; lanes were considered too narrow and could not accommodate trucks, and sharp exit ramps often led to accidents. But in came Robert Moses to save the day — or so he thought. Moses built massive roadways extending both north and south of the West Side Highway, including the Henry Hudson Parkway and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and he proposed straightening the West Side Highway and constructing the Lower Manhattan Expressway and the Mid-Manhattan Expressway. Neither were ever built, and after the northbound lanes between Little West 12th Street and Gansevoort Street collapsed under the weight of a dump truck, the highway shut down for 16 years before ultimately being demolished in 1989.
The proposition to replace the West Side Highway with the Lower Manhattan Expressway would have “barreled through parts of Greenwich Village and SoHo and shattered both communities,” according to Phillip Lopate in his book Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan. He continued, “The Lower Manhattan Expressway proposal seemed the apotheosis of everything seignorial and urbicidal in Moses’ method of planning; and the relative ease with which it was defeated signaled that a new day of community activism had arrived.”