New York is great mega-monuments that were never built

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New York may be home to the iconic Statue of Liberty and many other monuments, but the city would look very different if a number of epic building designs had actually been built.

From an airport in the town of Manhattan to an impressive tower in Times Square and a big old Greek style complex on Roosevelt Island, the projects have completely changed the face of New York. Uk homebuilder Barratt Homes has commissioned a series of 3D renderings that reveal what the remarkable design would look like against the background of the modern city.


A rendering of how Midtown Manhattan, the Airport would see today. (Barratt Homes)

New Yorkers who complain about noise in Manhattan should be grateful that they don’t have to contend with an airport built literally above their head. A Life Magazine article in 1946, via Ptak Science, as described in the plans for the building of “New York City’s Dream Airport” 200 metres above street level in 144 square blocks. The bizarre airport would have stretched from 24th to 71st streets and from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River, according to the report.

An aerial view of midtown Manhattan and the Hudson River today. (Barratt Homes)

Costs a whopping $3 billion ($39 billion in today’s money), the huge “landing deck” aimed to bring air service right in the heart of New York City and eliminate the necessity of limousine travel to and from the existing airports which 10 km outside of the business districts,” Life reported.

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In a blog post, Barratt Homes, explains that the Midtown Manhattan, the Airport was the brainchild of real estate mogul William Zeckendorf, who at that time owned the Chrysler Building and Astor Hotel. “Despite the staggering costs, Zeckendorf was convinced that the airport would pay for itself in just 55 years, thanks to the level of the rental income generated by the many retail units, restaurants and businesses that have occupied the space under the landmark job,” Barratt Homes explained.


A 3D rendering of the Roosevelt Island civic center design. (Barratt Homes)

At the beginning of the 20th century, Roosevelt Island, then known as Blackwell’s Island, was the home of fixtures, quarantine, hospitals, prisons and a workhouse. In response to the ex-congressman John De Witt Warner’s call for civic centers suits a city of New York’s stature, the architect Thomas J. George outlined an ambitious plan for building a massive neo-classical complex on the island in the East River.

An aerial view of Roosevelt Island today. (Barratt Homes)

George described his plan for the civic center in an issue of “House and Garden”, published in 1902, according to the New York Public Library, Division of Art, Prints and Photographs.

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“George’s design would have a real feast for the eye”, says Barratt Homes in the blog post. “With the Municipal building extends over seven blocks long and stand at a height of 600 metres; no buildings surround the civic centre would be of a permanent and historical monument in the city.”


The famous “Crossroads of the World” could have featured a “totem-style tower” as an unusual design for the Times Square are taken in the 1980’s.

A 3D-view of the Times Square Tower. (Barratt Homes)

Barratt Homes explains that in 1984, the Municipal Art Society and the National Endowment for the Arts launched a competition for visually striking ideas that can regenerate the Square.

Times Square today. (Barratt Homes)

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“The offer of a $ 10,000 prize for the winner of the contest received more than 500 submissions, ranging from the classical to the bizarre,” says Barratt Homes in the blog post. “Of all the entries, George Ranalli’s theorem was perhaps the most striking: A totem-style tower with a bulb nestled in the body, and stepped pyramidal forms on the top. The building was meant to reflect the theatrical and eccentric character of Times Square.”


A 3D view of the George Washington Monument in Manhattan, at Union Square. (Barratt Homes)

Manhattan’s lively Union Square was once destined to be the site of a huge monument to George Washington. Designed by the 19th-century New York architect Calvin Pollard, the gothic-style George Washington Monument would have been 425 feet high.

Union Square today. (Barratt Homes)

“The tower is nearly double the height of another building in the city and would have contained more than 400,000 books in the library,” explains Barratt Homes. “The second floor was the home of a statue of George Washington that the Declaration of Independence, surrounded by La Fayette and other foreign allies.”

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The monument, which had an estimated cost of $400,000, was finally demolished on objections to the design and a lack of financial resources, according to Barratt Homes. Instead, the city built a bronze statue of George Washington by Henry Kirke Brown, which was dedicated in 1856. The area around the statue became a vigil site for New Yorkers in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In a separate project last year, CashNetUSA in command NeoMam Studios to create digital representations of a host of incredible monuments in the US that were never built.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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