Unbuilt Metropolis

Cities are places where people move to achieve their dreams. Sometimes, those dreams are for the city itself. As we’ve detailed before, there’s been no shortage of fantastical and monumental ideas throughout the history of city-making. And few cities have captured people’s imaginations like New York City. Home to one of the richest arrays of urban architecture worldwide,...

Date

January 13, 2017

Cities are places where people move to achieve their dreams. Sometimes, those dreams are for the city itself. As we’ve detailed before, there’s been no shortage of fantastical and monumental ideas throughout the history of city-making. And few cities have captured people’s imaginations like New York City. Home to one of the richest arrays of urban architecture worldwide, it is remarkable to consider what hasn’t been built there. The Guardian details a new book, Never Built New York, to do just that. While some ideas, like an airport in Manhattan that takes up 50 blocks, and bridges between skyscrapers, seem entirely out-dated today, others have parallels to projects that were later built. Would New York have built elevated rail lines, and eventually the High Line, without a proposal for a pneumatic elevated railway? The Hyperboloid, a 108-storey tower above a transit hub, proposed by the New York Central Railroad chairman, can be viewed as an early version of TOD, while its form isn’t so different from Santiago Calatrava’s Turning Torso. Even the radical idea of adding 50 square miles of city land to Upper New York Bay has been realized in another form. Where else but in the capital city of the country who sold New York to British: Amsterdam. Without these unbuilt dreams, what would our cities look like today?