“NEVER BUILT NEW YORK”

Encore: February 04, 2021

An airport floating across the Hudson River or apartments tucked into bridges? A Queens Museum exhibit is now giving us a fascinating look at all of the wild ideas that were left on the city’s cutting room floor.

Aired on November 14, 2017 and February 4, 2021.

TRANSCRIPT

> THE WAY NEW YORK LOOKS IS SOMETHING USUALLY US RESIDENTS TAKE FOR GRANTED.

IMAGINE THE SKYLINE THAT INCLUDED A GIANT SUSPENSION BRIDGE CUTTING THROUGH THE TIP OF MANHATTAN STRETCHING PAST GOVERNOR'S ISLAND ALL THE WAY TO BROOKLYN.

OR A FLOATING AIRPORT ALONG THE HUDSON RIVER.

HOW ABOUT A GIGANTIC DOME OVER MID MANHATTAN TO PROVIDE GOOD CLIMATE CONTROL.

AS COOKIE AS THESE IDEAS SOUND, THEY WERE ALL PROJECTS PLANNED FOR NEW YORK CITY THAT NEVER MADE IT PAST THE DRAWING BOARD.

NOW, NEARLY 150 PLANS RENDERINGS AND MODELS OF SOME OF THE BOLDEST AND MOST FARFETCHED URBAN DESIGNED IDEAS ARE BEING SHOWCASED IN A NEW EXHIBITION IN THE QUEENS MUSEUM TITLED NEVER BUILT NEW YORK.

THAT BOOK'S AUTHOR AND CO CURATOR'S OF THE EXHIBIT JOIN ME NOW.

GENTLEMEN, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

IN COMBING THROUGH ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT IDEAS, FIRST AND FOREMOST FOR EACH OF YOU, WHAT WAS THE WHACKIEST THAT YOU SAW, THAT YOU WERE JUST LIKE, SOMEONE SERIOUSLY THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?

THE FLOATING AIRPORT.

I THINK THE AIRPORT IN THE HUDSON RIVER, THE SCALE IS UNTHINKABLE.

IT'S SOMETHING LIKE 48 BLOCKS LONG.

WOULD HAVE CONSUMED THE ENTIRE -- HALF THE HUDSON RIVER AND PROBABLY HALF OF THE WEST SIDE OF MANHATTAN.

I CAN'T IMAGINE THAT EVER HAVING BEEN BUILT.

CAN YOU IMAGINE THE SOUND OF AIRPLANES FLYING OVER YOU RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MAN HATTEN?

YEAH, YEAH.

ON ONE HAND YOU THINK, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN REALLY HELPFUL FOR CAPTAIN SULLY SULLENBERGER.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME THAT DOES SEEM COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS.

IS THERE ONE THAT STUCK OUT FOR YOU?

IT'S NOT USUALLY CONSIDERED WACKY, BUT IT WOULD HAVE BEEN DESTRUCTIVE, THE LOWER MANHATTAN EXPRESSWAY, WHICH WAS PROPOSED BY ROBERT MOSES AND WOULD HAVE GONE FROM BROOM STREET TO THE HOLLAND TUNNEL ALL THE WAY TO THE WILLIAMSBURG BRIDGE AND MANHATTAN BRIDGES.

IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN OUT A LOT OF SOHO AND THE LOWER EAST SIDE.

THAT'S SOME GOOD REAL ESTATE.

GOOD BACK THEN.

IT WENT EXTREMELY CLOSE TO HAPPENING.

WE'RE HAPPY THAT ONE DIDN'T HAPPEN.

GOING THROUGH SOME OF THESE IDEAS, THERE WAS ONE THAT STUCK OUT TO ME, AS MAYBE NOT A FARFETCHED IDEA, BUT AN IDEA THAT COULD HAVE COME TO PASS.

THAT WAS FROM 1920, A GENTLEMAN NAMED DANIEL LAWRENCE TURNER WHO WAS WITH THE TRANSIT COMMISSION SUBWAY COMMISSION PLAN, HE WAS PROPOSING A TUNNEL THAT WENT FROM BROOKLYN TO STATEN ISLAND.

THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN, WHY NOT?

HE HAD A VERY AMBITIOUS PLAN FOR MANHATTAN, ALREADY BACK IN 1920, THE PLACE WAS WAY TOO CONGESTED.

HE REALIZED THAT THEY HAD TO GET OUT IN FRONT OF IT QUICKLY, AND HE PROPOSED THAT SUBWAY CONNECTION FROM STATEN ISLAND TO BROOKLYN, BUT HE ALSO PROPOSED ABOUT TWICE THE SIZE OF THE CURRENT SYSTEM THAT WE HAVE TODAY.

INCLUDING IF YOU LOOK AT THE MAP ABOUT SIX TIMES AS MANY, OR EVEN MORE AS MANY CROSS TOWN SUBWAYS IN MANHATTAN WHICH WE ALL KNOW IS A PROBLEM NOW.

AND IT'S A BORROW TRANSIT, THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN CRISSCROSSED WITH A LOT MORE.

HE LOOKED AT THE SAME THING WE'RE LOOKING AT NOW AND SAID, THIS IS NOT GOOD.

THERE'S A GREAT QUOTE HE SAID IN HERE, THIS WAS 1920.

IN ORDER TO KEEP PACE WITH THE ENORMOUS TRAFFIC GROWTH, THE CITY MUST BUILD MORE TRANSIT FACILITIES THAN MORE AGAIN, AND STILL MORE AGAIN.

AND MUST KEEP DOING THIS CONTINUALLY.

EXACTLY.

TO ME, THAT'S IT.

HE WAS RIGHT ON, AND WE'VE LOOKED AT A LOT OF TRANSIT THAT WOULD HAVE CHANGED THE CITY.

THERE WAS A PLAN IN THE 1870s FOR PNEUMATIC VENTURE NAMED ALFRED ELI BEACH.

MUCH LIKE ELON MUSK, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN CARRIED ON A CURTAIN OF AIR FROM ONE STATION TO THE NEXT.

THERE WERE OTHER ONES IN 1870 ELEVATED ONES IN 1870, THERE WERE PLANS TO TAKE ALL TRUCK TRANSIT INTO MANHATTAN AND TURN IT INTO A MINIATURE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO MOVE ALL GOODS THROUGHOUT THE CITY, YOU WOULD NEVER SEE A TRUCK ON THE SURFACE ROADS IN MANHATTAN.

THAT WAS PROPOSED BEFORE WORLD WAR I.

THESE ALL SOUND LIKE REALLY PRACTICAL IDEAS NOW.

WAS IT JUST FUNDING AND MONEY THAT KILLED A LOT OF THESE IDEAS?

IT'S A -- THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT REASONS.

THE REASONS ARE THE SAME AUTHOR OF HISTORY.

MONEY IS REALLY THE IMPORTANT ONE.

POLITICS IS WHAT KILLED THAT SUBWAY, I MENTIONED.

THAT DOES IT A LOT.

THE TRANSIT COMMISSION TURNER WORKED FOR BECAME THE STATE COMMISSION, BECAUSE THEY WERE WORRIED THEY WERE SICK OF THE SHENANIGANS AT TAMMANY HALL, ET CETERA, ET CETERA.

AND THEY WANTED TO CENTRALIZE EVERYTHING.

BUT THAT HELD EVERYTHING UP AND THEN IT BECAME NEVER BUILT.

AN IDEA CAN BE AHEAD OF ITS TIME AND STILL NEVER BE REALIZED, NO ONE WILL COME TO ACCEPT IT IS A GOOD IDEA.

FLAT OUT.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, TAMMANY HALL SEEMS TO BE THE GIFT THAT JUST KEEPS GIVING.

GENTLEMEN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR CURATING THIS EXHIBIT, I THINK IT WILL BE REALLY EXCITING AND INTERESTING TO SEE WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN.

THIS IS A GREAT COMPANION BOOK THAT GOES WITH IT.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

> THE NEVER BUILT NEW YORK EXHIBIT WILL BE AT THE QUEENS MUSEUM UNTIL FEBRUARY 18th OF 2018.

BE SURE TO SEE IT, AND FOR MORE INFORMATION LOG ON TO METRO FOCUS.ORG.

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