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12 crazy plans for New York City that never happened

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

Architects, city planners and enthusiastic dreamers have all tried their hands at transforming New York City over the years. Luckily, most of them were far from successful. From insane skyscrapers to an airport in Midtown, here are some of the craziest plans for NYC over the years that never really panned out. 

1. A dome over Manhattan Buckminster Fuller once proposed building this dome over midtown Manhattan. At two-miles wide, the dome would have been climate controlled to save on cooling and heating, and would also provide excellent protection in case of an atomic bomb. They probably would have had to puncture some holes in it for the super-tall luxury condos being built today, though.

2. The Washington Square Park Highway Infamous for the showdown it instigated between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs (which is now an opera,) this highway would have cut directly through Washington Square Park. In fact, the four lane highway would have run right under the park's iconic arch.

3. Filling in the Hudson It's every New Yorker's worst nightmare, but it also came true. Manhattan was once almost physically connected to New Jersey via a plan to fill in the Hudson and re-direct the river east. Skyscrapers, giant highways and underground pedestrian walkways would have been built in the new giant concrete expanse which would have cost a mere $17 billion in today's money.

4. A Venetian Amusement Park in Jamaica Bay Envious of Brooklyn's Coney Island, Queens once explored the idea of creating their own oceanside amusement park with a venetian wonderland planned for the islands of Jamaica Bay. Plans were scraped after the project was deemed not feasible.

5. Draining the East River A 1924 proposal aimed to fix New York's traffic problem by draining the East River and replacing it with highways, subway tracks, garages and a gigantic new City Hall. Because why not?

6. A landing deck in Bryant Park Ice skating in Bryant Park would have been a lot less romantic under a giant slab of concrete. That could have been the park's fate if industrial designer Raymond Loewy had his way in 1941. The ten-story high platform would have served as a landing pad as well as a bomb shelter for pedestrians. We think we'd prefer to chance it with the park we know and love today.

7. The Gaudi Hotel The structure may look like something straight out of science fiction, but this 1,100 foot high hotel was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi to rise about the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan. It would have contained a theater, conference rooms and five dining rooms representing each of the five continents.

8. I. M. Pei’s Grand Central replacement In 1956, the architect who would go on to build the controversial glass pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris, designed this futuristic structure to replace Grand Central Terminal. Luckily, we still have the terminal and not this oversized finger trap.

9. The Broadway Temple Reverend Christian Reisner had this 40-story skyscraper church designed for the corner of Broadway and West 173rd Street. The building, which was never realized in spite of receiving a $100,000 donation form John D. Rockefeller Jr., would have featured a swimming pool, bowling alley, and 75-foot rotating cross. 

10. An airport in Midtown It would definitely take a lot less time to get to the airport if this giant terminal was built between 24th and 71st streets on Manhattan's west side. The structure would have been 200 feet above street level with parking lots and highways underneath. It would only accommodate domestic flights, however. International travelers would still have journey to Queens.

11. The Coney Island Globe Structure This 700-foot globe structure, planned in 1906, was supposed to contain restaurants, theaters, a roller skating rink, bowling alley, slot machines and more. Even though the project took in public money and investments, it turned out to be a big ol' fraud.

12. The 2012 Olympics stadium Part of the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics, this giant stadium would have sat on the Hudson River, where the mega Hudson Yards development is now being constructed. We may never be able to go to a football game in Manhattan, but at least we don't have to deal with this monstrosity in the middle of the city.

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