THROWBACK THURSDAY: THE AIRPORT PROPOSAL THAT WOULD HAVE SWALLOWED THE WEST SIDE

westsideairport

In 1946, real estate developer William Zeckendorf proposed building an airport on the West Side of Manhattan from 24th to 71st streets. The three runways would be elevated 200 feet above the ground, covering 144 blocks of Manhattan — under the runway, there would be ten-story buildings, according to a Life magazine article at the time. It’s probably safe to say they wouldn’t have much natural light.

Zeckendorf also envisioned a highway under the runway, shuttling people around the city in air conditioning “to rid the atmosphere of noxious fumes.”

“It’s not exactly a surprise that the airport idea died a quick death,” Ephemeral New York noted. “Though Zeckendorf was a successful developer who helped piece together land to build the United Nations, some of his other ideas—a 102-story tower on top of Grand Central terminal, a boulevard of apartment houses on 42nd Street leading to the U.N.—also tanked.”

HISTORY | 11 comments | permalink
    1. D.R. says:

      He and Robert Moses must have been cousins.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        Robert Moses was quite brilliant and was responsible for much of “built New York.” however he got out of control in his later years. thankfully the Lower Manhattan Expressway was blocked.

    2. Marty the K says:

      Seems more Bruce McCall than Robert Moses … http://www.invisiblethemepark.com/2009/07/moto-ritz-towers/

      • dirk says:

        OMG, that is hilarious! Are you sure that’s not an article from The Onion?

        “Davenport, Iowa has an airport. Tallahassee has one. And so does Lexington, Kentucky. But New York City doesn’t. Amazingly, there is still a large, undeveloped and underutilized site in the center of New York City.”

        What a great description of Central Park. Underutilized? 40 million visitors a year.

        And they’re accepting donations.

    3. guy_on_the_corner says:

      Not saying that it was a good idea but the world will always need its dreamers.

    4. drg says:

      It would have been real easy to fit a bike lane on the top of that thing.

    5. Jim Ryan says:

      “Though Zeckendorf was a successful developer who helped piece together land to build the United Nations, some of his other ideas—a 102-story tower on top of Grand Central terminal, a boulevard of apartment houses on 42nd Street leading to the U.N.—also tanked.”

      So wait, did he have a hand in Tudor City, or not? Was there a relation with that project?

    6. rothmere says:

      Let’s in this vein also stay on radar and oppose the proposal to dump a new building smack in the center of Natural History Museum Park between 81st St. and 77th Streets. That small emerald oasis for families, kids, and toddlers will be under siege. The museum simply MUST have a new building promoting kids science education projects, etc. Let’s support sh-tcanning this one. Peace.