An airport in midtown Manhattan, a Gothic tower in Union Square and a Grecian-inspired monument on Roosevelt Island.
They might seem like wacky throwaway ideas.
But they were all once ambitious, considered plans that could have changed the face of New York forever.
Of course, none of these schemes went ahead – the amount of money it would have cost to bring them to life proved too much.
But luckily these fascinating illustrations show just what the Big Apple could have looked like had these plans been given the green light.
Scroll down to step into the New York that might have been…
Midtown Manhattan Airport
In 1946, it was reported that a hugely ambitious construction project called ‘New York City’s Dream Airport’ was in the works. The proposed airport would have stretched for 144 blocks from 24th to 71st Streets and from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River. The design for the airport was by real-estate mogul William Zeckendorf, who at the time owned the famous Chrysler Building and the Astor Hotel. The airport would have risen 200 feet above street level and would have had piers and docks for commercial and passenger ships to anchor at
Of course, the idea for the airport never came to fruition. Maybe because the estimated construction cost was $3billion – the equivalent of $39billion today. Despite the eye-watering cost, Zeckendorf was confident that the airport would pay for itself within 55 years, thanks to the level of rental income generated by the many retail units, restaurants and companies that would have occupied the space beneath the landmark runway
In response to frustration surrounding New York’s lack of civic centres at the turn of the 20th century, Thomas J George proposed regenerating Blackwell’s Island (now known as Roosevelt Island) in 1904 from a collection of insane asylums, workhouses and quarantine hospitals into a neo-classical, Grecian-inspired civic centre complex
George’s design would truly have been a sight to behold with the municipal building stretching over seven blocks and standing at a height of 600 feet. The re-design for the island came around the same time that many American architects were keen on replicating the style of the Acropolis and the neo-classical principles of symmetry, splendor and balance
How Roosevelt Island looks today. It lies in the East River between Manhattan and Queens with the Queensboro Bridge running overhead. Most of the buildings on the island today are residential
Roosevelt Island was originally called Blackwell’s Island before becoming known as Welfare Island in the 1920s, due to its hospitals and asylums. In 1973 it was renamed Roosevelt Island after President Franklin D Roosevelt
George Washington Monument
In 1822, Calvin Pollard proposed the George Washington Monument, which was officially approved by the City. The monument was to be 425 feet high, located within Union Square and had an estimated build cost of $400,000 (£311,000) – that’s about $8,200,000 (£6,395,180) in today’s money
The monument was to be built from granite in a Gothic style. It would have been almost double the height of any other building in the city and would have contained over 400,000 books within a library. The second floor was to house a statue of George Washington holding the Declaration of Independence
A cornerstone ceremony even took place for the monument, which is believed to have later been incorporated into the foundation of Mount Sinai Hospital in its previous location on Lexington Avenue. However, one of the main objectors to the project was the Broadway Journal despite the publication previously complaining about the lack of commemorative monuments in the city
Pollard’s proposal was never constructed due to objections over the design and a lack of available funds for the monument
On the July 4, 1856, a bronze statue of George Washington on horseback, sculpted by Henry Kirke Brown, was unveiled in Union Square. It is still on show today
Times Square Tower
As recently as the 1970s, Times Square had a reputation for being crime ridden and seedy. To change this the Municipal Art Society and the National Endowment for the Arts launched a competition in 1984 for ideas to regenerate the area. One entry was by George Ranalli, who proposed building a totem-style tower in the middle of the tourists mecca
The tower would have featured a sphere nestled within the body of the building and a pyramid design at the top. It was intended to reflect the theatrical and eccentric nature of Times Square
The competition to regenerate Times Square offered a $10,000 prize for the winner and received more than 500 entries ranging from the classical to the bizarre – though none of the submissions were actually built
Now, Times Square draws in 50million visitors each year, more than any other US attraction. There are also laws in place that require buildings within the district to have a minimum amount of display lighting