In 1927, Frank Lloyd Wright designed three to four apartment buildings to be located in the East Village. At least one of the buildings would have been eighteen stories and two of them fourteen. He had been commissioned by the Reverend William Norman Guthrie of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, an unlikely patron given the location of the proposed towers. The octagonal towers, with alternating vertical and horizontal facades, cantilevered floors, and copper and glass exteriors, would have risen over the grave of Peter Stuyvesant in St. Mark’s cemetery and in place of 19th century row houses on East 10th and Stuyvesant Streets. The apartment towers would have been revolutionary for being constructed without any structural steel support and for attempting to bring part of the suburbs into the city. The “towers in the park” idea was heavily influenced by Le Corbusier. The project was scrapped as a result of the Depression. While, they were never built in New York, Wright used his designs as the basis for the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
In May 1908, Edward T. Carlton, an American hotelier, and William Gibbs McAdoo, the president of the New York and New Jersey Railroad Company, traveled to Spain to meet with the renowned Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) studied architecture in Barcelona, where he was surrounded by neo-classical and romantic designs. Gaudi became famous by reinterpreting these designs and working in the Art Nouveau and Art Moderne styles, and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is considered to be his greatest work. Carlton and McAdoo sought to add a building based on Gaudi’s unique vision to the New York City skyline. He was asked to design a hotel that would be situated in Lower Manhattan. Gaudi designed multiple sketches of an 980 to 1,100 foot high hotel called the Hotel Atraccion (Hotel Attraction). It contained an exhibition hall, conference rooms, a theater, and five dining rooms, symbolizing the five continents. Had the hotel been built, it would have been the tallest building in New York City, and therefore in the United States. Sadly, this building would never be built (except in an alternative version of New York depicted in the television show fringe). Carlton wanted the hotel to serve the City’s wealthiest and most elite clientele. Gaudi’s remained true to his communist ideals, and he abandoned the project. According to another version of the story, Gaudi fell ill in 1909 and that brought about the end of the project. All that survive are conceptual sketches by Juan Matemala.
In 1923, the Reverend Christian Reisner of the Methodist Church in Washington Heights conceived of a grand church complex to be located at Broadway and West 173rd Street. Reverend Reisner developed a 40-story church which would have contained a 2,000-seat nave, a five-story basement, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, and would have been topped off with a 75-foot-high rotating cross. John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated $100,000 for the church’s construction. Like the other buildings, the Depression stopped Reverend Reisner from realizing his dreams.
In 1929, the Metropolitan Life Bldg, comprising the 1893 12-story construction, the 1909 campanile-like tower and the 1919 north annex, was becoming too small to house the continual growing activities of the biggest insurance company. A new building was considered for the full block site between E24th and E25th Streets, designed by Corbett and Waid... which missed to be the highest in the world. The proposed 100-story telescoping tower would have reached a climax in the mountain-like style, with fluted walls, rounded façades, like a compromise between the Irving Trust Bldg and the visionary Hugh Ferriss's drawings. But the 1929 crisis exploded and... was erected only what was previously considered as the base. From a rectangular pedestal rise multiple recessed volumes which have the particularity to become 30-degree angled from the 16th floor on each side of the building, resolving at last in an original dumbell-plan shape from the last setback. As the magnificent Ralph Walker's Irving Trust Bldg, the new Metropolitan Life Annex resembles as a complex structure, covered by a limestone-clad drapery, renouncing to the sacrosanct rigid orthogonal geometry. A brilliant success.
Lured to the project by the client's offer of a high salary and the chance to build a mile-high tower of steel, stone and glass, the, Columbia University-educated architect Harvey Wiley Corbett left his position on the Rockefeller Center design team in order to take up this project in 1928. While construction of this steel-framed structure proceeded through the Depression, the crash of 1929 ultimately reduced the scope of the project. The current office block was once intended to be the base of a mammoth skyscraper, but Corbett's longed-for skyscraper was never built. Clad in Alabama limestone with marble details and richly appointed marble lobbies, the vertically striated surfaces and streamlined undulating masses of this Art Deco building give it a slick if somewhat sinister appearance.
The Metropolitan Opera as part of Rockefeller's "Civic Center" 1929
John D. Rockefeller Jr. proposed this new civic center which included a space for the Metropolitan Opera. When the stock market crashed the Metropolitan Opera was unable to secure funding for a new building. As a result, Rockefeller redesigned his civic center into the Rockefeller Center we know today:
The parkway proposal for chrystie and Forsyth was a stupid idea. I'm thankful it never happened, my childhood neighborhood would never have been! The Frank Lloyd Wright Apartments would have been revolutionary but I say it worked out for the better in the end. The Lower East Side did not need anymore towers in the park. The towers on first ave/2nd street and the projects along the east river were enough!
The airport would have covered 144 city blocks from 24th to 71st Streets and from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River. (The view above is looking south.) That's approximately 990 acres 200-feet above the streets of Manhattan.
To quote Life, Zeckendorf thinks the $3 billion price tag "can be paid off by rental income within 55 years after the project is completed." Further, and quite optimistically, "although the Manhattan terminal is still in the drawing-board stage and has not yet had approval of New York officials, the planners expect that the increasing tide of air travel will make their idea a necessity."
"The architect, responsible for Central Park West's San Remo and Eldorado, wanted the mammoth structure to take up the entire block on Washington Square South between West Broadway and Thompson Street, but was nipped in the bud when the Great Depression hit." Curbed.
This was the original plan for the WTC. The plan for a WTC in Lower Manhattan actually goes back to 1943, and was a plan the Rockefellers were behind to keep Lower Manhattan a business hub because a lot of companies were relocating to Midtown at the time. This plan was actually on the East River, but was moved to the West Side as it became apparent that only a public agency with the power of eminent domain could build something like this in Manhattan, so the Port Authority was chosen because they had eminent domain power and had access to the constant flow of money coming in from tolls on bridges and tunnels. But the Port Authority is a joint venture between the State of NY, NJ, and city of NY, so the state of NJ questioned the east side project and basically killed it because they didn't see how an office building, hotel and convention center on the East Side of Manhattan benefited NJ, but agreed to a West Side Trade Center for a couple reasons, and that's when the original WTC began to take shape.
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