Explore a Bizarre “Never Built” NYC at the Queens Museum

Rob Grams Rob Grams

Explore a Bizarre “Never Built” NYC at the Queens Museum

Behind the veneer of New York City lies a parallel universe of buildings and urban projects that never came to be. An exhibit in the Queens museum reveals the NYC that was never built. 

Down every street and on every corner is a ghost of a New York City that could have been. This parallel version of New York represents 200 years of visionary architectural and urban designs. For the first time, these designs have been realized by a revolutionary exhibition at the Queens Museum.

It’s strange to think that NYC could have seen a domed baseball stadium for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a 120,000-capacity stadium at the site of Citi Field or a floating airport. However, all of those were once the dreams of visionary city planners. Never Built New York explores the backstory behind how and why New York City came to look the way it does. This, in turn, expands our understanding of the city we know and love revealing an origin story we never knew existed.

The exhibition is based on a book by the same name, written by authors Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell who now curate the exhibition.

The Queens Museums flagship exhibit, Panorama, a massive 70 x 15 feet, 1:1200 scale model of NYC, has been commandeered as part of the Never Built New York project.

An initial test of the illuminated buildings on Panorama - via Kickstater
An initial test of the illuminated buildings on Panorama – via Kickstarter

The massive miniature (yeah, that’s an oxymoron, but it’s still accurate) has added 70 illuminated plexiglass models of projects New York could have seen across its five boroughs.



In its early days, the project started off as a Kickstarter campaign that easily earned a whopping $50,239, handily beating its original $35,000 goal. Here’s a sneak peek behind the curtain of Never Built New York to whet your appetite for the exhibition:

Buckminster Fuller Dome Over midtown Manhattan (1961)

Originally designed to give Midtowners a perfectly controlled climate year round, the dome would have had a two-mile diameter and been three times the height of the Empire State Building.

Concept art for a “never built” inspired bouncy castle in the exhibition.

The inflatable structure is modeled after the proposed Westinghouse Pavilion for the ’64 World’s Fair designed by Eliot Noyes.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Key Project for Ellis Island (1959)

Lloyd Wright’s imagined Ellis island as a completely self-contained city of the future; a car-free paradise that could house 7,500 residents.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the interesting insight this exhibit offers real New York-fanatics. The exhibition is at the Queens Museum until February 18, 2018. Go check it out, you won’t regret it.

Featured image source [Kickstarter]