The New York That Was Never Built
New York City: plans are made, plans are scrapped. We’ve dug up postcards of unbuilt projects, variations of existing structures or other anomalies such as a lawn in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library.
The postcard seen here is the West Jersey Bridge which predates the George Washington Bridge by a few years. In the 1880’s Gustav Lindenthal came up with a design for a large train bridge for the Pennsylvania Railroad that would have connected Manhattan at 23rd Street with New Jersey. The railroad opted for tunnels instead of a bridge. Lindenthal had a long career in bridge engineering supervising the building of the Queensboro and Hell Gate Bridges.
Over thirty years later, in 1920 Lindenthal drew up plans for the West Jersey Bridge. The West Jersey Bridge would have 20 lanes of traffic on its upper deck and a dozen on the lower level. Pedestrian walkways were to be part of the gargantuan bridge stretching from Weehawken, NJ to 57th Street in Manhattan. The master plan included cutting a highway completely across Manhattan connecting to the Queensboro Bridge. The West Jersey Bridge was never built. Instead, Lindenthal’s protege Othmar Ammann designed the George Washington Bridge which was constructed further north at 177th Street.
Which brings us to something we covered previously: that the George Washington Bridge was originally supposed to have its towers sheathed in stone. Architect Cass Gilbert’s stone arches were depicted in various early drawings and plans for the Hudson River Bridge. The stone plan was ditched. The arches retain the graceful steel skeleton and the bridge was formally renamed the George Washington Bridge.
With this illustration of the Williamsburg Bridge completed in 1903, the artist took some liberties in showing the completed towers. On the top of each of the towers we see what appear to be windowed rooms, possibly for observation or just decoration. They were never built.
The Manhattan Bridge completed in 1909 is accurately seen here. But the entrance is certainly not something that came to fruition. The bridge approach imagined is a veritable garden in a park-like atmosphere with neatly pruned trees, shaped into squares surrounding the entrance way.
1955 photograph of current Henry Hudson Bridge
For the Hudson-Fulton celebration of 1909 there were various proposals to build a bridge connecting upper Manhattan with the Bronx. Known as The Hendrick Hudson Memorial Bridge or Hudson-Fulton Memorial Bridge, both designs featured elegant approaches for an arch bridge over Spuyten Duyvil. Continue reading