This map will delight any NYC geography buffs out there: The Changing Shoreline of New York City uses historical maps from the New York Public Library’s digital collection to explore how Manhattan has managed its waterways to expand its small city footprint. Created by Laura Blaszczak during her internship with NYPL, it’s an interactive map that highlights waterfront locales around the city. Zoom in, and you can peruse historical maps and photographs that show how our rivers, creeks, brooks, and bays have been managed or built over. There’s even an opacity control, so you can directly compare the historical map with the modern map and see how much Manhattan’s landscape has changed.
Drawing of the original Penn Station, re-created. Credit: Jeff Stikeman for Rebuild Penn Station
In August 6sqft reported that major work was underway in the $1.6 billion transformation of Penn Station’s James A. Farley Building into a state-of-the-art, 225,000-square-foot “world-class 21st century transportation hub” called Moynihan Train Hall. That hasn’t stopped the flow of suggestions for how to best make use of New Yorkers’ un-favorite transport hub, which have included Practice for Architecture and Urbanism founder Vishaan Chakrabarti’s proposal to repurpose, then move the old building to create a neighborhood gathering spot and a plan by Columbia University’s DeathLab to turn the the station into a landscaped cemetery. Among those voices-with-a-vision is Rebuild Penn Station, a group of architects and preservationists whose intent is to recreate the original McKim, Mead and White-designed Penn Station, and a new ad campaign aims to get commuters on board (h/t Curbed).
The growing population of homeless New Yorkers is sending creative agency Framlab up a wall–literally. The Oslo- and New York City-based agency has proposed a way to provide shelter for the city’s homeless in an arrangement of 3D-printed micro-neighborhoods comprised of hexagonal modules designed to attach to a scaffold structure, creating a second layer of properties, basically, alongside a building’s empty wall (h/t designboom). In the project, called “Homed,” the modular pods can be clustered together, creating a “cellular mosaic” with their fronts facing the street.
MSG reimagined as a cemetery (L); Memorial walls in the subway stations (R). Via DeathLab
The rant that traveling via Penn Station is enough to kill you just took on a whole new meaning. Untapped Cities shared this vision from Columbia University’s DeathLab (yes, this is a group dedicated to dealing with death in the city) that reimagines Penn Station and Madison Square Garden as a giant cemetery and public space. The general idea is to be more eco-friendly and accessible. Not only will the human remains be used to fertilize the gardens, but family members and the general public will be able to record digital memories to be stored on a central server.
Photo: Pier 55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio.
In September, 6sqft reported that billionaire IAC Chairman Barry Diller was giving up on the $250 million project that promised to bring a futuristic offshore park and cultural destination to the Hudson River’s dilapidated Pier 54. Since its beginnings in 2014, the seemingly ill-fated project, known as Pier 55 (or sometimes “Diller Park”), was beleaguered by opposing factions–eventually revealed to be funded by prominent New York real estate developer Douglas Durst–that blocked its progress at every turn. Diller, who had imagined the project as a new Manhattan waterfront icon to rival the nearby High Line, had had enough. In a cautiously optimistic turnaround, it was announced Wednesday that the media mogul–now backed by his recent legal foes and Durst in addition to Governor Andrew Cuomo–was renewing his commitment to move ahead with the project, according to Crain’s. Diller said in a statement, “I have had countless people tell me how much they were looking forward to having this new pier, and how unfortunate were the circumstances of its cancellation.”
6sqft has marveled at the 1951 proposal by Goodyear Tires for a giant conveyor belt to carry people between Times Square and Grand Central and Alfred Ely Beach’s underground pneumatic tube system. The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) fills in the blanks on an early idea for an elevated rail system that was ahead of its time. In 1870, Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science and Art introduced an article with a lament about the state of New York City public transportation that sounds uncannily familiar even in the 21st century: “the present means of travel are not only inadequate in extent, but are far too slow and cumbersome.” The anonymous author then tells of the futuristic vision of one Rufus Henry Gilbert, a New York-born surgeon, Civil War veteran and inventor.
6sqft has reported previously on the increasing alarm caused by New York City’s future skyline and its growing army of skyscrapers-to-be, with community groups expressing deep concern about the shadows cast across the city’s parks by the tall towers. The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has been leading the pack when it comes to thorough analysis of the issue, which they see as having its roots not only in the sheer height of the new buildings but in a lack of regulation of how and where they rise in the larger context of the city. This “accidental skyline” effect reflects the fact that New York City currently has no restrictions on the shadows a tower may cast–the city doesn’t limit height, it only regulates FAR (floor area ratio). At this week’s MAS Summit for New York City, the organization released its third Accidental Skyline report, calling for immediate reform in light of an unprecedented boom in as-of-right–and seemingly out-of-scale–development. MAS president Elizabeth Goldstein said, “New York doesn’t have to settle for an ‘accidental skyline.’”
In mid-20th century America–particularly in New York City–a roaring economy emboldened by our ascendant international stature filled many a scholar of public infrastructure with eagerness to execute grand ideas. This proposal to drain the East River to alleviate traffic congestion, for example.
Another ambitious but unrealized plan–one that would make it a lot easier to get to New Jersey–was championed in 1934 by one Norman Sper, “noted publicist and engineering scholar,” as detailed in Modern Mechanix magazine. In order to address New York City’s traffic and housing problems, Sper proposed that if we were to “plug up the Hudson river at both ends of Manhattan,” and dam and fill the resulting space, the ten square miles gained would provide land to build thousands of additional buildings, as well as to add streets and twice the number of avenues to alleviate an increasingly menacing gridlock.
As of 8 a.m. Sunday morning, the old, traffic-snarling Kosciuszko Bridge is no more. The decaying bridge, which was officially closed in April when the eastbound span of its replacement opened, crumbled and fell to the ground in a matter of minutes in a process known as “energetic felling, the city’s first ever implosion of a major bridge using explosives.
Out with the old: The new Kosciuszko Bridge in the foreground, with the old bridge behind it. Image: Wikimedia commons.
The long-delayed demolition of two old sections of the Kosciuszko Bridge has been scheduled for this Sunday, October 1, according to AM New York. The demolition will herald the first stage of the $825 million construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. The first section of the new bridge was opened to eastbound and westbound traffic in April. The implosion of the 78-year-old bridge–still subject to change depending on weather conditions–has been scheduled for 8 a.m. according to Councilman Stephen Levin’s office.