New York Thinks Big

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by kernals12, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    I've become enamored of T Kennard Thompson's 1920s plan to add 50 square miles to the New York Area by, among other things, filling in the East River. It's one of the many contemporary plans for Gotham that would've changed the face of America's largest city had they been built. So they shall be built.

    January 14, 1922- Albany
    T Kennard Thompson would finally see his dream of greatly expanding the land area of New York City come true. A successful meeting with Governor Nathan Miller led to his support for the ambitious project and in March the legislature approved a law creating a Public Corporation to carry out the project.
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    The plan was a 6 square mile extension of Manhattan southward from the Battery to within half a mile of Staten Island. Construction began in October and was completed in March 1929. Construction cost $1.5 billion but the land was worth $10 billion and was bought up quickly by property developers. And control of the land was handed to the City of New York for the construction of sewers, streets, subways, and all of the connecting tunnels and bridges.

    And it was decided to extend the plan by also filling in the East River, providing an extra 2 square miles and making traveling to Brooklyn as easy as crossing Broadway. The Brooklyn bridge was demolished in 1931.

    In total, 8 square miles of land were added to the city, providing space for 500,000 people
    Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 9.04.25 PM.png
    New York now felt very different. Manhattan had ceased to be an island, having been grafted on to Brooklyn and Queens. Staten Islanders were now only a stone throw's away from Manhattan. The forgotten borough grew tremendously as a result of this new proximity, rising from 158,000 in 1930 to 450,000 in 1940 and up to 1.25 million today.

    Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 8.52.12 PM.png
    The new land acted as a blank canvas for city planners to provide a street layout fit for the automobile age. Pedestrians would be elevated above traffic and walkways would be provided for crossing. At street level, arcades built in to the buildings provided space for parking and loading and all intersections were grade separated. Building subways was also much easier as there was no need for digging, just lay down your tracks, box it up, and start building on top. The immense traffic flow provided made the area very desirable for business.
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    At the same time all this was going on, the humble Jamaica Bay was being turned into a seaport. Salt Marshes were being paved over and land dyked off to make islands. The result was nearly 7 square miles of land and 25 miles of shoreline for docking. And with the construction of Floyd Bennet Field, the city now had a commercial airport.

    But the airport would quickly become outmoded and a new one was built on land reclaimed from Bayonne.

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    The subway system was also greatly expanded. Of course service was extended into the new Lower Manhattan and Staten Island but there was also a new Utica Avenue line for Queens, a 2nd avenue line, and service was even extended into New Jersey. It was now possible to get a one ticket ride from Jersey City to the Jamaica Bay piers.

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    Things slowed down due to the Depression and the War but in 1961, work began on the reclamation of the Jersey Meadlowlands, which had been a giant garbage dump. The result was the city of Meadows now home to 300,000.

    Today, New York City is home to 10 million people who enjoy affordable housing and a world class mass transit system. The Big Apple's livability can be attributed to the people who thought big in the 20s.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2019
  2. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    Having sidewalks elevated above traffic would also have made New York extremely well prepared for the driverless car era.
     
  3. NHBL Long Time Member, CMII

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    Good thing this isn't an earthquake zone...
    I think that you'll need Federal approval, as you're making changes in navigable waterways.
     
  4. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    With the creation of the Jamaica Bay Seaport, that'd probably be more than enough to offset the loss of wharfage in Manhattan and Brooklyn and at the same time, another port was being built in Newark. There's no real reason the Federal Government would turn this down especially since it's the 1920s and nobody cares about preserving waterways especially one like the East River, which was the world's largest sewer at the time.
     
  5. NHBL Long Time Member, CMII

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    No one would care for logical reasons, but the need for Federal approval could be a delaying factor, especially if someone with influence doesn't want it to go through.
     
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  6. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    I do know that the Jamaica Bay Seaport was stopped solely by Robert Moses. He wanted it to be a wildlife preserve and got his way. The Federal Government was even willing to fund the port.
     
  7. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    New York is the only city that has a "downtown" in the most literal sense of the term, but with this extension, that wouldn't be true anymore, making the term completely meaningless.
     
  8. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    We could see the city of Manhattan and expand and absorb Jersy City and Newark.
    It would cross state lines so the potential of the New York City metropolitan area that come and gets home separate state would be a distinct possibility.
    Not to mention all the construction would provide much-needed jobs during the Depression
     
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  9. M79 Well-Known Member

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    NYC as the 49th state?
     
  10. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    I assume you're referring to this plan to fill in the Hudson
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    It's completely impractical. You'd have to dredge out all of the South Bronx. And your state border changes are even more ridiculous, neither state government would ever approve of it. They'd be bankrupted from loss of taxes of the corporations and rich people who live in NYC. And for all intents and purposes, Hudson County was absorbed by NYC long ago.
     
  11. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    Why would that ever happen?
     
  12. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    I'm afraid that with all this extra activity, there will need to be more roads.

    1927
    As New York entered the automobile age, it was obvious that the street grid was woefully insufficient for the ever increasing traffic. The newly filled areas were fine thanks to their elevated pedestrian levels and underpasses as well as the 6 lane Pan-Manhattan expressway that stretched, underground, from old Randall Island through the former East River, cut through the Lower East Side and kept going all the way to Bay Ridge, but the existing areas were stuck with their 19th century limitations.

    The only option was to build more expressways.

    A tunnel was built, starting in Weehawken, NJ, under the Hudson, under 38th street until it met with the Pan-Manhattan expressway until it reached Long Island City.

    After the war, traffic continued to worsen. Every day, Brooklyn's Broadway Avenue was packed bumper to bumper with trucks taking cargo to and from the Sea Port. And so, a new expressway along Bushwick Avenue was built.

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    More notably, a new tunnel was dug through Manhattan from the Holland tunnel to the Williamsburg Overpass. Now trucks could get from Jamaica Bay to New Jersey without encountering a single traffic light.
    Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 6.30.45 PM.png
    There was also the Cross Brooklyn Expressway for bypassing the Bay and the Flatbush Expressway which crossed over to the Rockaways.
    Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 6.35.31 PM.png
    Now that Staten Island had grown up to be a real borough, it also needed lots of roads, such as the Shorefront and Richmond Parkways.

    All this ensured sufficient traffic capacity for New York and helped speed along passengers and goods around this ginormous city.
     
  13. Lucas Well-Known Member

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    I like much of this. Would like to know more about How the subways and railroads on this ATL great NYC would be like. Maybe the ELs would be mantain until today and even some sort of monorail ala Wuppertal exist?

    Another thing i imagine that If these plans came up, expect a lot more of higher density areas or even Skyscrapers on other areas. More Art Deco as Hugh Ferris styles and today massive glass high-rise.
     
  14. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    The Els are coming down. Those things were eyesores.
    I did outline rail service with that map of the 1929 "Second System" Proposal
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    For Staten Island, in 1920, the New York Times outlined an 830 mile expansion of the subway. It was a pretty fanciful idea, but in this TL where Staten Island has the same population density as Queens, it would probably look something like this.
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    Hudson County would get something like the proposed 7 train extension to Seacaucus, although they are pretty well served by NJ Transit as it is.
     
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  15. Lucas Well-Known Member

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    @kernals12. I Hope If these great Works on NYC itself as If they subways, the city don't go to massive economic crisis of 70/80s as well the subway not became OTL massive disrepair conditions.

    Some off-topic, but If these works, could another cities would be make more huge urban projects and avoid in some sort the urban-spral of OTL? As suburbs could be more high-density inspired in what happens on NYC ATL.
     
  16. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    New York will still go into decline as residents yearn for suburbia and crime gets worse. A few extra subway lines and more housing aren't going to fix that. As for other cities, I haven't been able to find much in the way of radical proposals for those places. New York has a lot of unique characteristics the make it popular for these types of ideas.

    For one thing, it's extremely densely populated and home to some of the most valuable real estate in the world. This makes expensive plans for land reclamation potentially profitable, and because of its location, it has a lot of reclaimable land.

    Also, because of the incredible incompetence of the MTA, New York City has a lot less mass transit than it could build. The 2nd Avenue subway is only now getting built 87 years after it was proposed, and it's costing $1.5 billion per mile, while Paris can do it for less than $500 million. This means there are lots of people who can draw fancy maps showing a New York with where you can go from Jersey City to Queens on one ticket.

    All in all, I don't plan on doing anything for other cities.
     
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  17. Andrew Boyd Resident Rail Enthusiast

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    Any thoughts for what railroads will do?
     
  18. History Learner Well-Known Member

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    Got the fix for that, at least in part:
    Lead: America’s Real Criminal Element
     
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  19. kernals12 Proudly on the Autism Spectrum

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    File for bankruptcy.
     
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  20. dmg86 Well-Known Member

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    It's not a town but after Hurricane Agnes badly damaged the Wyoming Valley in 1972 the Army Corps of Engineers allegedly proposed moving everybody to higher ground.