Futuristic housing never built in 1960s Harlem

Nuclear power plants? Landing pads for spaceships? Board game pieces?

Actually, they’re apartment buildings—and if visionary designer (some would say futuristic crackpot) Buckminster Fuller had his way, they may actually have been built in Harlem.

Fuller drew up these plans in 1964: His idea was to build 15 100-story structures spanning the entire width of Upper Manhattan, with each tower capable of housing 45,000 people.

It’s an intriguing idea—unless you had to live there.

But it wasn’t as crazy as Fuller’s 1960 plan, which was to cover Manhattan in a two-mile dome.

The point was to help control the weather and air pollution while keeping energy costs down.

Neither plan, of course, made it past fantasy stage.

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10 Responses to “Futuristic housing never built in 1960s Harlem”

  1. Richard Kenyon Says:

    The drawing of the 15 100 story towers shows two bridges crossing the Hudson River. The one on the right is obviously the GW, but did Fuller also intend to build, or have built, another bridge south of the GW?

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Maybe Buckminster was referring to the proposed 125th St. Bridge? The idea developed in the 1950s, so perhaps he thought it was going to happen.


  3. bestestbrian Says:

    Wow. The 25 Precinct today has a census population of about 50,000. He proposed putting 7 of these things in that one area! That would’ve been one heck of a morning commute. 🙂

    Question: Why the big open space on the east side of 5 Ave between 112-115? The projects on the west side are represented, but the east side is empty.

  4. petey Says:

    those buildings are simply horrifying.

  5. Cereal Says:

    Those Bucky Domes got built-mostly-in William Gibson’s version of New York (see the Neuromancer trilogy).

    Could still happen…

  6. The Buckminster Fuller Challenge | Tim Batchelder.com Says:

    […] Futuristic housing never built in 1960s Harlem (ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com) […]

  7. Thankfully, these were never built in Central Park | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] A few examples? Moving sidewalks in Mahattan, a subway tunnel to Staten Island, a bridge spanning 125th Street to New Jersey, and 100-story housing projects in Harlem. […]

  8. The 1950s plan for a Washington Square Highway | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] The history of New York City is littered with never-realized proposals: moving sidewalks, a burial ground in Central Park, and these 100-story apartment houses meant for Harlem. […]

  9. What if the West Side Airport had been built? | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] York City that also never made it past the planning stage, such as a speedway in Central Park, a 100-story housing development in Harlem, and moving sidewalks to whisk pedestrians to their […]

  10. The bizarre 1916 plan to fill in the East River | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] like moving sidewalks, a West Side airport, and 100-story housing developments in Harlem, and an even weirder 1934 plan to fill in the Hudson River, this is another bizarre plan […]

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