New York City has a long history of grand, ambitious plans that never make it past the idea stage.
But some of the wackier or just-plain-wrong proposals were focused on Central Park. And that’s just in the park’s first half-century of existence.
“If the various persons who have sought to invade Central Park in the last 60 years, for projects in themselves often worthy, oftener grotesque, and frequently purely commercial, had had their way, there would now be nothing left of the park except a few walks and drives, and a lake on which steamboats and full-rigged ships would be plying,” states an amusing New York Times article from 1918 (headline above).
Among the ideas, according to the article: a theater seating 100,000, a sports stadium, a burial ground for the city’s “distinguished dead,” Grant’s Tomb, the paving of the lower end of the park, free swimming baths, and a speedway that would encircle the entire park.
More outlandish: straightening the circular paths throughout the park so they made the park into a “checkerboard,” a “street railway” running through the park, and cutting up the park and turning it into building lots!
[Vintage postcards: NYPL Digital Gallery]
Tags: building in Central Park, Central Park history, Central Park Speedway, Central Park theater, Crazy plans for Central Park, plans for Central Park, Things never built in New York City, vintage postcards Central Park