What if the West Side Airport had been built?

Imagine if the entire stretch of Manhattan from West 34th Street to West 79th Street from Broadway to the Hudson River was an enormous airport runway.


It could have happened in 1946—if flamboyant real estate developer William Zeckendorf had his way.

That’s when Zeckendorf unveiled plans for his West Side Airport, the city’s “dream” airport that would obliterate Midtown West and part of the Upper West Side.


Handling 68 domestic commercial flights per hour, “the sprawling terminal, in effect, would bring air service right to the heart of New York City and eliminate the necessity of limousine travel to and from existing airports which are 10 miles outside the business districts,” states a May 1946 Life article.


“[Zeckendorf’s] plan included the building of thirty-five 10-story buildings for industrial purposes, terminals for buses and trucks, commercial and freight railroad lines, and an airport standing above the buildings and streets on a sizable deck,” states one book on urban renewal.

WestsideairportinsideIt’s not exactly a surprise that the airport idea died a quick death. Though Zeckendorf was a successful developer who helped piece together land to build the United Nations, some of his other ideas—a 102-story tower on top of Grand Central terminal, a boulevard of apartment houses on 42nd Street leading to the U.N.—also tanked.

They join so many other ideas for New 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 destinations.

[Photos: Life]

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7 Responses to “What if the West Side Airport had been built?”

  1. FGFM (@FGFM) Says:

    Your move, Robert Moses.

  2. bob bride Says:

    And just think: he could have rearranged the arm on the statue of liberty with Stop and Go signs for incoming traffic!

  3. natnekotan Says:

    Reblogged this on Natalie.

  4. Jackie Cangro Says:

    Thank goodness this never came to fruition!

  5. The insane 1934 plan to fill in the Hudson River | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] out more crazy plans and proposals for New York City that thankfully never made it past the blueprint […]

  6. Dawn Martinez-Byrne Says:

    I’m a fan of the double-decker airport. There’s no possible way that could go wrong, no siree Bob.

  7. 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 […]

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