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August 20, 2006

Get rid of the Hudson River

Image of New York City from Modern Mechanix

Man, I thought Robert Moses was the worst thing that could happen to urban planning in New York City. Thank goodness a guy named Norman Sper never came to power. As outlined in a 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix magazine, Sper's master plan was...wait for it...dam the Hudson River at both ends of Manhattan Island, pump out the water, fill in the entire river channel, and...voila!...you've just doubled the size of New York City!

Never mind that you'd destroy a stretch of a great river, Sper had a city to build. Besides, the evil Soviets were watching...

"When every possible subterranean necessity had been anticipated and built," Sper points out, "a secondary fill would bring the level up to within twenty-five feet of the Manhattan street level.

"Upon this level would rest the foundations and basements of the buildings that would make up the new city above, planned for fresh air, sunshine and beauty. Thus, below the street level would be a subterranean system of streets that would serve a double purpose. All heavy trucking would be confined to it, but primarily it would serve as a great military defense against gas attack in case of war, for in it would be room for practically the entire population of the city.

"If the Russians had the vision and the courage not only to build huge cities from the ground up, but to practically rebuild an empire, surely America should not be frightened at a project as big as this."

Happily, Sper never had the mojo to pull this plan off...or as far as I can tell, any other plan. The article describes Sper as a "noted publicist and engineering scholar." If anyone knows anything more about this guy, let me know.

(Thanks to BLDGBLOG)

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at August 20, 2006 08:30 PM