Book Review: Never Built New York

The book Never Built New York is extremely fascinating. Once you start reading, you will find yourself flipping from page to page, reading about failed concepts to transform the city. From skyscrapers to new street grids, this book is filled with ideas on how architects, urban planners, and mayors were planning to leave their mark on the Big Apple. Some plans dating back to the late 19th century, while others more recent, if they would have become a reality, New York would not be what we know it to be today, for better or worse. The author leaves you to decide whether these concepts would have been beneficial to the city or not, and crafts a book that makes you realize, wow, if things only went slightly differently, we might be living completely different lives. The United Nations might have been in the Flushing Meadows Park, in Queens. An expressway could have run through Midtown. Grand Central could have been demolished and replaced with a bland skyscraper. A bridge to Hoboken could have been built. The city could have had a network of boulevards. If all of these plans were realized, it could spell disaster, or prosperity for New York. It depends on your perspective. This book can immerse and New Yorker, regardless of their interests. But this fantastic book chronicles, above all, the New York we have. Although it is not perfect, although it is often dirty and noisy, it’s New York. It’s what we have. As we read about the city that could have been, what we are really doing is learning about the city we have. We can’t change what happened in the past, but we can make an effect on our city’s future.

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