This Rediscovered 1946 Plan to Build a West Side Airport is Pretty Wild

June 30, 2015 | Liam Mathews

Manhattan’s West Side, now growing, has been a real estate developer’s blue sky idea playground for many, many years. There have been all kinds of ill-fated plans for the valuable but elusive area abutting the Hudson: Bloomberg’s stadium, Robert Moses’ Westway, destruction by a psychic squid. Here’s one you maybe haven’t heard of: an airport. That’s right: what if instead of the West Side Highway, there was a West Side Runway?

Ephemeral New York dug up a May 1946 Life magazine article about a developer named William Zeckendorf and his plan to turn a huge chunk of west Midtown and the Upper West Side into an airport. The planned airport would have stretched from Broadway to the Hudson River and 34th Street to 79th Street.

“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,” according to the article. During this time, Idlewild (now JFK) was under construction.

This is a crazy plan, and it’s no wonder it didn’t pan out. It would have displaced an unimaginable number of homes and businesses and probably impacted Central Park. And Central Park is untouchable.

(Photo: Life Magazine)