Posted on November 05, 2009
This is New York, so you can go on pretty much any kind of walking or bus tour in the city you can dream up, from "Sex and the City” venues to lower east side foods. But a tour of places that never were? Welcome to the very cool new iphone app “Museum of the Phantom City.” The app examines 50 architectural sites in New York that never got off the drawing board, from Buckminster Fuller’s plan for a “Mini Earth”—a miniature globe suspended by cables across from the United Nations Building—to a heliport on top of Bryant Park that could have doubled as an air raid shelter. A number of the proposals from the mid-twentieth century, in fact, show unease over the Cold War and potential attacks. Got some time on your hands? You can walk around the city and actually check out the sites where the projects would have been, if you want, using your phone like a museum audioguide of sorts. The plan was developed by Irene Cheng and Brett Snyder, founders of a design studio, in conjunction with The Van Alen Institute, a nonprofit architectural institute. Don’t have an iphone or can’t borrow one? Check out phantomcity.org. So are these things-that-never-were a missed-the-boat alternative future? Lost opportunities? Monstrosities that are better relegated to the drawing board? Whatever they are, this intersection of architecture and technology is whole lot more interesting than apps for finding the nearest deli.