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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

When Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Plan to Flip Ellis Island Right into a Futuristic Jules Verne-Esque Metropolis (1959)


The very phrases “Ellis Island” recall to mind a number of sepia-toned pictures, formed by each Amer­i­can his­tor­i­cal truth and nation­al fable. Offi­cers employed there actual­ly did examine the attention­lids of recent arrivals with however­ton­hooks, for examination­ple, however they did­n’t actu­al­ly make a pol­i­cy of chang­ing their names, how­ev­er for­eign they sound­ed. You’ll be able to study this and far else in addition to by pay­ing a vis­it to the Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Muse­um on Ellis Island, which opened in 1990, 36 years after the clo­positive of the immi­grant inspec­tion and professional­cess­ing sta­tion itself. But when Frank Lloyd Wright had had his approach, you might stay on Ellis Island — and what’s extra, you’d nev­er want to depart it.

“After Ellis Island was decom­mis­sioned in 1954 because the nation’s gate­option to the world’s hud­dled mass­es, the U.S. Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion (GSA) selected an all-Amer­i­can path: open­ing the positioning to devel­op­ers,” write Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin on the Gotham Cen­ter for New York Metropolis His­to­ry. When NBC radio and tele­vi­sion announc­er Jer­ry Damon and direc­tor Elwood Doudt pitched to Wright the ambi­tious thought of rede­vel­op­ing the dis­used island right into a “com­plete­ly self-con­tained metropolis of the longer term,” the archi­tect replied that the challenge was “vir­tu­al­ly made to order for me.” Alas, Wright died simply earlier than they may all meet and ham­mer out the small print, however not earlier than he’d drawn up a pre­lim­i­nary however vivid plan.

Damon and Doudt automobile­ried on with what the late Wright has named the “Key Venture.” “Its Jules Verne-esque design, based mostly on Wright’s sketch­es, was res­olute­ly futur­is­tic,” write Lubell and Goldin. A “cir­cu­lar podi­um” on the island would sup­port “aside­ments for 7,500 res­i­dents, ris­ing like a stack of off­set, alter­nat­ing dish­es. Above these dwelling flooring, and sep­a­rat­ed by solar­decks, could be a cres­cent of sev­en cor­ru­gat­ed, can­dle­stick-shaped tow­ers con­tain­ing extra aside­ments and a 500-room lodge.” On the cen­ter of all of it, Wright positioned “an enormous globe, appear­ing­ly pock­marked by eons of mete­or col­li­sions, and held aloft by plas­tic canopies professional­tect­ing the plazas beneath.”

It’s straightforward to imag­ine the exe­cu­tion of this House Age city utopia not fairly liv­ing as much as Wright’s imaginative and prescient — and, certainly, to imag­ine it hav­ing fall­en by now into simply as thor­ough a state of dilap­i­da­tion as did Ellis Island’s orig­i­nal construct­ings. However it’s additionally fas­ci­nat­ing to con­sid­er what may have been Wright’s remaining com­mis­sion because the acme of the evo­lu­tion of his assume­ing concerning the city area itself. A quar­ter-cen­tu­ry ear­li­er, he’d been obsessive about the qua­si-rur­al devel­op­ment he referred to as Broad­acre Metropolis; only a few years earlier than his loss of life, he got here up with the Illi­nois Mile-Excessive Tow­er, a megas­truc­ture that may prac­ti­cal­ly have con­sti­tut­ed a metrop­o­lis in and of itself. The Key Venture, as Damon and Doudt professional­mot­ed it, would have supplied “casu­al, impressed liv­ing, minus the usu­al big-city clam­or”: the form of mar­ket­ing lan­guage we hear from devel­op­ers nonetheless right now, although not backed by the genius of probably the most famend archi­tect in Amer­i­can his­to­ry.

through Messy Nessy

Relat­ed con­tent:

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs an City Utopia: See His Hand-Drawn Sketch­es of Broad­acre Metropolis (1932)

The Unre­al­ized Tasks of Frank Lloyd Wright Get Delivered to Life with 3D Dig­i­tal Recon­struc­tions

Take a 360° Vir­tu­al Excursions of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Archi­tec­tur­al Mas­ter­items, Tal­iesin & Tal­iesin West

Why Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Fuel Sta­tion in Min­neso­ta (1958)

Por­traits of Ellis Island Immi­grants Arriv­ing on America’s Wel­com­ing Shores Cir­ca 1907

Primarily based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His initiatives embody the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the e-book The State­much less Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­e-book.



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