The picture in this post, showing the Verrazano-Narrows bridge that connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, was not taken from a plane just about to land on JFK. It was taken in Queens Museum, were one of the most fascinating city models is kept: the Panorama of New York City built in 1964 for the World Fair. It includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs, at a scale of 1 inch to 1 foot. It was a creation of Robert Moses, the all-powerful city commissioner, as a way to display the vast amount of infrastructure and housing projects being built at the time. For the first years, the model was seen from small vehicles that moved above the model simulating a helicopter ride over the city.
Today seen more of a relic of the past, the ambition behind it is more impressive than ever: to engage the larger public in the construction of a metropolis, not only regarding projects that happen in our block or neighborhood, but through the whole city, by simply displaying an enormous replica of every single building.
The last exhibition at the Queens Museum couldn’t be more suitable to go with a visit to the Panorama: “Never Built New York” shows dozens of projects that would have changed the city but never happened.