The Plan to Dam the Hudson and Connect Manhattan to New Jersey
February 23, 2012
Back on terra firma, we’ve come across old plans for right here in New York that are nearly as ambitious as building an elevator to space or constructing your own Death Star. As we learned from Gothamist, engineer Norman Sper’s 1934 proposal to dam and fill the Hudson River would have connected Manhattan to New Jersey and added ten square miles of real estate to the city. This valuable land would have ostensibly solved the traffic and housing problems which afflicted the city at the time (and still do) by making way for the extension of the grid westward, creating a series of new avenues, cross-streets, parks, and buildings. The visionary project called for the erection of giant twin dams, with the Upper Dam located just beyond the George Washington Bridge and the Lower Dam extending from Lower Manhattan to Jersey City, rerouting the course of the Hudson and merging it with the East River. The filled-in Hudson riverbed would then have been riddled with an intricate, layered network of subterranean roads, conduits, and subway lines. Yet the project’s $1 billion pricetag effectively barred any serious research or feasibility tests from being carried out.