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May 10, 2010

What We Built (and Didn’t)

Bloomberg’s surprisingly unchanged city.

New York Magazine
by Justin Davidson

At times during the last decade, it felt as though every part of New York was constantly trying on new identities, and not always so comfortably. “The City We Imagined/The City We Made: New New York 2001–2010,” a sweepingly particular new exhibit presented by the Architectural League in a storefront at 250 Hudson Street, chronicles that period of convulsive construction. On one side of a snaking line of panels is the imagined New York: a time line of dreams, fights, proposals, announcements, visions, and revisions. On the other are 1,000 photographs of the city as it really became. You could walk through the displays repeatedly and follow a different story line each time. The show is a sentimental journey through a decade’s worth of real-estate-development fights.

In these ten years, New Yorkers discussed what was to be built with vituperative intensity. Architecture mattered—architects themselves became celebrities—and the city’s soul always seemed to be hanging in the balance. What dominated discussion were the grandest dreams and angriest battles: the threat of a stadium looming over the West Side, the vision of a jagged Olympic village bristling at Hunters Point, the alternately hopeful and paralytic saga of Moynihan Station, the demoralizing arc of Atlantic Yards, the tortuous tale of the World Trade Center. Many of these are stories of soufflélike fantasies that collapsed and left their sites in 2010 essentially as they were in 2001—or worse.

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Posted by eric at May 10, 2010 11:08 AM