6 Insane Early Drafts of Iconic Buildings

#3. The Space Needle Was a Towering Balloon

It's the only building in Seattle you've probably heard of, other than their sports stadiums. The Jetsons-esque Space Needle is world-famous, and has been rising tall in the city ever since it opened for the Seattle World's Fair in 1962:

Getty
Food tastes better when you're nauseous.

As distinctive as the current structure is, the original plans looked like they'd been designed at a Salvador Dali/Dr. Seuss convention:

vintageseattle
"I'm not saying this out of spite, but fuck you totally, Frank Lloyd Wright."

Wait, What?

Beginning in the late 1950s, a stream of architects submitted their designs, some weirder than others (the one on the left up there was architect Edward Carlson's design, which would have cable cars go swirling up to a giant balloon base). When the city thought that would be too complicated, they then said OK to a revolving restaurant/planetarium idea (on the left):

vintageseattle
"As long as we can impale a downed UFO on it to warn our enemies, it's all gravy."

After seriously considering the balloon shape again, it was decided having a compromise shape would be best, and that they should nix the idea for cable cars to travel up to it in on account of that idea being expensive, insane and probably physically impossible. They went with the idea of mixing the narrow stem support of the balloon idea with the saucer-shaped top submitted by a somewhat more conventional architect, John Graham. It was chosen, just after the foundation was poured, as the final design:

vintageseattle

The Space Needle, if it hadn't been for a competing architect trying to get a compromise idea, could have nearly become the giant balloon looming like the eye of Sauron over Seattle.

#2. The Lincoln Tunnel Was Going to Be a Massive Bridge

Even if you can't picture the tunnel that connects New York and New Jersey (the Lincoln Tunnel), you can pretty much guess what it looks like. It's a tunnel:

Wikipedia
Never enter a shelter with less than three exits. That's the Cracked way.

What it is not is a gigantic bridge, which is what it was originally going to be:

untappedcities
Instead of the Lincoln Tunnel, we would have had the Shithouse Crazy Bridge.

Wait, What?

Before the tunnel was built in the 1930s, it was indeed initially planned as a bridge. A few decades earlier, bridge maker Gustav Lindenthal got permission from the city of New York to connect midtown Manhattan and New Jersey via a giant ass bridge with 12 rail lines, 24 lanes for car traffic and two pedestrian sidewalks.

untappedcities
That's one car a lane, if we know the 1930s.

Even more amazing would be the bridge's towers. Rising to over 825 feet, they would have become the largest structures in the world, with the towers being taller than the Woolworth Building, then the reigning world champion.

untappedcities
When architects feel emasculated, they just punch people in the dick until the feeling goes away.

Lindenthal actually started on the bridge, working on one of the towers in New Jersey in 1895. However, several recessions and WWI interrupted the project. That's when the Holland Tunnel came on line just south in lower Manhattan in 1927. The government, which was funding the bridge, saw the tunnel as a cheaper and less insane option, and pulled the plug.

Meanwhile, architect Ole Singstad hastily rewrote the bridge into a new tunnel. There are a few remnants of the megabridge left that were never removed, a testament to aborted projects everywhere.

untappedcities
And failed erections.

#1. The New World Trade Center Building Could Have Been Utter Insanity

The Freedom Tower, the replacement for the World Trade Center twin towers, is coming along nicely. It's in the middle of construction, but in a year or so will look like this:

Wikipedia
Bald eagles will just be smacking into that thing everyday out of patriotic glare-blindness.

However, quite a few unique alternate designs were submitted, and if they'd been chosen, they would have basically turned Manhattan into a live-action acid trip:

thecityreview
We want freedom! The freedom to trip out and be sick into a bush!

Wait, What?

When a competition arose to find a new building for the New York World Trade Center complex in the mid-2000s, architects from around the world collectively submitted over 5,200 entries like the one above (and it's actually one of the least insane candidates).

For instance, William Pederson of Kohn Pederson Fox Associates put in a proposal for a huge building that would have a giant bridge running 300 feet over midtown Manhattan that would connect it right to the Statue of Liberty ferry terminal. And when we say "over" midtown Manhattan, we mean it would literally be placed on top of several existing skyscrapers:

thecityreview
"It's about connection. Like, so much connection. We could totally just connect with Ireland. Or whatever."

Another candidate was designed by Peter Eisenman, who submitted a project that would pretty much turn the New York skyline into a series of giant pound signs. Amazingly, this design was favored early on until relatives of 9/11 victims spoke out against this architectural experiment, although it still became a finalist and was nearly chosen.

renewnyc
Other finalists: A floating umlaut and a hashtag connected to a Kanye West tweet.

The Wolf Prix firm of Vienna, Austria, probably takes the insanity prize with a design that included three buildings that would support a giant hourglass-shaped building in the middle. The judges liked this idea, but found the design to be a little off when they learned that nothing like this had ever been attempted before.

thecityreview
The funnel serves as a giant meth distillery.

It was finally decided that the winner was David Childs' far less radical design. Although not lacking in symbolism or architectural testing (having a height of 1,776 feet and a glass facade), it was far more traditional than a design that would have looked more at home in Whoville.

Wikipedia
It's always Christmas in Freedomland, because that's what capitalism is all about.

For more origin stories, check out 7 Shockingly Dark Origins of Lovable Children's Characters and 5 Insane Early Drafts of Famous Movie Characters.

And stop by LinkSTORM to see Brockway's mysterious and deadly beginnings.

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