New York City transit is its own entity.
It's such a monstrous being that New Yorkers have come to instinctively adapt the inevitable absurdities of City transit into our day. Delays, construction, crack heads running free in the West Side Highway, rail fire: whatever they may be.
But what if the rules of the game were different? What if there were more options, different routes?
Would it be any better, or would we just have more of the same problems? Now we can see what NYC may have looked like... had we built more highways.
Now most people who know anything about why NYC has the highways it has, know about Robert Moses.
He was perhaps the most prolific municipal builder of his time, and definitely a controversial figure-- as his proposals didn't always jive with the people who lived where he wanted to build things. (See: Eminent Domain.)
For better or worse, not all of Moses' plans came to fruition, which peaked contemporary cartographer Andrew Lynch's curiosity, who promptly went down the rabbit hole of mapping Moses' unrealized highway plans for NYC.
Lynch could have stopped there, but really Moses was just one of a number of builders dreaming up NYC roadways. So Lynch, using Google Maps and data from nycroads.com, rendered most of the NYC highway proposals that weren't approved in the first half of the 20th century.
And the maps are... well, in one word: wild.
Maybe the biggest stand outs are what would have been called the Lower Manhattan Expressway and the Mid-Manhattan Expressway. Could you imagine Midtown, or Lower Manhattan with a highway striking right through it?
Staten Island, as well, could have seen many more roadways. Five imaginary Staten Island highways exist really only on this map...
See all of the "what if" highways, in all of their hypothetical glory, right here.