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Emery Roth's Extravagant Tower For Washington Square

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Welcome back to Curbed's Could Have Been, where we investigate some of the most outlandish proposals and grandiose buildings that were never built. Know of a plan that never saw the light of day? Send it to the tipline.

Architect Emery Roth designed some of Manhattan's fanciest and most-sought after apartment buildings, like the El Dorado, San Remo, and the Beresford, just to name a few. Today, these legendary buildings are hotspots for New York City real estate whales, so in honor of Whale Week, we're revisiting a proposed Roth building that never came to be. The grandiose structure would have occupied an entire block beside Washington Square Park, rivaling the stately buildings surrounding Central Park (click image at right for larger photo).

Roth worked on the building in the late 1920s, and the book Around Washington Square describes it as "a conjectural building" that had "a striking central tower reminiscent of the 'Flash Gordon' towers of Roth's El Dorado, with four giant apartment wings radiating from it." The wealthy banker James Speyer supported Roth's vision, and he purchased the land where it was to go. The building would have sat on the block bound by the park, Laguardia Place, West 3rd Street, and Thompson Street.

An excerpt about the building from Around Washington Square:

Conceived as a premiere residence, the proposed extravagance might have spurred the southern portion of the square's evolution into an elegant residential district. Instead, the area became the principal target of New York University's expansion plans in the 1950s. (Roth's two 12-story wings facing the square would have been relatively massive sunblockers but they would have been kinder to the square than the future developments there).Plans for Roth's building fell apart with the Great Depression. Today, this NYU monstrosity sits on the site:

· Around Washington Square [Google books]
· Here's a Drawing of Emery Roth's Grandiose Forgotten Vision for Washington Square Park [Curbed]
· Curbed's Could Have Been archives [Curbed]