Skyscraper Airport for City of Tomorrow (Nov, 1939)

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Skyscraper Airport for City of Tomorrow

WHAT the metropolitan skyport of tomorrow may look like, as conceived by Nicholas DeSantis, New York commercial artist, is shown in the illustration below. His remarkable proposal, embodied in a model that he has completed after five years’ study of the project, calls for a 200-story building capped by an airplane field eight city blocks long and three blocks wide. A lower level of his “aerotrop-olis,” as he has named it, offers a port for lighter-than-air craft. Hangars for planes and airships occupy the top fifty floors.

Commuters living 100 miles or more from the city would fly to work in their private planes. Landing on the roof, they would descend by elevators and moving platforms to an indoor parking space for 250,000 private cars and taxis, whence they would be whisked without delay to their destination. Similar facilities would serve passengers arriving by transport planes and airship lines. By centralizing air and land terminals in one building, the “aerotropolis” would save time now lost in journeying to and from airports far from the heart of a city. Other parts of the building provide space for offices and light industrial plants, theaters, two enormous arenas for football and baseball games, restaurants, and cafes.

17 comments
  1. spayced says: January 6, 20081:51 pm

    That building is amazingly massively hugely gigantic. It appears 1.5 miles long, 1.0 mile wide, and 0.5 miles tall.

  2. Firebrand38 says: January 6, 20082:34 pm

    Not to mention the airships being unaffected by air currents nor the insurance premiums for the possibility of a plane crashing on landing.

    Shows that he’s more of an artist than an engineer. Really easy to draw something much harder to design something that would work.

    Apparently the word aerotropolis is still in use to describe an airport as a central business district. http://www.aerotropolis…

  3. Blurgle says: January 6, 200810:01 pm

    Don’t overshoot the runway on that airport!

  4. Blurgle says: January 6, 200810:07 pm

    spayced, remember that aircraft back then were much smaller and needed much less room to take off and land – many airports back then had runways of under 2,000 feet. It’s more like .5 miles long, .2 miles wide, and .5 miles high – which is still immense.

    But the diagram shows a complete lack of knowledge of aviation as well as of engineering.

  5. glindsey says: January 7, 200810:53 am

    Hey, at least the artist remembered to include an area for the many hundreds of airships that would be docking daily in the future!

  6. Myles says: January 7, 200811:21 am

    Aren’t winds usually stronger at such heights? Where are the taxiways for planes? Where is the runway for crosswinds? Where do they store all the plans landing from the commuters? Why didn’t the artist speak to a pilot? Is someone going to want to rent an office in the top floors where the planes crash?

  7. Rick. says: January 7, 20081:33 pm

    And you posters show a complete lack of fun. This image is a riot.

  8. Myles says: January 7, 20081:48 pm

    I also like the green area labelled “parks”. I want to have a picnic on the edge of the tallest building while watching planes flown by commuters crash around me.

  9. Richard C says: January 7, 20083:10 pm

    Myles, note that the article says that the top 50 floors are hangars for the airplanes. So that’s where they store the planes, and that answers the question about renting the office space on the top floors, too (no offices). There aren’t taxiways, instead there are elevators.

    However, if you’ve ever been in close proximity to even a small taxiing aircraft, you’ll know that a propeller isn’t a great method of getting around in tight quarters like a parking garage. I’d guess they’d need some sort of tugs, conveyor belts, or other means of moving the planes to and from parking areas. You definitely wouldn’t want to use a propeller to taxi up a ramp with a significant slope, at least not with any traffic behind you!

    I wonder how they handle the traffic pattern for all those parallel runways so close together.

  10. Myles says: January 7, 20084:11 pm

    Okay, you got me on the fifty floors, I didn’t read carefully. So if they have fifty floors of airplanes, isn’t that about 1,200 city blocks of parking space? It sounds like they would be expecting a hundred thousand or more aircraft movements per day. That is more flights than smaller airports receive in a year, or about 140 landings and take offs per minute. Also to get to the sides for parking, the planes have to cross all of the active runways, sort of like the old arcade game Frogger. Could be tricky :)

  11. Stannous says: January 7, 20087:23 pm

    Well, obviously the building is on giant bearings powered by massive monorail train engines do that it can turn into the wind.
    (okay it doesn’t say that or show it anywhere but what the hell, it’s no _more_ unrealistic than what’s there.)

  12. jayessell says: January 7, 20087:47 pm

    Ha!
    I said that at Ephemeral Isle!

  13. Baron Waste says: January 8, 20087:29 am

    Hey, Nick – planes land into the wind, not with it. Your “landing” and “takeoff” areas are on the wrong sides of the building!

    - Odd, how the symbol in front is just one notch removed from that of AEROFLOT. Significant?

  14. اخبار داغ در هفت تیر

  15. CJ says: January 9, 200811:22 pm

    I wonder if this article was used in the conceptualization of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Reminds me of the opening scene.

  16. seraph says: January 25, 20087:50 am

    Boy that would be one big eyesore, its big and pink

  17. Stewart (Pilot) says: September 2, 20085:11 am

    Um…so if you have a mechanical failure and have to land without flaps…followed by your brakes failing, I am assuming that there is some type of High-Tech contraption that will stop the plane from rolling off the other side of the building? ;)

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