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Extreme Urban Makeover: New York

A new show has the citizens of New York evacuated for a couple weeks under pretext of terror alert, and does a complete makeover of this classic American city — trimming various urban blights, correcting design flaws and improving the flow of traffic.

NEW YORK CITY — New Yorkers don't take lightly the possibility of terror attacks, so when the mayor issued an evacuation order, Gothamites got in planes, trains and automobiles and headed upstate, out to Long Island retreats, or elsewhere. When they returned, however, they were greeted by a city makeover — California style.

Oh my God!" said longtime New York City resident, Adriana Danziger, with tears welling up in her eys, "It's soooo… — what the hell did you do to our city!!!!???"

"We gave it a little trim here and there —took the tops off anything higher than 50 floors and moved those tops to outlying areas [...] to let the density breathe and give it all more of a decentralized, sprawling effect."

Sandra O'Sanderson, Design Team Lead

Three L.A.-based teams were hired to undertake the colossal makeover: a city planning team, a design team, and a construction team. During the preliminary planning of what to do with New York's stodgy, tradition-clad personality, the general group feeling was that the quintessential East Coast city had grown a little too… vertical.

"Don't get us wrong: We always loved New York for those cute skyscrapers," says design team head Sandra O'Sanderson, "but they're so 20th century. It just felt too juvenile, obvious and 'hey, look at me!'… like, some sort of man-made, Viagra-induced fantasy that was simply trying too hard. So we gave it a little trim here and there —took the tops off anything higher than 50 floors and moved those tops to outlying areas like Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Ellis Island to let the density breathe and give it all more of a decentralized, sprawling effect. Oh, and we're especially proud of Rikers Island, the former penal colony, which we did up as an Escape From New York'esque theme park, and Roosevelt Island really wanted to be done as a Jurassic Park-like aerial tram ride (designed by Universal Studios, and complete with attacking Velociraptors)."

Other changes included a personal makeover of Lady Liberty (tossing aside her old judicial garb in favor of bolder, more revealing attire), a new look and feel for the Empire State Building (featuring gigantic neon-lit King Kong statues), a much needed re-vamp of Wall Street (now closer to Rodeo Drive), and a dozen more freeways throughout Manhattan (to go with the flow).

"New York has been through so much tragedy in these past few years," says city planning lead Gil Munger, "if any city deserved this, it's the Big Apple. We wanted to do something really big for them. It was far and away the best choice for the season premiere. There's so many millions of them tripping over one another on this one little island of Manhattan. We realized that a mild touch-up was not an option. Plus, we knew we'd get a lot of support from their neighbors — and look at this turnout! It's incredible."

Indeed, New Jersey and Connecticut residents lined the main transit routes into the city when the Gothamites were given the green light to return. The stately neighbors held placards such as: "We Love You, Big Apples!" and "Home, Sweeter, Home!"

"I know it'll be a shock to some old timers," added Munger, "but we had to make some tough choices. Central Park, for example, was found to be too overwhelmingly green and simply domineering, so we cut out about 60% of it. And you got to admit that Yankee Stadium was a real eyesore — it definitely had to go. Putting a strip mall in its place will both be more aesthetically pleasing and better for the health of professional baseball."

The show's senior producers say they used New York as a testing ground, and that it's just the first in a series of extreme urban makeovers. They wouldn't comment, however, on which of the world's cities might be next, but they did hint at one promise with the new show: "Oui… will rock you."


BARING ALL: The Statue of Liberty and other NYC icons have undergone a seismic shift of L.A. proportions.




ISSUE # 24

Extreme Urban Makeover: New York

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