When the Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center opened in 1962, Robert Wagner took the opportunity to discuss the future of the city, and specifically, what it would look like 50 years on... in 2012. Let's dig in to some of the gems he came up with, some more accurate than others:

  • "We may safely say that in 2012 New York City will be a city where all races and nations meet and mingle—a city of many cultures, each of which will be respected and prized. The prevailing spirit of this city in 2012 will reflect the spirit of individual enterprise, of economic opportunity, of social ferment and of cultural excitement. At the same time it will bespeak social pioneering, progress and justice."
  • The tight space will "shape and form" the city architecturally, and Wagner notes, "I do not see many more than 8,000,000 living within the present limits of the five boroughs. In fact, Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and the Bronx might well be somewhat decongested." He predicted that the population in Queens, specifically Richmond, would grow the most. And indeed, all together the five boroughs have just over 8.1 million.
  • "New York City will still be called 'the city.'"
  • Apartment and office buildings will rise even higher... but they will not occupy all the ground space. There will be more sunlight, grass and greenery. Small parks and squares will balance skyscrapers."
  • "Most apartments will be owned by the people living in them. Rental housing will be generally for the very young, for newcomers and for transients."
  • The charm and character of individual neighborhoods will be foremost among the values to be preserved."
  • "As for slums, they will be just a memory of a rot that afflicted the city long ago. We may fervently hope that racial discrimination will be only a legend, referred to as an illustration of a past shame and injustice."
  • "Shopping streets and centers will become malls."
  • "Educational institutions will occupy more and more of the city's square footage... All parts of the city's great free-tuition university"!
  • "Factories will be smokeless, as most vehicles will be, too. The air will be far less poisonous with soot and fumes."
  • "Many New Yorkers may well be traveling from suburb to city, from borough to borough, by rocket-powered vehicles suspended from monorails, or by huge vertical-rising helicopters."
  • "As for mass media, I see fewer newspapers... more television news coverage."

Wagner wasn't the only one to make predictions... here's what New Yorkers of 1881 thought NYC would look like, and another rendering from 1900 of a 1999 Manhattan. Maybe it's time we start making predictions for the city in 2113? [via Retronaut]