Meet Lower East Side resident Rob Gorski, who recently purchased a 91 acre island in northern Michigan, three miles from the eastern shore of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior. He found the island on Craigslist while serving at Jury Duty, and since buying it he's put some plans into place for what he describes as a miniature redo of Manhattan. Color us intrigued! He writes:
Excerpts from the opening chapters of Delirious New York by Rem Koolhass, a book dissecting the architecture built upon the wilderness of Manhattan over the last 388 years as well as the systemic influences guiding the performance. The first few chapters illustrate Manhattan evolving from a native state to fully developed urban grid at a momentous pace (over the shortest period of time in the history of the world). They show that Manhattan offers remarkable—if obvious—guiding principle related to human interaction with frontier and that the settlement of the forests of Manhattan is a benchmark act of civilization. Yet it is not without mistake.
From this perspective if New York City were rediscovered today by individuals benefiting from hindsight and contemporary knowledge of environmental science, biology, historical sequence and externality, would the ensuing project unfold differently? America itself? What would a do-over look like? It is wonderful to think about.
The island, called Rabbit Island, has never before been developed and remains completely un-subdivided and in it's natural state. He told us, "It is because of this rare complete absence of civilization we feel it would be an interesting setting for thinkers, artists, writers and dancers given the contrasts to typical urban life." As for the idea of how his version of Manhattan would be built today, he says, "The parts that would surely stay would be arts institutions, certain infrastructure... But we will likely bypass the development of every square inch idea, instead going for restraint according to a modern way of thinking." But will there be a miniature Statue of Liberty? He told us, "I do want to make monuments, like Liberty, but not that specifically. Perhaps modern equivalents... that is what the artists will figure out when they go out there."
He's already broke ground on the island, building a "very basic cabin and studio." Currently his first artist in residence, Andrew Ranville, is there. After that, he'll officially invite other artists to live there next year. You can check out his Kickstarter campaign for more details.
UPDATE: In response to some of the comments, including those of the people involved in the project, the owner of this island originally contacted us pitching his story as (his words): "Manhattan: a redo, in miniature," and further explaining it as "what if Woody Allen got off the boat and met the Indians."