The Great West Point Elevator
At the turn of the 20th Century, West Point decided it needed to expand. Having erected individual buildings as needed for a half-century, the campus required not only new and larger buildings, it cried out for a cohesive design. In 1903, the Academy held a national competitive search to solicit bids. The competition was discussed in the newspapers and closely monitored by the public. Most of the leading architectural firms sent proposals. The winning firm was Boston's Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson. Their buildings, including the Cadet Chapel, the Administration Building (Taylor Hall), and the Riding Hall (Thayer Hall), are now synonymous with West Point's landscape.
But Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson also proposed numerous buildings that were never built because of budgetary restraints. Today, let's talk about what might have been the coolest elevator ever built. In the first decade of the 1900s, nearly all West Point visitors arrived at what is now known as the South Dock. Both the West Shore Railroad and numerous steamboats stopped here. Tourism was popular and in the summer the visitors were many.
The South Dock presented a problem that any West Point visitor or resident still deals with, namely a tough climb uphill to the main buildings around the Plain. For decades, carriages helped visitors get to the Hotel on Trophy Point from the dock, but Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson proposed building an elevator to take passengers to the flat level now occupied by Thayer Road. From the top of the elevator, visitors would have been facing directly uphill looking at a new hotel that would replace the then 80-year old one on the Plain. In the end, the Government decided that these projects were too expensive and were scrapped.
Below is a crop of a Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson plan showing the location of the elevator and hotel that were never built. Below the map I've posted two renderings of the elevator. The first is from 1903 and the second was published in 1908.