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Sean's first LEGO city     ‹ Back to portfolio
Photo of Sean's first LEGO city

This 40,000 piece city was Sean's first LEGO model as an adult.

Inspired by nearby Manhattan,buildings range from 5-foot-tall Empire State Building to tiny slums that fit 6-per square foot. Displayed on a custom-built table, the city had subterrantia that included a subway, sunken plazas, and real electric wiring.

• 40,000 pieces
• 4 feet wide, 8 feet long.
• Tallest buildings were 5 to 6 feet tall.
• Built from June 1997 to May 15, 2000
the city Map numbers correspond to the buildings below.
On this page
1. Empire State Building
2. Open air plaza
3. World Trade Center
4. Subway station
5. Old commercial building
6. Department store
7. Museum
8. Government complex
9. Old time hotel
10. Apartment towers with parking garage
11. Victorian apartment conversion
12. Slums
14. Telecom building

Empire State Building     #1 on map
Over 5 feet tall, this was Sean's first LEGO skyscraper ever. It was not incredibly accurate or detailed, but it was a great centerpiece for the city. It contained over 20 floors of offices, stores, and other services for tourists, including a observation deck on the top floor.

Sean has since modeled a more accurate Empire State Building

Open air plaza     #2 on map

At the heart of the city was this plaza, central to all the hustle & bustle of shopping, entertainment, and business. The plaza was actually sunken into the ground, made possible since the entire city was actually raised up on little pillars.

World Trade Center     #3 on map

The LEGO World Trade Center has its own page.

This model was made long before the terrorist attacks. It wasn't a political statement, it didn't have anything to do with death or war or anti war or anything. It was just a really cool set of buildings. This LEGO WTC project started in April 2000; the first tower was finished in February 2001, was accidenially knocked over by a friend a few months later.

Go to the LEGO WTC page Go to the LEGO WTC page Go to the LEGO WTC page
Go to the LEGO WTC page
Subway station     #4 on map
The subways were actually located beneath the roads, since the entire city was raised up on LEGO pillars. The station was on the edge of the city, so you can look right in at it... which looked darn cool. :)

Sean has since prototyped a more realistic subway station

Old commercial building     #5 on map

This 7-story building was designed after one of Fifth Avenue's oldest commercial buildings. It had real working electric lights, a florist, a general store, a laundromat, and a graphic design studio. The lower floors have "drop cielings" that allow electrical wiring to run across the building and into the various offices. There are also vertical ducts enclosed in the rear of the building to allow wiring to run to the upper floors. The whole building hinges open on its center to allow access to the interior.

Department store     #6 on map

Inspired in part by the now closed Manhattan Mall, this building had several floors of retail. Most of the mall's space was occupied by a 4-floor department store. The 5th floor was vacant office space, and at street level there was a small hair salon and a bank. It had 20 gargoyles on the facade, and had recessed windows and mouldings common in art-deco styling. The top 3 floors detach from the base to allow access to below.

Museum     #7 on map

This was the oldest building in the city, built in June of 1997. It was only 1 story tall but the main exhibit hall had a 2-story vaulted cieling, topped with a glass dome. This was the only structure in the city that was not taller than it was wide. Exhbits on display: "Dianosaur!", "The Wonderful World of Widgets", "Early Space Exploration", "Under the Sea", along with several others.

Government complex     #8 on map

This 3-story building had a post office, the department of motor vehicles, the a courtroom, and the mayor's office. Built in 1998, it was torn down and rebuilt in early 1999. And then retrofitted with real electric lights in 2000. The Government Complex was constructed in the "International" style of architecture, common in the late 1970's and the 1980's. The most common feature of this style was the "vertical striped" facade. The World Trade Center in New York was built in the same style. The building was hinged down the center so that it can swing open easily and allow access to all the floors.

Old time hotel     #9 on map
Modeled after a small 1930's hotel, the hotel was 5 stories tall and one of the oldest buildings in the city. When completed in June 1998, it stood as the tallest building for a short while. It had since been surpassed in height but stands proudly as a symbol of days gone by. Includes 6 hotel rooms, plus a penthouse suite with snooty furniture.

Apartment towers with parking garage     #10 on map

This 10 story apartment highrise sat atop a 3 floor parking deck. Between the two towers was a lobby with a 3-story vaulted cieling. The exterior of the building also features a large clock in the front, and a rear veranda with a swimming pool and lounge area. Located across from the three largest shopping centers in the city, its parking facilities were used for both guests to the city as well as residents of the building. The building was inspired by a building in Newark, NJ across from the Newark Penn station. No attempt was made to literally mimick the structure in Newark; Sean instead chose to incorporate these features into an original design.

Victorian apartment conversion     #11 on map
Inspired by a 200 year old building at Rutgers University, this 2-foot-tall renovated Victorian building was home to five floors of vaulted-cieling luxury apartments. The building uses stacked sets of standard LEGO windows to achieve the "tall window" look common in victorian styling. It also had a "woodworked" canopy that stretches out over the sidewalk and two chimneys running up either side of the building. The building was inspired by a 200 year old building at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick NJ.

Slums     #12 on map
Amidst the giant lumbering beasts in the city, you'll often find a tiny beat-up building or two. Six, in this case. The buildings consist of two apartment buildings, a diner, and three buildings that have shops downstairs and apartments upstairs. The smallest of the apartments was actally under the stairwell in one of the buildings. :) It was even too small to get a photo of, unfortunately. The diner had a dumpster out back. The buildings are all illuminated with real electric lights, although there are no photos that show this very well.
Telecom building     #14 on map

This is a 5-story office building with communications equipment on the roof. This was the first building in the city with real electric lights; Sean used dollhouse lighting kits, since the wires were very thin.. thin enough to fit in between joined LEGO pieces!