In accordance with the Land Acquisition Program New York City has acquired over 4200 acres of land for watershed protection. The 40 + properties are located in Delaware, Putnam, Greene, Ulster, Schoharie and Westchester counties and were purchased for $16 million. Land acquisition programs are seen as the most effective way of securing healthy watersheds and securing a safe source for drinking water. New York City’s program has been one of the most comprehensive and successful in the world. Due to its success New York is one of only 5 large cities in the country not required to filter its water, the others being Boston, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. New York city has promised $541 million to purchase land to protect the unfiltered drinking water used across New York City. Most of the acquired land will be opened to public access for hiking and fishing, as well as interested that help local businesses. The city pays market value to willing sellers for the land it acquires.



December 19, 2010

Located on a brownfield site along the east river, Solar1 was developed as an environmental learning center in Stuyvesant Cove Park. The building itself is solar-powered and used as a place to educate students and residents from New York to learn about the principles of energy conservation in the urban environment and their neighborhoods. Solar1 (the nonproft organization not the building of the same name) plans to create Solar 2 which will be a “Green Energy Arts and Education Center”. The building itself will be a Platinum LEED certified “net-zero” building. Some events they host are movie screenings during the summer (the building itself is powered by solar panels as is all of the equipment used for the screenings), renewable energy education program, estuary and native plant course designed around Stuyvesant park, etc. the programs and events the organization offers promote environmental education and civic engagement.

Though remembered as America’s first leading landscape painter, Thomas Cole was an immigrant born in Lancashire, England in 1801. After coming to America at age 17 he traveled around the east coast with his family. After first learning oil-based painting with a portrait artist Cole began to establish a manner of meticulously detailed drawings that would become the mode for his future landscape works. After a trip to New York Cole released his first collection of illustrations he sketched on a trip up the Hudson River in the summer o 1825. His works garnered him attention from important patrons in New York and by 1829 when he left to continue his studies he was a founding member of the National Academy of Design. When he returned to New York in 1833 he was commissioned to create he work The Course of Empire (1836) which was an allegory depicting the progression of a society. After that his work focused mainly on the “realistic view” as that’s where he found most of his success and where most public interest was at the time. Many years later after finding his own success and defining a new, uniquely American style, Cole took in Frederic E. Church as a pupil, Church would then go on to be the leading painter in the second generation of the Hudson River school style.

The Patroons

December 19, 2010

In 1629 the Dutch colony in New York established a system much resembling feudalism. A patroon was the name for a landowner who had manorial rights over a large plot of land. With the creation of the Charter of Freedom and Exemptions permission was granted to these individuals to “choose and take possession of as much land as they could properly cultivate and hold in full ownership.” A true patroon was one who obtained fifty adults within a period of four years. This allowed him to have territory extending sixteen miles on one side or eight miles on both sides of a river.

A patroon could create civil and criminal courts, and could appoint local officials. The tenants of these estates would be relieved from paying taxes for 10 year but in return had to pay the patron in money, services, or goods. The most successful of the patrons was Kiliaen van Rensselaer whose manor Rensselaerwyck covered the New York State counties of Albany, Rensselaer and part of Columbia.

The striped bass is the largest member of the sea bass family. Saxatilis is Latin for “dwelling among rocks.” The striped bass has a dorsal fin that is clearly separated into spiny and soft-rayed portion. Striped bass are silvery, shading to olive-green on the back and white on the belly, with seven or eight horizontal stripes on each side of the body. They also have two distinct tooth patches on the back of the tongue, whereas another species like white bass has one tooth patch. Striped bass have two sharp points on each gill cover, while white bass have one. The striped bass can live in both freshwater and saltwater environments. In coastal populations, individuals may travel upstream as much as 100 miles inland to spawn. There are land-locked populations that complete their entire life cycle in freshwater. These generally ascend tributaries of the lakes or reservoirs where they spend their lives. Spawning begins in the spring when water temperatures approach 60 degrees. Running water is necessary to keep eggs in motion until hatching. In general, at least 50 miles of stream for the eggs to float in is required for successful hatches. Striped bass may reach a size of 10 to 12 inches during the first year. Males are generally mature in two years, and females in three to four. Adults feed predominantly on members of the herring family such as gizzard shad and threadfin shad. The striped bass is anadromous, native to a variety of habitats including shores, bays, and estuaries.
The striped bass has gone through cycles of being abundant and scarce in the Hudson. Environmentalists have put a lot of effort into protecting the this species. They have been used to judge the state of the river. For example, if the striped bass population is low, surveyors know that the river has high levels of harmful toxins. The Westway plan, a plan to put the Westside Highway underground, was spoiled due to the striped bass. The developers failed to include the effects the project would have on the striped bass in the Hudson and they were forced to do another study. The striped bass mating season was a long time away, so developers canceled the project.

Dutch West India Company

December 18, 2010

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After Hudson’s voyage and “discovery” of New York for the Dutch, they established the area as New Netherland. They started the Dutch West India Company and monopolized trade. The success of the Dutch East India Company was an influential factor in its establishment. The United New Netherland Company, which had been trading around the Hudson River for several years, was absorbed into the Dutch West India Company. A charter was set stating that no citizen of the Netherlands could trade with any point on the African coast between the Tropic of Cancer and the Cape of Good Hope or on the American coast between Newfoundland and the Straits of Magellan without the company’s permission. The company had almost complete administrative and judicial power in its territory. Seeing the success in trade the Portuguese had, the company was initially interested taking Brazil from the them, but after 30 years of warfare, Portugal maintained the area. By 1626, the company had built Fort Orange on the site of Albany, N.Y., Fort Nassau on the Delaware River, Fort Good Hope on the site of Hartford on the Connecticut River, and Fort Amsterdam on the southern tip of Manhattan. Fort Amsterdam was the nucleus of the settlement called New Amsterdam, now New York City. New Netherland remained under the control of the company until the English finally conquered it in 1664. After England took over New Netherlands, the company engaged primarily in the African slave trade. The company ended in 1791 when its charter expired and was not renewed.

Each year the DEP sponsors and water conservation  art and poetry contest for school children. This contest serves as a way to educate and engage the youth in our city with the unique and precious resource that is New York City’s water system. This includes not only the delicious Catskill fed tap water but also our waste water treatment processes and why water conservation is important. Entries are received from 4th, 5th and 6th graders from all five boroughs. The contest is part of the DEP’s celebration of national drinking water week. I think that it is fascinating to see how these youngsters express their understanding of the issues we have delved so deeply into this semester. They will one day inherit this amazing resource and I am glad that they are being educated about it at such an impressionable age. Below are some of the winners from the 2009 contest.


December 16, 2010



December 15, 2010

H&H oyster

I emailed Galin Brooks from Friends of Hudson River Park with a few short questions about the park and the organization. Much of what she said also dealt with the Hudson River Park Trust.

. Where does your revenue come from?
Our revenue comes primarily from individual donors but also from foundations and some local government funding. The Hudson River Park Trust’s revenue comes from the City and State.

. What are you and other organizations planning on doing with pier 40?
Pier 40 must be at least 50% open space according to the Hudson River Park Trust Act of 1998. As far as I am aware, there are no current plans for any new development. It is a designated commercial node within the park so at some point in the future it’s re-use is likely to be considered.

. Are there any laws that need to change for progress on pier 40?
I do not believe so. The major impediments to development seem to be local community support for proposals and the short-term lease that is being offered.

. Is anything going to happen at Gansevoort Peninsula? (13th Ave directly south of Chelsea Piers).
Yes, the Department of Sanitation is expected to vacate the site.

. Is all of your staff paid?
We have five full time staff people and two part-time interns who volunteer.

. Are you part of any committee?
I am not.

. What is the biggest future challenge concerning development?
Funding and current uses moving off of the sites that they currently occupy.