December 15, 2010

Thanks! Have a good break!


VISION 2020 presentation FINAL PROJECT the harbor and the hudson


VISION 2020 RESEARCH FINAL PROJECT the harbor and the hudson


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For my final project I would like to explore Vision 2020, a comprehensive plan for over 500 miles of NYC’s waterfront, defined as New York Harbor and its tributaries, creeks and bays. I would like to research past waterfront planning and outline the initiatives planned for Vision 2020 through a serious of photographic explorations outlining the data as well as current and future changes of the prospective sites. In an effort to further explore Vision 2020, I would also like to analyze the 1992 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan that Vision 2020 builds on as well as the activity on the waterfront in regards to this plan of the past 18 years through the composition of information graphics that would show the changes and reforms that have been made to the plan to create Vision 2020.

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The Downtown Boathouse is an all volunteer-run nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free public access to the harbor in New York City through public kayaking programs. Their mission is to encourage safe public use of the harbor waters of New York City and thereby provide residents of this space-constrained city with increased recreational opportunities. They support their operations exclusively through volunteers and with public donations. The boathouse is an all volunteer organization. No one receives payment at any level of the organization. They are looking for people with any or no training, who are simply just interested in working with people who believe in their cause. They seek to share their love of the Hudson River with the residents of New York City. They consistently run guided trips all spring and summer long, completely free of charge. They encourage and welcome walk-ins. Their trips usually consist of a 4 or 5 mile ride, going to locations such as down to Edgewater, New Jersey or up to the kayak dock at 130th Street. Their prominent and basic service is walk-up kayaking, which is available at all of their locations including Pier 40, Pier 96, and 72nd Street. They also give many free lessons, which consist of informal talks and activities covering a wide variety of kayak-related topics. They are developing many great initiatives to get New Yorkers more involved and in tune with the waterways that surround them.


For nearly 20 years the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy has been working to bring a world-class park to the downtown Brooklyn waterfront. Working with the local community, New York City civic organizations and elected officials, the Conservancy has helped bring bring this vision to reality. The Conservancy brings cultural, educational and recreational programming to the Park for free all year round. Their mission is to “ensure the creation, adequate funding, proper maintenance, public support, and citizen enjoyment of Brooklyn Bridge Park through partnership with government, development of programming, and active promotion of the needs of the park and its constituents.”

Below is an interview with Kara Gilmour, the Director of Education and Stewardship for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.

Q: How long have you been working for/on the waterfront?

A: I started at the Conservancy in April of 2008.

Q: What is your educational background and how did you become involved in a waterfront organization?

A: I came to the Brooklyn Bridge    Park Conservancy from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation where I was the Coordinator of Fort Greene Park for nearly four years. I attended Wesleyan University and worked for a variety of social and market research firms prior to joining the Parks Department.

Q: What do you think of current waterfront planning initiatives and issues?

A: I believe that the revitalization of the waterfront in New York City,
as well as other metropolitan centers is extremely exciting from an
ecological perspective as well as for citizen enjoyment.

Q: What are your thoughts on vision 2020, or the comprehensive waterfront plan?

A: The Comprehensive Waterfront Plan is woefully out of date having been
first developed in 1992. I commend the extensive efforts of the NYC
Dept of Planning and MWA to include the many stakeholders of the
harbor in the updated plan. This is not an easy task but will only
serve to create a more accurate and comprehensive plan that reflects
the issues of the harbor today.

Q: Do you see the waterfront playing a more active role in New Yorkers’ lives? Why or Why not?

A: Absolutely, I feel that the more New Yorkers can access and interact
with the waterfront, the more aware they will become of the
significance of the estuary. In addition, as opportunities become
available (i.e., boating and education), the more citizens will change
their beliefs and behaviors to include the waterfront in their daily


Westpoint Pictures

November 14, 2010

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October 31, 2010

“Yonkers” Powerpoint presentation

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Consolidated Edison is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States, with approximately $14 billion in annual revenues and $33 billion in assets. The company provides a wide range of energy-related products and services to its customers through a number of subsidiaries, including Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., a regulated utility providing gas, electric, and steam service in NYC and Westchester County NY. In 1823, Con Edison’s earliest corporate entity, the New York Gas Light Company, was founded by a consortium of New York City investors. In 1824 New York Gas Light was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and holds the record for being the longest listed stock on the NYSE. In 1884, six gas companies combined into the Consolidated Gas Company. The New York Steam Company began providing service in lower Manhattan in 1882. Today, Con Edison operates the largest commercial steam system in the world, providing steam service to nearly 1,600 commercial and residential establishments in Manhattan from the Battery to 96th Street. Con Edison’s electric business also dates back to 1882, when Thomas Edison’s Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York began supplying electricity to 59 customers in a square-mile area in lower Manhattan. On January 1, 1998, following the deregulation of the utility industry in New York state, a holding company, Consolidated Edison, Inc., was formed.

Con Edison declared full commercial operation of its East River Repowering Project on April 5, 2005, when the second of two natural-gas-fired steam generators began providing power to New York’s electricity grid.  The first unit had become operational on April 1, 2005.  In full operation, the units produce approximately 350 megawatts of electricity. According to the ConEd website, The repowering of Con Edison’s East River generating station was undertaken to enhance an already environmentally beneficial steam system, and is capable of producing 3.2 million pounds of steam per hour.”

Residents of the area have not been so thrilled with the physical sites’ effect on their neighborhood. In 2008, public hearings concerning Con Ed’s pollution permit were held in which many believed that regulations have not been stringent enough in capping harmful emissions from the facility, as reports of asthma has been rampant at the nearby Jacob Riis Apartment Complex. ConEd officials discussed the opposition by of the initiative to build their stacks higher, which was rejected by the company due to cost. Supporters of raising the height believe it would help disperse particulate-matter pollution more widely, lowering the levels of pollution concentration to which those living close to the plant are exposed. ConEd officials said that the reason for increased asthma and air pollution is due to the local residents’ proximity to the F.D.R.

Another neighborhood concern is the extreme narrowing of the bike path that runs along the east river directly in front of the plant. The path narrows to a staggering four feet wide and proves very dangerous for bikers and pedestrians, who are pinned between the F.D.R. and a wall of the plant. Revisions are trying to be made to the entire east side path, with the ConEd plant itself being one of the biggest obstacles getting in the way of that. As of today, the prospective solutions to this problem would involve complex real estate issues in which the UN would give up two of its buildings on East 45th Street, and a controversial proposal to build part of a contiguous pathway over the water.

The final element to consider is the plant’s neighborhood effects in terms of emissions. The processes that takes place within the plant are reverse osmosis and a process known as electrodeionization. Con Edison’s Waterside Station uses natural gas as its primary fuel. It is also claims to have the most up-to-date emissions control technology. Overall air quality in New York City will benefit as the project’s overall annual emissions will be significantly less than those of the Waterside Station it is replacing. Two water sources are available to the East River Station through the New York City potable water system: the Catskill/Delaware watershed and the Croton watershed. However, due to construction activities on the supply aqueduct, water from the Croton watershed has not been supplied and the system to date has been fed exclusively from the Catskill/Delaware watershed. Backwash and rinse flows from the multi-media filter cleaning sequence are directed to an auto pulse filter (APF) system for treatment prior to discharge to the East River. For a more in-depth explanation of the plant’s operations:

Essentially, it appears as if ConEd is taking a very pious angle and proclaiming to be saving the world with their east river repowering project, and there appears to be some grains of truth to its benefit, but it cannot escape what it is: a large industrial behemoth in a congested, urban residential area, the combination of which is appearing to prove harmful to the people they serve and the residents that surround it.

-Gabrielle Dutz

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A Gorge In The Mountains (Kauterskill Clove), 1862

Sanford Robinson Gifford (American, 1823-1880)

Oil on Canvas

48 x 79 inches

The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History defines the Hudson River School as  “America’s first true artistic fraternity. Its name was coined to identify a group of New York City-based landscape painters that emerged about 1850 under the influence of the English immigrant Thomas Cole (1801–1848) and flourished until about the time of the Centennial.”

A work to come out of this influential school was Sanford Robinson Gifford’s A Gorge  In The Mountains (Kauterskill Clove). A Gorge in the Mountains is the first major representative of a series of upright paintings of Kauterskill Clove in the eastern Catskill Mountains that Gifford executed right up to the year of his death in 1880. Following themes that had been explored by his peers Thomas Cole and J.M.W. Turner, Gifford uses devices such as brilliant use of sunlight and sharp perspective to create a gauzy atmosphere of light and wondrous nature.

This painting stood out to me as particularly fascinating because it simultaneously evokes the emotions of unparalleled beauty and fear. The viewer’s eye is filled with a huge span of undisturbed nature while concurrently being jarred by the height at the edge of an unguarded cliff. This painting was done in 1862, just a year into the Civil War, a time when America was being completely uprooted and turned on its head. I think Gifford was successful in very subtly capturing the duality of national sentiment at this time. There was predominately fear, as we were such a young nation and ill-prepared to deal with anything of this magnitude. However, for the slave population, it was a time of hope and the prospect of potential freedom was a beautiful possibility.

Visually, this painting has a quality of photo-realism, as the light is so enveloping and vivid and the details are so sharp. There are many facets that the viewer can be drawn into, a seemingly unifying characteristic of the Hudson River School and landscape painting in general. The dewy trait of the color composition transports viewers to a cold, early morning and can, in some far off way, connect contemporary viewers to their ancestors, Native Americans and early settlers, through the appreciation of the the raw, untouched environment that had a spirituous purity about itself.

Ultimately, the strength of A Gorge In The Mountains is its overwhelming tranquility and serenity that can be taken away from viewing the work. I think that, considering the time period, the American nation experiencing the Civil War was looking for refuge in their culture and a break from the chaotic war being fought in their backyards. This work gives respite to people going through turmoil as there is nothing but peace in the imagery. Obviously, within that, people can take away religious sub-contexts, but no matter what is going on around the viewer, or no matter what they believe in,  A Gorge In The Mountains acts as a shelter of calm communicated through the universal  language of nature.

Source:Sanford Robinson Gifford: A Gorge in the Mountains (Kauterskill Clove) (15.30.62) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument that stands today in the center of Fort Greene Park is a 1908 memorial to the 11,000 men, women and children who died in extremely harsh conditions on the British Prison Ships during the Revolutionary War. The Monument, which is sometimes referred to as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, stands in the center of what was then called Fort Putnam, named after General Putnam. The Monument that exists today is actually the third incarnation of this sacred shrine.

During the American Revolutionary War, which began in 1775, the British arrested thousands of soldiers, sailors, and private citizens on both land and sea. Many were imprisoned simply because they would not swear allegiance to the Crown of England. Besides American civilians and resistance fighters, the British captured the crews of foreign ships on the high seas, especially Spanish vessels. The apprehended soldiers, sailors and civilians were deemed by the British to be prisoners of war and were incarcerated. When the British ran out of jail space to house their POWs they began using decommissioned or damaged ships that were anchored in Wallabout Bay as floating prisons.

Life was unbearable on the prison ships, the most notorious of them being the Old Jersey. Disease was rampant, food and water were scarce or nonexistent, and the living conditions were horrendously overcrowded and unsanitary. If one had money they could purchase food from the many entrepreneurs who rowed up to the boat to sell their wares. Otherwise, the meager rations would consist of sawdust-laden bread or watery soup.

A great number of the captives died from disease and malnutrition. Their emaciated bodies were either thrown overboard or buried in shallow graves in the sandy marshes of Wallabout Bay. Even though the British surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1782, the surviving prisoners were not freed until 1783, when the British abandoned New York City. (After the war, the British Commander in charge of the Prison Ships was brought up on war crime charges and was subsequently hanged.)

In the years following the war, the bones of the patriots would regularly wash up along the shores of Brooklyn and Long Island. These remains were collected by Brooklyn residents with the hopes of creating a permanent resting place for the remains of the brave Prison Ship Martyrs, as they came to be known. In the early 1880’s the first Martyrs’ Monument was erected by the Tammany Society of New York. It was located on a triangular plot of land near the Brooklyn Navy Yard waterfront in what is now called Vinegar Hill.

The Brooklyn fort was renamed for General Greene and rebuilt for the War of 1812. When the threat of war passed, locals enjoyed visiting the grounds of the old fort for recreation and relaxation. The City of Brooklyn designated the site for use as a public park in 1845, and newspaper editor Walt Whitman rallied popular support for the project from the pages of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. In 1847 the legislature approved an act to secure land for Washington Park on the site of the old fort. The improvements were complete by 1850. In 1867 landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, designers of Central and Prospect Parks, were engaged to prepare a new design for Washington Park as well as a new crypt for the remains of the prison ship martyrs.

The remains of the prisoners were moved to the site in 1873 into the newly created 25 by 11 foot brick vault. Twenty-two boxes, containing a small fraction of the total volume of remains, were interred in the vault. Towards the end of the 19th century, a diverse group of interests including the federal government, municipal and state governments, private societies, and donors, began a campaign for a permanent monument to the prison ship martyrs. In 1905 the well-known architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White was hired to design a new entrance to the crypt and a wide granite stairway leading to a plaza on top of the hill. From its center rose a freestanding Doric column crowned by a bronze lantern. President-elect William Howard Taft attended the monument’s dedication in 1908.

Sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman (1870–1952) created the monument’s bronze pieces — the large urn or decorative lantern (never functioning) as well as four eagles that were once mounted to the corner granite posts. The eagles were removed to storage after being repeatedly vandalized. A tablet over the entrance to tomb, also in storage now, was donated by the Tammany Society, and was originally the cornerstone of the Navy Yard vault. An elevator and stairs for the interior were installed in 1937; both were removed in 1948 after the monument was renovated. In 1970 the elevator pit was filled in.

A $3.7 million reconstruction project, beginning in 2004, saw the park’s Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial restored to its prior glory. A new spiral staircase was built inside the memorial, and some of the bronze eagles were replaced in addition to a restoration of the surrounding plaza and the crypt itself.

-Gabrielle and Ian

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