Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

digester eggs of newtown creek

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2012/04/08

The digester eggs and the walkway/observation deck are a sci-fi aluminum grey, but I was in an aubergine mood today.

The Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant has been in operation since 1967. Eight eggs sit on top of 54 acres of sewage plant area through which flow 200 to 310 million gallons of wastewater per day.

What artists these eggs are in the company of!

Etched in granite are the Native American names for these places. Carved into the steps of the kayak launch are the archaeological periods we have somehow survived (with little barnacles and mussels wedged into the steps. Probably zebra mussels, so don’t feel bad for ‘em.) And there is a fragrance garden that is wheelchair accessible, but sorry, nothing for the olfactory-challenged.

A relief of the Newtown Creek, pre-European days, is etched deeply into tilted granite so  rainwater can fill it and flow.  Two metal engraved maps of the areas set into another granite table. One depicts the industrial history from 1887 – 1951 (their source is  Sanborn Maps.) Lime, tin, barrelmaking, oil, gas, petroleum, shipyard, rope and line storage, grinding, dyeing, asphalt, paving, bricks, lumber, stones, iron and bronze works, welding, chemical, box factory, hat and tie company, steam laundry: these are labels on the first map. The dark line delineates the bulkhead.  In the second map, courtesy of the DEP 2008, the dark lines are shrubs. (Who are the artists, please?)

These artists, New York Shitty, are right on the mark: the free-association of eggs, droppings and Nature Walk of purgative plants made me laugh.

Digester eggs Jello art. I am in awe: Gold medal. We know the Jell-o Plant was here (animal carcasses=bone gelatin), thank you Newtown Pentacle.

And this artist–No Pots, Just Paintings–got it. The combination of the eggs and the onion top of the Russian Orthodox churches in the neighborhood are perfect. Alas, s/he is so terse, there’s no information on the artist.

Evocative photos of Newtown Creek here.  Just a stone’s throw across the Newtown Creek is the graffitti mecca, closed for a year during which it was ‘nearly destroyed by vandals’ (developers?)

The official site of the eggs is here, but the others are just more fun, and for thoroughness (fun, history, photos, philosophy, black humor) no one can beat the Newtown Pentacle!

Thank you, Tugster, who put together the combination of digester eggs and Easter, and made it so FUN! a hoppy one to all!

Short Sea Shipping in NYHarbor!

Posted in harbor shipping, short sea shipping, water access, waterfront by bowsprite on 2010/04/18

I love how that sounds! It would be, more accurately Very Short Sea Shipping, or simply, Harbor Shipping.
And expanding harbor shipping is only one suggestion for the Department of City Planning, who welcomes your voice in their Comprehensive Waterfront Plan for 2020. So, get involved!

Currently, our freight comes in as containerized cargo to New Jersey (Port Elizabeth, Port Newark, Jersey City-Bayonne), Staten Island (Howland Hook), and Brooklyn (Red Hook).  Everything is then mostly trucked around, with only some things moving off by rail.

Short Sea Shipping is the use of smaller vessels to bring goods from the central container terminals to various little ports around our city to get it all off the streets, and to you, via the water.

Your computer. Your clothing. Your chair. Your shoes. Your cup. The beverage in your cup (unless it’s good ol’ NYC tap–the best!). The dinner you will have tonight (unless you grew it yourself on your fire escape or illegally shot it in the park):  all these things we consume do not truly reflect what it cost to bring to you if we were to factor in the work and maintenance on roads, bridges, tunnels alone. (Not even going onto the topic of stress on the Mothership, yet.)

We are behind. Roughly 40% of freight in Europe moves by short sea shipping. And in Hongkong: mid-stream operation. Thanks, Carolina.

We currently have no little ports around our city, no working piers, limited usable docks, nowhere for feederships and lighters to tie up, some stevedores, but, no cranes for longshoremen to operate, nor storage facilities or transit sheds to hold the break bulk. (Notice, above, how many piers there were in 1933? A bit of history here on how we lost it.)

However, we have the water. NYC is richly blessed with waterways that can transport stuff into the hinterlands.

Here is what it might look like. As long as I am allowing my imagination to run amok and it is all theoretical, I shall be generous:

the newtown creek floating market & pick up point

oh, and while i’m fantasizing:

But here are the ones who know much more: America’s Marine Highways and Deep Water Writing‘s good starter package!

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Thank you, Department of City Planning, for opening the dialog for  VISION 2020 (clever!)

A very good write-up of the evening’s 4+ hr meeting was made by Frogma, found here, with interesting comments.

I regret to say, their ‘before’ slides were WAAAAAAY better than what they envision in the ‘after’ ones:

before

after

They proudly showed slides of “increased waterfront access,” but it looks exactly like the “waterfront access” we have now, which–getting to work for me–is:
• look to be sure no parks police are nearby
• climb over metal rail
• step on boat at the safest moment, or jump down if boarding at low tide.

It was put so well at the meeting from a commentator: we’d like not just ‘waterfront access’, but water access.
Yes! please, and thank you!

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where to get it: skysails, trailer bikes, cargo bikes, tallship

(the Le Havre adventure/drawings! coming! coming!!)

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