Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#442 Pedestrian Bridge over Holland Tunnel Rotary at St. John’s Park

Pedestrian Bridge over Holland Tunnel Rotary at St. John’s Park
June 24, 2015, Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman

ride time: 2:01:40
distance: 11.07 miles
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From Wikipedia:

The Holland Tunnel Rotary is a traffic circle at the eastern end of the Holland Tunnel in Lower Manhattan in New York City, United States. Owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey it serves as an entryway into the city at the end of Interstate 78. The rotary is within the city block in Tribeca bounded by Laight, Varick, Beach and Hudson Streets. The land which it is situated has undergone several significant transformations since the American colonial era, having been farmland, a city square, and a rail freight depot.

In 1920 the New Jersey Interstate Bridge and Tunnel Commission and the New York State Bridge and Tunnel Commission appropriated funds and began construction on what was then referred to as the Hudson River Vehicular Tunnel, and is now the Holland Tunnel. Soon after it's opening in 1927, the freight terminal was removed to make room for the eastbound exits in the of the form a one-way circular road, or rotary. Traffic patterns were re-assigned in 1958. Renovations to the rotary which included adding an additional, or fifth, exit were completed in 2004. The inner portion of the rotary is not accessible to pedestrians.

The interior of the rotary was the site of St. John's Rotary Arc, a sculpture by Richard Serra, from 1980 to 1987. Joie de Vivre, a sculpture by Mark di Suvero, was situated in the rotary between 1998 and 2006. In 2010, the AIA Guide to New York City called the interior space a "circular wasteland" and commented: "Our ancestors preserved many a New York treasure, but blew it here."

#441 Pedestrian Balcony at Pier 49, Hudson River Park AIDS Memorial

Pedestrian Balcony at Pier 49, Hudson River Park AIDS Memorial
June 24, 2015, Rob Hickman, Keith Nelson

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The quote engraved into the black granite bench reads: “I can sail without wind, I can row without oars, but I cannot part from my friend without tears.”

This memorial — a 42-foot-long curved stone bench situated on a granite path cut into the lawn situated in a beautifully landscaped knoll near Bank Street. The path is complemented by a balcony that juts out over the river where Pier 49 once stood.

The old pilings, still visible above the water, are a poignant metaphor for the lives lost to AIDS. The memorial is intended to be used as a place for people to sit and contemplate those who have been lost.

Dedicated on the 20th Anniversary of World AIDS Day, November 30th, 2008, this permanant monument was built by the AIDS Monument Committee (AMC) to commemorate those who have died from the disease, those who live with HIV, those who have cared for people with HIV/AIDS, and the educators and researchers who will one day eradicate it.

#440 Hudson River Greenway Span at W. 10th Street

Hudson River Greenway Span at W. 10th Street
June 24, 2015, Rob Hickman, Keith Nelson

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#439 Southernmost Finger Pier to Holland Tunnel Ventilation Shaft (Pier 34)

Southernmost Finger Pier to Holland Tunnel Ventilation Shaft (Pier 34)
June 24, 2015, Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman

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From The New York Times:

On New Pier, A Necessity Brings Amenity
Published: October 20, 1996

Say, heaven forbid, a smoky fire forced you from your vehicle while you were driving to New Jersey through the Holland Tunnel. Until recently, if you followed the emergency exit signs out of the tunnel, you would find yourself 900 feet off shore from Canal Street on a concrete island in the Hudson River. There, dwarfed by a six-story ventilation structure that looks like a cross between a smokestack and an Art Deco folly, rescue boats would be sent to bring stranded passengers back to land.

Recognizing the hazards of such rescue scenarios, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has just finished work on a narrow finger that connects the island to Manhattan. And just across from the emergency access pier is an identical one that has a less urgent function as a place where local anglers can fish for stripped bass, crabs and eels, and strollers can enjoy the Hudson River views.

Pier 34, which opened Friday evening with a light and sound show that is to run every night through next Sunday. They are the first new piers to be built on the river in 35 years. The Port Authority originally had planned to build only the emergency access pier, but at the urging of state officials, the agency agreed to build an adjacent pier for public recreational use.

"This is a nice bonus that grew out of practical concerns over access," said Terry Benczik, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority, which provided $1 million of the pier's $8.5 million construction cost. The state Department of Transportation, which owns the pier, paid the remaining cost.

The 18-foot-wide recreational pier, dotted with cedar benches and white metal lamp posts, will be maintained by the Hudson River Park Conservancy, a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation.

"This is another opportunity for New Yorkers to confront the Hudson again," said James A. Ortenzio, the conservancy's chairman. Mr. Ortenzio said he hoped Pier 34 would be a precedent for other agencies, that use piers on the river. "There's no question that public access should be a requisite part of any project that takes place along the Hudson," he said.

Marcy Benstock, executive director of the Clean Air Fund and a staunch opponent of new construction on the Hudson River, believes that the money used to build the additional pier would have been better spent refurbishing an existing pier. "I think one should have been sufficient for both recreation and emergency access," she said.

Many of those who passed by the new pier Friday were curious about the ventilation shaft looming on the horizon. "It's a bit disturbing," said Barbara Sheridan, a writer who lives on Horatio Street. "But it does draw you in."

#438 Tribeca Bridge over The West Side Highway - NY 9A

Tribeca Bridge over The West Side Highway - NY 9A
June 24, 2015, Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman

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From Wikipedia:

The Chambers Street Bridge or the Tribeca Bridge, was built in 1994 to improve connections for the northern part of Battery Park City. It connects Stuyvesant High School inside Battery Park City and the property of the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Although an exit to the street level on the Battery Park City side of the span exists, the bridge connects directly into Stuyvesant High School, making it a favorable point of access for many of the students there. Designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, its lighting display at night has earned it the 1996 IES/NY Lumen Lighting Award.

#437 Pedestrian Bridge at Collect Pond Park

Pedestrian Bridge at Collect Pond Park
June 24, 2015, Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman

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From Wikipedia:

The Collect Pond — or Fresh Water Pond — was a body of fresh water in what is now Chinatown, lower Manhattan in New York City. For the first two centuries of European settlement in Manhattan, it was the main water supply for the growing city. The former pond became the site of a jail and is now a city park, Collect Pond Park, which includes a pond evocative of its former status.

The pond occupied approximately 48 acres (190,000 m2) and as deep as 60 feet (18 m).[1] Fed by an underground spring, it was located in a valley, with Bayard Mount (at 110 feet or 34 metres, the tallest hill in lower Manhattan) to the northeast and Kalck Hoek (Dutch for Chalk Point, named for the numerous oyster shell middens left by the indigenous Native American inhabitants) to the west.

A stream flowed north out of the pond and then west through a salt marsh (which, after being drained, became a meadow by the name of "Lispenard Meadows") to the Hudson River, while another stream issued from the southeastern part of the pond in an easterly direction to the East River.

The southwestern shore of the Collect Pond was the site of a Native American settlement known as Werpoes. A small band of Munsee, the northernmost division of the Lenape, occupied the site until the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam was established. It is possible that members of this band were the participants in the famed sale of Manhattan (Manahatta) to the Dutch.

The Collect Pond and Five Points on the topographical map by Egbert Viele. The Five Points intersection is where Mosco Street (marked here as Park Street) intersected with Baxter Street (formerly Orange Street) and Worth Street (formerly Anthony Street). In the 18th century, the pond was used as a picnic area during summer, and a skating rink during the winter. However, industries began to use the water and dump waste there. These included tanneries, breweries, ropewalks, and slaughterhouses.

Beginning in the early 18th century, various commercial enterprises were built along the shores of the pond, in order to use the water. These businesses included Coulthards Brewery, Nicholas Bayard's slaughterhouse on Mulberry Street (which was nicknamed "Slaughterhouse Street"), numerous tanneries on the southeastern shore, and the pottery works of German immigrants Johan Willem Crolius and Johan Remmey on Pot Bakers Hill on the south-southwestern shore. By the late 18th century, the pond was already considered "a very sink and common sewer".

The contaminated wastewater of these businesses flowed back into the pond, creating a severe pollution problem and environmental health hazard. Pierre Charles L'Enfant proposed cleaning the pond and making it a centerpiece of a recreational park, around which the residential areas of the city could grow. His proposal was rejected and it was decided to fill in the pond. This was done with fill partially obtained from leveling Bayards Mount and Kalck Hoek. The landfill was completed in 1811 and Middle class homes were soon built on the reclaimed land.

The landfill was poorly engineered. The buried vegetation began to release methane gas (a byproduct of decomposition) and the area, still in a natural depression, lacked adequate storm sewers. As a result, the ground gradually subsided. Houses shifted on their foundations, the unpaved streets were often buried in a foot of mud and mixed with human and animal excrement, and mosquitoes bred in the stagnant pools created by the poor drainage.

Proposals were made to solve the problem, including the conversion of the pond to a park designed by Pierre L’Enfant, and the creation of a canal between the East and Hudson Rivers. In the end, it was filled in from land removed from nearby Bayard's Mount, the highest hill in lower Manhattan, rechristened after the Revolution "Bunker Hill" (commemorating the American battle at Bunker Hill, Boston; a small battery had fortified Nicholas Bayard's Mount during the Revolution [6]) and leveled between 1803 and 1811. By 1813, the Collect was virtually gone.

Several decades later, New York City obtained a new, plentiful supply of fresh water from the Croton Aqueduct. The neighborhood known as "Five Points", a notorious slum, developed near the former eastern bank of the Collect and owed its existence in some measure to the poor landfill job (completed in 1811) which created swampy, mosquito-ridden conditions on land that had originally had more well-to-do residents.

Most middle and upper class inhabitants fled the area, leaving the neighborhood open to poor immigrants that began arriving in the early 1820s. This influx reached a height in the 1840s, with large numbers of Irish Catholics fleeing the Irish Potato Famine.

While the pond had been condemned, drained, and filled in by 1817, the landfill job was poorly done, and in a span of less than ten years, the ground began to sink. New York's jail, nicknamed "The Tombs", was built on Centre Street in 1838 on the site of the pond and was constructed on a huge platform of hemlock logs in an attempt to give it secure foundations. The prison building began to subside almost as soon as it was completed and was notorious for leaks in its lowest tier and for its general dampness. When the original Tombs building was condemned and demolished at the end of the century, builders sank enormous concrete caissons to bedrock, as much as 140 feet below street level, in order to give its replacement more secure foundations. This damp foundation was primarily responsible for its bad reputation as being unsanitary during the decades to come.

The design, by John Haviland, was based on an engraving of an ancient Egyptian mausoleum. The building was 253 feet 3 inches (77.19 m) in length by 200 feet 5 inches (61.09 m) wide and it occupied a full block, surrounded by Centre, Franklin, Elm (today's Lafayette), and Leonard Streets. It initially accommodated about 300 prisoners.

That structure was notorious for the damp conditions which resulted from being built on the landfill used to fill in the Collect Pond. The original building was replaced in 1902 with a new one on the same site connected by a "Bridge of Sighs" to the Criminal Courts Building on the Franklin Street side. That building was replaced in 1941 by one across the street on the east side of Centre Street with the entrance at 125 White Street, officially named the Manhattan House of Detention, though still referred to popularly as "The Tombs".

Connecticut inventor John Fitch was an instrument maker working in the later part of the 18th century. As an early pioneer of steam navigation, Fitch tested several steamboats on the Delaware River between 1785 and 1788. Fitch’s real success, however, occurred a few years later when, in 1796 he tested another ship equipped with a paddle wheel on New York’s Collect Pond. On the boat with him was fellow inventor Robert Fulton, Robert R. Livingston, who was the first Chancellor of New York and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and 16-year-old John Hutchings steering.

This was a full six years before Fulton and Livingston launched “Fulton’s Folly” on the Seine River in France. Hutchings claims to have been a “lad” at the time who “assisted Mr. Fitch in steering the boat”. In a broadside issued in 1846 Hutchings asserts that it was in fact Fitch who designed the steam propulsion mechanism. He claims that both Fulton and Livingston were present during the Collect Pond tests and in fact depicts both, as well as Fitch and himself, in a paddlewheel steam ship in the upper left quadrant of the broadside. Though Fulton seems to have received most of the credit for the era of steam navigation, Hutchings hoped, through the publication of this broadside, to shed some light on Fitch’s contributions as well.

In 1960, a portion of the site of the Collect was given to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation for conversion into a park. Originally, the park was named "Civil Court Park" due to its proximity to the surrounding courthouse buildings. However, the park was renamed "Collect Pond Park", its current name, to represent its history more accurately. The park is located on the block bordered by Lafayette Street, Leonard Street, Centre Street, and White Street.

The park was closed for a total reconstruction. In 2012, reconstruction of the park uncovered the granite foundation of The Tombs, leading to a partial stop-work order pending archaeological investigation. The newly rebuilt park, reopened in May 2014, includes a pond evocative of the former Collect Pond.

The granite foundation of The Tombs uncovered during reconstruction of Collect Pond Park in early 2012 It is still possible to ascertain the rough boundaries of the Collect Pond and original topography in the elevations of the streets in the area, with the lowest elevation being Centre Street which runs in the approximate center of the former pond.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

#436 Amsterdam Avenue Overpass over I-95

Amsterdam Avenue Overpass over I-95
June 11, 2015, Rob Hickman, Keith Nelson

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ride time: 1:43:18
distance: 5.54 miles
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