Wednesday, June 24, 2015

#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."

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