Armajani’s Lighthouse sculpture hiding in plain sight.

The sculpture consists of a pedestrian bridge and stair house connecting the terminal and the waterfront.

Siah Armajani’s sculpture consists of a pedestrian bridge and stair house connecting the terminal and the waterfront. It helps create a visual corridor leading to the historic buildings there.

One large art installation that is part of the ongoing St. George waterfront revitalization project seems to be all but invisible in all the reportage. Siah Armajani’s 1996 lighthouse sculpture and pedestrian bridge stands apparently unseen and definitely closed behind the chain link fences and bus ramps leading into the ferry terminal. Now that the waterfront area just beyond it is finally being restored, and the upland parcel of land is being developed, it seems to be the right time to assess the added value that this work brings to the area.

the vertical bars of the lighthouse sculpture echo the effect of sunlight on the railings on the upper story of this warehouse building.

the vertical bars of the lighthouse sculpture echo the effect of sunlight on the railings on the upper story of this warehouse building.

It may not be a great wonder to look at on its own, but when viewed in context it has some very noteworthy qualities. It is in a style that seems to bridge the gap between 19th century warehouses along the waterfront and the 21st Century ferry terminal, thus giving its bridge theme an appropriate visual aspect. Its placement also creates a visual corridor for the restoration area, giving it a separate identity from the modern developement to be built on the upland segment of this parcel. In March of 2014 the Lighthouse Point development project, which includes retail, condos and a boutique hotel, received final approval and construction may begin later this year. And just as importantly, the sculpture serves a practical purpose, as its stairway, when reopened, will provide a welcome alternate route into the terminal, allowing pedestrians from the waterfront (and Bay Street Landing) to avoid the depressing crawl underneath the ramps. The stairs will undoubtedly afford a spectacular view of the harbor and the ongoing construction. According to a report in DNAinfo a few months ago, it is in for a restoration of its own, after being left to decay practically since the day it was completed. According to the report, repairs to the structure should begin in the summer of this year and be completed by Spring, 2015… that is, if anyone can find it.

 

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Show some love for Tompkinsville?

Tompkinsville is a historic area just at the edge of St. George. The settlement was founded by Daniel Tompkins, the fourth governor of New York and the sixth Vice President of the USA at the place where Dutch settlers would replenish their fresh water supplies as they entered the harbor. The center of Tompkinsville is probably this intersection of Victory Boulevard and Bay Street, where many bus lines stops on their way to and from the far flung towns of the North and South Shores. The little park here is a pleasant place to get out away from the bustle. The area has a lot of daily foot traffic, and is a perfect area to become a commercial hub, thus drawing some future development pressure away from the more preservation worthy parts of St. George. But Tompkinsville is not “desirable” at present and is blighted by neglected structures and haphazard urban planning. It could use a little love.

The view up Victory Boulevard from Tompkinsville Park

The view up Victory Boulevard from Tompkinsville Park

Could we begin by imagining this busy area without the raging chaos of telephone and electrical cables that crisscross overhead? Here is a photo taken from a bench in the park, looking up at the first block of Victory Boulevard, both in its present state and then photoshopped to show what it would look like without the wires and the shadows that they cast on everything below.

Now isn't that MUCH better?

Now isn’t that MUCH better?

 

A previous post here on The Rock Across the Harbor showed a similar wishful transformation on Wall Street in St. George. Here it is.

Inspired Artists at the John A. Noble Museum

John Noble's houseboat studio, the centerpiece of the museum's Noble collection.

John Noble’s houseboat studio, the centerpiece of the museum’s Noble collection.

The new exhibit of works by contemporary artists inspired by John A. Noble opened last night at the Noble Museum in Snug Harbor. Eight artists are presenting works big and small that “respond” to John A. Noble’s magnificent body of work, drawings, paintings, etchings, etc. that are on glorious display in the museum. There are oil paintings, including some beautiful miniatures done on old metro cards by Patrizia Vignola, and a scale model of a salt dock by Dan and Mariel Law Adams. There are other impressive works by Bill Higgins, Frank Hanavan, Patricia Melvin, Dan Thompson and Christopher Clarke. Get an idea of the exhibit at the Noble Museum’s Facebook page and get more info about the museum on their website. The exhibit is a great reason to get out to Snug Harbor to visit the museum and reacquaint yourself with the maritime art, artifacts and history on view there.

Bill Higgins with his photograph of the ferryboat Astoria in mud of the Arthur Kill.

Bill Higgins with his photograph of the ferryboat Astoria in mud of the Arthur Kill.

Hard edge or soft? The impact of construction on the St. George shore.

With construction presumably about to begin on two large waterfront projects in St. George, the New York Wheel and the Empire Outlets, the question arises what will be the impact of these mega projects on the shoreline. The water’s edge is a problematic area,

The water's edge in front of the Empire Outlets site.

The water’s edge in front of the Empire Outlets site.

scarred by decades of neglect. rampant trash accumulation, runaway water pollution and a weedy, rock filled terrain. The recent park construction has greatly improved the shore with the creation of a carefully delineated soft edge. However, it is a delicate balance of shoreline1nature and human use and one wonders how the tremendously increased human traffic that is in store for this area will impact that shoreline. Among the many things that the North Shore community must be vigilant of during the construction of the wheel and the mall is the effect these will have on the quality of our shoreline. The dark, slimy rocks and the turgid harbor water may not be the most picturesque water’s edge in the world, but it has its own modest beauty and it deserves to be treated respectfully.

The shoreline itself is not part of either project, and it remains the responsibility of government agencies. And since soft edge shoreline stabilization is the preferred approach nowadays, according to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, it is unlikely that the shoreline2shoreline is in for a hardening (seawalls, stone-filled wire baskets, etc.). But soft edge shorelines need constant maintenance, and this one will be particularly vulnerable to degradation from the changes coming just a few yards away, with increased run-off from construction and ongoing use, and the probability of increased trash accumulation. In addition, there are proposals for new and expanded ferry service which will most likely require more docking structures in the water. How are the developers and the city planning on meeting the challenges that these new conditions create?