Friday, November 16, 2007

Touching the River

My beautiful boat at entirely accessible and regular rowing destination Maxwell House Beach in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The view from Roosevelt Island is gorgeous—midtown Manhattan just across the way, the 59th Street Bridge, the tram and the rushing East River. This is New York City at its finest. Sitting on the steps before this panaroma is awe-striking, the juxtaposition of the urban with the natural. But there is more to this scene than just pretty pictures. Dividing the city and the river are railings, lots and lots of railings. There is a sense of detachment. You can look, but you can't touch and all I want to do is feel the water beneath my feet.

There are no railings up in Selkirk, Poughkeepsie and Ossining. I could walk over to the Hudson, sit on some rocks and feel the waves lap on my legs. The coolness of the water touching my skin was soothing.

Where are these places in New York City? Thinking about it, there are barely any. Rob has a website (not sure if he updates it now) all about New York City beaches. There are a few, such as Valentino Pier in Red Hook and Hallets Cove in Long Island City, but it feels like there should be more.

There are pushes for more access, though.

According to New York Construction (which I stumbled upon by way of goingcoastal), the city, working with other agencies, is building an extension of Harlem River Park, from 139th to 142 Street. Wonderfully enough, this is one of the few, if only, parks in New York City that allow for actual water contact:

"...offer[s] visitors...water access-points that will allow people to dip their feet in the water and load canoes and kayaks."

Rowing in the Harlem River is completely different from rowing in the Hudson and East Rivers. Up there, you're less susceptible to currents and, at least for me, it's an area I don't know too well, so the views are gorgeous.

And then you have plans like for the East River Esplanade where there is no interaction with the water; the same goes for most of the proposed plans for my beloved Pier 40.

We don't need more retail space—New York is already filled with that. We don't need another Seaport. Forget all the barriers. What we need is a return to simplier, natural things, like accessible shores.

1 comment:

kiara ink said...


This was a beautiful piece. I am proud to be part of the non-railed-off Hudson.