Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 11 at the 9/11 Memorial

This year is the first year that the National September 11 Memorial was open to the public on the day of the anniversary of the attacks. For the past 12 years, only the families of the victims and the first responders were allowed in the site on September 11. This year also marks the year that the public can freely go to the memorial with reservations no longer required.

I wanted to experience being in the memorial during the anniversary date so after office hours on September 11, I went to lower Manhattan. I dropped by Hudson River Park first, there were pink clouds near One World Trade Center as the sun started to set.

As I was making my way to the memorial, I saw the Tribute in Light start to shine. This art installation consists of 88 searchlights placed next to the site of the World Trade Center to create two vertical columns of light in remembrance of the attacks, and has been repeated every September 11 of each year since 2002.

I took the circuitous route, walking towards where the Tribute in Light was before going inside the memorial. The searchlights were installed on the roof of an MTA property near the World Trade Center site.

The dot on this photo below is a helicopter, one of the many flying near the lights that night.

On my way back towards the memorial, I saw a new mural by Mr. Brainwash right across the World Trade Center site, a tribute to the victims of 9/11, featuring the messages "We Love New York" and "Forever."

The mural was so huge it wouldn't fit it in my camera screen. Here are a couple of shots.

Street artist Honschar whose medium is chalk also penned a 9/11 tribute on the sidewalk near Mr. Brainwash's mural. If you're interested to see or read the whole poem, check my Flickr album for some zoomed-in shots.

Adjacent to the above poem was this simple but meaningful tribute.

And of course, there's Virgil's quote, same quote is on display as an art installation inside the National 9/11 Museum.

 Then I made my way to the 9/11 memorial. At the entrance was this sign:

The panels surrounding the pools with the names of the victims of the attacks were filled with flowers, flags, badges, and sometimes pictures of the victims.

Right across the North Pool is the National September 11 Museum. The tridents inside the museum were illuminated and shine across the memorial pool that night.

On a visit to the memorial a few days before the September 11 anniversary, I snapped a photo of the museum with the American flag reflected on one of the tridents.

From the memorial pools, you can see the Tribute in Light at the distance. This was from the South Pool ..

And from the North Pool .. 

Some even have flowers in patriotic colors of red, white and blue.

Four World Trade Center rises at the back of the Memorial Museum and it was great to see the two together with the Tribute in Light that night.

And this was what I saw looking up at the sky ..

Earlier while I was on the street near the Honschar tribute, I had a different angle of the Tribute in Light and Four World Trade Center.

It was a beautiful evening and the memorial was overflowing with people who wanted to remember the day and #Honor911.

Just a few days before when I was there for a night visit, the memorial was peaceful as there weren't too many people there at nearly closing time.

To see the Tribute in Light from the memorial was one memorable experience, and it was moving to see the offerings and tributes honoring the memory of the day and the victims. 

Over at the FDNY Memorial Wall right across the 9/11 memorial were more tributes to the 343 firefighters who died as heroes that day. I love these paper lanterns with pictures of the victims and some with drawings from kids.

If you stand near one of the edges of the memorial, you can see One World Trade Center reflected on Four World Trade Center, and remember the Twin Towers again.

And a quote by Edith Wharton comes to mind ..
There are two ways of spreading the light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. 
May we all spread the light and #neverforget to #honor911.

More photos on my Flickr albums:

For pictures on that day - September 11, 2014

Night visits to the memorial - Night Visits: National September 11 Memorial, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jacob Riis Park

After walking in Dead Horse Bay, Floyd Bennett Field and Fort Tilden, which I wrote about in my previous blogs, our group made our way towards Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways.

From Fort Tilden, we walked along Beach 169th Street to reach the Jacob Riis Park Promenade. The Jacob Riis Park, like Dead Horse Bay and Floyd Bennett Field, is part of the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area managed by the National Park Service. 

Here are some data about the park from the New York Harbor Parks:
The park is named in honor of Jacob Riis, the famed New York City journalist and photographer who documented the plight of the poor and working class in the city's tenements. Today, the park's ocean beach and landscaped walkways, boardwalks and courtyards still provide city dwellers, many of them new immigrants, an opportunity to spread out and enjoy the open air. 
Constructed on the site of one of the first US naval air stations, the park was designed in 1936 by innovative Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who had also created Jones Beach on Long Island in 1929. Moses envisioned Riis Park as a Jones Beach for poor immigrants, a destination accessible by public transportation and closer to the city. Jacob Riis Park was transferred to the control of the National Park Service in 1972.
The beach looked beautiful and the water was inviting to see that hot summer day when we walked along the promenade. It was good to see a lot of families enjoying the day.
We passed this abandoned shack along the promenade. It seems like a kiosk that used to sell beach items. I think it was damaged during hurricane Sandy and was never repaired.

We also passed this food truck doing brisk business in the area. I think there are no permanent structures in the park that caters to selling food stuff, only these food trucks.

I was always lagging behind as I was busy taking pictures while we were walking, but it gave me the chance to take a picture of my group mates as they were walking abreast along the promenade.

At the east end of the promenade is this beautiful standing clock. The Wise Clock, or sometimes known as the Riis Park Memorial Clock, was installed on the promenade in 1941.
Although the exact origin of the clock is unknown, it was probably built in the 1890s as a special-made item by the Wise Jewelry Store in Brooklyn, although some sources claim that the clock was manufactured by the Howard Clock Company of Boston. The clock stood in front of the Wise Jewelry Store at Flatbush Avenue and Nevins Street for approximately years. It was then moved with the firm to a new location at Fulton Street near Hoyt where it remained for nine years. From there it was moved to 288 Livingston for about five years before being removed to the park. The clock was donated to the Department of Parks by William A. Wise and Son in 1941 when the firm went out of business.

Here's a closer look of the face of the clock. See those little dragons?
The base of the clock was cast iron, and from the pedestal top and above it was wood. The clock itself was twelve feet high in height and the overall height of the standard about 20 feet. There were four faces on the clock, each face being four feet in diameter and each dial 30 inches in diameter. The clock had elaborate detailed scroll work throughout the pedestal.

Near the clock is an art deco structure, the park's bathhouse which was built in 1932 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bathhouse provides a place to get out of the sun and learn about the park's history.

But as you can see from the above photo, the entrance is boarded up.
Once easily accessible public transportation was established from the city to the shore, the beach was finally crowned with a magnificent Art Deco bath house, which added a level of opulence to the site that many of the local visitors had not experienced. With two octagonal red brick towers and sweeping curved changing rooms more akin in style to Berlin's vanished Templehof airport, it was a lavishly tiled and glittering gift to the city's less well off. 
But time and neglect soon caught up with the bath house, and in the 1990's ownership was transferred to the federal Gateway National Recreation organization who planned on completely renovating the site. But after $20 million in restoration, funding dried up and the bath house was left abandoned. The windows were boarded up and the bath house started to be covered by sand dunes and weeds. In addition to the ravages of time, Hurricanes Irene and Sandy devastated the area.
It's a sad thing to see happen to what was once a beautiful structure.

A little further to the bathhouse is another abandoned structure with a smokestack which I learned was the Neponsit Health Center.

The closure of the property seems to have its share of controversy.
The current sad state of the property can be traced back to September 7th, 1998 when a strong Labor Day storm rolled through Rockaway. The storm, allegedly, caused structural damage to the Neponsit Health Care Center. At the time, Mayor Giuliani’s administration said that the buildings were in “imminent danger of collapse.” Close to three hundred residents were forced to evacuate the buildings a few days later, without being given prior notice. Many of the residents, who had Alzheimer’s and dementia, were bused to other hospital wards and nursing homes across the city in a move that was traumatizing to some. Two residents died while being relocated to acute care facilities and another resident couldn’t be found for several weeks.
With the sudden closing, there were rumors that Giuliani wanted to sell the land to a political ally and friend, to turn the facility into an oceanfront hotel. The plan was tripped up because the deed to the land requires it to be used as a health care facility or a park. With the residents removed and the hotel plans thwarted, the City made plans to clear the property and turn it into park land. A Legal Aid attorney, however, got a court-ordered injunction in October 1999 which prevented the city from tearing down the buildings.
In early 2000, Merritt & Harris, Inc., was hired by the City Council to conduct an independent structural survey of the Neponsit home. Merritt & Harris determined that the buildings were never in imminent danger of collapse and determined that they were in “fair to good structural condition.”
Where else can you see people sunbathing under the shadow of an abandoned building? I guess, only in Queens.

The Neponsit area also has a beachfront.

Its residents have been busy preparing for the next superstorm. The area near the houses are now fortified with sand bags.

For the residents to get to the beach, there are access areas in a small gap between the fences.

I guess the residents have learned to live with it and enjoy each day as it comes.

From the Neponsit area, we walked more than 30 blocks to get to the A train shuttle to take us to Broad Channel to our next destination, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The stained glass artwork at the train station depicted beach life, how cool!

While on the train, I was also able to snap a quick photo of Michael Miller's stained glass work at Beach 90th St- Holland  titled Surf Station 90

The S train shuttle took us to Broad Channel, the last part of our walk for the day. This was my first time to visit the Rockaways and I'm glad I was able to. Jacob Riis Park is a beautiful place, I hope the National Park Service will develop the area, restore the bathhouse and provide more amenities. 

And I hope I can go back in the area again, soon.
For the rest of my photos, here's the album on Flickr: Jacob Riis Park/Rockaways

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Floyd Bennett Field to Fort Tilden via Marine Parkway Bridge

After our trek in Dead Horse Bay which I wrote about in a previous blog, we continued our walk towards Floyd Bennett Field.
Floyd Bennett Field was New York City's first municipal airport, later a naval air station, and is now a park. While no longer used as an operational commercial, military or general aviation airfield, a section is still used as a helicopter base by the New York Police Department (NYPD). Located in southeast Brooklyn, the field was created by connecting Barren Island and a number of smaller marsh islands to the mainland by filling the channels between them with sand pumped from the bottom of Jamaica Bay. The airport was named after famed aviator and Medal of Honor recipient Floyd Bennett, a Brooklyn resident at the time of his death. It was dedicated on June 26, 1930, and officially opened on May 23, 1931.
Here's an aerial view of Floyd Bennett Field from Wikipedia. 
Photo uploaded by Centpacrr at en.wikipedia.
In the above photo, you can see Dead Horse Bay on the right and since we walked to Floyd Bennett Field by following the shoreline, we were able to visit only the southern part of the former airport. This link has a great article about the history of the former airport.

Since it is no longer used as an operational commercial, military or general aviation airfield, Floyd Bennett Field has a lot of abandoned buildings, like this one complete with plants growing out of its roof.

We also passed by one of the buildings used by the United States Park Police (USPP).
The USPP shares law enforcement jurisdiction in all lands administered by the National Park Service with a force of National Park Service Rangers tasked with the same law enforcement powers and responsibilities. The agency also provides protection for visiting dignitaries.

There was one point where we could go no further as we've reached the boundary for the New York City Police Department (NYPD) space.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) also has divisions located on the historic former airfield. The department's aviation base, with its fleet of Bell 412 and Agusta A119 Koala helicopters, is housed in space leased from the National Park Service that was once the United States Coast Guard Air Station Brooklyn, and is also now headquarters for the New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit.

We also reached an area with a unique obstacle course. I don't know if this is still in use but the buildings around this structure are all abandoned.

The Floyd Bennett Field Archery Range had a lot of young archers honing their skills when we passed by.

Here's the view looking back from where we were walking.

Up close, that water tower looked like an all-white soccer ball .. cool!

Sometimes, a field of wildflowers and some abandoned structures make a nice photo.

Abandoned places have their charms.

As part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Floyd Bennett Field has a lot of activities offered. One of this is a remote control raceway, the Floyd Bennett Raceway RC Club. We stopped for a while and enjoyed watching the cars zipped by so fast.

On our way out of the former airport, we saw this directional signs. It seems we missed going to the Historic Aircraft Hangar area. It was a bummer but we needed to walk on if we wanted to reach Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge before it closes. Hopefully, I can go back and see the historic aircraft the next time I'm in Floyd Bennett Field.

I remember we passed by the former airport's Administration Building on our way to Dead Horse Bay. It can easily be seen from Flatbush Avenue.
Former "Administration Building" (Building 1) served as passenger terminal, air traffic control, baggage depot, freight receiving–shipping, and accommodations for air crews. The tower on top was added when the facility was transferred to the Navy.

This was just a quick snap as we didn't stop to look at the building. Scouting NY has some great close-up shots of the Administration Building details, as well as the hangars.

From Floyd Bennett Field, we made our way along Flatbush Avenue towards the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.
The Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge (originally and often referred to as the Marine Parkway Bridge) is a vertical-lift bridge in New York City, that crosses Rockaway Inlet and connects the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, with the Marine Parkway to Floyd Bennett Field, Flatbush Avenue, and the Marine Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. Opened on July 3, 1937, it carries four motor traffic lanes, and a footpath on the western edge. Cyclepaths along both sides of the Parkway connect to the Shore Parkway Greenway and to Flatbush Avenue. The operation of this bridge includes the maintenance of the Marine Parkway from the toll plaza to Jacob Riis Park. Though a city-owned and operated bridge, it connects two parts of Gateway National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park System: Floyd Bennett Field and Jacob Riis Park. The bridge is designated as New York State Route 901B, an unsigned reference route.

The bridge has a great view of Dead Horse Bay, where we walked before going to Floyd Bennett Field. I wrote about our trek there in a previous blog. It looked beautiful from the bridge walkway.

The total length of the bridge is a little more than 4,000 feet. Here's a photo of the bridge walkway, it is shared by both bikers and pedestrians.

This looks like the control room of the bridge. Per Wiki, part of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 was filmed from a tollbooth camera on this bridge.

Looking down at the water, I saw some round structures. I have no idea what these are but it was interesting to see them.

Somebody scrawled a warning along the walkway. Great advice!

The waters beneath the bridge has been known to be a great fishing spot and we saw a lot of men fishing from their boats when we crossed the bridge.

Near the end of the walkway we saw what looked like stones being quarried from the bridge area. Or was a different kind of activity being done? I really have no idea.

We've finally reached the end of the bridge and I saw some stickers on one of the fence-like structures. It seems street artist Cost was also at the Rockaways at one time.

There was this old trolley car traveling along Rockaway Point Boulevard when we reached the road, it was great to see it.

We also dropped by Fort Tilden but only just the area near Beach 169th Street. Too bad we missed the batteries. Hopefully, I can go back and take pictures the next time I'm in the area.
Fort Tilden was established about the time of American involvement in World War I in 1917. It is named after Samuel J. Tilden, one-term governor of New York State and Democratic Presidential candidate in 1876. The fort first served as a coastal artillery installation and ended its service as a Nike Hercules and Nike Ajax missile site. Fort Tilden remained an Army installation until 1974 when it was decommissioned and turned over to the National Park Service, and made part of the Gateway National Recreation Area

This used to be the military chapel in Fort Tilden. Currently it is part of the Rockaway!, an art installation hosted by the National Park Service, which partners the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, MoMa PS1 and the Rockaway Artists Alliance.
Thanks to a loan from the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Tilden's military chapel - which was damaged by Sandy and is now being restored - will showcase one of the highlights from the MoMA collection: The Forty Piece Motet by Janet Cardiff, a spatialized adaptation of a sacred 16th century motet created by recording each member of a choir individually and giving each voice its own speaker.

It was just a quick stop in Fort Tilden as we still had some places to go to. As we made our way towards Jacob Riis Park, Hook and Ladder #137 firetruck passed us by.

I will write about our trek to Jacob Riis Park and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in my next blog. It was a pleasure to walk around Floyd Bennett Field and Fort Tilden and cross the Marine Parkway Bridge. These places are so rich in history, I hope the government agencies will preserve them. I hope to be back one of these days, there is so much I haven't seen and covered. For now, I hope you enjoyed seeing these places through my eyes and photos.

For the rest of my photos, here's the album on Flickr: Floyd Bennett Field/Marine Parkway Bridge/Fort Tilden