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*HighWaterLine* - Manhattan, Lower

For more information visit http://www.highwaterline.org
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Start Point 7/27
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Start Point 7/28
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Start Point 7/29
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The message and the medium
Because the project was so ephemeral - especially when cars were in ample supply - it was really important to both document the project, and spread the word about it through the media. I was lucky also to have both great documentarians (Hose Cedeno my photographer and Justin Lange, my filmmaker) and to meet some really great journalists/reporters along the way. I had the pleasure of the company of Kasey Dee from the Discovery Channel, who joined me for three days over the course of two weekends. We learned a lot about each other with all that walking and chalking. Here is one of videos she put together:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R05EjsDihP4
and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFdl1F0CO5M
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Worrying about appearances
Early in the project, Ed from the Canary Project was talking to some representatives of city agencies about supporting the project. Their general sense was that it was a great project and they wanted to support it. They did voice one major concern however, and that was the line that I was proposing to draw right up to and away from the middle of the World Trade Center site. They didn't want me anywhere near the site. My assumption was concern over appearances to prospective developers and tenants. Ed asked if I would be willing to leave the area out, and I responded with an adamant "no way." To me, it didn't make sense to leave out any part of the story no matter what (if I had teh resources I would complete the remainder of the boroughs). He and I had quite a heated argument about it and his bottom line was, you would lose the city support just to draw the line at WTC? Yes, in fact I would lose that support because I really need to draw the line there. In the end the city was moving too sluggishly anyway and Ed fully supported drawing the line at WTC.
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Would be a shame to lose all this new development
Lower Manhattan is another area with a tremendous amount of development happening.
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Passing the WTC site
Walked past the busy-ness of the world trade center site. Lots of activity rebuilding - much concern for the long term site sustenance?
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Taking on all obstacles
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The World Trade Center Site
When I was working on the maps and realized the line went right through the middle of the WTC site, I was both surprise, and not. I know there was a huge retaining wall built for the twin towers to keep the hudson from seeping in, I also know the original coastline is around this area, but I was surprised that this wasn't more of an issue in some of the design decisions. Aren't a lot of the memorial designs below grade?
Anyway during the planning process I was asked if I would maybe not draw the line there, that it was too sensitive an area for developers. I said no way, that would just be obvious, look the line doesn't come within two blocks of the site! Of course once I was there I had a lot of trepidation for a different reason, I didn't want anyone to take offense. I also thought there would have been some press interest in this section of the line, but there really wasn't. I guess we just won't talk about it. But really, what a more apt location to talk about it. The threat of climate change could wreck far greater havoc on the lives and economy of NYC than 9/11 did, and we know about it now and have the power/ability and knowledge to act - what is missing? The will to act. Let's take a more careful look at what we are choosing.
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That's a lot of construction *below* the line
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The beacons at night
The sculpture in the background is the damaged piece from the WTC site.
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beacons at night
This was the first full installation of the beacons. I started at about 7am installing the beacons. Spent the day in the park talking to people and chalked the line in the afternoon. As the sun set I walked along and illuminated the beacons. It was a beautiful sight (if I may say so myself). It was such a contrast - mostly the project is noisy, awkward, filled with talking and movement. The beacons were serene, peaceful and graceful, they allowed true time for reflection.
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Goes on the inside of the Battery Tunnel entrance
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Points of view from around the world
This gentleman was very interesting to talk to. He was visiting NYC on business from India. When I met him it was his last day in town and he was trying to see the sites before he left that evening. I told him about the project and he told me, "You know there is not even a conversation about climate issues happening in India right now. We live in a really crowded, really polluted country and all anyone is concerned with is having more. They are all chasing the American dream of having everything."
Well, maybe now he can have the conversation, and maybe now we can think twice about the role model we may or may not want to be.
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Wisconsin? At least its landlocked...
I met these ladies who were visiting from Wisconsin. They were quite shocked to realize how much NYC could be affected by climate change and gladly took action packets, vowing to adapt them to local uses.
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The line follows the original coastline - mostly
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Battery Park busker asking about the line
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Lots of people waiting in line
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Manhattan, reflected
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Early morning install
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the transformation of battery park
Watching the transformation of Battery Park over the course of a day is fascinating. Early in the morning it is pretty quiet, mostly locals out walking their dogs and a few tourists who may be a little jet-lagged. As the sun climbs, the hustle begins, the vendor carts are brought in by the truckload, they are all owned by one concession and offloaded in spots around the park. Then come the beginnings of the crowds for the ferry ride to Ellis and Liberty Island. The first trips are early and there is no line, then the line begins. It starts to build up, snaking through the park, as the line grows, the buskers start to show up. The Lady Liberty's (all played by short hispanic men!) and the buskers - who have a finely worked out schedule of performances which allows each troupe to share some time in the prime performance zones. Then as the last boat trips head out, so to do the buskers and vendors of non food items. The food vendors stick around for some of the return passengers, then as the sun sets, the trucks come back again to pick up the carts. The last cruises bring back the weary travelers, and the park empties out again, by night time it is once again locals and their dogs...
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Lower Manhattan line
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4" wide blue chalk line? cops don't care
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Street vendors were interested
This street vendor stopped to ask me about the project, he ended up telling me loads of stories about the crazy storms that had been hitting New Jersey (where he lived) and about the incessant flooding they have had to endure the past couple of years.
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Aren't you going to ask?