“It’s amazing how variable the experiences can be. We were basically fine. No power loss and yet 8 million people are apparently without power.”
That was how a passerby summed it up to me when our respective paths came to a halt before a downed tree in Riverside Park. It was one of dozens of majestic tress struck down by the massive storm.
Famished animals, many left homeless by the hurricane, forraged for food among the litter of leaves and branches.
In the course of a walk by the river I saw feeding squirrels and starlings, some ducks and even a red-tailed hawk. A group of birders gathered at the 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe to watch storm-tossed ocean birds make their way up the Hudson toward New York Harbor, and ultimately back to the sea.
“Storm Petrels and jaegers are things that we wouldn’t ordinarily see here but after hurricanes they often turn up,” said Dr. Richard Fried a veterinarian and local birder.
“A lot of birds that get blown off course never make it back to where they’re supposed to go because they’re exhausted or injured or they’re in the wrong habitat to get food or they’re preyed upon by predators they don’t normally have to defend themselves against.”
According to Fried, The Ornithology Department for the Museum of Natural History has put out a call asking birders to bring the bodies of rare species they might come across to the museum to be added to their collections.
POSTSCRIPT: 1/5/13 Columbia University Journalism School students Matthew Claiborne and Salima Koroma produced this great piece on post-Sandy birding using some of the above footage shot along the Hudson River during and after Sandy.
Variously known as “Frankenstorm” and “Megastorm,” Hurricane Sandy made her way toward NYC this afternoon. With mass transit service suspended and school closings across the city, many New Yorkers were treating the approaching Category -1 storm like a snow day. Everyone seemed much less uptight than they did around this time last year when Hurricane Irene loomed just off shore. The fact Sandy is a storm roughly twice the size of last-year’s doesn’t really sink in until you see it on paper.
Irene (above) vs Sandy (below).
Endurance artist David Blaine has been standing atop a 20-foot pedestal on Pier 54 in Lower Manhattan since Friday night (10/5/2012). Surrounded by four active Tesla coils casting a million volts of electricity his way, he looks like Frankenstein’s grandson. Monday night brings Blaine’s finale and, hopefully, his triumphant exit from the giant bug zapper he’s confined to for 72 hours. The event, which recalls the death-defying feats Harry Houdini amazed New Yorkers with nearly a century ago, is being sponsored by Intel to showcase a new laptop computer, but Blaine and the New Yorkers bearing witness to his superhuman stunt, are the real stars of the show.
POSTSCRIPT: 10/9/12 He did it! Congratulations to David Blaine for withstanding 1 million volts and three days of exposure — both elemental and media-driven — on Pier 54. It was magical.
I tagged along with members of Occupy Wall Street’s marine contingent Saturday as they sailed out of the 79th Street Boat Basin bound for Staten Island. Read the full story here.
Several crew members remained on board after the tour, flying protest banners and drumming well into Sunday. They anchored 20-30 yards southwest of the derelict 69th Street Transfer Bridge, an area beyond the boat basin mooring field the protesters had been prohibited from demonstrating in by the Parks Department. Around 3:00 Sunday afternoon, crew member John Eustor shot this footage of a dolphin swimming around the boat.
A fellow disenfranchised American? Crew-members speculated that it may have been drawn to the boat by the vibrations from their drum playing. A number of people photographed the animal as it made it’s way toward New York Harbor. Sadly, a dead dolphin was found floating in the marina at Chelsea Piers several days later. Many assume it was the one spotted on Sunday afternoon. Results of a necropsy by the Riverhead Foundation are forthcoming. Read more here.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has set sail to spread a protest message across Manhattan via the city’s waterways. Led by members of Pulse, the movement’s drum circle working group, the OWS marine contingent made it’s maiden voyage down the Hudson River aboard a sailboat named The Druid on Saturday, anchoring just south of the 79th Street Boat Basin. Having passed muster with Coast Guard officials who boarded the boat to inspect it over the weekend, the crew of self-styled “Occu-pirates” hopes to be the vanguard of a floating protest community to sail around the city this summer.
Read the related story on DNAinfo.com.
I spent the Labor Day weekend at the Village Community Boathouse, located on Pier 40 at the diving end of West Houston Street in Lower Manhattan. That’s where dozens of volunteers build and maintain a variety of small, man-powered boats, including a half-dozen Whitehall Gigs. These 7-person rowboats — native and perfectly-suited to New York Harbor — are used in a free community rowing program that promotes public ownership of the city’s waterways and carries on New York’s tradition of “maritime hospitality and fellowship.” It’s a lot of fun, a good workout and a great way to tour the river.
Click here for Hurricane Irene archives.
Earlier this year, Brooklyn artist George Boorujy began putting renderings of ocean birds in bottles and setting them adrift on New York’s waterways in an effort to connect with other New Yorkers and gather information on their interactions with the ocean and local marine life. He recently launched one of his bottles from the deck of The Frying Pan, a lightship docked on the Hudson River, as part of an exhibition New York’s P.P.O.W. Gallery held in collaboration with Underwater New York. Check back in the days ahead to track the bottle’s progress, or visit NY Pelagic.
Mayor Bloomberg rolled out his $3 billion dollar blueprint for New York City’s waterfront at Brooklyn Bridge Park this week. Vision 2020 is a sweeping plan to connect New Yorkers to the city’s rivers and beaches by developing facilities for transportation and recreation. It will also promote maritime industry through major renovation and construction projects and attract investors to the waterfront by simplifying complex development regulations. One hundred and thirty projects will be launched over the next three years as part of the plan’s Action Agenda. Manhattan’s Hudson River shore is slated for the following capital improvements:
Rehabilitation of the dormant Dyckman Street Marina to include recreation, comfort stations and a restaurant.
Completion of the Dyckman Ramp, Lighthouse Link and Battery Bikeway of the Hudson Greenway.
Reconstruction of the pedestrian bridge at West 181st Street.
Construction of a kayak launch on the sand beach at 170th Street.
Activation of West Harlem Piers Park as a boat and ferry launch.
Restoration of the 79th Street rotunda and fountain court.
Rehabilitation of the derelict 69th Street Transfer Bridge as a public pier.
Reconstruction of Pier 97 at 57th Street.
Reconstruction of the bulkhead between 39th and 43rd Streets
Development of a multi-use pier including a public market, art gallery and rooftop park at Pier 57.
Completion of the esplanade between Laight and North Moore Streets at Piers 25 & 26.
Funding will come from a mix of public and private sources. The city will issue RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for more than twenty waterfront development projects totaling $150 million with an eye toward leveraging private investment to support the construction and maintenance of public waterfront space.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, credited with shepherding the plan through to completion, emphasized the 13,000 maritime construction jobs and 3,400 permanent maritime industrial jobs the plan will create, along with the $1.6 million in revenue it will generate annually. She also noted the fuel efficiency of transporting cargo by water, citing a recent study showing that barges are six times more efficient than trucks on a per-ton basis.
Industrial projects planned for the next three years include the renovation of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and improvement of rail-to-barge access points at the Rail Yard in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
On the green front, the plan allocates $50 million to waterfront restoration projects such as the Bronx River Greenway and more than a billion in upgrades at six wastewater treatment plants.
All projects will be subject to new city guidelines for planning, design, construction and maintenance developed and overseen by City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden, known for her exacting standards for developers.
View a new citywide map of publicly accessible waterfront spaces here.
The Hudson froze over last week. The river ice didn’t last for more than 24 hours, but during that time, it completely transformed everything around it.
Postscript: A number of people expressed concern for the cat huddled on the river bank in the above video. Our paths crossed again recently and with the worst of the winter behind her–I understand calico coats are exclusive to females– she seemed content to continue watching the river from her perch.
Score: “Testing the Jammer” by Freescha