Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Battery Park

Yesterday after attending an MTA railroad safety course in the Graybar Building, off the Grand Central Terminal causeways, we visited an “Archeology of Battery Park” exhibit at the New York Transit Museum Store in the restored station off the Shuttle Passage, next to the Station Master’s Office. The Graybar Building has also been restored about 10 years earlier, where my friend’s sister worked eleven years in the J. Walter Thompson agency as an executive secretary. Oddly, the day before I had been reading of a special MTA folding bike ($299) after an ad for airplane pilots to “bring along a bike”.

It’s a nice small exhibit, though we often spell Federal “archeology” and other “archaeology”. It was interesting omission, having worked on the section near the “Sphere” the sculpture that had once been in the center of the World Trade Center nearby. The wall we found on the “Swing Shift” from 3:30 PM to 12:00 AM, “Number 2” was not shown, at the time a conundrum, a water service had been cut and inadequate documentation existed for it, the cut-and-fill contractors required to fix it before continuing, it left three archeologists sitting on the park bench in the dark and cold watching the vermin run by. I was once monitoring  one in Bridgeport, CT where nearby employees came out in “refrigerator suits” with ice cream sandwiches from the ice cream factory, hoping they might hurry the repair along in the summer, new storm drains going in off Route 95.

It was a large project including the construction of a new subway station replacing the narrow constricted “South Ferry” station, where passengers had to walk through the cars to the first four and step onto moving grates that came out to meet the train once it stopped, a very tight turn into the station. It’s been replaced to one that fits the newer larger cars, and all cars have access to the platform at Whitehall Street. It’s also the name of a small boat rowed and sailed that was used to ferry passengers and supplies to the larger ships in the New York harbor in days past (chandlery) though today still built in various schools, i.e., one in the Bronx, another perhaps in  the new public school with a maritime focus on Governors Island, opening this fall (commercial examples: Whitehall Spirit).

I recall years ago happening upon a bound volume of a report to the New York City Parks Department in Special Collections at Stony Brook University library from the 1850s. In it was an interesting inventory of various animals that had been donated, primarily from ship captains, of animals to the then new Central Park Zoo. There was also a report on Battery Park with an illustration of filling and facilities provided, i.e., fences, lights, and noted that it was built or filled by prison labor.

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