Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Call me Ishmael… or responsible

In the article published Sunday 12/18/2011 City history, locked away: The short, unhappy life of New York Unearthed – (New York Daily News) a small museum is described which I once had a small part in at another archaeology firm which also once had an office and worked in NYC archaeology. I was asked to draw up a map as I did on other projects, of the changing outline of the island of Manhattan, the “island of hills” that has become flatter due to war, economics and planning. I had at the outset some doubt as to the rest of the small museum as it involved other consultants working on a use of an elevator as an exhibit place for slides of the past.

I finally did visit the museum at the time working in the transfer of Governors Island to the City of New York, initially offered by then President Clinton for a symbolic payment of $1 if a good use for the facilities could be found. I was working a short week for a consultant to another archaeology firm and a backhoe was required for a few test trenches that were needed to further explore questions in the geology and archaeology of the island’s landform. At one time it was discussed that the collections cited in this wonderfully complete article could be stored and exhibited on Governors Island, but alas, some members in Congress wanted $1/2 billion for it and various city agencies have yet to decide its long range plans, while apparently one would hope its upkeep is not languishing, built as it were from manufacturing no longer operating in the City.
Having therefore beat around the “nutting island” I would like to offer this: the museum was not handicap accessible from what I saw. There was a staircase down to its exhibits and the elevator was used as another feature instead of its intended use. My “guestimate” therefore is that I would not be surprised that like some of the “deals” made nearby for the World Trade Center, it was not up to code. Given the small space however, it was thought one could not have the elevator opening into it, the traffic would not “work”. One would hope someday, given the return of passenger cruise ships perhaps that a space could be finally created on Governors Island or in the historic Seaport district.

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