Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Battery Park City
I found this interesting stone wall in Battery Park City, dividing areas of park-like space between towering apartment high-rises. It has the feel of the kind of organic element that Frederick Law Olmsted might have included in Central Park, had he thought in the irregular geometrical terms of postmodern design. I always find Battery Park City a little unsettling, with an otherworldly quality that seems less "New York" than some planned community on the edge of suburbia. It has that "sanitized for your protection" feel. And when one stops and thinks of its origins, one realizes that it is rather artificial. This plot of 92 acres, across the West Side Highway from the World Trade Center site and the financial district, was created in the early 1970s in part from sand and earth excavated during construction of the "Twin Towers." It's a popular spot for families, with grassy areas, nice playgrounds, and the promenade looking out on the Hudson. But it feels isolated from the rest of Manhattan, a vestigial tail on the end of the island, with none of the grittiness characteristic of downtown. Maybe that's what its residents want - a place in the city that doesn't feel like the city.