By Matthew Morowitz
On April 19, 2015 I had the opportunity to join 6 artists and urbanists on a walk around an unclaimed area of Hunters Point in Long Island City. Situated at the tip of the point between a sculpted recreational park, the East River, and Newtown Creek, this is one of the last areas of wild overgrowth in NYC. This site visit was the first as part of the planning stages for a potential public art project to be held on the site. As the NYCEDC has plans to begin construction of housing on the site this summer, artist Catherine Grau is working to obtain permission from them to stage installations and performances in the area before it becomes another continuation of the city landscape.
The site itself, while overgrown, is not so much a reflection of the NYC before the city but a rare slice of natural and non-manicured beauty that also reflects the many different pieces of the city. It is strewn with objects and dilapidated constructs, from bridges to boat anchors and even pieces some historians think were part of the old Penn Station. Walking around is both like taking a pilgrimage through an accidental museum (if you know where to look), as well as an escape from the order and monliths of the city.
Included below are some images from that day; the area itself is fenced off but there are ways around and residents of LIC mostly use the site for walking their dogs. Also, be sure to read this article by Nathan Kensinger, which gives a brief history on the site and the development plans that are slated for it. Anyone who is interested in learning more about Catherine Grau’s proposed project can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Site as seen from outside the fence.
Site from inside the fence.
Hill that overlooks the East River and Manhattan.
Stone and metal “furniture” and a view of Manhattan.
Old ship anchor, most likely not an original part of the site but dumped there.
Carved stone that historians believe was once part of the old Penn Station.
View down old bridge.
“The beach” at low tide.
“The beach,” seen from the other side.
Old brick with identifying information on “the beach.”
Stone platform with “swinging” rope.
Makeshift living structure.
View of Manhattan and part of Brooklyn from where the Newtown Creek meets the East River.