The Center for Urban Pedagogy‘s (CUP) playful and informative 2006 video The Water Underground is now available in full online at Places. The 24-minute piece examines and explores New York City’s water supply, treatment and waste infrastructure, its history and prevailing controversies—the students interviewed engineers, plant superintendents, construction workers, marine biologists, urban divers, educators, and environmental justice advocates. Working in partnership with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, CUP worked with students at City-as-School and through the Parks Department’s RECYouth program to research and produce the video.
(via Urban Omnibus)
The “Fast Trash” exhibit is a gift that keeps on giving: two excellent organizations are holding awesome-sounding garbage-focused events at Gallery RIVAA on Roosevelt Island this weekend, piggybacking on the last week of “Fast Trash”‘s run. On Saturday, May 15th, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) will screen two documentaries on New York City waste disposal: the rare and intriguing-sounding 1979 documentary Collection and Disposal, a Job for the Birds, and CUP’s own 2002 Garbage Problems.
Focused on New York’s garbage glut, Robert Machover and Catherine Pozzo Di Borgo’s “Collection and Disposal” asks where NYC garbage will go when the landfills reach capacity. Through informal interviews with the sanitation workers who each lug 6,000 pounds of trash every day, the documentary gives a glimpse into the challenges of hauling and planning for the future, and reveals some insider garbage slang on the side.
Picking up where “Collection and Disposal” left off, 2002’s “Garbage Problems” finds that three decades later there’s still no clear solution to the city’s garbage crisis. The documentary, CUP’s first-ever Urban Investigation, uncovers some of the dirty politics of putting together a comprehensive waste plan for the city.
The screening will be followed by a presentation from garbage historian and environmental planner Benjamin Miller on the prospects and challenges of implementing a citywide pneumatic garbage transport system.
And on Sunday, Urban Omnibus hosts a meet-up on Roosevelt Island to explore the Island on foot with landscape architect Donald Richardson, who worked on the its 1969 master plan. The walk will be followed by a guided tour of the “Fast Trash” show with its curator, architect Juliette Spertus. Both of these events sound incredibly interesting to us. Two great days to spend on/learning about “The Island Nobody Knows.”
Saturday, May 15, 5 – 7pm
527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island
F train to Roosevelt Island
FREE | Seats very limited, RVSP to email@example.com
Urban Omnibus Meet-up
Sunday, May 16th, 2010, 2pm
Roosevelt Island, meet outside the F train stop
The Architectural League of New York has just mounted an exhibit called ‘The City We Imagined/The City We Made: New New York 2001-2010‘ about architecture, planning, and development in New York City since 2001.
This installment chronicles the transformation the physical city in light of the convergence of an array of powerful forces: the events of 9/11, the policies and priorities of the Bloomberg Administration, the volatility of global and local economies, advances in material and construction technologies, and a new interest among the public in contemporary architecture.
The exhibit consists of design proposals from the last ten years, a large collection of photos gathered from design professionals citywide, interviews and original video. New York Magazine offers a sort-of-review—more a reflection on stasis and change in the City’s landscape—in its most recent issue.
May 8-June 26, 2010
Location: 250 Hudson Street (Enter on Dominick Street)
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, Noon-7pm
The Spring/Summer issue of the Freshkills Park newsletter, Fresh Perspectives, is up on the official Parks homepage for Freshkills Park. In this issue are a review of the past year’s expanded tour programs at the Freshkills Park site and a profile of the Department of Sanitation’s compost facility, located just beside the former landfill, in addition to the cover story, which offers a history of the Fresh Kills area before landfilling began in 1948 and an annotated map of historic activities onsite.
We put this newsletter out every six months and distribute hard copies to various parks and cultural institutions throughout the City, in addition to handing them out on our public bus tours of the Freshkills Park site. Digital archives of past newsletters are available on the homepage, under the ‘More Information’ tab.
Gothamist discovers the Witte Marine Salvage Yard, one of the largest marine scrapyards on the East Coast, along the shore of the Arthur Kill just south of the Freshkills Park site’s West Mound. It’s a pretty spectacular and much photographed sight to see these rusted heaps—mostly tugboats and cargo ships—half sunken in the Arthur Kill, and the various plant and marine life that has made its home there. The Times provided some history on the yard back in 1990, and we’ve included it as an attraction in our Staten Island day-trips for folks visiting the Island to join one of our Freshkills Park tours. This is just one more site that really validates the whole ‘Forgotten Borough’ moniker, in the most compelling way.
If photos of industrial decay excite you, you might be interested to know that photographer Nathan Kensinger will be sharing his photos and stories of this site and others the evening of Tuesday, May 18th at Staten Island’s Cargo Cafe, as part of our Freshkills Park Talks series.
Garbage on Roosevelt Island—the 147-acre strip of land lying in the East River between Manhattan and Queens—is disposed of through a remarkable system of underground pneumatic tubes that was constructed in 1975. The Island’s 14,000 residents empty their trash into a series of garbage chutes which are emptied into the pneumatic pipes several times daily, carrying it at 30 miles per hour to a transfer station at the end of the island. There it is compacted by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), sealed into containers, and loaded on a truck for private export to a landfill outside the city. This Automatic Vacuum Collections System (AVAC) collects and exports more than ten tons of waste daily.
A month-long exhibit on the AVAC, its history and its value as a model for future waste management operations opens today at Gallery RIVAA on the Island, with an opening reception this evening. The show, called “Fast Trash,” has been curated by architect Juliette Spertus and the design firm Project Projects (which also designed the signage and visual identity of Freshkills Park). “Fast Trash” includes explanatory diagrams, video interviews with DSNY engineers who maintain the system, and a selection of drawings produced through a collaboration between the Center for Urban Pedagogy and students from the Child School, exploring what garbage collection might look like in a future without roads. The show will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1960 master plan developed for the Island by architects John Burgee and Philip Johnson. A related panel discussion at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service called “Comparative Garbage Collection Strategy and Urban Planning” will take place on May 6th.
FAST TRASH: Roosevelt Island’s Pneumatic Tubes and the Future of Cities
April 22–May 23, 2010
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 22, 6–9pm
Gallery RIVAA, 527 Main Street, Roosevelt Island
Monday, March 22nd marked the nine year anniversary of the closure of Fresh Kills Landfill. To reflect on that milestone, we pulled this timeline (PDF, 11MB) of the landfill’s operation from our archives. It was put together for the catalogue of the exhibit called “Fresh Kills: Artists Respond to the Closure of the Staten Island Landfill,” mounted at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center‘s Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in 2001.
The timeline doesn’t include every pertinent piece of information, of course. One important addition: in 1990, Governor Mario Cuomo signed a consent order placing the Fresh Kills Landfill under the governance of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC); under that governance, the Department of Sanitation installed state-of-the-art infrastructure throughout the site to capture landfill gas emissions, collect and purify leachate and monitor the landfill’s impacts on surrounding air and water quality. These systems continue to operate today. More information on the site’s infrastructure and environmental controls is available under the ‘About the Site’ tab on the Freshkills Park home page.
The New York Public Library (NYPL) has unveiled a beta version of their map rectifier tool, a feature that allows users to digitally align or “rectify” historical maps from the NYPL collection with today’s maps and aerial photos. You can browse previously rectified maps or sign up for an account to align your own and add it to the browse-able archive. A 1907 map of the Fresh Kills area helped us understand a little more clearly the extent of filling in creeks and wetlands, and also the sense of private ownership that this land did, in fact, enjoy prior to the start of landfill operations–the entire site was carved up into privately owned parcels.
A couple of exciting exhibitions and projects featuring the built and natural environments are currently underway at the MoMA and P.S.1. The MoMA exhibition, “In Situ: Architecture and Landscape”, opened last April and will be running through February 22nd. A small but succinct show, it’s worth visiting.
P.S.1’s recent program “Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront” included a studio residency for Architecture Research Office (ARO), which developed designs for “adaptive ‘soft’ infrastructures” to address rising tidewaters in New York and New Jersey, taking into account the needs of both the metropolis and the coastline ecology. An exhibit of models, drawings and analytical materials produced during the residency will be opening at the MoMA March 24th. In the meantime, the Rising Currents Blog continues to offer interesting reflections on the intersections of urban and hydrological systems.
A lecture on the biology of salt marshes, tonight at the Arsenal.
Natural habitats and ecosystems are delicate things, and in this lecture, you’ll learn the natural history of salt marshes and their plants and animals, along with the “unnatural history” of how humans have altered and damaged them physically, chemically, and biologically. The presentation is given by Judith Weiss, a professor of biological science at Rutgers University and an expert on estuarine biology. She recently co-authored the book Salt Marshes: A Natural and Unnatural History, and it will be available for purchase at the event.
Wednesday, January 13, 6pm
Central Park Arsenal, 3rd Floor
64th St. at 5th Ave.
Admission is free