New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Water Taxi Redux

It's Sunday evening. Jenn and I are relaxing at home after another fun afternoon at Water Taxi Beach. This time we actually arrived at Water Taxi Beach by Water Taxi.

I felt like we cheated last time because we took the G train to get there and walked home, so we made up for it today and arrived by sea, as it were. Anyway I had some free Water Taxi tickets that the kind folks at New York Water Taxi sent to me in appreciation of the nice review I published last month, along with the mention on Gridskipper. I promise my blogging integrity isn't compromised a bit.

Since I covered the topic of Water Taxi Beach pretty thoroughly last time (some might say too thoroughly) I will focus today on the actual boat ride to get there.

Since we were taking the Water Taxi purely for our own amusement, we decided to pick it up at Pier 84, which is located at West 44th Street. That way we would have the longest boat ride, all the way around lower Manhattan.

The weather was beautiful: sunny and warm, with a light breeze and low humidity. After a late breakfast at David's Bagels, Jenn and I took the subway to Times Square, weaved and dodged our way through the ambling tourist throngs, and arrived at the dock with nary a minute to spare before our 1:33 p.m. departure.

We went straight to the upper deck and took our front-row seats as the boat was shoving off. Those Water Taxis have strong engines, because once he pulled away from the dock and poured on the juice it was really hard to stand up without grabbing a handrail. Of course I tried to take as many pictures as I could.

Here's a cute picture of Jenn with her hair flowing in the breeze. I should give her credit for coming up with the Water Taxi Beach idea in the first place, back in August. She pointed out the review and suggested we check it out, and the rest is history. It turned out to be a fine idea. She's good like that.

We were enjoying the boat ride from the start. Much like Rashomon, it's good to see things from different perspectives. New York as seen from the water looks different than when you're in the middle of it. The boat made several stops on the way to Water Taxi Beach, which is at Hunters Point in Queens. This is a photo of a bar/restaurant on a pier where the Frying Pan is docked.

I like this photo of the now-derelict Pier 57 because of the almost imperceptible Art Deco styling of its facade. The chrome that wraps around it, softening the corners, makes me think of the more obvious Art Deco buildings like Rockefeller Center or parts of Miami Beach, or the cocktail lounge in the Queen Mary. I'm no architecture expert but the design of this pier looks like Art Deco to me and Art Deco is cool.

Okay, here's a quiz. Look at the picture below and guess what it is.

It appears to be a barge with grass and trees on it. And the grass and trees appear to be beautifully manicured and sculptured. Even the earth they grow from is carved into pleasing hills and dales.

I think I would have come up with it on my own, but Jenn said it first: It's Robert Smithson's latest work: Floating Island. You might know Smithson from some of his other environmental artwork, such as Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake. Jenn and I were familiar with Smithson's work from our recent (and excellent) trip to Dia:Beacon. My Dia review can be found here.

Robert Smithson died in 1973, and this work is based on drawings and plans he prepared before he died.

Here's a view of Floating Island that gives it a little more context. Yes, it is a barge with dirt and trees on it, and yes, it is being towed around Manhattan by a tugboat. Why? Because it is art. Art exists for its own sake. I think it's cool. Jenn and I were both excited that we saw it, because, while we had both heard about it and knew it was coming to New York, we were completely not expecting to see it during our Water Taxi ride to the beach.

The tall building in the background (as well as the Colgate Clock in the previous picture) are located in Jersey City, New Jersey. Jersey City has come a long way since I've lived in New York. Five years ago the skyline of Jersey City looked nothing like it does now, with its gleaming new buildings.

No blog entry about a boat trip through New York Harbor would be complete without the picture below. Lady Liberty is beautiful and it's always a thrill to be on a boat that sails past her. And Emma Lazarus's poem is beautiful as well. I think the term "tempest-tossed" is one of the most descriptive and evocative terms for immigrants I've ever heard.

And now, my friends, here is a photo of Ellis Island.

And here is a somewhat interesting angle of Battery Park. Yes, I must say that to this day, I do notice the voids where the Twin Towers used to stand. For weeks or even months after I would still expect to see them in the skyline. How does something like that just disappear? My mind is still trying to comprehend it. I mean, I get it, but brother, I just don't get it.

Here's another view of Jersey City, with some of our co-passengers as well. This is pretty much what our seating area looked like. We had everything we needed. And as I write this, I can still feel the motion of the ocean in my body. We were on the water for over an hour and I still have my sea legs.

As I mentioned earlier, we boarded the boat at Pier 84 at West 44th Street. The Water Taxi made stops at Pier 63 (West 23rd Street, Chelsea Piers), West Village, North Cove (World Financial Center), Pier A (Battery Park), Pier 11 (Wall Street and South Street Seaport), Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn, East 34th Street in Manhattan, and finally to Hunters Point in Long Island City, where Water Taxi Beach is located. I gave the camera to Jenn and she took this nice photo of the tall-masted ships at South Street Seaport.

I took a bunch of photos of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges, and I'll spare you the lot of them, but here's a nice photo of the Brooklyn tower of the Brooklyn Bridge.

This is a photo of the near-derelict Domino Sugar plant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, framed by the Williamsburg Bridge. This is our neighborhood, although we are several blocks away from the East River.

This next photo is of Grand Ferry Park, also in Williamsburg. Sometimes I ride my bike here when I want to look at the water. The park is located at the end of Grand Street in Brooklyn. There used to be a ferry boat that ran back and forth across the East river from Grand Street in Brooklyn to Grand Street in Manhattan, as if it was all one street and there was no river.

You're right, it's not much of a park. But Brooklyn doesn't have nearly as much public waterfront access as it ought to, and here is one of the few spots where a regular New Yorker can sit and gaze at the sunlight or moonlight reflecting on the water.

I dig this next photo. Brooklyn at its finest. These factories are all abandoned, but there are plans to build luxury apartment towers.

And here's the Circle Line going past Long Island City.

Here we are on final approach to Water Taxi Beach. It doesn't look like much from this photo but trust me, it's totally cool.

Here's Jenn getting preparing to disembark at the beach.

And here we are.

We spent about three very pleasant hours enjoying the beach.

When it was time to go home, we walked to the G train. We were home in no time. It was a lovely day.


Blogger Jenn said...

Lovely photos, lovely day. Too bad Harry wasn't there. We would have liked to say Hi. But we'll get back to the beach before it closes for the season (Oct. 11).

10:19 PM  
Blogger Ted Madsen said...

Hey I was talking to you through part of this... funny as I was talking to you I was in the fed-ex shoot while you were in the taxi beach shoot. Great photos of NY Landmarks.

10:35 PM  

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