Sunday, 6 January 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: A New Park for New York


More news from New York: Governor's Island, reached by ferry from the Battery Terminal in lower Manhattan, is about to be redeveloped as an open space for New Yorkers and tourists alike. I can't believe there are still unused bits of land anywhere near Manhattan, but there you go - 167 acres, just half a mile off the shores of Wall Street, are going to be given a proper going-over by a team combining several firms of acclaimed landscape architects.

Governor's Island always used to belong to the US coastguard, but in
the 1990s they closed down operations there. Then in 2002 President
George W. Bush announced that the United States of America would sell
Governors Island to the people of New York for a nominal cost, as long
as the island was used for public benefit. Apparently this doesn't
mean casinos, the only use strictly forbidden in the covenant of sale.

There are lots of historic buildings in the northern part of the
island, but for open space fans the southern part of the plan is the
most exciting. A new 40-acre park
may include museums hidden under earthworks and will make the most of
spectacular views of city and harbour. I'm particularly keen on the
idea of a wild salt marsh, returning part of the island to its natural
state, and many miles of bicycle trails. Lovers of rusty machinery and
benign neglect may want to visit this year, though, before work begins.
From June you can pop over and hopefully take advantage of a free bicycle scheme to tour the island.

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