Liquid Art

By staff July 8, 2008

New York City’s new waterfalls make a dazzling impression.


By Charlie Huisking


During my visit to New York last week, I did the normal tourist things: saw four Broadway shows, wandered through museums, ate at some nice restaurants, and took in the waterfalls in the East River.


Waterfalls? Yes, New York's gritty urban landscape is now tempered by four spectacular waterfalls, from 80 to 120 feet high. They cascade into the East River from towers made of silver scaffolding, just off the coasts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Governor's Island. By far the most stunning of the four stands under the Brooklyn Bridge.


These water works are a public art project, "The New York City Waterfalls," by Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist. Supported by New York's Public Art Fund and a host of private donors, the installations will be up through Oct. 13.


You can view the waterfalls by land, and I thought of taking the subway to Brooklyn and then walking back to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge's pedestrian walkway. But then the concierge at my hotel suggested I see them from the water on a Circle Line tour.


I'd always avoided this New York institution as being too touristy, but I figured this was the time to try it. And I'm so glad I did.


The boat was jammed with visitors from all parts of the world, who jostled for position along the railings, snapping pictures of the dramatic New York skyline that gleamed on a cloudless day.


The picture-taking grew more frenzied as we made a side trip to circumnavigate the Statue of Liberty--a perfect excursion on this July 3 voyage.


The boat sailed by all four waterfalls, and not everyone on board seemed impressed. "That one looks like a sewer pipe is leaking," one man told his wife.


But the thundering falls under the Brooklyn Bridge dazzled everybody.


I'm told they look even more impressive at night, when they are bathed in shimmering white lights.


To quote the New York Times, "They are the remnants of a primordial Eden, beautiful, uncanny signs of a natural non-urban past that the city never had."




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