By Mayor Bloomberg
When you think of beautiful, powerful, cascades of water falling from the sky, you probably imagine Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, or Angel Falls in Venezuela, or Niagara Falls along the Canadian border. You probably donʼt think of New York City. But soon you will.
Starting Thursday, June 26th, four amazing new waterfalls will appear in historic New York Harbor. Itʼs all part of an exciting new work of art created by internationally renowned artist Olafur Eliasson, and commissioned by the Public Art Fund. There will be one Waterfall between Piers 4 and 5 on the Brooklyn waterfront – one under the Brooklyn Bridge itself – one on Governors Island – and, finally, one on Pier 35 in Lower Manhattan, just north of the Manhattan Bridge.
The Waterfalls will range in size from 90 to 120 feet; the two tallest will be roughly as high as the Statue of Liberty from head to toe and three-quarters the height of Niagara Falls. All four will run every day from 7am to 10 pm until October 13th, and all will be lit after sunset.
The project promises to make a big splash in our local economy by attracting thousands of sightseers to town, who will then spend money in our restaurants, hotels and stores. And that money will go straight into the pockets of hard-working New Yorkers. In addition, the projectʼs design takes steps to protect fish and other aquatic life, which means that for the more than three months theyʼre up, the Waterfalls will have little impact on the environment.
But it is going to have a big impact on our imaginations. One of the great things about the best public art is that it encourages us to re-discover – even just briefly – some of the parts of our city that we often take for granted. Our waterfront is one of the most magical parts of New York; when the first Dutch settlers sailed into the Harbor centuries ago, they looked at the shoreline and compared it to the Garden of Eden. The Waterfalls project will help bring that sense of awe back to the Harbor, and get more New Yorkers out to enjoy our wonderful parks and open spaces.
You can bet: the Waterfalls really must be seen to be believed. And to help people do that, the Public Art Fund is partnering with Circle Line Downtown to provide viewing tours through the Harbor. Some tours will be free; all the rest will be at discounted prices. You can actually sign up for a boat tour right now. Just visit the Waterfalls website at nyc.gov. The sooner you do so, the better chance you will have of getting a spot on one of the Circle Lineʼs free tours.
The Waterfalls will also be visible from the Staten Island Ferry – which is always free; and from the Governors Island Ferry – which is free as well; and will run every weekend during the exhibition. But some of the best places to experience the project will be on land – such as at the South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade – and a map that details a recommended bike route to see each of the four Waterfalls is also available at nyc.gov.
The Waterfalls is going to be one of those special events that allows all of us to be tourists in our own town. So why not plan a day on New York Harbor with your friends and family this summer – and take part in this once-in-a lifetime experience.