Over the past four centuries, the Battery at the tip of Manhattan has evolved, from a fortification to immigration station to park to National Monument. On this virtual walking tour, we will take advantage of the sweeping views of the harbor, share the history of Castle Clinton and the park, and explore some of its many monuments. The Battery is in many ways New York City’s World War II memorial, housing the Eastern Sea Frontier Memorial, the Norwegian Veterans Memorial, the haunting American Merchant Mariners Memorial, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.
Prospect Park Alliance recently completed the restoration of the Endale Arch, one of the original portals to the park designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. Get an insider’s look at the restoration process, which required years of research, incredibly skilled craftspeople, and painstakingly detailed work to bring the arch back to its original splendor. We will be joined by Sarena Rabinowitz, Assistant Architect, Design & Construction at the Alliance about the years-long, multi-phase process to restore the full arch, and Curtis Barnhart of Barnhart Restoration & Design, which did the restoration work on the stunning interior. We will also go live to the arch itself to see these wonderful details up close. This program is offered in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance, and the arch restoration was generously funded by the Tiger Baron Foundation, with additional support from Council Member Brad Lander through District 39 participatory budgeting.
At each of the water passages that lead to New York Harbor – from the Narrows to Hell Gate, Ambrose Channel to the Race – disused forts stand on either shore, once guarding these entrances. In this virtual program, we will explore the history of coastal fortifications in New York from the Revolutionary War to World War II, examining the different eras of fort construction and the technological advancements that drove the changes in these forts’ shape, armament, and role over time. We will also look at how these forts have been repurposed today – as parks, schools, museums, and the last active military base in New York City.
The neighborhood today known as DUMBO was once the center for the agricultural hamlet of Brooklyn, and grew into a center of commerce, shipping, and manufacturing. On this virtual walk, we will look at several eras of the neighborhood’s history reflected in its architecture. From the storage warehouses of the 1860s, to the reinforced concrete industrial buildings of the Gairville complex, to the last remaining tenement building in the neighborhood, we will also examine how these buildings have been repurposed to create one of the most expensive residential and office districts in all of New York City.
In 1881, Spanish engineer Rafael Guastavino arrived in New York City and unveiled his new technology for building self-supporting vaulted tile ceilings. These ceilings are now iconic elements of many New York landmarks, and the city is home to more than 250 of them, more than any other city in the United States. On this virtual tour, we’ll look at many of the ceilings up close, in both grand public buildings and out-of-the-way places, including in Prospect Park, Grand Central Station, Ellis Island, and the Municipal Building, as we discuss this engineering marvel.
Take a virtual ride with us on the South Brooklyn route of the NYC Ferry. We will board at Corlears Hook and examine the Brooklyn waterfront as we ride past DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park, and finally end in Bay Ridge. Along the way, we will look back at the industrial history of these neighborhoods and see some of the last vestiges of the industrial and working waterfront in Brooklyn, including the Red Hook Container Terminal, Erie Basin, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We will also discuss many of things to see and do near the ferry stops.
November 24 marks the 161st birthday of the famed architect Cass Gilbert, and to celebrate, we are taking a deep dive into his body of work in New York City. We will be joined by Helen Post Curry, Gilbert’s great-granddaughter, an expert on his life and work, and the founder of Woolworth Tours. Though born and raised in the Midwest, he rose to national prominence after moving to New York, where he built such landmarks as the Custom House, 90 West Street, the Woolworth Building, and of course, the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We will also discuss some of the less well-known buildings of his portfolio, including Brooklyn’s Austin, Nichols & Co. Building and a string of small railway stations in the Bronx, and his mastery of a wide diversity of styles that made him one of the most versatile architects of his era.
More than 2,800 Brooklynites were killed in World War I, and Prospect Park quickly became one of the borough’s key points of remembrance and commemoration. On this virtual walking tour for Veterans Day, we will explore some of the memorial sites in the park and they people they memorialize, including the memorial trees along Prospect Park West, Bartel-Pritchard Square, and the striking 1921 memorial by Henry Augustus Lukeman. We will also discuss the ways in which the park was mobilized and transformed as a result of the war.
Take a virtual ride with us on the Astoria route of the NYC Ferry. We will board at Wall Street, and on this one-hour ride, we will examine the historical buildings along the waterfront of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and learn about things to do at each of the ferry’s stops. We will stop by Wallabout Bay for a visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and other landmarks of the industrial waterfront, learn about the history of housing in the Lower East Side, Midtown, and Long Island City, examine the river’s barge traffic, past and present, and discuss the natural and manmade islands that stretch along the river. To accompany this guided tour, check out our free map guide that we created for Open House New York.
Because New York City lacks any freight rail crossing of the Hudson River, Staten Island is the lone borough that is connected to the rest of the country’s freight rail network. Today the rail and container facilities there are vital to the port’s operations, but in the 1990’s, this link was lost. Don Lotz, retired Manager of Intermodal Development for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (and long-time Turnstile Member), will join us to share his experience with this vital project. He will dig into the design and construction required to restore rail freight service to Staten Island, including rehabilitation of the Arthur Kill Vertical-Lift Bridge, which has the longest lift-span of any vertical lift bridge in the world, and the challenges this corner of the port – and all of New York City’s waterfront – faced due to massive changes to the manufacturing and shipping industries.