While New York City sat at the nexus of many important canals built in the 19th century — the Erie, Morris, and Delaware & Raritan among them — the city had its own internal network of lesser-known canals, some filled in, some never built, and some still with us today. As part of our ongoing virtual program series on canals, we will examine the ambitious schemes from the 17th century onward to connect the city’s bays and streams, from the Heere Graft of New Amsterdam to the Wallabout Canal of Brooklyn.
For the past three years, our friend Michael Cairl has been recovering from a stroke that limited his mobility and transformed how he gets around the city. As part of his recovery, Michael has been exploring the city in new ways and documenting it on his blog, On Foot, On Wheels. On foot, he has been climbing the city’s many stair streets, tackling more than 20 of them on his urban walks with friends and family. There are over 100 mapped public streets in the city that are actual staircases, most of them in the hilly sections of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, (including the one made famous by the 2019 film Joker), but Michael’s also climbed them in Brooklyn and Queens. On this virtual program, Michael will share some of his favorite spots he has discovered, and his passion for making the city more accessible to all. While you can’t navigate these streets on wheels, Michael’s adaptive tricycle built by Adapt Ability allowed him to continue his love of cycling, and all proceeds from this program will support Adapt Ability Bikes.
Take a ride to the Bronx on this virtual tour of the Soundview Route on NYC Ferry, as we discuss important landmarks of NYC’s history of housing, food, and exclusion. Starting from Wall Street, we will cruise under the iconic East River bridges, stop in Stuyvesant Cove, and make our way up the river before heading into new waters for our virtual tours, past the Hell Gate and into mouth of Long Island Sound. We will discuss the history of the East River’s islands, many of which have been sites of exclusion and incarceration, including Roosevelt Island, Randalls Island, the Brother Islands, and of course Rikers Island. We will also see some of the city’s most critical infrastructure, including power plants, waste transfer stations, LaGuardia Airport, and the vast food distribution facility at Hunts Point, before landing in Soundview at the mouth of the beautiful but mistreated Bronx River.
As we approach New York City’s primary elections on June 22, housing, as always, is a key issue on the ballot. So we are looking back at the history of social housing in New York – not just the city’s vast NYCHA public housing system, but also other forms of government and philanthropic intervention that have tried to tame the beast of unsafe, unsanitary, and unaffordable housing over the past 100+ years. This program will look at examples of model housing designed by social reformers, landmark cooperatives built by labor unions and community groups, the rise of public housing beginning in the 1930s, and public subsidies for private developments. This wide-ranging examination will take us from the Home and Tower Buildings to the First Houses, from Stuy-Town to the housing lottery.
Join us for another virtual boat tour aboard a beautiful motor yacht with our friends at Classic Harbor Line. This time we will be heading north, exploring the very northern tip of Manhattan. We will get beautiful views of the Palisades and George Washington Bridge, then tuck inside the narrow confines of the Harlem River and under more than a dozen road, rail, and foot bridges that connect Manhattan to the Bronx. Along the way we will discuss visible landmarks like Yankee Stadium, the Cloisters, and the Harlem River Houses, as well as the extensive rail and barge infrastructure in the area, and the fascinating story of how the famed Spuyten Duyvil was blasted from a meandering backwater into a navigable ship canal.
Hunts Point in the Bronx is the world’s largest food distribution center, yet few New Yorkers have ever visited. In order to demystify this place and the city’s food system, designers Lilian Yi-Hsuan Lin, Ángel Lamar Oliveras, and Beverly Chou created Race to Hunts Point, a strategy board game designed for high school students in which players must use resources to successfully operate cultivation, shipping, and trading processes in the food supply chain. In this virtual program, Lilian will walk us through the design, fabrication, and gameplay of Race to Hunts Point, which was created through the FWRD Fellowship for designers and engineers with NYCEDC’s Futureworks.
The Whitehall skiff, a style of boat developed in New York 200 years ago, has been changing the lives of teens in the Bronx for the last 20 years at a program called Rocking the Boat. Founder and Executive Director Adam Green joins us to discuss the Whitehall and the impact of youth development based on teaching with small boats that combines engineering, craft, rowing and sailing, and marine ecology.