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Call this an op-ed piece, prompted by this article from Crain’s New York and Bowsprite’s angry reaction to it.  To paraphrase Bowsprite’s reaction:  much of the money will go to build railings and other structure to BAR access to the water, and not as Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro wants to, “creat[e] … a beautiful north shore park allowing our citizens access to our waterfront.”  I’m with Bowsprite.  Beautiful parks are fine in some places, but others should be left wild, ruins, driftwood, flotsam, jetsam, and all.

Here’s a quote from a February 2010 tugster post.  “As Rebecca Solnit says, ‘ruins stand as reminders.  Memory is always incomplete … but the ruins themselves … are our links to what came before, our guide to situating ourselves in a landscape of time.  To erase the ruins is to erase the visible public triggers of memory;  a city without ruins and traces of age is like a mind without memories.’”  This structure on the south side of Catskill Creek reminds us that once this creekbank was a bustle of manufacturing;  the ruins trigger a memory;  they serve as an antidote to land-clearing, park creation amnesia.  The past must be remembered.

Ruins stand as context-givers to our current technology:  there was a past, we don’t inhabit an eternal present, and our hands and minds will shape a future either to cherish or fear.

Museums provide some of this context, but can’t be the sole source.  Ollie (built 1911 in Greenport, NY) was 21 years old when Marion M came off the ways.  If anyone is interested in a recent NYTugs article on the Standard Boat fleet of stick lighters, of which Ollie and Marion M were members, email me me for info.

Some ruins have values as cautionary tales.  But others

powerfully catalyze the  imagination and new creation.

And still others are adapted for new uses:  old piers beyond Capt Log here , home to the River Project, serve as habitat for new sea life.

Back to the quote from Councilwoman Debi Rose, quoted in the Crains New York article in the first paragraph,  “overgrown with weeds”  does not mean it has  “[become] inaccessible.”  Please leave some wilderness in the city, even if those parts along the sixth boro are examples of how the wilderness deals–at its own pace–with cast-off handiwork of our technology.  There are valuable lessons to be learned in “under improved” areas as they currently exist along Richmond Terrace AND many other places on earth.

Check out Underwater New York and some of the “objects” and stories we learn from them, objects found in those wild places.

All fotos here by Will Van Dorp.  Thanks to Jeff Schurr for identification work on Ollie.

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October 2010