Site Conditions Pre–renovation
The Battery Seawall had suffered from fifty years of abuse and heavily trafficked uses; It had fallen into a dreadful state of disrepair. 48 cars had been permitted to park on the Battery’s historic waterfront. Acres of patched and re–patched asphalt were not welcoming to the park’s millions of visitors. The 1500 foot harbor side railing was corroded and reinforced with leftover chain–link fencing. The five waterfront gangways were unsuitable for current and future ferry service needs.
Reconstruction Plan and Funding
In 1990, when Congress passed the first intermodal transportation bill, $2 million was earmarked by Senator Patrick Moynihan to rebuild The Battery Seawall. The Battery Conservancy began operating in 1995, and its first project was to raise the funds to build awareness of the need to redesign and rebuild the Seawall. The Conservancy raised $250,000 in private donations and made the project a priority of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. These funds leveraged over $3.6 million from the NYC capital budget as reconstruction began in 1996.
The firm Olin Studio was contracted in 1996 by the Conservancy to design The Battery’s Seawall and Promenade. The project included the reconstruction of five gangways, plus the construction of one additional gangway that supports excursions to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and facilitates waterborne transportation. The project was completed in 1998.
The River That Flows Two Ways
The Battery’s first public art initiative, The River That Flows Two Ways, by artist Wopo Holup, was unveiled on June 5, 2000. Thirty–seven panels of this permanent public artwork are set into the Seawall railing. The project details the ecological and human history of The Battery and the Hudson from the glacial age to the present. The Conservancy raised over $350,000 in private funds and worked with artist Wopo Holup to design, fabricate, and install the sculptural cast iron and bronze panels.
These lyrical images depict marine, natural, and human history. The panels illustrate the explorations and encounters of New York’s diverse populations, showing maritime vessels, and moments in the exciting history of The Battery. It arouses curiosity, enchants the eye, and celebrates New York City’s heritage. You can learn more about the history of the Hudson and the Native American influence on the The River That Flows Two Ways here.
- Landscape Architect: Olin Studio
- Artist: Wopo Holup