Volume 20, Number 25 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 2 - 8, 2007

Water, water everywhere

By Nicole Davis

“City of Water,” a documentary produced by The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and the Municipal Art Society, focuses our attention on that elusive, often forgotten geographical feature of New York City­: the waterfront. How we’ve become so disconnected from the bodies of water that surround us is the first issue this engaging 30-minute film explores. We are taken back in time, when New York was a major port, to the dwindling maritime industry of today that has left behind rotting piers and hulking sheds, keeping our enjoyment of the water at bay. But now, as we’re rapidly transforming those disused structures into green parkland and recreation areas, there is cause for both rejoice and pause, because the way a waterfront is redeveloped doesn’t always benefit the public, as the recent uproar over the lack of docking at the proposed Pier 15 attests (see “Boat lovers say city plan abandons ship” in last week’s Downtown Express).

There are many fascinating viewpoints contained in this compact documentary, from Long Island City Community Boathouse founder Erik Baard, who points out the folly of placing guardrails all along the water’s edge, thus limiting open water access to boaters, to those brave Hudson River swimmers whose simple act of diving in ensures that the city will keep the river clean and safe for them.

But two of the most moving figures in the film are Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx, who both present compelling cases for getting communities involved in reclaiming the waterfront, so that luxury condos — or sheer neglect in the case of the Bronx — do not limit their access.

Catch a free screening of the documentary, co-sponsored by the New York County Lawyers Association, on Tuesday, November 6, 7:00 p.m., at 14 Vesey St. between Broadway and Church St. For more information visit, and click on Programs.

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