Volume 22, Number 50 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 23 - 29, 2010
Downtown Express photo by Julie Shapiro
“Beyond the Garden Wall,” a temporary mural which was selected then rejected for the World Trade Center a few months ago, was put up near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal on Friday.
Rejected by W.T.C., mural finds home at Whitehall
The mural deemed not “extraordinary enough” for the construction fence around the World Trade Center site is now wrapping a construction fence near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal instead.
Called “Beyond the Garden Wall,” the 400-foot mural by Sage and Coombe Architects depicts a lush green hedge, with familiar New York figures and symbols peeking out through the gaps. Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the mural at a quiet ceremony last Friday afternoon, as Staten Island commuters rushed past.
“New Yorkers are notorious for keeping their heads down,” Sadik-Khan said. “But we’ve given them a reason today to pick up their head and check out this vibrant mural.”
Last year, the colorful Sage and Coombe design beat 162 other entries in the D.O.T. and Port Authority’s competition to decorate the Church St. fence at the W.T.C. site. The mural was supposed to be installed last December, but the Port Authority nixed the idea in the final stages, with a spokesperson telling the New York Times in January that none of the entries, including Sage and Coombe’s, was “extraordinary enough.”
Perhaps coincidentally, Sadik-Khan used the word “extraordinary” to describe Sage and Coombe’s design as she stood in front of it last Friday.
“The artistry was so extraordinary and the artwork was so strong that we wanted to get it out there as soon as possible,” Sadik-Khan said. “This seemed to be an ideal site.”
The mural masks the construction of Peter Minuit Plaza just outside the Whitehall Ferry Terminal. It will be taken down in September when the plaza is expected to be complete. The plaza will include entrances to the R/W and No. 1 subway lines and the New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion, a gift from the Dutch government that will house a concession and tourist information.
Jennifer Sage, principal at Sage and Coombe, said the hedge shown on the mural “evokes the sense of excitement when a construction fence is up — to find out what’s behind it,” regardless of whether that fence is at the World Trade Center site or in Peter Minuit Plaza.
The design is largely unchanged from the original that was slated for the W.T.C., but Sage said her firm added more historical figures, like Peter Stuyvesant, when the mural was moved. The mural also features Jackie Robinson, Jane Jacobs and a slew of others who shaped the city. It may even include Sadik-Khan herself, but she isn’t telling.
“What makes you ask that?” Sadik-Khan said with a smile.
— Julie Shapiro