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NYC Grid is a photo blog dedicated to exploring New York block-by-block and corner-by-corner. Each post covers a new street or feature with a focus on the mundane and ephemeral.


Entries in Battery Park (6)


Before & After - East Coast Memorial


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The East Coast Memorial, which sits near the southern tip of Battery Park, is often overlooked as thousands walk by it on their way to Statue of Liberty ferries. It memorializes those lost on the Atlantic front of World War II. Along with two sister memorials – one on San Francisco and one in Hawaii – it is administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Photo source: Tom Riggle, Flickr


Before & After - Bowling Green


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It may not be the most impressive, but at nearly 300 years old Bowling Green is the oldest public park in the City. Sitting at the southern-most tip of Broadway, the park offers little more than some benches, a fountain and some history. The park and the fence surrounding it are both on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. 

I thought I would be able to get a good photo that matched the angle of the original 1907 image by standing on the steps of the Custom House. Unfortunately from what I can tell, the original image was shot much further to the left than I was able to get.

Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.


Battery Pl Between Little West St and Thames St


The neighborhood of Battery Park City has a history which closely mirrors that of Roosevelt Island (a neighborhood which has a special place in my heart). The strip of landfill began major development in the 1980's and has spent the entirety of its life under the control of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), a public benefit corporation. Likewise, Roosevelt Island only began its residential growth 10 years prior and is under the control of the similar Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC). However, for BPC, being a formal part of Manhattan (rather than just a token part, like R.I.) has some benefits. The vast waterfront and easy access to the rest of the Manhattan makes Battery Park City a rather ritzy joint to live in.

Walking west past Battery Park (proper) and Pier A, Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park is an incredible little patch of land at the southern-most section of the neighborhood. Featuring beautifully groomed spaces complete with sculptures, fountains, a cafe and the all-important bathrooms, the park offers panoramic views of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Continuing up Battery Place, a series of large residential buildings loom over the narrow street, which makes for an unfortunately-imposing block. 


Battery Pl Between State St and West St

With Bowling Green behind us, the sparsely populated Battery Place is a mostly-open concrete sidewalk. Sure, the park offers a respite to the south, but the sheer width of the space here makes it seem like almost a chore to make your way over there. Across the street, One Broadway lines the street with a series of great marine-inspried images. Previously owned by the International Mercantile Marine Company, the plaques surrounding the second floor list a series of ports-of-call, while two entrances on the ground floor are labeled "First Class" and "Cabin Class". 

Though significantly less ornate, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel air shaft (which may also hold offices? Anyone?) is also a rather interesting building to look at. Perhaps better known from the movies as headquarters for the Men In Black, this is one of the more plain-looking air shafts around the city. I'm always amazed more attention isn't given to them, since they show up at every underground river crossing.

Before entering Battery Park City, a large, classic-looking building currently known as "Ocean" sits at 1 West Street. Claiming to be the "First address in Manhattan" (I didn't know addresses were necessarily ordered outside of their street numbers), the building is just over 100 years old. Digging in a little deeper I found that this was originally the Whitehall Building, and is landmarked. The taller building behind it is actually one in the same; known originally as Greater Whitehall, it was built only 5 years after the original structure since it had been such a big hit.


Trinity Pl Between Morris St and Rector St

I always feel bad for the people driving their cars around this area. The streets are such a confusing mess that one wrong turn could be taking you to Brooklyn instead of the east side. Likewise, walking around as a pedestrian is not picnic either. More than once I've found myself somehow stranded between streets, practically walking through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, and thus forcing my to wander through the Battery Parking Garage to get back on track. 

The various streets that run around here create for some unique sights, it's a shame there isn't much more than a bar or two around here. Working you way northward, a large and unsightly Syms store takes over one block while the back end of Trinity Church offsets it across the street.


State St Between Whitehall St and Battery Pl

As you would expect, the very tip of Manhattan can be a bit of a convoluted mess thanks to the 33 different streets all trying to terminate at the same spot. State Street tries to clean up that mess a bit by wrapping around and separating the Ferry Terminal and Battery Park from the street grid. "State" is just one of a number of names this road has; if you follow it up in either direction long enough you get Broadway on the west and Bowery on the east. If you were intent on doing it, you could actually start here at the tip of State Street and follow Broadway all the way up to Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.

Right in the middle of all this activity are two very different buildings. Against the waterfront is the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. A new building, that I'll admit is pretty inviting, it also holds an entrance to the new South Ferry subway station. Across the street is a much more humble structure known as the James Watson House. Originally the home of Elizabeth Ann Seton – the first American-born saint – it's now a New York City Landmark. Looking absolutely dwarfed amongst the towering skyscrapers it reminds me a bit of The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. In between both the ferry terminal and the humble hut is what appears to be an utter wasteland of construction. Embarrassingly, I have no clue what they're working on here.

Following the street around the bend, there isn't much of note. Of course there's the always-great Battery Park, which is one of my favorite places to walk around when I'm in this area. Across the way a series of rather anonymous buildings sit in a row.

Making your way up to Battery Place (and the name change to Broadway) the US Custom House takes over the landscape. The beautiful Beaux-Arts building is well-known for its series of statues and architectural embellishments. Finished in 1907, the Custom House is actually one of only a few Government buildings constructed under the Tarsney Act which allowed private architects to design federal buildings. The act was repealed in 1913. One of the statues that line the front entrance can be seen on the cover of New York Changing, a book I've mentioned here before. Across from the Custom House a much smaller, but equally beautiful Bowling Green subway shelter sits all alone.