SPECIAL EDITION: “UNFORGOTTEN” NEW YORK

February 11, 2020 at 5:30 am

We explore some of New York City’s spectacular “Untapped” places and unravel the stories behind their underappreciated charm.

Click Here for more information On “Untapped Cities.”

Click Here for more information on Unforgotten Films.

 

**Updates On Locations**

Hart Island: There has recently been a push for new legislation to transfer Hart Island from the city’s Department of Corrections to the Department of Parks & Recreation.

More Information Visit: https://council.nyc.gov/data/hart-island/ 

Pavilion: Construction for New York State Pavilion Observation Towers Reconstruction is scheduled to begin in October 2019.

More Information Visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/7009

 

Aired on September 24, 2019; December 19, 2019 & February 10, 2020.

Transcript Print

UNFORGOTTEN.
COME WITH US TO SOME OF NEW YORK
CITY'S MOST SPECTACULAR YET
UNDERSTATED PLACES AND THE
STORIES BEHIND THEIR
UNDERAPPRECIATED CHARM.
AHEAD, FT. TO THEN, THIS STONE
STRUCTURE WAS MEANT TO DEFEND
THE HARBOR DURING THE CIVIL WAR,
NOW IT'S BEING REIMAGINED AND
REDISCOVERED.
THE NEW YORK CITY PAVILION,
ALMOST FORGOTTEN SINCE THE 1964
WORLD'S FAIR, IT STANDS AT THE
CROSSROADS OF EYE ART, COMMUNITY
ACTIVISM AND ANTIQUITY.
AND HART ISLAND, BEAUTIFUL AND
MYSTERIES.
NEW YORK CITY'S PUBLIC BURIAL
GROUND IS ALSO IN THE MIDST OF A
PUSH FOR PUBLIC ACCESS.
COME FOR A TOUR OF THESE SPOTS
AND MORE AS "METROFOCUS" STARTS
RIGHT NOW.
§
§
>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH
RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND
JENNA FLANAGAN.
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE
AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE
SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE
SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND
BY --
>>> FEENG AND WELCOME TO THIS
SPECIAL EDITION OF "METROFOCUS."
I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.
FROM TIMES SQUARE TO LIBERTY
ISLAND NEW YORK CITY IS KNOWN
FOR HAVING SOME OF THE MOST
ICONIC AND HISTORIC LOCATIONS.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SPOTS THAT
ARE LESS ICONIC BUT NOT LESS
FANTASTIC?
IN PARTNERSHIP WEB MAGAZINE
UNTAPPED CITIES AND UNFORGOTTEN
FILMS SHINE A LIGHT ON SOME OF
THE NOT SO WELL KNOWN GEMS OF
NEW YORK AS PART OF THEIR NEW
VIDEO SERIES UNFORGOTTEN.
FIRST STOP ON THE TOUR IS FT. TO
THEN LOCATED IN THE NORTHEASTERN
PART OF QUEENS.
NEVER HEARD OF IT?
IF SO, TAKE A LOOK.
>> FT. TOTTEN WATER BATTERY
BUILT IN 1862 TO PROTECT THE
GREATER NEW YORK CITY REGION
FROM INVASION AT THAT TIME.
OBSOLETE AND ABANDONED BEFORE
COMPLETED THE WATER BATTERY IS A
CIVIL WAR REMNANT AND RELATIVELY
HIDDEN IN NORTHEAST SEQUENCE.
AS THE BATTERY CONTINUES TO
REMAIN UNKNOWN TO MOST
INVESTMENTS IN PRESERVING ITS
HISTORY AN INCREASING VISITOR
ACCESS HAS HELPED INSPIRE
INTEREST IN THIS REMOTE QUEENS
PARK.
FT. TOTTEN IS A PENINSULA IN
NORTHEAST QUEENS AND WHEN THIS
FORT WAS BEING CONSTRUCTED IT
WAS VERY REMOTE AND CONTINUES TO
BE REMOTE TO THIS DAY.
>> THERE IS NOWHERE IN NEW YORK
YOU CAN GO TO REALLY GET AN
EXPERIENCE IN THE CIVIL WAR AND
FORT TOTTEN WHICH IS VIRTUALLY
UNKNOWN TO EVERYBODY IS A PLACE
WHERE YOU CAN.
>> YOU WALK AWAY, YOU KNOW,
IMPRESSED BY THESE MASSIVE
GRANITE BLOCKS THAT ARE THERE.
>> REL TEAR TECHNOLOGY SPED UP
TO QUICKLY BY THE TIME THEY WERE
DONE BEING IT WAS OBSOLETE.
>> THERE ARE MARKS FROM THE TEST
FIRE.
ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE WALL
TWO CRATERS AND THE ORIGINAL
ARTILLERY IS STILL LODGED INSIDE
OF THE WALL.
>> IT'S A REALLY SPECIAL SPOT.
YOU UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE IN
NEW YORK CITY AND YOU REALLY
UNDERSTAND WHY THE FORT IS HERE
IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE OF
ITS LOCATION.
>> THIS IS VERY UNUSUAL IN THAT
THIS IS FORMER FEDERAL PROPERTY.
WE HAD TO APPLY TO RECEIVE THE
PROPERTY ROUGHLY 20 YEARS AGO
AND WE STILL HAVE A RELATIONSHIP
WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.
IT IS THIS KIND OF JUXTAPOSITION
BETWEEN A PARK AND THEN ALL OF
THESE, YOU KNOW, GOVERNMENT
ENTITIES THAT OCCUPY SPACE HERE.
>> ONE OF THE RANGERS' SECRETS I
CAN TELL YOU IS THAT THERE IS
NOT A SECRET TUNNEL THAT GOES
FROM FT. TOTTEN PARK OVER TO FT.
SKYLAR.
WE HAVE LOOKED FOR T A LOT OF
PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED FOR T THE
BATTERY ITSELF WAS CONSTRUCTED
IN THE 1860s, THEY DIDN'T EVEN
HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY YET AT THE
TIME SO UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS
NOT A SECRET TUNNEL GOING UNDER
THE LONG ISLAND SOUND BUT THERE
ARE LOTS OF OTHER TUNNELS THAT
YOU CAN EXPLORE.
IN ORDER TO GET TO THE BATTERY
YOU HAVE TO GO DOWN A LONG
TRANSPORT TUNNEL AND WHEN YOU
FIRST COME OUT YOU SEE THE FORT
ALL AT ONCE.
IT'S A BEAUTIFUL SHINING
STRUCTURE AND JUST BEING INSIDE
OF IT YOU REALLY FEEL THAT
YOU'VE WALKED INTO A PIECE OF
HISTORY.
>> FIRST YOU HAVE THE BATTERY
WHICH WAS BUILT IN THE 1860s.
BY THE TIME IT WAS COMPLETED AND
WAS NEVER ACTUALLY FULLY
COMPLETED IT WAS OBSOLETE.
SO THEY WENT A LITTLE MORE UP
THE HILL AND THEY BUILT THE END
COT BATTERY A SERIES OF MORE
TERSE AND CANNONS AND MACHINE
GUNS AND THEY WOULD UPGRADE IT
OVER TIME.
IT'S MADE OUT OF POURED CONCRETE
AND STEEL WHICH DOESN'T STAND
THE TEST OF TIME, THE WEATHER IS
GOING TO BEAT IT DOWN WHICH IT
HAS BEEN AN CONTINUES TO DO.
IT ALMOST HAS AN ARTIST I CAN
FEEL TO IT.
WHEN YOU GO BACK IN TIME IT'S
CREEP KREE AND INTERESTING AND
FASCINATING ALL AT THE SAME
TIME.
>> IN THE CITY WE HAVE ALL OF
THESE SPACES, ESPECIALLY IN NEW
YORK, THAT ARE SO OVERDONE,
OVERPROGRAMMED, FLASHY, SHINY.
WHERE YOU GO INTO A PRESERVED
SITE AND YOU MOVE THROUGH IT AND
THE STORIES ARE LEFT THE WAY
THEY WERE WHEN THEY WERE LEFT
THERE, NOBODY HAS TAMPERED WITH
THEM.
THEY'RE STEPPING LITERALLY IN
THE FOOTSTEPS OF SOMEBODY WHO
WAS THERE 20 YEARS AGO, 40 YEARS
AGO, 80 YEARS AGO, WHICH IS WHY,
AGAIN, I THINK ABANDONED SPACES
IN NEW YORK ALTHOUGH THEY ARE SO
RARE NOW ARE EXTREMELY SPECIAL.
>> THE ABILITY TO FIND SOLITUDE
IN A PUBLIC SETTING IS A
CHALLENGE.
WITH THE GENERAL PUBLIC FEELING
OF NOT WANTING THIS TO BE
OVERPROGRAMMED, TO BE ABLE TO
PRESERVE THAT, AND THERE IS
VALUE IN THAT.
CREATIVE PROGRAMMING BUT IT HAS
TO MESH WITH THE FEEL OF A PLACE
OF A PARK.
I REALLY DO THINK THERE'S VALUE
IN RESERVING THESE OPPORTUNITIES
FOR PEOPLE TO FIND SOLITUDE IN A
PUBLIC SPACE.
>> SO AS WE ALL WORK TO PRESERVE
THESE HISTORIES AND PROVIDE
ACCESS TO THESE STRUCTURES WE
FACE A UNIQUE CHALLENGE IN
TRYING TO BALANCE OL TUD AND
ACTIVATION IN OUR CITY'S PARKS.
AS THE DEBATE OVER HOW TO BEST
UTILIZE PUBLIC SPACES CONTINUES
WE SHOULD ALL STOP TO APPRECIATE
THESE HIDDEN GEMS AND RECOGNIZE
THE WAYS THAT THEIR STORIES HELP
INSPIRE OUR FUTURES AND OUR
PARKS.
>> AN JOINING ME NOW ARE TWO OF
THE JOURNALISTS BEHIND
UNFORGOTTEN, MICHELLE YOUNG
FOUNDER OF THE UNTAPPED CITIES
AND AARON ASIS ARTIST AND
CREATOR OF UNFORGOTTEN FILMS.
WELCOME.
>> THANK YOU.
>> AARON, I WANT TO START WITH
YOU, OF ALL THE LOCATIONS YOU
CHOSE HOW DID YOU ZERO IN ON FT.
TOTTEN.
>> IT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION,
NOT NECESSARILY SOMETHING THAT'S
SUPER FORMULAIC.
I THINK THERE ARE GEMS ALL OVER
THE CITY THAT ARE HIDDEN OR
MAYBE LESSER APPRECIATED.
WITH SITES LIKE THIS AND A
PROJECT LIKE THIS YOU'RE REALLY
KIND OF JUST LOOKING FOR
THREADS, FOR INTERESTED AGENCIES
WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT,
INTERESTED GROUPS OF PEOPLE WHO
WANT TO TELL THE STORY AND JUST,
AGAIN, TRYING TO IDENTIFY THE
SITE THAT HAS THE MOST MIGHT AND
THAT REALLY KIND OF FITS INTO
THE BROADER CONTEXT OF THE
PROJECT WHICH IS TRYING TO SHARE
THESE UNDERAPPRECIATED OR LESSER
KNOWN GEMS AROUND THE CITY IN A
COLLECTIVE WAY.
>> OKAY.
AND, MICHELLE, I MEAN, THERE'S
GOT TO BE SO MANY OTHER -- WE
LEARNED SO MUCH FROM THAT CLIP
BUT THERE'S GOT TO BE UNIQUE
GEMS THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO TAKE
AWAY FROM YOUR STUDYING AND
LEARNING ALL ABOUT FT. TOTTEN.
>> ONE OF THE FUN THINGS IS ITS
APPEARANCE IN POPULAR CULTURE
RECENTLY.
SO BEFORE THE LAST SEASON OF
"GAME OF THRONES" AIRED HBO HID
SIX IRON THRONES AROUND THE
WORLD AND ONE WAS RIGHT HERE IN
FT. TOTTEN IT REALLY PUT THIS
PLACE ON THE MAP.
EVEN GOING BACK IN TIME FT.
TOTTEN ACTUALLY HAS SOME OF THE
EARLIEST GRAFFITI IN NEW YORK
CITY, SCROLLED INTO THE TUNNELS
INSIDE THERE, AND THERE IS A
REFERENCE TO REMEMBER THE MAINE
WHICH IS A BIG SHIP WRECK THAT
HAPPENED THAT STARTED THE
SPANISH AMERICAN WAR.
SO THERE IS LOTS OF REALLY
INTERESTING THINGS FROM PRESENT
DAY TO GOING ALL THE WAY BACK TO
THE BEGINNING OF THIS FORT.
>> YOU KNOW, HAD YOU NOT DONE A
FILM PIECE ABOUT A LOCATION LIKE
THIS, IS THIS SOMETHING THAT
EITHER ONE OF YOU EVER WOULD
HAVE DISCOVERED OR EVEN KNOWN
ABOUT?
>> I'M GOING TO ADMIT THAT I
GREW UP IN QUEENS, I GROUP UP IN
FLUSHING, I HAD NEVER BEEN TO
THE NORTH BEFORE THIS PROJECT OR
BEFORE THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE.
>> DID YOU FIND OUT WHEN YOU
WERE MAKING THIS PROJECT THAT
THERE WERE ALL OF THESE
LOCATIONS THAT YOU WERE JUST --
THEY WERE RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE
BUT YOU DIDN'T EVEN KNOW THEY
WERE THERE.
>> YEAH, I MEAN, I THINK
EVERYONE HAS A BUCKET LIST OF
THINGS THEY WANT TO DO FOR
PEOPLE LIKE US IT'S ABANDONED
PLACES.
SO IT WAS A PLACE THAT HAD BEEN
ON MY LIST AS A PLACE THAT I
KNEW HAD AN AMAZING HISTORY WAND
WAS IN A REALLY RAW STATE OF
ABANDONMENT, BUT A PROJECT LIKE
THIS REALLY ACTUALLY GETS YOU
INTO THE PLACES AND PUTS YOU IN
TOUCH WITH THE PEOPLE WHO ARE
REALLY TAKING CARE OF THE SPACE
FOR NEW YORKERS.
>> CONTINUING OUR TOUR OUR NEXT
STOP IS THE NEW YORK CITY
PAVILION, ONE OF THE MOST
PROMINENT RELICS OF THE 1964
WORLD'S FAIR.
THE PAVILION IS CURRENTLY IN THE
MIDST OF A $24 MILLION
RESTORATION PLAN.
AS PART OF THE UNFORGOTTEN VIDEO
SERIES WE TAKE A GLIMPSE AT THE
STRUCTURE.
§
>> THE NEW YORK STATE PAVILION
WAS ORIGINALLY BUILT AS A
SPECTACULAR PUBLIC STRUCTURE AT
THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR IN
FLUSHING MEADOWS, CORONA PARK,
DESIGNED BY PHILLIP JOHNSON AS
AN ICON FOR THE TWO RECALLED TO
SEE THE PAVILION SERVED AS A
GATHERING SPACE, CONCERT VENUE
AND EVEN A ROLLER SKATING RINK
BEFORE IT SLIPPED INTO THE REALM
OF THE FORGOTTEN.
AS THE PAVILION HAS STARTED TO
EMERGE OVER THE PAST DECADE
CREATIVE COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS
AND RENEWED PUBLIC INTEREST HAVE
HELPED RESTORE THE INTEGRITYTH .
>> THE ATTRACTION HERE WAS THE
BUILDING.
IT WASN'T A RIDE, IT WASN'T THIS
OR THAT.
THE BUILDING GRABBED YOUR
ATTENTION IN SOME WAY, SHAPE OR
FORM.
I DON'T KNOW HOW MANY HUNDREDS
OF THOUSANDS IF NOT MILLIONS OF
PEOPLE PASSED THROUGH THIS
LOCATION.
>> THE PAVILION FIRST RAN INTO
TROUBLE DURING THE FISCAL CRISES
OF NEW YORK CITY BACK IN THE
'70s.
SO IT'S VERY REFLECTIVE OF THE
HISTORY OF NEW YORK CITY.
IS SURVIVED, IT DIDN'T RECOVER
YET, BUT IT HAS SURVIVED.
>> I FEEL IT SORT OF CROSSED
OVER INTO THE REALM OF ICONIC AS
A SYMBOL OF QUEENS BECAUSE
EVERYONE KNOWS WHEN THEY SEE THE
TOWERS THAT MEANS QUEENS, YOU
KNOW.
WE FEEL THAT ONCE WE PAINTED IT
IT WAS EASY TO ENVISION IT
REPUR
REPURPOSED.
>> EVEN SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS A
COAT OF PAINT CAN REALLY CHANGE
YOUR PERCEPTION OF WHAT
SOMETHING COULD BE.
THE TENT OF TOMORROW HAD THIS
HUGE TERRAZZO MAP ON THE FLOOR
OF NEW YORK STATE STATE, THERE
WERE SQUARES AND WITHIN THOSE
SQUARES THERE WERE PIECES OF
MATERIAL THAT LAID OUT NEW YORK
STATE WITH DIFFERENT TOWNS.
THAT ALL GOT WORN OUT AND A
COUPLE OF YEARS AGO THE PARKS
DEPARTMENT WORKED WITH UPEN TO
ESSENTIALLY PRESERVE THAT WAS
LEFT OF THAT.
I HOUNDED PHILLIP JOHNSON'S
SECRETARY FOR THREE YEARS BEFORE
HE DIED TO GET TO TALK TO HIM
ABOUT IT.
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO HAVE YOUR OWN
RUIN.
HE USED THE WORD NEAT.
IT'S NEAT BUT IT'S NOT MUCH OF A
RUIN BECAUSE THERE'S NO IVY
GROWING UP THE COLUMNS.
I THEN WENT OUT AND PLANTED IVY
ON THE COLUMNS WHICH GREW UP TO
ABOUT 50 FEET ON THREE OR FOUR
OF THE COLUMNS.
>> ON APRIL 12, 2014, TO SLEP
PLATE THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF
THE FIRST DAY OF THE 1964
WORLD'S FAIR WE HAD OUR OWN
EVENT RIGHT HERE AT THE TENT OF
TOMORROW.
WE INVITED THE PUBLIC TO COME IN
AND GET A TOUR OF THE TENT.
WE HAD THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE
SHOWED UP.
I'VE BEEN IN THE PARKS FORM 35
YEARS, HE THINK IT WAS MY
FAVORITE DAY EVER IN THE PARKS
DEPARTMENT AND IT SHOWED IT WE
MIGHT BE THIS LARGE REGIONAL
PARK BUT WE ARE STILL THIS
COMMUNITY AND THAT THAT'S REALLY
IMPORTANT TO PEOPLE AND WE WANT
TO PRESERVE THAT FEELING FOR
THEM.
>> WE PARTNERED WITH THE
NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC
PRESERVATION AND WORKED WITH
THEM TO BUILD OUT THIS IDEAS
COMPETITION.
I THINK JUST INVITING PEOPLE TO
IMAGINE A FUTURE FOR IT HELPED
TO KIND OF SHAPE PEOPLE A BIT.
>> IT'S PRETTY SPECTACULAR BUT
IT DOESN'T HAVE THE SAME FEEL
BECAUSE IT'S NOT ABANDONED
REALLY.
THEY'VE PAINTED IT.
SO THE PAVILION BEFORE COULD
EVOKE THESE FEELINGS OF WHAT WAS
OUR PAST AND WHAT COULD BE OUR
FUTURE, YOU COULD SEE
FOOTPRINTS, YOU COULD SEE WHERE
THE DOORS OPENED AND WOULD
SCRATCH THE FLOOR, YOU COULD SEE
ALL THESE THINGS AND FEEL THAT
PATH.
>> PERSONALLY I DON'T KNOW THAT
YOU EVEN NECESSARILY NEED TO DO
ALL THAT MUCH TO MAKE IT AN OPEN
SPACE AGAIN, JUST KEEPING IT AS
IT IS, MAKING SOME STRUCTURAL
UPGRADES AND LETTING PEOPLE GET
INSIDE OF IT WOULD BE THRILLING.
IT'S JUST SO ICONIC AND SO
IMPORTANT THAT I THINK WE WILL
THINK HOW COULD THIS EVER HAVE
BEEN CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.
>> AS THESE CREATIVE EFFORTS
CONTINUE TO HIGHLIGHT THE
IMPORTANCE OF THE PAVILION,
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE BEEN
STEPPING UP TO ALLOCATE FUNDS TO
GO INN THE RESTORATION PROCESS
AND EVEN AS THE FUTURE OF ITS
STRUCTURE IS STILL BEING
DETERMINED, WE SHOULD CELEBRATE
THESE ONGOING COMMITMENTS TO
ACTIVATING THE PAVILION AND TO
THE FUTURE OF FLUSHING MEADOWS,
CORONA PARK.
>> SO, AARON, YOU WERE SAYING
EARLIER YOU GREW UP IN GREENS.
I'M WONDERING AS A FILMMAKER
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THIS
PAVILION IF YOU EVEN HAD ONE,
BEFORE AND THROUGHOUT YOUR
CHILDHOOD AND NOW HAVING GONE
BACK AND LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT
THIS RESTORATION?
>> NOT ONLY DID I GROW UP IN
QUEENS, I GREW UP IN FLUSHING
AND IN FLUSHING MEADOW PARK.
IT'S REMARKABLE HOW MY
PERCEPTION OF THAT STRUCTURE WAS
THINKING IT WAS A DERELICT
NATURAL GAS TANK OR SOMETHING
COMPLETELY OFF BASE.
YOU DIG A LITTLE DEEPER AND
THROUGH THE GREAT HONOR OF
GETTING TO MEET SOME PEOPLE WHO
WERE DOING WORK, THE FILM SHOWED
PEOPLE WHO CARED ABOUT IT WHEN
NO ONE ELSE DID, THE PAINT CREW
WHO BROUGHT MORE ATTENTION TO IT
THAN ANYBODY ELSE HAD, PEOPLE
FOR PAVILION WHO GAVE IT TO THE
PUBLIC AND OPENED UP THE
CONVERSATION, THE WILLINGNESS OF
THE CITY AGENCIES TO COME
TOGETHER.
THROUGH THOSE TYPES OF
CONVERSATIONS IT'S BEEN SUCH A
GREAT TREAT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT
IT AND SORT OF LEARN ALL OF THE
INFORMATION COUNTER TO WHAT MY
CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE WAS AND
THEN YOU CAN ALSO DOUBLE BACK
AND START TO LOOK AT THE WORLD'S
FAIR HISTORY AND STUFF.
I MEAN, IT'S REALLY -- IT'S A
GREAT TESTAMENT TO GROWING UP IN
A PLACE AND NOT BEING AWARE,
WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT THESE
FILMS ARE TRYING TO UNEARTH, PAY
A LITTLE BIT MORE ATTENTION,
LOOK A LITTLE BIT MORE DEEPLY.
ALSO THE INFORMATION THAT PEOPLE
WHO ARE INVOLVED AND CARE ABOUT
THESE PROJECTS WHAT THEY CAN
SHARE AND WHAT KINDS OF WORLDS
THEY CAN OPEN FOR YOU.
>> THE ABSOLUTE AMOUNT OF DETAIL
THAT SEEMS TO BE GOING INTO THIS
POTENTIAL RESTORATION WAS
AMAZING TO WATCH.
SO I'M ALSO WONDERING, I MEAN,
SINCE, YOU KNOW, THIS IS ABOUT
UNFORGOTTEN PLACES IN NEW YORK
CITY, EVEN THOUGH AS AARON WAS
SAYING THAT, YOU KNOW, HE
THOUGHT IT WAS AN OIL TANK AT
ONE POINT, HOW DID THIS GET
INCLUDED BECAUSE, AGAIN, IT'S
ICONIC.
WE ALL KNOW THE SILHOUETTE AT
LEAST.
>> I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT'S SO
RECOGNIZABLE BUT YET IT WAS ONLY
USED FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME
AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT REALLY
HAS RESONATED WITH PEOPLE, THE
PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN FELT LIKE
THEY HAD AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE
BUT COULD NOT NEVER GO BACK.
FOR YOUNGER GENERATION WHO HAS
MAYBE SEEN "MEN IN BLACK" OR
DROVE BY IT ON GRAND CENTRAL
PARKWAY THEY WERE LIKE WHAT IS
THAT AND I REALLY WANT TO GO
INSIDE.
SOME OF THESE OPPORTUNITIES FOR
ACCESS HAVE BEEN REALLY
OVERWHELMING.
YOU SAW THE CROWDS IN THE VIDEO
WITH UNTAPPED CITIES WE HOSTED
TWO TOURS FOR OUR READERS THERE
AND WE HAD TO RAFFLE OFF THE
SPACE BECAUSE THE LIST WAS
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE
LONG WHO WANTED TO GET INSIDE.
SO ALL THESE EFFORTS ARE REALLY
EXCITING BECAUSE I THINK THERE'S
SORT OF AN UNDERSTANDING THAT
IT'S ONE OF THE FEW PLACES WHERE
I THINK ALL THE AGENCIES ARE
COMING TOGETHER AND SAYING, YES,
AND I THINK IT'S A TESTAMENT TO
THE WORLD'S FAIR HISTORY AND THE
COMMUNITY IN QUEENS.
>> AND OF COURSE LOOKING FORWARD
TO SEEING WHAT THE FINAL
RESTORATION AND REUSE OF THAT
SPACE LOOKS LIKE.
>>> AND FINALLY HART ISLAND NEW
YORK CITY'S MASS BURIAL GROUND
LOCATED IN THE NORTHEASTERN PART
OF THE BRONX IT CONTAINS ABOUT A
MILLION SOULS OF THOSE WHO DIED
WITHOUT KNOWN FAMILY MEMBERS,
MEANS OR BURIAL PLANS.
LET'S TAKE A LOOK.
§
>>> HART ISLAND WAS PURCHASED BY
THE CITY OF NEW YORK IN 1868 TO
SERVE AS THE CITY ACE PUBLIC
BURIAL GROUND OFF THE COAST OF
CITY ISLAND IN THE BRONX.
OPERATED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS FOR OVER 150 YEARS,
HART ISLAND IS A HAUNTINGLY
BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE, RICH WITH
HISTORIC REMNANTS AND A IENL
RESTING PLACE FOR NEARLY A
MILLION NEW YORKERS.
BUT AS VISITATION TO THE EYE
LEFT HAND REMAINS A CHALLENGE,
ARTISTS AND ADVOCATES HAVE BEEN
WORKING TO HONOR MEMORIES AN
INCREASE ACCESS TO NEW YORK
CITY'S ONLY PUBLIC BURIAL
GRO
GROUND.
>> THE LANDSCAPE IS RELATIVELY
OPEN.
IT'S A WILDLIFE SANCTUARY OUT
THERE.
IT'S AN AREA THAT REALLY IS A
BEAUTIFUL PART OF NEW YORK CITY.
>> IT'S VERY QUIET, IT'S VERY
PEACEFUL.
JUST A LOT OF NATURE AND SORT OF
OLD BUILDINGS.
>> IT'S A VERY HUMAN PLACE.
VERY HUMBLING PLACE.
AND GETTING THERE IS LIKE GOING
TO A PRISON.
IT'S COMPLETELY CONTRARY TO THE
SPIRIT OF THE PLACE.
>> ACCESS IS IMPORTANT FOR
FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS OR
PEOPLE WITH INTEREST OF GOING.
>> BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT'S RUN
AND THE STRUCTURE THAT'S BEEN
SET UP FOR IT.
>> HART ISLAND IS AN EYE LEFT
HAND OFF THE COAST OF CITY
ISLAND IN THE LONG ISLAND SOUND
AND THE BRONX.
IT SERVES AS THE CITY'S PUBLIC
BURIAL GROUND.
ANYONE WHO IS BURIED BY NEW YORK
CITY IS BURIED ON HART ISLAND,
THAT CAN INCLUDE ANYONE WHOSE
NECK OF KIN CANNOT BE FOUND,
LOCATED, ANYTHING WHO OPT NOT TO
HAVE A PRIVATE BURIAL OR ANYONE
WHO IS NOT IDENTIFIED.
THERE IS A CAPTAIN AND SOME
OFFICERS AND SOME HEAVY
EQUIPMENT OPERATORS AS WELL AS A
CADRE OF SENTENCED INMATES FOR
THE MOST PART SERVING A YEAR OR
LESS.
THE INMATES DEFINITELY
APPRECIATE THE TIME OUTSIDE AS
WELL AS JUST GETTING OUT OF JAIL
FOR A LITTLE WHILE.
>> THERE'S STILL A LOT OF
UNCERTAINTY AS TO WHO THE FOLKS
ON HART ISLAND MIGHT BE, IF
SOMEBODY'S LOVED ONE MIGHT HAVE
ENDED UP THERE OR NOT.
RIGHT NOW YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH
A PRETTY INTENSE PROCESS OF
SHOWING THAT YOU HAVE SOMEONE
BURIED ON THE ISLAND BEFORE YOU
ARE ALLOWED TO VISIT AND I DON'T
UNDERSTAND WHOSE INTEREST THAT
SERVES.
MAYBE IT'S TIME THAT THE FOLKS
WHO CAN MAKE THE DECISIONS GO
AND SEE FOR THEMSELVES WHY
PEOPLE THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC MORE.
>> A LOT OF PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO
HAVE GROWN UP IN NEW YORK CITY,
NEVER KNEW ABOUT HART ISLAND SO
IN THAT SENSE IT'S BEEN GREAT
FOR OPENING UP CONVERSATION
ABOUT SORT OF LAND USE, ABOUT
HISTORY, ABOUT MEMORY, ABOUT
GRIEVING.
>> ARTISTS THEY HAVE A UNIQUE
PERSPECTIVE.
THE PROJECT OFFERS A VIEWPOINT
FOR AN AUDIENCE TO FEEL THAT
DISTANCE.
TO FEEL THAT LACK OF ACCESS.
>> SO I STARTED THE HART ISLAND
PROJECT IN 1991 AT THE PEAK OF
THE AIDS EPIDEMIC AND I WENT
BACK THERE WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER
TO SHOW A PART OF THE CITY THAT
WAS REALLY UNCHANGED.
THAT WAS REALLY THIS REALLY
BEAUTIFUL PLACE.
A PLACE THAT REFLECTS THE
STORIES OF THAT COMMUNITY.
THE QUESTION IS DOES THE PUBLIC
HAVE THE RIGHT TO ACCESS THEIR
CEMETERY?
I REALIZE IT'S NOT THAT SIMPLE,
BUT IN THE END THAT'S KIND OF
WHAT WE NEED.
YOU KNOW, THERE'S TWO SIDES TO
THIS THING, SO SOMETIMES WE JUST
NEED A GOOD SONG TO GET US TO
THE OTHER SIDE.
>> WE HAVE EXPERIENCE TAKING IN
ABANDONED ISLAND AND MAKING IT
INTO A PARK WHERE PEOPLE GO.
IT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT SHOULD
BE DIFFICULT FOR US AS A CITY TO
PROVIDE KIND OF ACCESS TO
ANOTHER ABANDONED ISLAND.
>> I'M NOT SURE WHAT HART ISLAND
WILL BE AFTER IT STOPS BEING THE
ACTIVE POTTER'S FIELD.
I'M NOT SURE THAT ANYONE AT THIS
POINT REALLY KNOWS FOR SURE WHAT
THAT WILL LOOK LIKE.
>> THIS IS A QUINTESSENTIALLY
NEW YORK PLACE.
IT'S REALLY SOMETHING WE SHOULD
BE PROUD OF AND I THINK THE
PUBLIC WOULD REALLY LIKE TO BE
ABLE TO GO THERE.
>> SO AS WE REFLECT ON THE
HISTORY, CONDITIONS AND LIVES
THAT ARE ALL PART OF HART
ISLAND, ARTISTS AND ADVOCATES
CONTINUE PUSHING FOR NEW
LEGISLATION AND IMPROVED PUBLIC
ACCESS.
AND AS CITY OFFICIALS START THE
PROCESS OF TRANSFERRING
VOLUNTARILY CONTROL, WITH HE
SHOULD ALL TAKE A MOMENT TO
CONSIDER THE IMPACT OF THIS
TRANSITION BOTH ON HART ISLAND
AND ON PEOPLE'S LIVES THROUGHOUT
THE CITY.
>> SO, AARON, I WANTED TO START
WITH YOU BECAUSE THAT WAS I
WOULD SAY THE MORE DIFFICULT OF
THE THREE PIECES THAT WE'VE
SEEN.
I'M WONDERING WHAT IS IT THAT IS
SO IMPORTANT ABOUT ALLOWING THE
PUBLIC TO ACTUALLY GO TO
SOMEPLACE LIKE HART ISLAND TO BE
ABLE TO GRIEVE FOR THESE UNKNOWN
SOULS?
>> IT'S ALMOST AN IMPOSSIBLE
QUESTION TO ANSWER.
I THINK DEALING WITH DEATH IS
SOMETHING THAT'S SO CULTURALLY
SPECIFIC AND SO CHALLENGING, BUT
I THINK HART ISLAND SPECIFICALLY
IS FASCINATING BECAUSE IT
WASN'T -- IT'S NOT THE FIRST
PUBLIC CEMETERY IT WON'T BE THE
LAST PUBLIC CEMETERY.
NEW YORK CITY HAS A LONG HISTORY
OF TURNING PUBLIC CEMETERIES
INTO PARK PLACES, CITY HALL,
WASHINGTON PARK, MADISON SQUARE
PARK.
I THINK IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE
HART ISLAND IS MUCH MORE REMOVED
FROM THE CENTER OF THE CITY AS
THOSE OTHER SPACES BUT I THINK
WHEN YOU WANT TO SORT OF HONOR
KIND OF LIKE THAT HISTORY AND
THE DNA THAT IS PART OF THE CITY
AND PAY HOMAGE TO THE PEOPLE
WHOSE LIVES AND WHOSE SOULS ARE
ON THE ISLAND I THINK THE ONLY
WAY TO DO THAT IS REALLY PROVIDE
MORE ACCESS FOR THEM, FOR THE
FAMILIES, PEOPLE WHO ARE
GENERALLY INTERESTED AND ALLOW
IT TO BE SOMETHING THAT'S A
LITTLE BIT MORE KIND OF HUMAN I
GUESS FOR LACK OF A BETTER WORD.
THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING ON THE
ISLAND IS REALLY SECOND TO NONE
AND I THINK THE CONVERSATION
AROUND DEATH IS JUST SOMETHING
THAT, YOU KNOW, IS -- IS A
CHALLENGING ONE TO HAVE, BUT
CERTAINLY NOT ONE PEOPLE SHOULD
BE RESTRICTED FROM.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
MIHELLE, I'M WONDERING IF
PERHAPS HART ISLAND AND, AGAIN,
BECAUSE IT IS A CEMETERY FOR THE
UNKNOWN, IF THAT SOMEHOW STANDS
OUT FROM THE REST OF THE
LOCATIONS THAT ARE INCLUDED ON
YOUR SITE.
>> OH, DEFINITELY.
IT IS A PLACE THAT IS HALLOWED
GROUND AND ALSO VERY EXTREMELY
BEAUTIFUL AND SILENT.
THERE ARE VERY FEW PLACES IN NEW
YORK CITY THAT ARE QUIET AND I
THINK THE REMOTENESS OF IT, THE
FACT THAT MAYBE SOME PEOPLE ON
CITY ISLAND DON'T EVEN KNOW THAT
IT'S THERE POTENTIALLY, IT'S ON
LONG ISLAND SOUND AND THE
DIFFICULTY OF GETTING ACCESS IS
A VERY UNIQUELY NEW YORK
SITUATION.
IT'S BEEN UNDER THE DEPARTMENT
OF CORRECTION' JURISDICTION FOR
MAYBE 150 YEARS AND CORRECTIONS
INMATES ACTUALLY BURY THE DEAD.
SO BECAUSE OF THAT SECURITY
APPARATUS AROUND THAT IT'S VERY
DIFFICULT TO GET ACCESS AND
MELINDA HUNT WAS THE FIRST
PERSON WHO REALLY ADVOCATE
SUCCESSFULLY.
SO ONE DAY A MONTH THE PUBLIC
CAN SIGN UP TO VISIT IT, BUT
IT'S STILL A PRETTY ONEROUS
PROCESS.
ONE TIME WHEN I WENT ACTUALLY NO
ONE WAS STAFFED TO BRING US OVER
AND THEN SOMEONE LATER CAME.
WE HAVE ONLY BEEN ABLE TO GO AS
PRESS, BUT THAT IS CERTAINLY NOT
PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE.
>> OF COURSE.
I DIDN'T WANT TO PIVOT TOO MUCH,
BUT THESE ARE JUST THREE
EXAMPLES OF THE LOCATIONS AROUND
THE CITY.
I'M JUST WONDERING IF YOU COULD
TELL US ABOUT MAYBE A FEW OF THE
OTHER ONES TO GIVE PEOPLE A
BROADER IDEA WHO AREN'T YOUR
AVERAGE READERS.
>> YEAH, MAYBE AARON CAN TAKE
AND TALK ABOUT THE NEXT FILMS
THAT ARE COMING.
>> YEAH, I MEAN, SO THERE'S, YOU
KNOW, THE PROCESS UNDER WHICH WE
GO THROUGH TO BASICALLY IDENTIFY
AND MOVE THROUGH CREATING THESE
FILMS AS MENTIONED EARLIER IS A
LITTLE BIT KIND OF TOUCH AND GO.
WE'VE BEEN WORKING WITH THE
PARKS DEPARTMENT PRETTY STEADILY
AND HAVE SOME CONTENT
INFORMATION STARTED WORKING WITH
WASHINGTON SQUARE AND TALKING
ABOUT THE ARCH ITSELF AND SOME
OF THE HISTORY THERE.
WE'VE BEEN TALKING WITH THEM
ABOUT POTENTIALLY NORTH BROTHER
ISLAND, TALKING WITH THE
OPERATING REOG ISLAND A STATE
RUN ISLAND ON ROOSEVELT ISLAND.
NO HE IS PROCESSES ARE ALL UNDER
WAY, BUT, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, THESE
PROJECTS ARE UNIQUE IN A SENSE
THAT THE VOICE THAT'S USED TO
CREATE THE NARRATIVE NEEDS TO BE
A COMBINED VOICE AND WE
BASICALLY NEED SORT OF THAT
MULTIPLE BUY-IN FROM THE
DIFFERENT AGENCIES, COMMUNITY
GROUPS, MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC TO
MAKE SURE THEY ALL COME
TOGETHER.
SO AT THIS POINT THERE ARE
DEFINITELY SOME THREADS OUT
THERE AND DEFINITELY SOME
PROJECTS STARTED BUT TO
ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, THROW A DART
AT THE WALL AND IDENTIFY WHICH
ONE IS NEXT, STAY TUNED, I GO HE
IS.
>> STAY TUNED IS FAIR.
>> WE HAVE OUR FINGERS ON THE
PULSE OF AT LEAST A HALF DOZEN
MORE SITES AND, YOU KNOW, AGAIN,
THERE ARE MULTIPLE WAYS TO SHARE
SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS WITH
PEOPLE IN THE CITY THAT THEY MAY
OR MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT AND
UNLOCKING PEOPLE'S CURIOSITY AND
GIVING THEM A CHANCE TO KNOW
MORE ABOUT THEIR CITY AND OR
THEMSELVES BY PROXY IS A
WONDERFUL GIFT TO BE ABLE TO
GIVE PEOPLE.
>> I DEFINITELY THANK YOU BOTH
FOR GIVING US THIS GIFT BECAUSE
THEY WERE AMAZING AND
FASCINATING AND OF COURSE HART
ISLAND WAS QUITE HUMBLING TO
WATCH.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
>> THANK YOU.
>> FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THESE
HIDDEN NEW YORK CITY GEMS AND
MANY OTHERS, VISIT
METROFOCUS.ORG FOR MORE DETAILS.
§
>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE
AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE
SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM, BERNARD AND IRENE
SCHWARTZ, ROSLYN P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG AND
BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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