This past Sunday I went meandering around Long Island City looking to add to my urban grunge photo collection and happened upon the “southern” waterfront of the East River at the end of 5th Street and 46th Avenue. I was immediately attracted to the old rusting barges and rundown warehouses and made a bee line to the water’s edge to spend a few happy minutes photographing these old river relics.
When I had finished taking photos of the old boats I noticed brightly colored kayaks along the side of the dock. These belonged to LicBoathouse.org. I spoke with one of the representatives of this organization and I was told they provide kayaking tours of the East River. I was absolutely fascinated and was given a tour of the boathouse, which is in an old meat smoking factory now owned by a company called PLAXALL. The original old company logo of a bull’s head and a large letter F can still be seen on the corner-stone of the building. This building also houses a bicycle re-“cycling” center , another terrific “green” gem in Long Island City.
Once inside the boathouse head quarters I spoke with the people who lead the kayaking groups and took a few photos of the kayaks, life jackets and other equipment and of course the now empty huge meat smoking chambers. Apparently kayaking the East River is very popular with adults as well as children who enjoy this type of riparian adventure. What makes these tours so special besides the great learning experience and fantastic views of New York City is that they are absolutely FREE! Can’t get any better than that!
Monday, I continued my urban grunge sojourn in Astoria visiting Socrates Sculpture Park an outdoor museum, and finally Hallet’s Cove both adjacent to each other on Vernon Boulevard. I was in my element with plenty of industrial detritus to photograph. The park did not have any current exhibits on view at this time but there are a few permanent pieces like Curtain, a project conceived by architects Jerome Haferd and K Brandt Knapp. This piece is a combination of architectural structural framing with plastic chain link partitions and enclosures. It reminded me of a white chain link weeping willow and I just loved walking around and through it taking off angle photos. Just as you enter the park there are three sculptures of young African American teenagers in life style poses. My favorite was the basketball player; I could have sworn he was real. I had the good fortune to meet artist, Chanq-Jin Lee preparing for the installation of her piece called Floating Echo a giant inflatable Buddha which will be on exhibit on September 9th. I took a few photos of her team loading a floating platform that will be transformed into a Lotus flower that the Buddha will sit upon in the calm waters of Hallet’s Cove.
The park as well as Hallet’s Cove are on the East River facing Roosevelt Island and Manhattan. As usual my attention was drawn to the shoreline and to all of the old debris from forgotten docks, piers, railroads and warehouses that line this part of Western Queens. A small new dock sits among the remains of the old docks where a little pea green boat was tied up and is used for people who want to take a row on the water (weekends only.) On the tiny beach at Hallet’s Cove I found myself walking the few feet of sandy “beach” taking shots of twisted rusted metal sticking out from large tumbled pieces of concrete that at one time were part of a pier. I left the beach and I walked along Vernon Boulevard to the promenade of a housing project to capture the park and the cove at a wide angle distance with the dilapidated piers reflecting in the water.
I hope this blog motivates you to kayak the East River or make a visit to Astoria Queens to wander through an outdoor museum or sit and relax in Hallet’s Cove on the shore of the East River. Enjoy the photos below.