Field Trip: The 79th Street Boat Basin
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The 79th Street Boat Basin is a Robert Moses-era Works Progress Administration project, completed in 1937, that currently houses an underground parking garage, a seasonal cafe, New York's only year-round marina and is part of a tangle of infrastructure that provides multi-level entry and exit to Henry Hudson Parkway. It's also a weird and wonderful wintertime destination for the walker who thinks there's nothing left to discover or revisit on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
Urban Omnibus recently spoke with two design educators who spent this past semester asking their students to reimagine new uses for this place. They got the idea to address the boat basin by riding their bikes around the city, and what they found, in urban-architectural terms, was a site where "a number of circulatory and infrastructural conditions collide: the West Side Highway, the train running beneath, the city grid of 79th street, as well as the bike path and the circulation meandering along the parks." What their students found was a place that could use some imagination to fulfill its potential. Visit the post to check out the student work. It definitely makes you wonder: maybe one day it could offer more than a sprawling summertime terrace restaurant. Or maybe one day access to the site wouldn't require trudging through a dank underpass and descending a rickety circular staircase. Maybe it could be a landmark destination that you could draw pedestrians down 79th Street from the Natural History Museum all the way to the water. As much as we all love drinking outdoors in the summertime, the place itself is way more interesting than its current uses.