View Full Version : Circle Line Cruises

September 23rd, 2003, 10:56 PM
Sightseeing Cruises are available year-round from Pier 83 at 42nd Street on the Hudson River, and from the South Street Seaport, Pier 16.

The Full Island Cruise from Pier 83: $26
The Semi-Circle Cruise from Pier 83: $21
The Seaport Liberty Cruise from Pier 16: $13

Circle Line (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm) boat and the Manhattan skyline.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line_manhattan_skyline_7sept03.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

The Little Red Lighthouse in Fort Washington Park, with the Circle Line (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm) boat.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/fort_washington_park/images/fort_washington_park_red_lighthouse_30march02.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

The Circle Line (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm) boat is passing under the Washington Bridge.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/washington_bridge/images/washington_bridge_circle_line_31march02.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

September 23rd, 2003, 11:25 PM
The Washington Bridge (http://www.wirednewyork.com/bridges/washington_bridge/default.htm) is one of the city's great unknown bridges. The AIA Guide even considers it superior to the George Washington. Wired NY has the only decent photos of it on the Web:


TLOZ Link5
September 24th, 2003, 11:20 AM
I love those three bridges: the Washington and the two others that look like it.

September 24th, 2003, 02:28 PM
What would those be?

September 24th, 2003, 02:52 PM
Hamilton Bridge (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?t=115&highlight=hamilton+bridge) and High Bridge (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?t=116&highlight=hamilton+high).

September 24th, 2003, 03:16 PM
The High Bridge is significantly different, and the Hamilton is perhaps the city's most hideously undistinguished bridge.

September 24th, 2003, 03:36 PM
True, but there is a resemblance in the main arch.

Hamilton, with Washington behind.

High Bridge with the other two behind

April 9th, 2004, 12:29 AM
The Queensborough Bridge with the Circle Line (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm) boat and Roosevelt Island Tram.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line_queensborough_bridge_3apr04.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

Circle Line (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm) ships at Pier 83 (http://www.wirednewyork.com/piers/pier83/default.htm) and Hudson River in ice, January 2004.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line_hudson_ice_19jan04.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

June 14th, 2004, 09:58 PM
The Circle Line (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm) boat with Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge. June 2004.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line_12june04.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

June 15th, 2004, 12:51 PM
I think we have identified a Circle Line stalker.

June 15th, 2004, 03:27 PM
Quick, outlaw maritime photography!

May 16th, 2005, 01:14 PM
May 15, 2005

Circle Line to upgrade boats, inks promo deals

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises is spending up to $15 million to upgrade three of its eight vessels over the next year.

It also signed partnerships with radio station WPLJ 95.5 and the Daily News.

Every Thursday starting in June, a DJ from the station will be on board one of the boats for an entertainment cruise.

Daily News readers who clip three Circle Line ads from the paper will be eligible in July for 65% discounts on all of the company's tours.


May 17th, 2005, 05:11 PM
How much is it a trip on the Circle Line?

May 17th, 2005, 05:25 PM
Up to $24, depending on the circle

May 19th, 2005, 09:13 PM
Thank you, Edward.

Cruzin Chris
July 27th, 2005, 01:30 PM
At the risk of sounding like a raging alcoholic, do these cruises sell beer & wine on board?

July 28th, 2005, 11:15 AM
Beer, yes.

Wine, not sure.

July 28th, 2005, 11:22 AM
Just had an event with work where we took a priavte boat from a broker (she has a bunch of priovate boats). What a great evening. Really wonderful.

In other words, DO IT.

Cruzin Chris
August 1st, 2005, 11:52 PM
Beer, yes.

Wine, not sure.

Score! Got some time to kill a few days next week in Manhanttan and I didn't want to sit in a bar.

August 2nd, 2005, 08:43 AM
Went on the 2 hour this past Saturday, was pretty nice.

The beer there is EXPENSIVE though. If I were you I would go to 9th avenue, grab a can or two of Arizona (99¢ per big can) iced tea and stash a small bottle of rum or something (say in a plastic flask or whatnot).

The beer they had was only coors light, corona and Heiney-Can and they were $$.

The 3 hour cruise might be good if you are not on it only for the sights (there is dead space between some spots...).

Also, there are specialty cruises from the Southside Seaport (Circle Line did not mention them, only every other thing about the area... ;)) and a free cruise over to Governors Island on the weekends.

I would also recommend packing some comfy shoes and walking down the west side park from the circle line pier down to Battery Park. So long as it is a nice day it is a great walk!

August 2nd, 2005, 10:46 AM
I went on the three hour tour two weekends ago in perfect weather. Beer was expensive, but a necessity.

I though the three hour tour was too long and moved rather quickly through the interesting areas and ground to a near halt at the most boring and unappealing places (north Manhattan and the Bronx). Everyone was anxious to get off the boat by thye time we moored.

I did get some superb photos.

August 18th, 2005, 11:21 PM
The Circle Line (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm) boat passing Intrepid Museum and skyscrapers of Manhattan. August 2005.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line_intrepid.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

http://www.wirednewyork.com/piers/pier84/pier84_hudson.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/waterfront/ferries/circle_line.htm)

August 18th, 2005, 11:50 PM
Whats the building in the 2nd picture with the orange, I think thats fire proofing?

August 18th, 2005, 11:55 PM
The orange is protective plastic netting. The building is the Orion on West 42nd,

December 18th, 2005, 06:56 PM
Pier 83 in night time.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/piers/pier83/images/pier83.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/piers/pier83/)

May 15th, 2007, 12:35 AM
42nd Street and Pier 83 - cinematic version. New York at twilight. 14 May 2007.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/218/499013898_6d1e149fe6_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sudentas/)

May 15th, 2007, 08:36 AM
Very cool. Your work with color and lighting is very nice.

May 15th, 2007, 10:26 AM
Love your long exposures Edward - they really look great.

May 15th, 2007, 12:02 PM
Ah the circle line part of my old commute


June 29th, 2007, 05:43 PM
June 29, 2007

Circle Line Loses Pact for Ferries to Liberty Island


Marko Georgiev for The New York Times
The Circle Line ferry Miss Gateway docking at Liberty Island in January.

The National Park Service said yesterday that it planned to have another company replace the Circle Line, which has provided ferry service to the Statue of Liberty for more than half a century.

The park service, which operates Liberty Island and other national monuments, said it had selected Hornblower Yachts Inc., a California company that provides ferry service to Alcatraz Island, the former federal prison site in San Francisco Bay.

Terry MacRae, a co-founder and the chief executive officer of Hornblower, said by telephone yesterday, “The park service wanted an improved customer experience, they wanted more education and interpretive opportunities for the guests, enhanced protection of the environment” and expanded service to other federal locations, like the Jamaica Bay NationaleRefuge.

Mr. MacRae said Hornblower might use its own boats, which are fitted with plasma television screens and elaborate multimedia presentations, as well as the Circle Line’s seven-boat fleet, which Hornblower must buy as a condition of the contract.

“That’s a discussion I can’t have with myself,” he said. “We need to be sitting at the table with the Circle Line folks, and that should be soon.”

Circle Line-Statue of Liberty Ferry Inc. bid with five other companies for the 10-year contract, potentially worth more than $350 million. The company had come under fire for a declining number of visitors, the age and condition of its fleet, and its limited routes.

In February, J. B. Meyer, president of Circle Line-Statue of Liberty Ferry, said: “We have the best-maintained fleet in New York Harbor, period. These are the right vessels for the route.”

Yesterday, in a statement, Mr. Meyer did not say how much revenue the firm had lost, but said it “looks forward to concentrating on our other New York Harbor tours,” including weekend trips to Sandy Hook, N.J.

In 1981, Circle Line split into two companies: Circle Line 42nd Street, which operates the tours around Manhattan, and Circle Line-Statue of Liberty Ferry, which plies among Battery Park, Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The two companies have different officers and directors.

In part because of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and increased security requirements, the number of visitors to Liberty and Ellis Islands has dropped by nearly a quarter recently. There were 4.2 million visitors last year, down from 5.5 million in 2000.

The Circle Line charges $11.50 for adults and $4.50 for children for a Statue of Liberty round trip. Under the terms of the park service contract, the ticket price may rise to $12 under a new operator.

Since 1953, the Circle Line’s boats have taken more than 70 million passengers to Liberty Island and, since 1990, to Ellis Island. In 2005, the Circle Line’s revenue from the Statue of Liberty service exceeded $35 million, making it one of the six largest commercial operations in the national park system.

In a one-page news release yesterday, the park service said it had selected Hornblower to ferry visitors to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

After a 60-day Congressional review period, the service said, the contract will be signed and awarded, and Hornblower could begin operations as early as October.

Darren Boch, a spokesman for the service’s National Parks of New York Harbor, said he could not disclose details of the selection process, or the reasons why the Circle Line was rejected and Hornblower selected, but that more details would be available next month when a contract was drawn.

Hornblower is represented by Nicholas & Lence Communications, a Manhattan public relations and lobbying firm. A named partner and public relations representative for the company is Cristyne L. Nicholas, a former press secretary for Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. She was the president of NYC & Co., the city’s tourist board, until January.

George Lence, Ms. Nicholas’s partner in the firm is a registered lobbyist. Their 22 clients include Related Cos., Gray Line New York Sightseeing and Zagat Survey.

Mr. MacRae, the co-founder of Hornblower, said his company had about $60 million in annual revenue, about a third of which comes from the Alcatraz operation. The majority comes from dinner cruises, yacht tours and the like, he said.

Organized labor has criticized Hornblower for using nonunion workers on the Alcatraz tour and the rest of its business. But Mr. MacRae said that some operations in Hawaii and Delaware were unionized and that he had not made up his mind about the Statue of Liberty operation, which may be renamed “Statue Cruises.”

As far as using union workers in New York, he said, “We’re used to doing it either way.”

Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee and a longtime critic of the National Park Service, described the change as “a fresh start.”

He described the 60-day review period by Congress as largely pro forma.
“Someone once told me this is the most lucrative contract in the entire National Park System,” he said in a telephone interview, “and yet for all of that money we had out there on the line, there wasn’t nearly enough done to make creative use of the Liberty Island service as an engine for service to other places,” like Riis Park, Sandy Hook or Governors Island.

“Hornblower has a great reputation, and people who deal with them out in Alcatraz say they know what they’re doing,” Mr. Weiner said.

Copyright 2007 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 29th, 2007, 08:10 PM
Ill be sad about this if circle line loses the contract, i do admit though their service could improve. The contract for evelyn hill, the concessioner, is also up soon as well and i hope and pray aramark doesnt get it as 75 years for evelyn hill is really part of the statue.

June 30th, 2007, 12:09 PM
This is a tangent off Circle Line, but the firm I work for had a company cruise the other night. I can't remember the entry to the mouth of the Hudson being as spectacular as it is now with the Jersey City and Downtown Manhattan skylines as entry sentinels. Gorgeous!

July 2nd, 2007, 08:50 PM
^ Too bad Jersey City currently has the biggest eye catcher.

July 3rd, 2010, 02:31 AM
A bit more luxurious than the Circle Line:

Anchors Aweigh on the AIA Boat Tour

Jeff Byles

The Manhattan setting sail from Pier 62, amid the Nouvel and Gehry-glittered skyline.
(Courtesy Classic Harbor Line)

Anyone who’s chugged around Manhattan on the Circle Line knows that the tour’s ever-voluble guides have Gotham factoids down pat, but can stumble when it comes to telling Emery Roth from Hugh Stubbins from Davis Brody Bond. Well, if you’ve longed for a hard-core architecture aficionado at the helm, your yacht has come in. Last Saturday, the second Around Manhattan Official NYC Architecture Tour shoved off from the archi-sparkling skyline at Chelsea Piers.

Hosted by the AIA New York chapter, the nearly three-hour-long journey surveyed the landmarks, boom-time hotspots, and as-yet untrammeled thickets of the city’s shores, focusing on what chapter executive director Rick Bell called “the things that made New York special as a riverine city.”

After a spin by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, setting course for the East River.
(Photos: Jeff Byles)

The crowd of about 50 embarked on the Classic Harbor Line’s Manhattan, built in 2005 in the style of a 1920s commuter yacht, a surprisingly intimate vessel with a comfortable windowed observatory and benches topside for wide-open views. The biweekly tours (http://www.zerve.com/SailNYC/ArchTour) will feature a rotating cast of guides, and on this trip Bell was joined by architects Deborah Young of Perkins+Will and Michael Bischoff of Pei Cobb Freed, who traded narration along stretches of the East, Harlem, and Hudson rivers.

Stalking Gehry's nearly-completed Beekman Tower.

Though inspired by the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s popular River Cruise, the New York trip is necessarily a different sort of journey, touring the edges rather than the heart of the city, and offering a panoramic passage around the island rather than a detailed close-up of architectural sights. The cruise is actually quite fast-moving, leaving little time for commentary on any particular building or architect, and at times the guides struggled to keep pace with the shoreline sliding by. Indeed, the crew is still polishing the script, and invites public input on the evolving tour. (Hint: New Jersey should at least rate a mention.)

A forlorn Domino awaits its mixed-income destiny.

Still, for an archi-centric afternoon on the water, you could hardly do better, particularly with raconteurs who have had first-hand experiences among the city’s shores. Himself a tug-boat veteran in one of many previous lives, Bell pointed out his former residence at the 79th Street Boat Basin on the West Side, where he lived for eight years on a 36-foot houseboat, and elsewhere offered plenty of pointed commentary on the social connectivity of the eventually-to-reopen High Bridge and new development on the Domino Sugar site.

The boat's fine accommodations amid the Harlem River.

The $75 ticket includes hors d’oeuvres and one free drink—those in search of a booze cruise will need to look elsewhere—making for a civilized circumnavigation in AIA-endorsed company.

Beyond Spuyten Duyvil, the George Washington Bridge beckons.


August 16th, 2010, 06:17 AM
A Singular Perspective on the Urban Mosaic


Up the Harlem River, past the saltwater marshes of Swindler Cove, beyond the Sherman Creek Nature Trail and the quaint gingerbread boathouse, the bucolic landscape gives way to a sinister hive, where the higher machine species are breeding for their eventual takeover of the earth.

That’s how it looks, anyway, as you glide past the dense stack of subway cars in the repair yard at 207th Street. I happened to be doing that aboard a beautiful wooden motor yacht, so while I contemplated the imminent subjugation of the human race, I also contemplated a glass of Champagne. Then the boat followed the river around to the left and we passed under the dramatic arch of a bridge, and all was forgotten. Including the Champagne.

It was two hours into one of the city’s newest delights: the Around Manhattan Official NYC Architectural Tour (http://cfa.aiany.org/index.php?section=calendar&evtid=1962). The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s similar tour has been a popular attraction since 1983, but until now, this city’s closest equivalent was the Circle Line — a very distant second. What took the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects so long? Whatever the answer, its timing is fortuitous. It’s only recently that Manhattan’s waterfront has become the playfield of outsize architectural ambition.

The Manhattan, a Classic Harbor Line vessel modeled on a 1920s commuter yacht, pushes off from Chelsea Piers one afternoon every other weekend and heads south down the Hudson. Just a few years ago, that would have been a good time to advise everyone on the placement and use of flotation devices. But now there is more to say about the area’s flashy architecture — from Frank Gehry’s IAC building, billowing out at full mast, to Polshek Partnership’s Standard Hotel, standing boldly astride the High Line — than the speed of the boat allows. From there it’s down past the Trump SoHo to Battery Park City.

The narration of each cruise — which costs $75 (unless you find an online coupon) and fits 50 people — varies depending on who volunteers to lead. I got Rick Bell, the executive director of the A.I.A.’s New York chapter.

Mr. Bell focused on the constant reorientation of the city, by which the luxury enclave of one year could be the slum of the next, and Governors Island, located so close to Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, could be the next Central Park. Beyond Governors Island lay Red Hook, home now to cruise ships that once docked along the Hudson. And in the foreground, an antique schooner sailed by.

Continuing on, we passed the long row of hospitals on the East River’s western shore, built when a fresh breeze off the water was the best weapon against contagion. We passed the United Nations, built on what had been slaughterhouses, and waved hello to Carl Schurz Park, sloping gracefully down to meet us.

Under the east side of the 125th Street Bridge, you can see the secret shop where police boats are repaired, and beyond that, on the day of my tour, the new section of the Willis Avenue Bridge, just hanging out in the middle of the water waiting to be installed.

After the Macombs Dam Bridge, the dense urban landscape gives way to the green thicket of Highbridge Park, and the shores of the Harlem River feel close enough to doggy paddle. Threading such a narrow passage, in an area so unlike the rest of Manhattan, to the left, and the Bronx, to the right, is disorienting.

Then the river bends again, past Marble Hill. The Spuyten Duyvil Bridge swings open, and through it you rejoin the mighty Hudson, which looks as wide as an ocean. I dare you not to gasp in awe.

The famous architectural boat tours of Chicago snake through the city on the Chicago River, then out onto Lake Michigan, getting right up close to the area’s most famous buildings. A loop around Manhattan — even at 2 ¾ hours — does not allow for that kind of detail. But it offers something different, and in many ways more revelatory: a glimpse into how the city fits together as a whole.

Stepping off dry land and heading out onto the water fundamentally alters your perspective on New York. Mr. Bell correctly described the effect as figure-ground reversal — the river your eyes are used to glossing over suddenly comes up all around you, and the buildings you are used to seeing at a pedestrian’s range instead are showcased in their full height on the world’s grandest stage.

But even if you don’t care about architectural history, if you don’t care about the city’s foundations, a three-hour boat ride, with lovely snacks and a steady breeze, makes for a great date.

So does another new boat ride introduced this summer: sunset ferries to the Statue of Liberty. Even now, as cynical as we all may have good reason to be, it’s still stirring to see descendants of so many different nationalities and styles — old ladies in full chador, overdeveloped 11-year-olds in one-shouldered minidresses — drawn to the same symbol of opportunity.

A $36 ticket includes dinner of lobster tail and filet mignon. Am I just a prude? Or does tucking into a ruling-class entree right there below the inscription about huddled masses seem willfully profane?

Oh, well, it was a moot point: the night I went, the specials had been downgraded to roast chicken and ribs, and they ran out before I ordered. I opened a plastic clamshell and ate a refrigerated veggie wrap while enjoying a view of the entire world.


September 16th, 2012, 03:01 AM
Manhattan, Elusive by Land, Comes Into Focus by Sea


Philip Greenberg for The New York Times
An architectural cruise sails off on the Hudson for its 32-mile, round-the-island journey.

More Photos » (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/09/14/arts/20120914-WATERFRONT.html)


Manhattan has one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Yet it can be strangely elusive, even Garboesque. The buildings are too tall and too close together to see in their entirety from the ground, so New Yorkers who want to get a good look at the skyline have to go to the movies, visit a prime viewing spot like the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or look out an airplane window.

The New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/american_institute_of_architects/index.html?inline=nyt-org) came up with a high-minded solution to the problem a couple of years ago: a round-the-island architectural cruise with running commentary provided by experts.

On most cruises young docents provide the oral annotation, but every few weeks a guest expert takes the mike. For this Sunday’s Around Manhattan (http://cfa.aiany.org/index.php?section=calendar&evtid=4465) cruise, the organization has booked John Hill, the author of “Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture” and the Daily Dose of Architecture (http://archidose.blogspot.com/) blog.

The cruises set sail from Chelsea Piers; 2 hours and 45 minutes later, after a 32-mile journey past 156 sites indicated by tiny photographs on a handy brochure, the Classic Harbor Line (http://www.sail-nyc.com/narrated-cruises) yacht returns and disgorges its information-stuffed passengers.

It’s an eye-opening experience. I have lived in New York for more than 30 years. I have crossed the harbor on the Staten Island Ferry more than once and crossed the big-name bridges hundreds of times. But great swaths of the city remain as unknown to me as Patagonia. The architecture cruise helped fix that.

The tour got off to a fast start with a parade of flashy new buildings on the lower west side, led by Jean Nouvel’s condominium at 100 11th Avenue, at 19th Street in Chelsea, with its puzzlelike facade, and the clustered, wavy towers of Frank Gehry’s IAC headquarters at 18th Street and 11th Avenue. A few blocks south, the Standard hotel, which looks for all the world like an open book, completed a dazzling sequence of up-to-the minute buildings.

There were plenty of architectural supernovas to come, but my two docents, Julie Ann Engh and Scott Cook, working as a tag team, took a broader view of their mission. Moving fluidly from present to past and back again, they worked up plenty of excitement about the Holland Tunnel ventilator shafts; the Erie Lackawanna Railroad and Ferry Terminal in Hoboken, N.J.; and the gorgeously restored exterior of the Battery Maritime Building (http://www.batterymaritimebuilding.com/), departure point for the Governors Island ferry. Cass Gilbert was identified as the architect not only of the Woolworth Building but also of the former Austin, Nichols Warehouse on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Snazzy skyscrapers, in other words, were not the main point.

The city’s perpetual transformation can be confusing to follow on land, but out on the river it comes into focus, especially the evolving system of parks and green spaces along the banks (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/cwp/mn.shtml), a monumental change in the urban environment that sometimes seems to proceed by stealth.

Governors Island (http://www.govisland.com/html/home/home.shtml), derelict until just a few years ago, pulses with life. Enough cyclists for the Tour de France whiz around its landscaped paths, and the grounds bristle with large-scale metal sculptures by Mark di Suvero.

The tour takes in Pier 15, a new pedestrian walkway just south of the South Street Seaport; the even newer WNYC Transmitter Park (http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/wnyc-news-blog/2012/sep/10/transmitter-park/) in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which opened at the end of August and takes its name from the WNYC transmitter that once stood there; and the newest project of all, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park (http://www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org/) on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, which is scheduled to open at the end of October. Four Freedoms ranks high on the list of the city’s most delayed projects. When Louis Kahn died of a heart attack while walking through Pennsylvania Station in 1974, the final plans for the park were found in his briefcase. Now, a mere four decades later, the triangular four-and-a-half-acre park is almost ready for its first visitors. Michael Kimmelman reviewed the project (http://nyti.ms/OJJ227) in The New York Times on Thursday.

So, yes, it is exciting to see Mr. Gehry’s sinuous silver residential tower on Spruce Street, or Tsao & McKown’s William Beaver House, otherwise known as the Post-it building for the scattering of bright yellow panels on its facade, or Enrique Norten’s Mercedes House, with its dizzying staircase exterior. But the cruise is a fisheye lens that takes in just about everything.

That includes the old Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. Ms. Engh, a big fan of adaptive reuse, zeroed in on a potential whopper, a sprawling refinery that has attracted ambitious plans to transform it into a residential complex.

There are bridges. Many bridges. The ship passes underneath the famous ones, but I was seeing, for the first time, gems like the High Bridge (http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/northern-manhattan-parks/high-bridge-coalition/history) in Harlem, the oldest in the city. It is now being transformed into a pedestrian walkway.

Upriver at Inwood, the University Heights Bridge flashes its best, least visible feature, a filigree railing along the sidewalk on the south side, and at the westernmost point of Harlem Creek the improbable Spuyten Duyvil Bridge astounds. One of several swing bridges that rotate 90 degrees on a turntable to let ships pass, it stands a mere five feet above the surface of the water. On the day of my cruise, an old man slowly approached the bridge in what must have been the last canoe left at the used-canoe dealership. Caressing the river’s surface with a kayak paddle, he looked as if the top of his head might just clear the bridge.

The cruise embarrassed me mile after mile. Like the greenest outlander, I gaped, surprised by sights that should have been long familiar. Grant’s Tomb appeared off the port side, new to me. I knew the thing existed, honest, but only as the subject of the old joke, not as an architectural fact. Now here it was. Ditto for the weird, cantilevered Pumpkin House in Washington Heights, so called because the pattern of its windows suggests a jack-o’-lantern face, and the pseudomedieval walls below the Castle Village apartment towers.

The cruise ends when the ship eases back into dock at Pier 62. But in a way, it doesn’t. I kept ticking off points of interest that demanded further exploration and set forth on solid ground to see what I could see. First was Swindler Cove Park (http://www.nyrp.org/Parks_and_Gardens/Parks/Swindler_Cove_Park/Park_Overview) in Inwood, a former dumping ground that the singer Bette Midler attacked like a neatnik scrubbing a stubborn stain in the sink. Fed up with the sight of trash in Fort Tryon and Fort Washington Parks, and the discarded tires and debris along the riverbank, Ms. Midler organized the New York Restoration Project, which has cleaned up the mess and created a seductive waterfront green space with wandering paths, a teaching garden with boxed beds of flowers and vegetables, and a steel observation bridge that spans Swindler Cove, a tiny patch of wetland.

At high tide kayakers can take a soft left off the Harlem River and enter the park at Sherman Creek. Just a few hundred feet downriver, the green and yellow Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse (http://www.nyrp.org/Parks_and_Gardens/Parks/Swindler_Cove_Park/Peter_Jay_Sharp_Boathouse), designed by Robert A. M. Stern, runs a busy program of sculling and sweep rowing. Row New York (http://www.rownewyork.org/), which leases the boathouse, recruits students from local high schools, trains them and sends them forth to compete with other teams all over the Northeast.

Pier 15 sneaked into town this summer unobserved by me. It turned out to be yet another big plus sign along the waterfront, a little like a section of the High Line airlifted to the East River. There are walkways on two levels, the upper level divided by a wide grass median strip and landscaped areas. Double-wide loungers, Adirondack-style, make the far end of the pier a pocket paradise for jangled city dwellers.

After nearly three hours of close observation, fatigue does set in. But the organizers saved the best for last. In the final moments, 200 11th Avenue, at 24th Street, came into view, with its curvaceous stainless-steel facade and “sky garages.” The concept could have come straight out of a Bruce McCall fantasy cover for The New Yorker. Fourteen of the residential units come with their own attached parking spaces, like a spare bedroom for the BMW. After a late dinner, you can press the elevator button, take your car upstairs and tuck it in for the night.
New York truly is a world of wonders.


The American Institute of Architects (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/american_institute_of_architects/index.html?inline=nyt-org)’ Around Manhattan Official NYC Architectural Tour is on most Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays, at 2 p.m., Pier 62, at West 22nd Street; sail-nyc.com (http://sail-nyc.com); $75. This Sunday John Hill, architect and author, leads it, and on Oct. 7 Gina Pollara, executive director of Four Freedoms Park, and Bill Woods, former director of waterfront and open-space planning at the New York City Department of City Planning, share the mike.

Highlights worth a visit on foot:

FOUR FREEDOMS PARK Opens Oct. 24. At the southeast end of Roosevelt Island; fdrfourfreedomspark.org (http://fdrfourfreedomspark.org).
PIER 15 East River Waterfront Esplanade, Manhattan; nycedc.com/project/east-river-waterfront-esplanade (http://nycedc.com/project/east-river-waterfront-esplanade).
SWINDLER COVE PARK and Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse (above), Harlem River Drive and Dyckman Street, Inwood; nyrp.org (http://nyrp.org).
WNYC TRANSMITTER PARK West Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; nycgovparks.org/parks/transmitterpark (http://nycgovparks.org/parks/transmitterpark).


September 16th, 2012, 09:14 AM
Manhattan, Elusive by Land, Comes Into Focus by Sea



Manhattan has one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Yet it can be strangely elusive, even Garboesque. The buildings are too tall and too close together to see in their entirety from the ground, so New Yorkers who want to get a good look at the skyline have to go to the movies, visit a prime viewing spot like the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or look out an airplane window.

The New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/american_institute_of_architects/index.html?inline=nyt-org) came up with a high-minded solution to the problem a couple of years ago: a round-the-island architectural cruise with running commentary provided by experts.

If there any other WNY members interested in joining me on a short Kayak excursion to view the 'Architectural Skyline' please contact me: there is still time in the season for one more trip. This trip is limited to only 3 or 4 kayaks: it will be a small group and a short trip - let me know.