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Thread: Collect Pond Park - Downtown Manhattan

  1. #1
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default Collect Pond Park - Downtown Manhattan

    What’s in a park name? A pond, city says


    The Parks Department’s new vision for Collect Pond Park
    includes two shallow ponds.

    DOWNTOWN EXPRESS
    By Julie Shapiro
    July 11 - 17, 2008

    The Parks Department put the “pond” back in Collect Pond Park in their latest design, unveiled this week.

    The space, bounded by the 111 Centre St. courthouse and Lafayette, Leonard and Centre Sts., is now a parking lot and a barren plaza, but Parks wants to convert it into a lush, wooded square.

    The city expects the construction to start in summer 2009, using $4 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which may or may not be enough to complete the project, said Cristina DeLuca, a Parks spokesperson.

    The first design for park, presented last October, showed a large lawn in the center, surrounded by trees and benches. The city Art Commission, though, wanted the design to pay tribute to the park’s past life as a pond — advice that produced the new design.

    This incarnation of the park design shows an hourglass-shaped north and south pond in the center of the park, bridged by a metal walkway. The ponds will be flat and very shallow, reflecting the sky and the sun, said Lawrence Mauro, the project manager for Lower Manhattan parks. The panels beneath the water will be dark, to better reflect the light, he said.

    “They will have a cooling effect on what is otherwise a rather hot space,” Mauro said in a presentation to Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee.

    In the winter, when the park will presumably be cool enough, the water will freeze into a slab of ice and turn into a “snowy landscape,” Mauro said.

    Board 1 members questioned the safety of the ice, calling it a lawsuit waiting to happen, but Mauro joked that at least there would be no danger of falling through the ice since it will be so shallow. More seriously, he said the department would look into it further.

    C.B. 1 supported the previous version of the park’s design, calling it a vast improvement over the current plaza and Department of Transportation parking lot, which both attract homeless people at night.

    Collect Pond was once a 60-foot-deep pool, filled with water from an underground spring, according to the Parks Department Web site. Dutch settlers called it “kolch,” meaning “small body of water,” but English settlers later changed the pronunciation to “collect.” In the 18th century, families picnicked by the pond in the summer and skated on it in the winter, and drank its fresh water. But by the early 19th century, the pond had become a sewer, and the city decided to drain the dirty water and fill in the land. To drain the pond, the city carved a 40-foot-wide canal, which today is known as Canal St.

    The pond’s drainage did not end the site’s problems. The swamp beneath the former pond caused buildings to sink and contributed to outbreaks of cholera. A piece of the Five Points slum neighborhood overlapped with the former Collect Pond, bringing gangs and crime to the neighborhood. Collect Pond was also home to public executions and a detention center, before the Parks Department took it over in 1960.

    Office workers and jurors currently use the plaza during lunch, and Mauro expects the new park to be particularly attractive to that crowd. Oak and birch trees will line the park’s perimeter, thinning in the interior to make room for several small lawns and a plaza with tables. Benches will dot the park’s paths, alongside planters with ferns, witch hazel and purple fountain grass. Near the corner of Centre and Leonard Sts., water misters will cool and moisten the air, a feature borrowed from the previous design.

    Reconstruction of the park will also include belowground work to fix sinkholes in the current plaza, DeLuca said.

    Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee decided to table the question of the park’s redesign until September, when Parks will come back with more information.

  2. #2
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Nice, it would be a vast improvement. We talked about this in another thread: I wonder what became of the natural spring and wonder if they could tap into it somehow and use that water. Probably would never happen, I know, just like the ice pond. Is it a civilized society when we no longer can have ice ponds because it's a "lawsuit waiting to happen"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cristina DeLuca View Post
    ....using $4 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which may or may not be enough to complete the project,...
    Hmm, let's take a guess. I'll pick "may not".

  3. #3

    Default Collect Pond Video

    Nice article. If you're interested in the pond's history check out this video that I made. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ks9OW2Glmw

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    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Great video, Dan!

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    The 1960s monstrosity that houses the NYC Civil Court (I think its address is 99 Centre St.) which is just north of this park needs to be razed. It's a real POS.

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    ^^ It is ugly. However the sad reality is that until the courts relocated, it will be a loooong time before that is redeveloped.

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Those courts aren't going anywhere anytime soon. They've just spent a fortune upgrading the mechanicals at the Dept. of Health Building across Leonard to the south and the Family Court across Lafayette to the west was totally rehabbed / refaced within the past few years.

    But ... If they were to consider moving the Federal / State / Municipal Courts / Jails away from this site downtown, where would the better place be for them to be located (taking into consideration mass transit, etc.)?

  8. #8
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Collect Pond to Live Again

    Bordered by Lafayette, Centre, the New York City Civil Court (or what would be Franklin if it went through), and a parking lot, it’s one of the grimmest public areas in Lower Manhattan. The full renovation, funded by the LMDC, is set to start in July, 2010, and is projected to last a year.

    The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center sets the plan up with a little prospective: “Collect Pond Park occupies the 18th-century site of Collect Pond, a large, 60-foot-deep pool fed by an underground spring.

    During the first decade of the 19th century, the polluted, plague-inducing Collect Pond was filled in and the area has since been home to public executions, a house of detention, and a section of the notorious Five Points slum.” So if you take the long view, it’s not such a dump these days.

    “In stark contrast to this somewhat unsavory history, park designers envision the new park as both a sunny lunch spot and a reminder of Manhattan’s densely wooded past. The park will be surrounded by shade trees, with a large lawn in the center of the lot and tables along the northern and eastern edges. At the south end of the space, where the parking lot now sits, the Parks Department will place thick beds of ferns and other woodland plants. Water misters will be embedded in the plantings, making the surrounding air feel wetter and cooler. The park will be enclosed by a four-foot fence and lampposts and will be locked at night.”

    In other words: (1) The new park will reclaim the huge chunk of the block that’s currently a parking lot, extending the border down to Leonard Street; (2) the homeless population that takes over at night will be fenced out. And misters will be deployed to make the air “wetter and cooler”—but aren’t New York summers humid enough? A quibble in what promises to be a revelatory makeover.

    http://tribecacitizen.com/2009/12/07...to-live-again/

    http://curbed.com/archives/2009/12/1..._past.php#more

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Those courts aren't going anywhere anytime soon. They've just spent a fortune upgrading the mechanicals at the Dept. of Health Building across Leonard to the south and the Family Court across Lafayette to the west was totally rehabbed / refaced within the past few years.

    But ... If they were to consider moving the Federal / State / Municipal Courts / Jails away from this site downtown, where would the better place be for them to be located (taking into consideration mass transit, etc.)?
    I know they're not going anywhere. I'd just like to see them razed. In fact, it's just the one POS that I really hate. The renovated family court is fine.

    Anyway, I wasn't talking about Foley Square. With the excepion of the POS Javits Federal Building, Foley Sq. is magnificent -- though it could use some landscaping.

  10. #10
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    A bit of history.


    Collect Pond, Manhattan

    The Collect Pond was essentially at the site of today's Columbus Park, just south of Canal Street, and it supplied the city's water until it became horribly polluted by the growing city in the 18th century. It's outlet had always been a marshy streamlet that ran west to the Hudson River, created a swampy area in the area now occupied by the western end of Canal Street, but the channel was dug out and straightened and became the namesake for Canal Street.

    The Collect Pond in 1755, and below that the larger view of the map that this image was taken from:





    The pond in 1766 (to the left is the triangle of City Hall Park):


    And again in 1766, showing the line of the drainage canal and the surrounding marsh:




    From the excellent site http://www.oldstreets.com:

    Collect Pond: A large freshwater pond, irregular in shape, in the area roughly bounded by today's Duane, Centre, Walker, Canal and Mulberry Streets, and Cardinal Hayes Place. The name derives from the Dutch Kalck, meaning chalk or lime, and probably refers to the piles of shells left by Indians who had harvested oysters nearby. The name is also found spelled Kolck, Kalk, etc. The pond was an important source of drinking water in colonial times but became progressively more polluted. It was filled in between 1802 and 1813. See also Five Points.

    http://watercourses.typepad.com/wate.../collect_pond/





    http://www.nychinatown.org/history/1800s.html

  11. #11
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Terrific article from the NY TIMES (1888) chronicling the history of Collect Pond and environs, based on the discovery of remnants of the old Canal Broadway Bridge (built during the British occupation of Manhattan); the remains of the bridge had been uncovered during construction ...

    OLD NEW-YORK EXPOSED.; A LOCALITY AROUND WHICH GREAT HISTORICAL EVENTS CLUSTER.

    NY TIMES
    August 26, 1888, Wednesday
    Page 8, 1359 words

    The electric light last week disclosed the old bridge at Canal-street and Broadway, and with it the cemented top of the tunnel that connected the open ditch which, crossed by mere planks west of Broadway, led to the name of Canal-street. The culvert so recently uncovered by excavations for pipe laying is closely related to the old water systems of this city ...

    Full Original Article [pdf]

  12. #12
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Collect Pond Lives Again


    (click to enlarge)

    In December 2009, not long after I started this site, I posted about how Collect Pond Park would be getting redone—and then Curbed skeptically pointed out that there might not be much reason to be hopeful. It was a learning moment for me: Just because a government agency tells you something doesn’t mean it’s true.

    I have a fondness for Collect Pond Park that’s odd given how rarely I visit it. Most people don’t even notice the park: It’s currently bordered by Lafayette and Centre to the west and east, and Franklin to the north (if Franklin didn’t end at Lafayette). The southern border is mid-block because at some point a third of the park got turned into a parking lot. Part of the reason I was excited in 2009 was because the plan was to re-convert that third into parkland—and Collect Pond, for all the homeless folks who hang out there, had potential to be stunning. It’s surrounded by beautiful buildings.

    All of which is a long way of explaining why I broke my own rule and attended two CB1 committee meetings in one month. Last night, the Seaport/Civic Center Committee was discussing Collect Pond Park (among other topics that I’ll recap later), and I wanted to hear what was up. Lawrence Mauro of the Parks Department (standing in the photo) gave a status update. He started off by saying that Collect Pond has been in the worst condition of any park in Manhattan, and the delay in fixing it up has been due to structural problems. They’ve spent three and a half years on the design, which, as you can see above (click to enlarge it—it’s worth it) isn’t much different from what was being passed around in 2009.

    • The parking lot is indeed kaput.

    • The Parks Department has sent the construction out to bid, and it’s possible that the contract was registered today. They’re expecting to mobilize on site in a few weeks. And they’re saying it could be done as soon as next summer.

    • Mauro called it a “major greening project.” Beyond that, a large pool will be added, at the behest of unnamed people who really believed that given the area’s history—Collect Pond was where early Manhattanites sourced fresh water—the park should have a water feature. (One member of the committee—which is much more fogeyish than the Tribeca one, and yet they impressively raced through the agenda—was obsessed about how often the water would circulate, but he got over it.) There will also be a bridge, which is nice/dopey. In winter, the pool basically turns into a “rockscape” because the bottom of the pool is paved in a round rock.

    ••• There will be an interactive spray component for kids—presumably from Chinatown—to play in. You touch certain parts and sprays are activated. [Wink!]

    ••• The hours will be dusk to dawn unless the community board objects or the Parks Department decides otherwise. The park will be fenced.

    The committee chair, having grown up in the area and fondly remembering “necking” at the park back in the day, requested that the interpretative signage mention that the Collect Pond Park was formerly known as Paradise Park. My two cents: Let’s get it fixed up before we throw that particular name around.

    http://tribecacitizen.com/2011/07/20...d-lives-again/

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    It is all great news from your hat down to your shoes. Boing.

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