Neon for the 59th Street Marine Transfer Station, Neon Light Installation, 1990
Location: 59th Street Marine Transfer Station, 59th Street and 12th Avenue, Manhattan
Architect: Richard Dattner, P.C.
Design/Sponsor Agency: Department of Sanitation
The New York Times reported, "Even a marine transfer station, where garbage trucks dump their contents onto barges, deserves a grand entrance. On the West Side Highway at West 59th Street, the shed-like marine transfer station now has a neo-classical arch that frames the two plain structures that house the station and offices." In the tradition of neon light along New York City's waterfront, Stephen Antonakos has composed an arrangement of colored neon tubes for the renovation of the Marine Transfer Station on the West 59th Street pier. Red light frames every other window along the north facade of the station (a total of 26 windows) and is visible from the Henry Hudson Parkway. An article in The New Yorker stated, "Because the windowpanes, which are made of plastic, are frosted, and because the neon is installed indoors, at night the squares fill with a soft glow. The effect is subdued, stately, and somewhat spiritual, like the halos above votive candles in a dimly lit church." Working with the architect and the Department of Sanitation, the artist has placed the neon tubes behind the glass, so they are both vandal proof and accessible from the interior of the building for easy maintenance. Neon light also accents the architectural forms of the west facade where the trucks and staff enter the building. *
About the Artist ...
Born in Greece, Stephen Antonakos has lived in New York since 1930. He has been working with neon in architectural settings since the early 1970's. Notable permanent installations include works in Japan, Greece, Germany, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston. Best known to New Yorkers is his Neon for 42nd Street (1981), a fragmented red spiral of light between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.
I feel strongly about the two sites I have chosen for neon for the transfer station. The work depends on continuous experience for complete understanding. Therefore it is most appropriate that those who work in the building should have the opportunity to see the neon in all its different manifestations, in different lights and atmospheres according to the season and hour. The site of the windows along the north wall balances this by addressing the larger public who will view the building most often from the downtown-moving side of the West Side Highway. Together, the two locations work to complement the formal, architectural aspects of the overall project.
The neon of 59th Streeet Marine Transfer Station on Pier 99.