We’ve been wondering what this curious roller coaster-like structure is, sitting along the East River just under the Queensboro bridge. Turns out it’s an abandoned art installation by Alice Aycock, itself sitting atop an abandoned waste transfer station. Here’s what the installation, called the “East River Roundabout” looked like in its full glory:
This image (and following three) via Alice Aycock website
East River Roundup was constructed in 1994. Aycock’s commission was to transform the unused sanitation facility into a public plaza. The president of the East River Conservancy penned a letter to the editor of The New York Times calling it a” Cinderella-like transformation.” The same letter mentioned that the sculpture was still awaiting a $125,000 endowment to “maintain the art work in perpetuity.” It seems pretty clear that has not happened, although according to Department of Parks website, the sculpture is managed by the Municipal Art Society’s Adopt-a-Monument Program.
The Department of Parks website still lists this location as a “highlight” of Andrew Haswell Green Park and describes the work as Aycock’s “response to the clamorous visual environment of the Queensborough Bridge, F.D.R. Drive, heliport, and commercial river activity which envelope the plaza.” It also cites additional inspiration from Fred Astaire’s dancing. Aycock herself described it as a “theater around which New York City enacts itself. And the viewer becomes a spectator in the play of the city as well as an actor in the spectacle.”
A 2007 photograph from the inside of the sculpture:
Photo via Flickr user wallyg