The Abandoned, Wild Landscape of Hunters Point Waterfront in Long Island City

Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-021

This past weekend, on a predominantly unguided but fully sensory tour, 20 intrepid explorers headed out with Daniel Campo, author of The Accidental Playground  and artists Ellis Irons and Chris Kennedy, to take in Hunters Point South, one of the the city’s last accidental waterfront wild spaces. This post-industrial edge condition is a last holdout before encroaching development overtakes the Queens border with the East River. For many, even those that may live in Long Island City, this little patch of wilderness, with its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, may come as a surprise. And as the leaders of this expedition showed, its presence is an important reminder of our relationship with the city’s natural environment as well as its long, complex history of development. 

Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-025Photo via Chance Ecologies

The event was part of Chance Ecologies, a new public art project curated by photographer Nathan Kensinger, urbanism reporter Stephen Zachs and artist Catherine Grau. Chance Ecologies aims to create discourse around the city’s wild, abandoned and un-designed spaces. For this walk, we began at the East River Ferry terminal, with artists Ellie Irons and Chris Kennedy leading us to use charcoal and paper to record different kinds of surfaces in Hunters Point South Park.

Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-003

Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-001

As soon as we jumped across the fence, we were in an environment of wilderness. We took additional samples of surfaces using the charcoal and quickly saw that the texture is a lot richer than those in the man made park, a highly curated environment. Ellie also showed us a stone table and a grill, a hang out place for people who used to work on this waterfront long ago.

Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-004

Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-013

As you go deeper into the space, the weeds and grass stretch out before you. Ellie and Chris asked the guests to look afar and run the eye across the skyline–which becomes a juxtaposition of organic and inorganic objects from this vantage point. As you get even close to the shore, the foliage gets thicker and the Manhattan skyline slower disappears. It’s almost as if you’re out of the city–and the sensation of having to watch your step with sense heightened makes a strong contrast to the landscape of the park next door.
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-007
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-009
But soon, this patch of wilderness will also become part of the new development in Hunters Point South, a striking high-rise development with significant affordable housing and public space components. Accessibility for all necessitates a change in landscape, and this location, currently off-the-radar and “protected” behind wires and gates, will become another curated part of the city’s waterfront.
More photos of the exploration below:
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-010
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-015
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-016
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-019
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-018
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-011
Hunts Point South-Waterfront-Wild-Abandoned-Park-Long Island City-Queens-NYC-022
Chance Ecologies will present the artworks, documentation, research and findings from the walks this summer in an exhibition at Radiator Gallery in Long Island City this winter.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the High Line, another formerly post-industrial, abandoned space in NYC. This article co-written by Eric Lau and Michelle Young.

 Abandoned NYC, Chance Ecologies, long island city, Nathan Kensinger, queens, Urban Exploration

One Response
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *