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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:

Alice Aycock-East River Roundup-Aluminum Helix-1995-60th Street York Avenue-NYCThis 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.

Alice Aycock-East River Roundup-Aluminum Helix-1995-60th Street York Avenue-NYC-2

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.”

Alice Aycock-East River Roundup-Aluminum Helix-1995-60th Street York Avenue-NYC-3

Alice Aycock-East River Roundup-Aluminum Helix-1995-60th Street York Avenue-NYC-4

A 2007 photograph from the inside of the sculpture:

Alice Aycock-East River Roundup-Aluminum Helix-1995-60th Street York Avenue-NYC-Interior-TodayPhoto via Flickr user wallyg

Get in touch with the author @untappedmich. Have a quirky find you want us to publish in the Daily What?!? Contact us or submit via Twitter with the hashtag #DailyWhat.

 Abandoned NYC, Daily What?!, East River Park

One Response
  1. Thank you for this information.
    Ever since I visited NYC in 2013 and tried to recreate the image from Woody Allens ‘Manhattan’ near that area I’ve wondered what that thing was.

    Now I’ve finally found out!

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