Monday, December 31, 2007

Restoring Roosevelt Island’s Past For the Future

Fire Box - Southpoint 2007 Dec 30

A photographer, shanreb816, posted the above picture on Flickr of the old Emergency Call box located just South of Goldwater Hospital. Upon reading the caption you can almost hear the photographer asking why and how did this fire box end up here:

“Old fire box in obscure spot on south end of Roosevelt Island, NYC. Area in background fenced of, inaccessible to public.”

Based on the ornate design I am guessing the box dates back to when the lands South of the fence were accessible and the smallpox hospital and Strecker Laboratory were still in operation. Like many call boxes it was updated for modern use and not removed from its historical site. Whether its present location serves any real purpose today is debatable. I am guessing if there was a fire in Goldwater this box would not be the first used to alert the FDNY.

If plans proceed as reported in the news in the coming year, that same box may again provide protection to the lands surrounding and just North of the former smallpox hospital. It is my understanding that in the Summer of 2008, the Trust for Public Lands, expects to begin a project to restore and rehabilitate this land into park space which would include a stabilized Renwick Ruin structure partially accessible to the public.

Southpoint - Phase 1 - Plan

The project is titled “the Wild Gardens/Green Rooms” plan and under that plan the lands would include many amenities, many I am sure due to funding may not happen (docks, additional comfort stations, etc), but most importantly the land would be returned to public access as park land. More details can be found at one of several web pages set up by the Trust for Public Land. Double click the above image to see it at 100 % or link HERE.

Who knows if the park becomes a destination beyond that of residents alone maybe the emergency subway access entrance (which sits just outside the Strecker Lab building) to the E / V trains can be opened up into a real station?

Looking into 2008, the possibility of this construction project holds promise that the old fire box will again provide protection and be appreciated for its convergence of the old and the new.

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