Susan Mareneck



End of Manhattan

Endangered Views series

1992, 22x30, Charcoal

The wild meadow at the southern tip of Manhattan is part of the Battery Park City Authority landfill which was created in the 1960’s when the foundation of the World Trade Center was excavated.  Battery Park City – which was meant to be moderate and low-income housing – has been reborn after that dream died in the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970’s as a model of beauty and creativity applied to an urban living/working environment affordable only by the very wealthy…  

As I worked on my drawing, bulldozers and men were only a few hundred feet away working to tame this last unkempt space.  It will soon become the final link between the glorious waterfront esplanade in Battery Park City (BPC) and the old fireboat Pier 1.  Planned as a tourist information center with a historically correct, perfectly preserved shell, the pier will become home to tourist restaurants and souvenir stores.  There will no longer be even one fireboat on the Hudson River.

In a culture increasingly bent on replacing function with form, experiencing life in second and third-hand simulations, the commitment, courage and energy that the Tribeca community has shown in defense of their vision is a sign of hope.  That unquenchable desire to practice authentic community is driven not only by the healthy sense of empowerment that it brings, but ultimately by a survival imperative.  If we expect to prosper as a species in this urban environment in the future we have no choice but to address the larger dimensions of our actions and their effects on our physical and emotional health.  We must continue to have the social and moral courage to choose the quality of life for our 600 children – our heart and collective future – over a $40 million dollar real estate investment that would put them and their school under a shadow forever. (excerpt from “Endangered Views essay,”, S. Mareneck, New York City, 1992)