New York City Waterways by Roger Generazzo
My project, The New York City Waterways, is a photographic survey and personal reflection on the states of the waterways and their adjacent landscapes of New York City. Most people are aware of the two major waterways, the Hudson and East Rivers. However, fewer know of the over seventy other waterways flowing around the city’s five boroughs. These bays, basins, rivers and creeks used to be major transportation waterways, filled with every type of sailing ship, carrying cargo, commuters and travellers daily to and from the city. Up to the middle of the 20th Century, the city's harbor overflowed with commerce and life, contributing to the city’s economic prosperity and worldwide reputation.
However, due to technological developments over time, the use of ships and the prosperity of the waterways changed. As vehicle, locomotive and air transportation expanded at a phenomenal pace to transport goods, machinery and commuters, the use of ships dramatically declined. Over years, the companies whose factories lined the waterways leaked contaminants into the water and soil, jeopardizing the health of the water supply and the plant and animal life in it. In addition, the city itself dumped along miles of shoreline garbage and hazardous wastes, which also contaminated the soil and water. Following this, the activities and vitality around the waterfronts eventually waned. Without being used and cared for, the docks and piers deteriorated to rubble.
For over five years, I have photographed the positive and negative effects of human impact along these waterways. My hope is that this project may instigate in the viewer an appreciation for and a desire to visit the city’s waterways. I also hope this project offers the viewer the opportunity to contemplate how the landscape bears our history and holds the key to understanding our culture and identity. Everything we are is in the layers of the land.
Roger Generazzo lives and works in New York City.
To view more of Roger's work, please visit his website.
You can purchase the photograph "At the End of Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, NY, 2009" from Fraction Editions.