Thursday, March 6, 2008

Great Photos of Creepy Roosevelt Island Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital - May Be Last Chance to See Ruins Before It All Falls Down.

Image by Andre Costantini at Silly Dancing

Photographer Gabriel Biderman took these photographs of Roosevelt Island's Renwick Ruins Smallpox Hospital at Southpoint Park. Biderman describes his Roosevelt Island experience:
...The sun was setting by the time I arrived at 5:30pm. The main gate to the southern tip of the island was over 10 tall and had barbed wire, but it was open. Tripod and my new Canon G9 in hand, I quickly rushed down the 60+ yards to the Hospital. I didn’t want to break in at night, I just chose to shoot through the fence and test the exposures. The floodlights were bathing the Hospital in what seemed like white light but my camera was reading as eerie shades of blue and green.
An hour later I was still shooting when the cop car drove up beside me, “We closing up bossman” said the driver.
What? Bossman? I wasn’t being arrested? Technically, I wasn’t trespassing.
I asked the cop what time they shut down the park to which he replied, “Around sunset, or when it starts to get dangerous.”
“Dangerous?!” I replied, “Well, thanks for the warning.” and started to walk back towards the gate.
Unfortunately the gate was now closed and locked.
Uhmmm…I definitely was assessing the situation and it didn’t look good. But then the cop car came back around from doing his loop and thankfully unlocked the gate.
The next week I returned with my fellow Nocturnalist, Andre Costantini, who was featured previously here with our Red Hook Night shoot.
As luck would have it, February 12th, was one of the few days in which it snowed in the city. Did that deter Andre and me?
Hell no.
We arrived at 5pm, set up, and witnessed an amazing sunset through the snow clouded night. It was truly spectacular...
At the February 28 RIOC Board meeting, a $4 million allocation of NYC funding was approved to immediately attempt stabilizing the Renwick Ruins before it completely collapses despite everyone's understanding that at least $7 million is needed to do the job and nobody knows when, where or if that money will ever be raised. Even if the $7 million is raised, the end result of the stabilization process is still a ruin that will be closed off from the public and surrounded by a fence. Hardly seems worth $7 million to me and to several of the RIOC directors who spoke on the subject. It almost makes you wish for some penny pinching, Republican, fiscal conservatives on the City Council watching out how taxpayer funds are spent. Almost.

The RIOC Board made clear that RIOC funds were not being used for this purpose and pledged that no additional funds for the Renwick Ruins will come from them. Had this $4 million not come from the NYC Council Budget, I do not think it would have been approved by the RIOC Board. RIOC President Shane explained that he does not want to pit park supporters against preservationists for available Southpoint funding. Here is link to web cast of RIOC Board meeting where issue of funding emergency stabilization of Renwick Ruins was discussed and approved.

The Santiago Calatrava restaurant pavilion is looking better every day for this spot at Southpoint Park.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The first image of the Renwick Ruin in the snow was taken by Andre Costantini. We went out on this nightshoot together and he is the man responsible for this beautiful image. You can check out more of his work at:

Anonymous said...

yes, by all means let it fall down and replace it with that ...thing by clapatrapa. paint the top arches yellow and i bet mcdonalds will pay to put it up for us. better still, it won't block the views of the future goldwater condos.

after all, history's bunk.


Please, let's not pretend that Renwick Ruins is Grand Central Station, Machu Picchu or the Alamo. Their must came a point when the cost becomes so prohibitive that historic preservation makes no sense. i think that $7 million spent for ruins enclosed by a fence without any public access is ridiculous and an invitation to an attractive nuissance lawsuit..

Anonymous said...

the 7 mil is to STABILISE the ruin until a visitor's center and cafe can be built inside it.

and why not 'pretend' the renwick ruins are grand central terminal (grand central - station - was torn down over a century ago)... are you saying that nyc is better off with no reminders of its proud 400-yr history? that only the history of the rich and famous should be preserved, not that of the wretched, poor or teeming? manhattan has seen fit to preserve some things even less interesting to look at (castle clinton, for example) simply BECAUSE they were important to history.

if money is the argument, shouldn't we bulldoze ALL these ancient things, and sell the development rights? why waste time with a pleasant, grassy southpoint park, when we can put a nice stadium there for rock concerts and graduation ceremonies?

frankly, rioc should simply let developers know that building here in the future will mean they help in funding transportation issues and southpoint... in whatever form it takes.

roosevelt island has just 4 things left from its early history: renwick, blackwell house, the disneyfied octagon and the lighthouse. all the other structures came later, and while worth preserving, are more of our age than the distant past of the 1840s. it would be nice to have things left here that remind the future condo dwellers of RI what life was like before floor-to-ceiling windows and fresh direct.

pivan81 said...

whats the saying? those who dont learn from history are doomed to repeat it? so if you want you mcds or those condos well youre not learning and in this case you will come down, but thank god its being preserved. so there condo lover, 1 for the good guys