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Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

Ink by Elizabeth Albert

OBJECT: Heavy Oil

BODY OF WATER: Gowanus Canal

ink by elizabeth albert.jpg

Elizabeth Albert is a painter and collagist living in Brooklyn, New York. She has received fellowships from the NEA/ Mid-Atlantic Arts Council, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc., and the MacDowell Colony and her work is exhibited nationally. She teaches courses in painting, drawing, design, and the art and architecture of New York City at St. Johns University in Queens, New York.