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.

Scrap Dive by Margaret C. Argiro with Ed Fanuzzi

Editors' note: Scrap Dive is an exhibit created by graduate student Margaret C. Argiro for "The Social Hall: An Oral History Exhibit" at Columbia University on May 1, 2014.  For Scrap Dive, Margaret drew on oral history interviews conducted with Ed Fanuzzi from October 2013 - March 2014, as well as photos and objects from his personal collection. This post is a digitized version of the exhibit.     

Ed Fanuzzi grew up going on scrap drives during WWII, built his first diving helmet at age 11, and since then has collected innumerable items from wrecked ships in the waters around New York City. Most of all, Ed is always searching for gold. This exhibit invites you to take a dive into Ed’s stories and scraps to see if you come up with any gold of your own.

In 2013, Margaret C. Argiro graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in Sociology/Anthropology and an interest writing, began her studies at Columbia University in the Oral History Master of Arts program, and met Ed Fanuzzi through Underwater New York. Margaret and Ed became quick friends, and she is overjoyed to be presenting Ed’s stories and objects today with support from Underwater New York.  On track to graduate in October 2014, Margaret’s thesis will be a creative written work about a firehouse-turned-music hall in her native Columbus, Ohio. Margaret keeps an online audio journal. See it at