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The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down

Thu, Nov 11, 2021    6:30pm

The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down: cast iron, steel, and the restoration of the Battery Maritime Building

A lecture by Richard Pieper, Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia GSAPP and Partner and Director of Preservation for Jan Hird Pokorny Associates.

Have you taken the ferry to Governor’s Island? Then you know the Battery Maritime Building at the southern tip of Manhattan. Constructed in the Industrial Beaux Arts style in 1908, the building originally served as the Manhattan terminus of a ferry to 39th Street in Brooklyn.

After the building was finished, however, ferry use declined as new subway lines were completed. By 1925, and until a few years ago, there were no more commercially-operated ferries on the East River. In 1938 the City discontinued ferry service to Brooklyn; the Battery Maritime Building sat largely disused for the next 65 years, its long passenger concourse subdivided with chain link fence and filled with dead records storage for New York City’s Department of Transportation. The one ferry service which did remain in operation was the Coast guard ferry which served their contingent on Governor’s Island.

By 2005, sections of the building were literally falling into the river. With New York City and the federal government nearing an agreement to pass Governor’s Island to the City, The New York City Economic Development Corporation began planning for the largest cast iron restoration ever undertaken in New York City. This talk will lead you through the challenges of restoring this massive historic cast iron and steel structure.

Organized as part of the Preservation Lecture Series, an initiative of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP.