Yesterday the short mayor who's long on cash broke ground at Governor Island’s new $70 million park. On the island New York State bought from the federal government for a dollar in 2003, “The Hills” park will give visitors 360-degree views including New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty, and Manhattan’s downtown skyline. The mayor's website stated:
For the visitor familiar with the island’s history, the Hills are a surprise. The Island’s southern half had been landfill, utterly flat, sterile, devoid of topography, crowded with buildings. Now, a grouping of hills frames views looking south, providing interesting terrain for exploration, and culminating in an overlook high above the Harbor.
Chief Googler, Eric Schmidt, and his wife Wendy, have contributed a whopping $15 million to the park. Their gift alone was apparently huge enough to begin the process of piling up dirt for The Hills' hills, and finally answered the question "what do you get for the man who has everything," with "topography." Wendy shared her passion for the project at the groundbreaking:
“The greening of Governors Island is an extraordinary contribution to the greening of the city, and I can just imagine the excitement when visitors to The Hills find themselves discovering never-before-seen vistas of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. For someone who grew up in New Jersey in the 1970s when New York and other major cities were struggling to embrace the importance of environmental protection, projects like this one show me how far we have come.”
An additional $21 million has come from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Joan H. Tisch and Family and the Tiffany & Co Foundation, making the park more than halfway kickstarted at $36 million.
Taking cues from a handful of other landfill-stuffed parks in the city, Bloomberg announced at the ceremony, "The hills will be partially constructed from re-purposed fill, including materials recycled from demolished buildings that used to be here on Governor's Island; like the 11-story abandoned building we imploded last month that used to stand right behind you."
The park’s plans include four new hills ranging from 46 to 82-feet in height. As the mayor explained, the Hills will include "birch forests and grassy slopes." This majestic rendering illustrates the future park’s cartoonishly pointy mounds, which are anything but characteristic of the island’s pancake-flat topography. But in some way, it inhibits a memory of that ending sequence from Gangs of New York. And to that end, it makes me want to go there. Much more than any of its music festival has.