New York City

Beautify Roosevelt Island: Seawall Railings

No better way to beautify Roosevelt Island was possible than replacing miles of ugly seawall railings keeping us from falling into the East River. RIOC President/CEO Susan Rosenthal agreed, and her team took aim and got it done.

Beautify Roosevelt Island: Seawall Railings Before
Ugly and broken, Roosevelt Island seawall railings before RIOC drew a bead on replacing them.

Roosevelt Island’s seawall railings were so bad for so long, the first time I suggested a report, my editor said they do one every few years. That was a decade ago.

A single section, damaged by an out of control tugboat, back in the 90s, was trustworthy. The accident forced a rebuild.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney pitched in her support. Again. The Corps of engineers completed a study.

Still, the deplorable railing stuck like gum on a subway platform.

They were unsafe, and they were also ugly. Peeling paint was once bright red. Now, weather-washed to pink. Ugly pink.

Foundation cracks threatened collapse.

But then, her budget bolstered by money from giving up land to build Cornell Tech, Rosenthal lit up an infrastructure campaign.

It seemed obvious enough. Why hadn’t anyone done it before?

Artful Roosevelt Island from the Fine Art Store @ Assorted Ideas

Beautify Roosevelt Island: Seawall Railings Today

Beautify Roosevelt Island: Seawall Railings Now
Even on a cloudy day, the improvement is striking.

A year long project saw new railings replace relics installed in biblical times. And the new ones are not dependent on annual painting to stay healthy.

But I miss the Roosevelt Island red… and have for a long time.

After Rosenthal landed a coup, capturing FIGMENT NYC for Lighthouse Park, it looked like the rotted railings might spoil the June festival.

RIOC coaxed its contractor to double up its crews and put in some weekend time, and they pulled it off.

Festival goers, many visiting Roosevelt Island for the first time, were spared the ugly pink eyesore.

FIGMENT NYC 2019 visitors stroll the festival past shiny new seawall railings.
New seawall railings accented Lighthouse Park, home for FIGMENT NYC 2019.

RIOC, under Rosenthal, has numerous infrastructure upgrade projects in the works. It’s fitting that the seawall railing replacements were one of the first completed.

More are underway, and we’re looking forward to the announcements and ribbon cuttings.

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