From where I live, I can hear cruise ships sound warnings in the night. I can see sea gulls pausing in church towers. Sometimes, I think I can even smell the sea, or at least feel its misty kiss.
But from where I live, in my apartment or on terra firma (the sidewalk outside) I cannot see from where these signs come. I cannot see the sea.
For perspective, I live a block away from the second highest point in Brooklyn and about 1.5 miles from the Bay as the crow flies. If I got on my roof, I’d view slivers of the East River, bits of New York Harbor, a slice of the Verrazano Narrows. But I don’t have access.
The view from my window.
Over the last two centuries, Brooklyn boomed. Lots of fairly flat farmland and easy access to the surrounding waterways made it appealing to the 17th century Dutch settlers (and of course the Native Indian people before them) and then the British shortly after. What was farmland and before that field and forest is now hardscape. Concrete, brick, mortar, asphalt, glass, steel. Not much permeability, and very little visibility.
New York City is surrounded by water, but you’d be hard-pressed to see it unless you crossed a bridge, made your way to the outermost edges of each borough, took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry or a water taxi. It’s easy to forget that water is all around us.
Harbor views are saved for those with roof decks and those who work or live in high-rise buildings. So, how can the rest of us enjoy the sparkly flow of the East River, the majesty of New York Harbor? A couple of ideas:
If there were a periscope on every block, we’d all get to enjoy a lovely liberty sunset. Check out this nice periscope from an old issue of Popular Mechanics.
If we all had a view of the water around us, maybe we’d be more careful about how we treat it. Maybe we’d preserve it, and not pollute it. Maybe we’d think about what we let go down the drain, and prevent trash and chemical run-off from entering storm drains. Maybe.
Can you see the sea, a lake, or stream from where you live? Does it inspire you?
About Yahya E. B. Henry
Merging his passion for cities, real estate, tech and travel, Yahya is introducing the world to a new model of real estate development that draws from best practices around the globe.