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The Relamping of the Battery

By Constance Carlson






The Sphere (background) and the eternal flame (foreground) serve as an interim memorial to commemorate the lives lost in the WTC attacks.


Without question, New York City's Historic Battery Park – also known as "The Battery" – located at the southern tip of Manhattan, is the cradle for much of our nation's history. Bordering the confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers, it is where the earliest Dutch settlers landed in 1623, and where the first "battery" of cannons was erected to defend the young city of New Amsterdam.

According to Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the City New York Department of Parks & Recreation (www.nyc.gov/parks), which oversees over 28,000 acres of parkland across the five boroughs, "The Battery, with its spectacular scenic views and rich cultural history, is one of New York City's premier destinations. From the recent renovation of the promenade along the water's edge to the re-lighting of the park with the support of Con Edison and Osram Sylvania, Parks & Recreation is proud to work with The Battery Conservancy to continue to enhance this vital green space."

"Within a week of the tragedy, our teams were back in action."--Warrie Price

Today, the municipal park's 23 acres are home to over 21 monuments, memorials and works of art, many related to its role in the history of immigration and defense. Among its fine features is a 1500-foot long waterfront promenade, boasting a breathtaking view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which are both national monuments managed by the National Park Service.






The Sphere's new lighting provides 360 degree coverage, using eight, 70-watt, 10-degree spot lamps that offer nighttime color rendering, also highlighting the dramatic texture and coloration.


The Battery's most storied landmark national monument, Castle Clinton National Monument (www.nps.gov/cacl), is also managed by the Park Service. The castle stands proudly on the water's edge and since then, the Castle has had many interesting and diverse "lives." The castle was originally a fortress built to protect Americans during the War of 1812. In the 1820's, it was transformed into the City's premier cultural center castle garden. Twenty-five years later, during the boom of immigration, the structure became America's first receiving center, welcoming 8.5 million people before it was succeeded by Ellis Island. In 1896, it was transformed into the beloved New York Aquarium, one of the nation's first public aquariums. Following a near-total demolition in 1941 and a major preservation battle, the original fort walls were declared a National Monument by an Act of Congress in 1946, and were restored to its fortification appearance by the National Park Service in 1975. Currently, the Castle houses a small interpretive display and the ticket office for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island ferry, which disembarks from the Battery's promenade.

A Plan for the Future

Knowing that the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of any property requires both a vision and a road map, in 1986, the Battery Park City Authority and City of New York/Parks & Recreation (Parks, www.ci.nyc.ny.us) commissioned Ehrenkrantz & Eckstut Architects to design a Master Plan for the rebuilding of the Park. The award-winning plan completed public review with approval from New York City's Art Commission, Parks & Recreation, and Community Board #1, with additional endorsement by park advocacy organizations.






Above and Below, seen from varlying angles, Fritz Koenig's "The Sphere" has a temporary home in Battery Park. The Sphere was recovered from the granite fountain in the center of the five-acre World Trade Center Plaza. The sculpture is symbolic of humanity's resolve to overcome all that is evil.







In 1994, The Battery Conservancy (The Conservancy, www.thebattery.org) was created to revitalize the park. The organization embraced the Master Plan, calling for the total redesign and rebuilding of the Park at an estimated cost of about $35 million. Because both the park and the Castle had become mere way stations for an estimated four million tourists going to and from the ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, The Conservancy was also charged with making the park a destination and reviving the outdoor urban life of lower Manhattan.

"Our job was and still is to ensure the cooperation and support of our public and private partners, including Federal, State, and City governments, the business community, and private citizens," said Warrie Price, president of The Conservancy. "We've had great success creating partnerships as we develop the ultimate public space."

Moving Forward

At the Water's Edge along New York Harbor, the Conservancy retained The Saratoga Associates (www.tsasaratoga.com) as the landscape architectural and engineering counsel to help more fully and realistically formulate its plan of action.






The lighting along the promenade has the objective of creating a rhythm for people strolling through the area. Yellow lighting creates an inviting ambience.


Laura Starr, an architect involved in the redesign of the Upper Promenade, noted "Our objective was to create a rhythm for people who would stroll the area and pause to enjoy the remarkable panorama. We also wanted to highlight the circulation thoroughfare. We accomplished this by creating a serpentine granite bench that runs the entire length of the promenade. The seating wall, six new stairways, and the 43 beautifully carved spirals along the curvilinear bench are made from 700,000 pounds of Stony Creek Granite, the same stone used in the base of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Grand Central Terminal. Other features include 24 White Oak trees, and five wheelchair access entrances."

When it came to renovating the lighting along The Promenade, Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison, www.coned.com) stepped up to plate.

"For over 175 years, our company has provided steam, gas, and electric services to the greater New York City area. We are very much a part of New York, and we are very committed to giving back to the community, which includes renovation in our areas of expertise," said Peter Jacobson, lighting specialist for Con Edison. Whenever we can, we try to upgrade or enhance projects with an eye towards the future."






Different colors of lights add to the uniqueness of the 1500-foot long waterfront promenade. Bottom Left: The various use of lighting on this secton of the promenade help to create the sense of "rhythm" desired by designers.


According to Jacobson, 27 of the electrodeless lamps were installed in pole top luminaries along the esplanade. The Icetron lamps used in this installation improved the lighting quality through higher color rendering index, energy efficiency due to electronic induction technology and maintenance due to increased operating hours of the lighting system to 100,000 hours as compared to the standard metal halide system.

Patricia Di Maggio, commercial engineer for the New York City area added, "The [new lamp] system is truly a breakthrough in technology, which solves many of the issues associated with older technologies such as high pressure sodium and metal halide. Both of these standard systems exhibit a long start up and re-strike period of up to 15 to 20 minutes. The lights start up instantly and re-strike immediately in the event of a power outage. This feature further adds to the safety of the park."

"We must help all Americans spiritually and physically reclaim their affection and affinity for New York and especially the downtown area."--Warrie Price

DiMaggio added that the technology further contributes to the park's welcoming feeling of safety. This is due to its excellent color quality and color consistency, which is unlike the older technologies. For instance, high-pressure sodium lamps tend to produce an unnatural yellow light, which can be somewhat disorienting. On the other hand, the color qualities of the system help to create a naturally luminous and comforting environment within the park. During the course of this project, New York City, the United States, and the world at large were rocked by the tragic events of September 11.






Similarly, this photo displays the same lighting effects -- a combination of crosslighting and colored lights.







Literally blocks from Ground Zero, the park was blanketed with a heavy layer of dust. Undeterred, park renovation continued.

"Within a week of the tragedy, our teams were back in action," observed Price. "It was so therapeutic to be in the park, working together with the construction crews and the many volunteers that helped clean up and get the new promenade done!"

Lighting the Town Green

As part of the renovation effort on the Town Green, the New York City Parks & Recreation Department worked with The Battery Conservancy, Con Edison and the Downtown Alliance to add 20 lamps to the perimeter of the Eisenhower Mall. Identical to the Upper Promenade selection, the lighting is consistent in color rendering and provides longer life and greater energy efficiency than conventional light sources.

"Again, we wanted a quality of light that would be white, bright, and non-glaring – one that would also be low on maintenance and high on energy efficiency," noted Price.






Twenty-seven electrodeless lamps were installed in pole top luminaries along the esplande. The lamps improve upon lighting quality, efficiency and require lesser maintenance.


Jacobson concurred. "The previous metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps on the Mall and Promenade offered a poor quality and quantity of light for visitors along with high maintenance for parks personnel. Jacobson also noted that the new lights made perfect sense.

As of March 2002, The Mall has become the temporary home for Fritz Koenig's, "The Sphere," which was recovered from the granite fountain in the center of the five-acre World Trade Center Plaza. Next to the sculpture lies The Eternal Flame that was lit on Wednesday September 11, 2002. Both serve as an interim memorial to commemorate the lives of those lost in the World Trade Center attack.

"The Sphere," was previously lit by high-pressure sodium lamps. These lamps did nothing to highlight the dramatic texture and coloration of the sculpture, which many believe is not only symbolic of humanity's resolve to overcome all that is evil, but has become a visually more interesting and compelling work as a result of being subjected to the physical destruction that ensued on September 11. The new lighting provides 360? coverage using eight, 70-watt,10-degree spot lamps that offer superior color rendering and energy efficiency. The lamps were mounted on custom designed ladder rests on four existing lampposts bordering the sculpture on the Mall.






The promendade areas of Battery Park are lit with bright, white lights that are non-glaring and energy efficient, with post tops engineered by Sentry Electric.


DiMaggio, further added, "The sphere had been previously lit with high pressure sodium floodlights. Due to the lamps' poor color quality and improper installation and light distribution on the sphere, they washed out the sculpture's color and detailing. While we were somewhat limited to where the new lighting could be mounted, after running several lighting calculations, mock ups, and taking into consideration the overall aesthetics of the fixtures, we opted to custom design an integrated cross arm on the pole, which resembles an old fashioned ladder rest, for new spot lamp mounts. Working with Sentry Electric, who also engineered the post tops, we used the existing poles flanking the sphere on four sides to highlight the sphere with eight fixtures containing lamps that produce white light with superior color rendering in a 10 degree spot distribution. The new cross arms raised the fixtures up slightly higher than the rest of the fixtures along the Mall, creating a lighting hierarchy. The result is an exceptionally and precisely lit sphere that now can be seen from blocks away. The sphere now glows prominently in the park, inspiring hope and resolve."

A Park in Progress

Price added that The Conservancy's work on the Battery continues. "We must help all Americans spiritually and physically reclaim their affection and affinity for New York and especially the downtown area."

Photo Credits: Day shots courtesy Mike Browne of the NYC Parks and Recreation Department. Night shots courtesy Paul Picone.



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June 18, 2019, 6:46 pm PDT

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