Cue the “Jaws” music. Sharks are the stars of a splashy new exhibit hall at the New York Aquarium that marks a major step in the beachfront facility’s recovery from the devastating impact of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.
Set in a shiny new building just behind the famed Coney Island boardwalk, “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” with its largest tank at 379,000-gallons is set to open June 30 while work continues on the rest of the aquarium’s 14-acre campus, more than half of which remains closed almost six years after Sandy.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the aquarium along with the Bronx Zoo and other city zoos, was about to break ground on “Sharks!” when Sandy knocked out power and flooded exhibits, electrical equipment and administrative offices at the aquarium, which is situated on the narrow peninsula that forms Brooklyn’s Coney Island.
“I honestly thought in that first 20 minutes that we’d lost the aquarium,” the facility’s director, Jon Forrest Dohlin, said.
The new shark exhibit was put on hold while staffers worked around the clock to rescue as many animals as possible and reopen the parts of the aquarium that weren’t too badly damaged.
Dohlin called the delayed debut of “Sharks!” a great step forward for the aquarium.
The new exhibit is housed in a 57,500-square-foot building whose undulating shapes are clad in a “shimmer wall” of aluminum tiles that evoke scales or a school of sardines.
Inside there are 12 species of sharks as well as six species of skates and rays. Dozens of other sea creatures from loggerhead sea turtles to striped bass join them in three massive tanks and several smaller ones.
Sharks swim overhead in the tunnel-shaped coral reef exhibit, creating the illusion that the visitor is another ocean dweller. The other two big tanks are stocked with marine life not from the tropics but from the waters off New York, including red and white anemones, purple sea urchins and pink starfish that few New Yorkers would peg as neighbors.
“If you go swimming in the water above your waist you’re swimming with these animals,” Dohlin said. “We want people to understand that there’s all this cool stuff in our water.”
The $158 million “Sharks!” exhibit is opening amid ongoing work on the rest of the aquarium, which won’t fully reopen until 2020.
Dohlin and other staffers who lost their offices to Sandy are still working out of trailers, and Dohlin said his trailer is parked almost underneath Coney Island’s Cyclone roller coaster.
“All day long I can hear the rumble and feel the rumble and hear the screams,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to go crazy.’ My entire trailer shakes. And now I don’t even notice it. It’s only when it stops that I feel it.”
The shark tank will use its toothy predators as bait to promote awareness of threats to marine ecosystems including overfishing and pollution.
Susan Chin, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s in-house architect who led the new building’s design team in collaboration with the firm of Edelman Sultan Knox Wood and its consultants, said she grew up in New York without ever knowing much about the ocean habitats that surround the city.
“Wow, we have seahorses under the Brooklyn Bridge?” Chin said. “You’ve been living in this city all your life and you didn’t know that. That’s our job, to open people’s eyes to nature. And to help them make that connection.”
The exhibit’s showpiece is a huge tank representing the Hudson Canyon, a submarine canyon that starts near the mouth of the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. There are sand tiger sharks with fearsome teeth, sandbar sharks with tall dorsal fins and nurse sharks huddled together on the floor of the tank. There are also small fish like permits and jack crevalles, a loggerhead turtle named Blue and a roughtail stingray named Ray Charles — both female.
Other sections of the exhibit decry the plastic trash choking the oceans and promote sustainable fishing practices. Sharks are killed both by targeted fishing for their fins and as bycatch, caught by trawlers and long-line fishermen seeking other species.
A main message of the exhibit is that sharks have more to fear from humans that humans have to fear from sharks.
“We’re really pushing against the tide of the perception of sharks that’s been created by popular culture,” Dohlin said. “Whether it’s ‘Jaws’ or Shark Week, we know that people have a very monochromatic fear of sharks. They’re large great whites that will eat you, that’s what people think. The truth is, of course, they’re very diverse, they’re very important, they’re getting wiped out. So that’s something that we really want to turn on its head.”
The New 72nd Street Subway Station Features Art Designed by Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono lives in the majestic Dakota on West 72nd St. Just a few hundred feet away, in Central Park, she helped to create Strawberry Fields – in tribute to her late husband, John Lennon. Both draw a steady stream of photo-snapping visitors.
And now, what’s sure to become another attraction, for tourists, as well as New Yorkers: six mosaics of blue skies and puffy clouds, in the just-reopened subway stop at 72nd and Central Park West.
“I can’t imagine anything better than seeing someone who lives close by, who has the ability to speak around the world, to give such respect to the subway by bringing her work into it,” says Sandra Bloodworth, director of the public art program with MTA Arts and Design.
The mosaics are marked with Yoko and John-type messages, like “Imagine Peace” and “Remember Love.”
“I like the idea very much, first that she got to do this work, and second, what it is: I think it gives you a good feeling to go down into the noisy subway station and you see such a calming image,” says one subway rider.
Adds another: “It’s gorgeous, it’s gorgeous. It’s bright. I was excited walking down the stairs just seeing how great the tiles were.”
The mosaics are a defining feature of the renovated station, which received brighter lighting, digital displays and new-look entrances during a nearly five-month, $28 million makeover.
Ono was among several artists who applied to MTA Arts & Design to decorate the station when it closed in May.
“She’s made everyone mindful of just where they are. That they’re on the Upper West Side,” Bloodworth says.
Ono titled the installation “Sky,” and her name appears on a small marker next to it. The station has been reopened less than a week, but her imprint already is drawing crowds. Still, some riders are still not aware of her involvement.
“I think that’s great. Because you’re keeping someone who’s in the community and actually knows about the community,” said one straphanger.
“Sky” joins hundreds of other works of art throughout the transit system.
“We are the most public museum there is, I believe, on earth. We have the collection of work of well-known artists, emerging artists, mid-career artists,” Bloodworth says.
And now, Yoko Ono. Imagine that.
Four of the six mosaics in the “Sky” installation have been installed. Two more have yet to be unveiled. Riders should expect to see them on the downtown platform by the end of the month.
Transportation museum hosts antique fire trucks
Antique fire trucks will be featured Sept. 16 at the New York Museum of Transportation, 6393 East River Rd.
This year’s gathering, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., will also include games and demonstrations for children designed to teach them important lessons in fire safety.
The Genesee Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motorized Fire Apparatus in America will have its restored firefighting equipment on display for visitors to enjoy. Visitors will be able to discover the difference between a “fire truck” and a “fire engine,” and find out why firemen wear red suspenders!
The New York Museum of Transportation also features a collection of trolleys, a steam locomotive, horse-drawn buggies, and highway vehicles. Visitors will be able to see several miniature trains in operation on a super-size model railroad.
Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors age 65 and older, and $6 for youth ages 3 to 12 years old.
For more information, go to www.nymtmuseum.org or call (585) 533-1113.
Ralph Lauren marks 50th anniversary with Central Park bash
A 19th-century fountain in Manhattan’s Central Park provided a majestic backdrop for Ralph Lauren’s star-studded 50th anniversary blowout on Friday, a festive celebration of his past and present that included a runway show and a black-tie dinner.
Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively and Jessica Chastain were just a few of the dozens of celebrities gathered to fete Lauren, 78, and his decades atop the fashion world. Not to mention Hillary Clinton, who wore Lauren’s designs at numerous key moments of her presidential campaign — including the white “suffragette” pantsuit she wore to accept the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia.
“I love his clothes,” Clinton said. “You know he really was so generous and kind to help with all of my clothes during the campaign.”
It was Winfrey who had the job of toasting Lauren at dinner. “The real reason we are here is not the show,” she said. “It’s you. You Ralph Lauren, and 50 years of your designing our dreams.”
Winfrey told Lauren that he represented what was great in America. “Your story exalts our collective story,” she said. “Your designs define integrity.”
Old-fashioned trolley cars met guests on Fifth Avenue and shuttled them into the park, where the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain had been transformed into a party space. Guests sipped cocktails and watched, on towering vertical screens, highlights of Lauren shows over the years.
Then, everyone descended a granite staircase to the runway show, where velvet banquettes awaited and oriental carpets lined the floor.
The show, which fittingly began to the strains of Paul Simon’s “New York is My Home,” combined elements from various Lauren collections over the years, and included some older models who had been in early campaigns. And, in a second half celebrating the family, it included many smiling children, some small enough to be carried by the adults on the runway — and one baby fast asleep.
Lauren himself appeared on the staircase at the end, to thunderous cheers. He took a slow victory lap across the room while admirers applauded, hugged him if they were close by, or snapped photos furiously.
At dinner, which took place around the famous fountain, Lauren told the crowd that, contrary to the evening’s glamour, he wasn’t very glamorous at home. “I walk around in a ripped robe, and no towels,” he said.
He was referring to Winfrey’s anecdote, offered in her toast, about how, working in Chicago early in her career, she saw owning Ralph Lauren towels as a symbol of success.
“I vowed, if I ever got me some money I would get me some Ralph Lauren towels,” she said — specifically “bath sheets.” And she did.
Clinton, who sat next to Lauren, told the Associated Press their friendship dated back to the ’90s, when Clinton was working on a project to save American treasures, and Lauren helped save the star-spangled banner that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.
“Ralph came forward and funded the conservation and restoration of the star-spangled banner,” she said, “and he and I were able to be there years later to once again put it on display and have it properly taken care of. His help made that happen. And we just became friends.”
New York went an entire weekend without a shooting or homicide for the first time in 25 years
Is New York City ready for the e-scooter revolution?
Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property?
Entertainment5 months ago
Entertainment2 months ago
The New York Times best-seller list
Entertainment6 months ago
Transportation Alternatives bike month sponsored by Kiwi Energy
MTA News6 months ago
MTA’s first female head of NYC subway
Uber, lyft and other taxis6 months ago
Lyft driver sexually assaulted passenger – again!
MTA News3 months ago
Access-a-Ride needs access to bus lanes
Entertainment6 months ago
Street closures for the Five Boro Bike Tour
MTA News6 months ago
Controversial MTA’s maintenance of the aesthetic improvements and fixes of subway