5.28.2008

A Walk for Melville: Coenties Slip to Corlears Hook (A Slideshow)



How's everyone doing with reading Moby Dick? WOTBA's summer reading requirement only involves the first chapter, so don't feel like there's too much pressure. Based on a sole phrase in Chapter 1, "Loomings," - Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall northward. What do you see? - I ventured forth today to walk the walk, so to speak, but in opposite order, from Coenties Slip to Corlears Hook.

Starting out, I took the 4 subway to Bowling Green and walked south to Pearl Street, then meandered until I located the spot of Melville's birth. Then, after finding what's left of Coenties Slip (now with a little urban park, a sculpture and the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial), I crossed South Street so I could walk along the water north to the Lower East Side.

A few things of note: Most of the views here are of the East River and attractions such as the South Street Seaport but also of streets to the west and inland. Wall Street, images 13 and 15, plays a part in Herman Melville's story, Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street (1853), that I wrote about in Walking Off the Wall Street Bears. This walk under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges is directly across the water from the Brooklyn-side DUMBO walk I recently described.

Across from the South Street Seaport, some of the buildings and businesses have deteriorated with the closing of the Fulton Street Fish Market, and these were sad to see. On the other hand, I was happy to encounter people enjoying the East Side Esplanade. As I'm now in love with the word "circumambulate," thanks to Melville, I aspire to eventually walk around the entire island, at least in stretches at a time.

The greenway along the water gives out around Rutgers Street, requiring walking about five somewhat dismal blocks under the FDR highway until Corlears Park comes into view. The amphitheater in the park is rather funky/charming. If I didn't care about Melville so much, I would have cut back inland on Rutgers Street. Amusingly, I ended up back at Seward Park and the Forward Building, deep in the lower Lower East Side, where I took the F train home. If I hadn't spent so much time walking there last week, I would have been clueless.

To Melville's question, "What do you see?," perhaps, the answer is still the same: "Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries."

All images from Wednesday, May 28, 2008, 2 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Part of a series of walks along New York's 500 miles of shoreline. More esplanades, promenades, and boardwalks to come. And, yes, at some point, I'm going to Coney Island.

See the map at the related post, Before the Whale: Ishmael Takes a Walk in Manhattan.

Updated: See New York Times story about summer 2008 public art project by Olafur Eliason to create four waterfalls along the East River.

1 comment:

Lois said...

I, like many others, have started to read Moby Dick about 11 times. It's a must-read, they all say. I finally finished it a year ago, and, what a vigil. I was exhausted. But what sticks with you is those early chapters -- the ones you read over and over in your earlier years to get going on the project of reading the whole darn thing.

And let it be known, the best chapter and even best writing might be chapter 1. Maybe even page 1 of chapter 1, which is Melville's description of the island of the Manhattoes -- of almost 200 years ago.