Concept and design by Lindsay Taylor

Bowling Green and its Environs

Over 400 years ago, Dutch settlers built a fort at the southern tip of Mannahatta, near the shoreline. They cleared the area in front of it, part of a Lenape trail, and named it “Bowling Green.” The park is a key area to consider as an origin point of Manhattan as its grown out and up the island. The book Mannahatta inspired our class to imagine differently about the island of Manhattan not just in terms of the people, buildings and neighborhoods. Mannahatta evoked how topographically the island has changed; hills leveled, swamps drained and shorelines altered over the past 400 years.

Discovering the extent of the expansion of the shoreline from Bowling Green was most impressive. I inquired to understanding how the composition and uses of the edge has been altered from sandy shorelines to wooden piers and slips, expanded streets via clean and garbage landfill, to a stone Bulkhead by the Dutch, English and Americans.

As part of the preliminary research, Heba and I spent an afternoon tracing the approximate path of the 1609 shoreline based on Eric Sanderson’s Mannahatta with neon colored duct tape. We began our path at the equivalent to Wall Street on west side. We created an actual “dotted line” on the sidewalk moving in a southern direction but quickly buildings and tunnels hindered us. Instead we often had to envision how the path would transverse through these contemporary obstructions. As we continued to walk the buildings are shorter, the space opens up and the area turns into a park ending at the water. It is good to take a moment between the buildings and Battery Park for the optimal vantage point of how much the island has broadened and Bowling Green Park.

Design Intervention

Walking Shorelines App and Sculpture

With our prior research on the ecological and man-made history of the area, a true difference is made walking along the paths in real time. Walking these coordinates would be a benefit to anyone with an interest of this city’s history. An app could be developed for a smart phone that would assist in circumnavigating Bowling Green via four different eras' shorelines of cultures that have inhabited the island. Along each of these shorelines would be markers on the ground with QR codes that would display photos and insights on to the culture of the era. Wall Street is used as the north end demarcation line since it is one of the oldest man-made boundaries still referenced in lower Manhattan.

Also in the fountain of Bowling Green a multidimensional sculpture would be placed. It would have stacked tiers, corresponding to each of the historic shoreline’s shapes. Water from the fountain would rise and fall within the basin over current shoreline up to the 1609’s level similar to a tide’s ebb and flow.