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Jerry Dantzic: East River Raft About Jerry DantzicStreetplay Galleries home
Rivers define a city the way a man parts his hair. They wander and separate and curve, and provide starting points for the eye to linger upon. Where the rivers come to the sea, this city first took hold and acquired its sense of grandeur. And on the rivers' edge, the man-altered landscape grew and became sovereign, and withered and grew again.
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Much of my life has centered on the port and the rivers. I have climbed high in the steel of new bridges and skyscrapers, and laughed with sandhogs building caissons deep beneath the dark water. When I was a child, the port of New York was my playground, and since I had never been far from home, it offered much of what little I knew about the world beyond the river.

I often walked the piers with my father in the summertime, sometimes riding high on his shoulders, past thick webs of netting loaded with bananas and rare woods, touched by the breezes of distant oceans that mingled with the fragrance of spices and exotic teas; pausing to stare in awe at the huge smoke-clouded stacks of great ocean liners, sometimes eight at once, that loomed above the tenement rooftops.

The rivers are empty now, almost sullen in the winter calm, echoing the sounds of soaring seabirds, offering passage for blunt-nosed garbage scows and weather-chipped ferry boats coming up the bay. There is still wonder in the dawn, as first light touches the horizon, and buildings, like splendid tapers in the mist, begin to glow.

--Jerry Dantzic, DU Magazine, 1977

All images copyright ©2003 Jerry Dantzic Archives, reproduced with permission


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