| 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.
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